Baiting Black Bears: The Sweet Smell Of Success

Posted by: Bowhunting Contributor on Jun 14, 2013
Page 1 of 2

Written by contributor Bill Kurtz.

For some reason, the word escapes me. It’s the word that describes the moment when you smell something and it triggers your memory and you’re suddenly taken back to the time when you first smelled it. That’s me, every time I open up a barrel of bear bait at the end of July to start my annual ritual of baiting bears for the upcoming season. The aroma of donuts, granola, gummi bears and the many varieties of cereals and chips that fill the numerous 55 gallon drums sitting outside my garage every summer, takes me back 20 years to my buddies house. Having never hunted bear before, he was showing me what kinds of stuff his dad used to bait bears with. I told myself then and there that someday, I was going to hunt bears. It’s nice that some things in life don’t change; especially the smell of bear bait! Yeah I know, my wife thinks I’m crazy too!


Whenever bears are involved it is important to use their strong sense of smell against them. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways with a variety of methods and attractants.

The aforementioned goodies give off delicious odors that draw in bruins to our hunters at our bear camp in northern Wisconsin. These odors can be detected by a bear’s nose up to a quarter mile away or more if the wind is right. Bear, like deer, depend on their nose to survive. The two biggest uses are to smell out danger and to find food. Therefore, it makes perfectly good sense to use the second one to our advantage. Not only does the scent of food draw bears to your desired hunting location, it’s also the key to keeping them in the area, revisiting, and not wandering off for greener pastures; so to speak.


Known for highly effective whitetail attractants, Tink’s now offers a new bear scent that is sure to bring in that big bruin for the perfect bow shot. Pictured here is their new bear product for 2013.

One of the things I do after I pick a great area for bears is I keep changing up the “vittles” every time I bait. Also, I use food scent spray to blanket the low hanging branches, leaves and ground around the bait itself. Bears, like humans, get sick of the same old thing. I love pizza and can smell it as soon as I get out of the car in the parking lot of my favorite lunch counter. BUT, I can’t eat it every day. I need variety. Well guess what, bears do to. After a week or so of smelling pie filling on the bait, they will know what to expect. As a result, they will eventually get in no hurry to head for the bait. This behavior will eventually lead to night time feeding. However, if you change the food up and periodically spray the area with different fragrances, it will keep the bears curious and they will want to investigate that new, unfamiliar, yet delicious odor around your bait station.


It is important to add variety to any bait pile. This means changing foods as well as scents to keep bear curiosity peaked.

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