Bear School: How to Hunt a Trophy Bear (Part 4) by Bill Vaznis

Bait Site Test Score

Well, here is what I think is going on. The first tree stand sounds like the ideal black bear set-up, but it is not unless you have never seen a bear before or all you want to do is take pictures.  It is probably being hit by a sow and cubs—not legal targets anywhere.  The cubs knock the grass down and scatter food all around like a pack of first graders.  To confirm your suspicions, simply check the immediate vicinity for small tracks and droppings in the half-inch diameter range.

If you now a trophy bruin is in the area, stick with it.  Sooner or later he will show himself.

If you now a trophy bruin is in the area, stick with it. Sooner or later he will show himself.

The second bear is bait-shy due to the lack of adequate cover near the bait causing the bear to only hit the bait after dark. This is the outfitter’s fault.  Although you don’t know for sure just how big this bear really is, it might be worth your effort to move the bait and/or tree stand closer to cover, and then wait for the bear to become accustomed to the new set-up before you take the stand.

Stand three is the best of the lot. Any place that gives you the creeps has big bear written all over it. Big old bruins are extremely solitary, except during the mating season, and there’s no better place to be left alone than an impenetrable tangle out in the middle of nowhere.  In addition, that ridge is a natural highway in and out of the swamp which doubles your chances of a sighting.  I would hunt this stand in the absence of big bear sign simply because of the typography.

Timing is the key however. Don’t sit in the stand until you fully expect the bear to show.  If he is hitting the bait every second or third night, hunt elsewhere for a night or two. Your best chance of tagging this bear is on the first night you hunt it, so wait for all the conditions to be in your favor before you climb aloft.

Finally, no matter what method you choose to bag your bruin, gun, bow or muzzleloader, remember that you generally only get one small window of opportunity. If you don’t shoot during those few seconds, your trophy will probably disappear before your eyes—like the 400-pounder did in the beginning of this article. Don’t let that happen to you!

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