Although this time of year is spent getting ready for whitetails. There are several hunters out their holding a golden ticket or black bear tag. Ursus Americanus or commonly known as the North American Black Bear are a popular game animal with a lot of archers. But how much studying of the bear do we do before setting up a bait stand or hiring someone to run their dogs after a suitable bear to harvest. There are many interesting facts about this particular game animal that I didn’t know before I set in the attempt to arrow one of these prized animals in central Wisconsin. After 10 years of applying I finally got a bear tag and was able to set up a bait station with game cameras in hopes to take a big bruin with my recurve.
In setting the bait station depending on where you hunt make sure you check out rules and regulations for proper and legal baiting procedures. In Wisconsin I was not able to use any meat from any animal. So dohnuts, cookies, frosting and condensed milk was the bait of choice. I set the bait with 4 foot logs piled in a V shape forcing the bear to come into the bait giving me a quartering away 12 yard shot. The logs would help me determine a quick estimation of the size of the bear. I placed sand around the bait station (hollowed out log) to measure the pads of the bear that were coming in for their daily bread. The inner soft pad of a bear that is at least 4 inches in width is generally a 250lb plus black bear. In other words that is a very nice bear especially with archery equipment.
For 2 months I had a very active bait station that was being hit several times a day. The trail camera photos and videos were proof of this also the empty stump was a great sign. The stump was approximately 150 lbs, and they would roll it around like it was an empty coffee can. My research in the bear world was very interesting. I didn’t realize they have extremely good eye sight. Some scientists’ even feel the black bear can learn visual discrimination faster than chimpanzees and just as fast as a dog. Their dominance is displayed by the height of their claw marks on trees. They can reach speeds of 25-30 mph. Yes that is faster than a human. Their nose is also a good attribute for the black bear. I tested this theory by placing one of my old sweatshirts around the tree that I had the logs placed against to form the V. Within 24 hours the sweatshirt was torn to shreds. The next day it was gone. My purpose was to get them use to my scent coming in and out while hunting and freshening the bait. The second sweatshirt I placed was taken over by a trio of cubs with their mom. They would visit the bait several times a day carrying my sweatshirt around like it was their nightly blanket. I witnessed this for several weeks the shirt would be gone for a few days then it would show up again for a day or so and then the cubs would take it back to wherever they came from. The trio of cubs and their sleek nosed sow gave me lots of entertainment while on stand.
My goal of the hunt was to harvest a boar that was carrying a nice white bib. Only 25% of black bear in the Midwest will carry a white crescent or bib on their chest. As luck would have it I would not get a chance to see this bear during shooting hours. Hopefully in another 5-8 years I will get another chance if he is still around. Black bear can grow as old as 18 years in the wild. The current record is 33 years. The picture below is an Albert record book bear I shot in the spring of 2006. The bear stood 7’10”, weighed approximately 560lbs, and the skull was over 20 inches in width.