Questions for Black Bear hunters & use of bait

Black Bears & Bait

  • Never bear hunted

    Votes: 14 33.3%
  • Yes, I always use bait

    Votes: 7 16.7%
  • Most of the time I use bait, but I've gotten them without bait too

    Votes: 5 11.9%
  • Most of the time do not use bait, and I have harvested some each way

    Votes: 2 4.8%
  • Never use bait, and I have harvested some - not that hard

    Votes: 3 7.1%
  • Never use bait, and I have harvested some, but it's difficult

    Votes: 4 9.5%
  • Never use bait, and I have harvested one or more, but it's extremely difficult

    Votes: 2 4.8%
  • Never use bait, and haven't gotten one yet

    Votes: 5 11.9%

  • Total voters
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Nov 14, 2007
OK, I've got a bug here. I've never hunted bear, but what I gather from observation is that SOME people who would otherwise believe that it's unethical to use bait for big game (deer for example), think that somehow it IS ethical to use bait for black bears, with the apparent excuse being "but there's no other way to get them; they're impossible to hunt without baiting". Although I do NOT *necessarily* have a per se problem with the use of bait for hunting animals if legal in your state, for ANY game, (hey if that's your thang, bait to your heart's content), what I do have a problem with is this "sliding scale" ethics thing or dichotomy-ethics if you will, that somehow it's wrong for deer, but OK for blackies. If the hunting is just too darn difficult without, then it's ok to use it. Because if the excuse is "but it's just toooo haaaaaard without bait", then I got news for you - in SOME places in this country, hunting deer without bait is just as difficult as hunting black bears without bait where you are, and still mighty damn hard WITH bait. Places where deer numbers are very low and/or hunting pressure is very high. The deer become just as nocturnal as any black bears.

So, I guess the question is, have any of yous who live in black bear country ever experienced this attitude yourself or among other hunters, of "bait is ok for bear", but then get holier-than-thou about bait for deer, or am I reading something into it that's not really there?

I'm also attaching a poll about actual prevalence of baiting for those who have actually hunted bear.

Also, please post where you live if you hunt black bear.

One other choice I should have included in poll is "Most of the time use bait, sometimes do not, but have never gotten one without bait."
I don't bear hunt, but no baiting at all allowed in VA, however we do hunt deer and bear with dogs.
Nature does the baiting in the fall here with Salmon carcass. However those bears are not edible,unless you like the smell of rotten fish. Still a little early yet, but in the spring they are quite huntable by hiking past timberline and glassing the south facing slopes where the first green sprouts show. Very sporting and enjoyable hunting. Baiting is legal here,but the only time I would use it is if I wanted a bear in a specific area,for example if you owned a cabin and wanted to hunt nearbye.
I think the locale must be taken into consideration. I have hunted bear (I am surmising that the topic is Black Bears, not griz) in Alaska, spot and stalk, fun, somewhat challenging, but not hard. On the otherhand, observing Maine while moose hunting, I think it would be near impossible to get a bear in that method, even though the bear population is high. I lived in and hunted Colorado for 30+ years, and saw one bear, though I saw a lot of sign. Baiting may be justifiable there (I believe they did away with that a few years ago), and hound hunting is certainly justifiable, the down side of that is that few people choose (or have the time and temperment) to raise and train a pack of good (or even so-so) bear dogs. Personally, sitting in a blind over bait would be extremely boring to me, and I have no interest, but nothing against those who do. (I have no interest in sitting in a "deer stand" either). So, I suggest that it is not so much a matter of what's right or wrong, but what is needed or not needed, enjoyed or not enjoyed--so long as the resource is not overly exploited.
I have only black bear hunted three times. First time spot and stalk in Montana in the spring by glassing the green grassey clear cuts. It was effective my husband and I each harvested our first black bear.

I have also hunted bear with dogs in Michigans UP and over bait. That seems to be the to best ways in that area of MI to hunt bears because the land is pretty flat and some big swamps.

I am not morally oppossed to baiting for bear or whitetail, but here in the lower peninsula of MI the baiting of deer became illeagle in 2008 so now I am learning to hunt deer in a different way.
I have taken 4 bears during my 40 years of hunting, two in Virginia with a bow and two in Maine with a rifle. My bow kills were made while hunting for deer in Rappahanock county, bear season was also in and I got lucky. In Virginia you can't use bait at any time. One of the Bears dressed at 250lbs and one at 140lbs. I killed the two Bears in Maine with my 30-06 over bait, the land is so vast and the animals are spread out you need bait to bring them in, thats what I think anyway. The Main Bears seem to run a little smaller or maybe that was the area I was in. I can tell you whether shooting a Bear from a tree stand with your bow or a ground blind with your rifle your heart will pounds so hard and you knees will shake every time, I can't descibe quiet how it makes feel,you just owe it to yourself to try it.
I live in MI and am an aspiring bear hunter. You can use bait for bear here, but not deer. However thats due to Chronic Wasting Disease, and not for any other reason as far as I know. That being said, I'd definitely like to try it without bait and if that doesn't work out, I might try to use bait ultimately. Really this is a hypothetical question for the next few years, since it'll probably take 3-4 years to accumulate enough points to get a bear permit anyways.
Along these lines. I live in Virginia, and I have bee hives out on my deer hunting land. Last year between muzzel loader and rifle, a bear destroyed my hives. Now, would shooting a bear destroying my hives, while it is bear season, be considered baiting? I got to think it would not be, but I put new hives out, and damn if I want to lose them again, so if I see a bear, and season is in, I plan on shooting it. I just dont want to break any laws. Any of you all have some input on this?

Sorry for the semi hijacking of the thread, but it seemed pertinant.
incline bench

I suspect you could take that bear any time of the year on a depredation/nuisance permit. But need to check with VA DGIF and VA Ag Dept.
Baiting is legal on private land here in Arkansas. I find there are several keys to successful baiting:

1. Find the bear. Baiting must be done near where the bear normally travels.

2. Use the right bait. I find used grease poured over cheap dogfood works well.

3. Use a barrel -- chain it upright to a tree. Only a bear can get inside and out again.

4. Have a good stand or blind. Definitely down wind or cross wind of the bait. The bear will normally have a favored way to approach the bait, so it isn't hard to pick a good spot.

5. Have a good route into the stand or blind.

6. Bait early. Get the bear accustomed to the free lunch a couple of months before the season starts.

7. A camera is a good idea -- it will tell you when the bear vists the bait, and you can plan your hunt accordingly.
I hunt in NE Georgia. I have seen two bear and couldn't get my firearm ready for a clean shot so I let them walk. The first time I left my wife on her own she had 2 cubs and then mom for about 15 minutes at the base of her stand, then had a boar come in later and couldn't see to get a clear shot. It was at dusk. Now we both carry a bear handgun w/o a scope.:D
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This is my 2nd season bear hunting over bait. Had a buddy get me started last year as he was wanting to film a kid taking a bear. We took my daughter up several times and never saw anything, although the baits were getting hit regularly. Wouldn't you know it; the one time my daughter was just too pooped to go was the one time a bear came into the bait while we were there.

I took her, and learned some things from it:

#1-when a bear comes towards & retreats from the bait several times, it is likely a small bear trying to make sure a large bear is not at the bait.

#2-one of the reasons for using a 55-gallon barrel is to have something to judge the size of the bear against (we didn't have one last year).

#3-bears are hard to judge until you get some experience-we thought it was much larger than it actually was. After I shot it, I told a different buddy who was with me that it must have deflated.

As for the OP's question about sliding ethics, I have not experienced this in regard to other big game species. However, to those who tell me baiting is wrong, I ask them if they like to fish. As almost everyone who has told me baiting is wrong likes to fish, I ask them if they use a worm or some other bait, or if they just drop a line in with an empty hook. They are never able to explain the difference to me.

I didnt think using bait for deer or bear is ethical or legal anywhere in the US (In Canada they hunt any predators with bait, Im sure deer also, for tourist money mainly), in fact I think when it comes to deer or bear, putting food out less than 10 days before a hunting season can get your license taken away, fines, and if you have any firearms on you, they get confiscated never to be returned, your vehicle confiscated in PA, and anything in it that can relate to hunting.
I looked up state hunting laws with the use of dogs, every state I read the laws specified that hunting deer with dogs has been illegal for many years.
Most states thought that its in the best interest in the sport of hunting, and to prevent the sport from turning into a professional business to profit from native wildlife.
There are a few states that allow treeing bears with dogs.
Personally I think if your eating what you hunt, and making use of the rest of it, then by all means do what you do.
Hunting predators is purely for sport, nothing to do with feeding your family, if you cant get them without bait, then go back to hunting something easier.
I didnt think using bait for deer or bear is ethical or legal anywhere in the US
Hunting is hunting in my book. Baiting is nothing more than a cheap game farm hunt.

Always love how folks have wonderful opinions - which are fine as opinions, but don't mean squat to anyone else.

I grew up in New Jersey. Live in Virginia. Folks in New Jersey are shocked to hear that other states allow you to carry guns, to hunt with rifles, to buy guns without onerous registration processes or state permission. Most have opinions on what appropriate firearms laws should be. I wouldn't wish their opinion on anyone.

I dont hunt over bait in Virginia. I've never been to a game farm (though I have shot upland birds on a shooting preserve) But I do hunt hogs over bait on occasion. We've also sent dogs out after hogs. Some folks in Virginia (not I) use dogs to round up deer before shooting.

And really, even if you take it away - placing a feeder out for deer 350 days a year is just the same as baiting - whether you remove it 10 days before hand or not.

But guess what, in Virginia we can't hunt on Sundays. Lots of people here argue ITS NOT ETHICAL to hunt on Sunday. Would you like them to impose their ethics on you???
I've hunted bear with bait and with the use of dogs. Some folk trash both methods. With the over abundance of bear in the area and the lack of any other effective means to control them, unlike deer, I see no other viable options.
Black bears here in the adirondacks are found only where there is plenty of food. Black cherry trees, when they drop the cherries in the fall is the place to be.

Also around camp grounds and tent sites or small cabins on state trails where bears are used to finding garbage that hikers leave. These have always been good spots for hunts.
Some folks in Virginia (not I) use dogs to round up deer before shooting.
Actually, that's not how it works. The dogs are released in a large area -- usually swampy, brushy, etc. Huners take up stands on logical escape routes, and the deer come drifting out about ten or fifteen minutes ahead of the dogs.
Actually, that's not how it works. The dogs are released in a large area -- usually swampy, brushy, etc. Huners take up stands on logical escape routes, and the deer come drifting out about ten or fifteen minutes ahead of the dogs.

First of all, Congrats on post 10,000!!!

Yeah, that generally what happens. The guys I know who do it though have the dogs trained to drive the deer to certain locations. They use natural funnels to set the deer up. Its pretty much a slaughter at the back end. But then, those guys are generally hunting purely for food and sustenance and not for trophy's. I don't think venison tastes so great after the deers been running, but it ensures food on the table.
What states allow baiting bears for hunting them?
What states allow baiting deer or using dogs?
I mean legally, not just because someone there does it.
My opinion was that its not ethical to hunt deer with bait, nor is it ethical to hunt predators with bait. The facts as I recall are that most if not all states laws say it is illegal to hunt deer with dogs, and baiting is not legal in hunting seasons.
I have no problem with baiting hogs, or using dogs for hogs, they are not native species, and are a nuisance everywhere in the US.
If you cant hunt it with your own physical and mental abilities without the use or dogs, bait, etc you need to find an easier hobby.
The use of these things were made illegal in PA simply to take away any motive to profit from native wildlife.
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