There is nothing easy about baiting bears.

by Aug 8, 2014Maine Black Bear

There is nothing easy about baiting bears.

On left, unopened sweets.  On right, the goodies ready to be put out.

I was
lucky that it was only 73 degrees out!  I would have melted after we
headed to the first bait site. I carried buckets filled with bait and
some secret ingredients to keep the bears coming back again and again.
 While I was glad to not be carrying the bucket with the cut up dead
beaver, I was reminded of my position down wind of it after every few

Making a bait barrel

I support bear hunting as it is now in Maine, I did not know a lot about it and
felt that if I was going to support this fight, I should know what I was
talking about.  So, I told Steve that I
would try everything, including preparing bait buckets.  If you ever want to cut sweets out of your
diet help out with preparing bait barrels. 
For more than an hour, I opened packaged sweets that had the overall
smell of a cheap bar. The smell wasn’t what got to me, it was the fact that
they contained no mold! What kind of “food” doesn’t mold after more
than a year?!

I had done my duty of opening up bait, we loaded the truck and took off.  Three buckets of sweets, some secret
ingredients and a bucket or maybe two filled with chunks of previously frozen beaver
(THAT is the worst smell ever!). We drove a while and came to the first of two
sites along a dirt road close to the middle of nowhere.  I willingly grabbed two buckets and followed
Steve into the woods.  He had started the
sites three days before so we were not sure if we would need to top off any
bait or muck out the buckets after some pretty heavy rains.

Bait site 1.  The blue crate holds the piece of beaver *gag*.

one had not been hit yet. Everything seemed to be in place and fairly dry so
we moved on to site two.  This one was
probably my favorite since it was located at the bottom of some rock cliffs. I
stood at the site and looked at the cliffs surrounding me in awe.  This site was also in pretty good shape so we
added some scents and left for site three. 
A little closer to home, site three was further into the woods and
surrounded by low blueberry bushes. 
Again, no bears but we did finally have pictures on the trail cam- of a
turkey vulture.

Moose rub!

we were done, we had been working the bait sites (and prep) for eight hours. There is
nothing easy or quick about baiting bears. The hours that go into preparing the
bait followed by bringing the bait out into the woods and keeping it fresh… I
have a whole new respect for those who do this on a regular basis.

had no pictures and no signs of bears coming in but with determination and a
knowledge of the work involved, Steve was confident that we would eventually
get something.  I’m still not totally
sure I want to shoot a bear but I am learning more and more about the work involved
in trying to make that happen.


  1. It's a lot of work, and then there's no promise they'll show up during the day. Thanks for doing this and educating people.

    • I have a whole new appreciation for what hunters do on a regular basis. I went out once. Others go out every three days and do this.

    • We have always had to bait each day…and always got hit within the first three days of setting them up. Glad to have you with us Erin!

  2. I found you via Robin Follette's Twitter. My boyfriend has a bear tag in Zone C in Wisconsin this year. We hired a guide, since the land with bears that we've got a connection to is in Zone B with a 9 year wait. The guide service has been baiting stands up in Rusk county since mid-April. But the bears on the land we sometimes hunt deer on almost don't need bait- they come damn close to the cabin. Last year one ate all the sour apples I put out for deer, and left a steaming pile in their place. Bears seem to be jerks.

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting. We have about 30k bears and need to kill between 4500-5000 to keep a very healthy population in check. Since we are facing a referendum to prevent us from hunting bear (essentially), I wanted to see how much work it truly is. Good luck with your bear hunt titis year!!

  3. Erin, an interesting read. First – gross! And second, I'm glad you had a chance to learn more about baiting, I know you've wanted to for a while now ūüôā


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Meet The Author

Erin Merrill, author of And a Strong Cup of Coffee, is president of Women of the Maine Outdoors, a senior writer for Drury Outdoors, a contributor to the Northwoods Sporting Journal and passionate all things Maine, Hunting, and the Outdoors.