How to Hunt Nocturnal Bears

By Bow StaffApril 18, 2016

by Nick Hopkins / BoarMasters

Hunting bears is extremely challenging. But it is also one of the most adrenaline-packed adventures you’ll ever try. Learn how to hunt nocturnal bears, and you’ll be ahead of the game. Here’s how to do it…

I’ve hunted many different animals including elk, deer, antelope, moose, coyotes, and even mountain lion, but my bear hunts still stand out as my toughest hunts ever. Baiting bears requires a monstrous

bear bait barrel

Baiting bears can be tough. Especially when they decide to go nocturnal. The right moves at your bait barrel can be a game-changer.

amount of work. But that’s only half the battle. Once baits and stands are set, we have to trick the bears into eating…and eating during daylight hours. It’s really easy for a bear to feed at night on their own schedule and comfort level. So using tricks to get a bear to feed during the daylight is key to harvesting a bear over bait. The BoarMasters crew runs over 100 bait sites a year. This gives us plenty of opportunity to test and research ideas and products.

Below are some tips we have learned over the years.

Create a Comfort Zone

First, keeping those bears comfortable at the bait site is key to daylight feedings. If a bear doesn’t feel safe he will not feed during the day, especially when they aren’t conditioned to the bait and get a big whiff of fresh human scent. When possible, keep your bait sites in thick, dense and dark areas of the forest. I like those spots that have an “eery” feel to them. Get away from roads, 4-wheeler trails, hikers, and activity. Find those areas with good green growth, and look for the older timber growth patches when possible. Bears love these areas! An area near a water source always helps. Bears water often and use these dark forests to travel to and from water.  Make sure to review your states rules and regulations as most states have restriction guidelines when baiting near water.

Access Their Hangout

Walking to and from the bait site is also very important. Spooking a bear off the bait site or out of his bedding areas can make them more timid as well.   Setup so you can easily access your bait site without tromping thru the whole forest.  My ideal location is an area of a thick dense forest line that borders a clearing or open area.  This makes it easy for me to skirt the forest line to access my baits.  These clearings also keep the bear from circling you.  Bears love to circle the bait site completely before coming to the bait. Any whiff of human scent, unless well conditioned and comfortable at the bait site, will force them to wait till dark.   Finding these convenient areas away from people and activity can be a real challenge.  We use Google earth often. Help from a birds eye view will give you a better idea of your possible bedding areas, travel routes, and most importantly your access routes.

bear hunter

The author’s BoarMasters products have tipped the odds in hunters’ favor when battling nocturnal bears.

Satisfy Their Cravings

We learned one of our best tactics for daylight bears is satisfying their cravings.  Use a good variety at the bait.  Something they just crave, get addicted to, and can’t resist but to eat more and more.  Something that will create a feeding frenzy!  This is how BoarMasters  bear line all started.  We spent years searching for food products, lures and scents that bears would go crazy for.  The everyday products on the market were just not powerful enough to draw in the bears and keep them coming back for more.   So we went to work and developed the most innovative products to hit the bear scents and bear baiting industry.  This is what put BoarMasters on the map.  Using something that the bears just go crazy for will be the main factor in getting those bears to feed during the daylight.  Just like humans, when we crave something or  have a favorite food we will do anything to get our hands 0n it!.   Satisfy their cravings, and they’ll be camping on the bait sites.  BoarMasters has changed our success levels 100%; not only for us as a company but as a guide and the outfitters we work with as well.

mike pearce black bear

Bowhunting.com pro-staffer, Mike Pearce, waited out this big nocturnal bear and finally killed him at the bait on day four.

Use Portion Control

Another good idea is adjusting the quantity on the bait site. This can change feeding patterns of bears tremendously. If a bear shows up at midnight to an empty barrel but he can smell the fresh scent, he will know he has missed out. Once he does this a few times he will realize and think he is getting beat to the bait site. We do this by cutting down on the amount of bait. Begin putting in only a bucket-full of bait at a time on the weeks you plan to hunt. We want the bears to be hungry and not gorge themselves. We also want all the bait to be gone by the smaller bears by dark. But be careful. Make sure those bears have plenty of food on the days you’re not hunting. If they show up too many times to an empty barrel, they may wander off.

If you only have one bear hitting and he becomes nocturnal, try introducing and intruder scent. This is why we developed our BoarMasters Super Hot dominant boar bear urine . This will trick the bears into thinking their is an intruder or another bear getting all their bait. This will force them to change their feeding habits as well. Sometimes those big boars will run off all the other bears and keep the bait to themselves. Once they get nocturnal it’s hard to get them back to daylight if they have no competition. Trick them into thinking they have competition, and they’re sure to change their habits!

bear at scent rag

This bear followed it’s nose through an open forest to this sow-urine-soaked scent rag setup at the author’s bait site.

Read the Rut

The rut is our favorite time of all. Bears rut in the spring, around the end of May.  This is the best time to catch those big nocturnal boars browsing during the daylight hours in search of sows. Sows at your bait site can turn out to be the best thing you have ever seen. These sows that are ready to breed will bring in boars for many miles. I’ve seen some crazy things at this time of year. These sows in heat cause pure chaos around the bait sites. Just like hunting elk and deer during the rut, a bear’s brain is focused on one thing. When this happens, they tend to lose all fear of humans and danger. This is a great time to capitalize and harvest a monster bear. If you don’t have sows around your bait, add 1-2 scent wicks covered in our BoarMasters Sow in heat urine with sex-gland to your bait site. This product is a true sow urine with pure sow sex glands! Use it during the weeks you’re hunting, and remove it when you’re not. Bears are smart enough to realize when they are being fooled. They will only hang around the bait site for a few days once they realize the sow in heat smell is not attached to a sow.

Be sure to try these tips if you’re having trouble with nocturnal bears. I  guarantee you they will help change things up at your bait site this season.. If you have additional questions on baiting bears, feel free to email me at [email protected] You can also check out www.boarmasters.com.

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