Tuesday, July 26, 2011

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Night bears got you down? You ask: "What can I do to get them to come in during light hours?". My first response would be to take the food away each night when you leave the hunting site. Leave some molasses sprayed in a high location for the wind to waft around or at least make the bait appear to have been freshened, but eaten. You want this bear to think he has to get there earlier to get his meal before someone else takes it. Also note the temperature. If it is extremely hot out - the bears are not likely to come in the heat of the day. Try hunting in the morning getting to the stand a good deal of time before sunrise. Let things settle. It is cooler then and it only takes him that one time to slip up to make your day. If you just brought the bait in and he is around to smell it in the cool morning – that might be the golden ticket. Another tactic would be being consistent in the timing of your baiting and then changing it one time. That might trigger a response you want. You can also agitate him by collecting some droppings possibly from another bait sight and placing them at the sight you are hunting. He might come in hot headed, but at least he's there! Of course trail cameras are going to tell the real story of when to hunt. Even though you have the data - that doesn't mean you have the whole story. A new bear can come in anytime to change the ending.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Big Brown Hairy Beavers

In Minnesota the success rate of a black bear hunter is 25%. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) does not say anything further about that. That is just whether the tag was filled out and reported or not. In 2008 the odds of being drawn were 11 out of 16 (68.7%) and the year before it was 12 out of 16 (75%). That is just how the MN DNR does it. A total of 7,050 licenses are available in 11 permit areas for 2011. In 2010, bear hunters purchased 7,086 of the 9,500 licenses available and harvested 2,699 bears. That was a 38.1% success rate. That is really good. The MN DNR decreased the number of available tags this year. That should help keep the pressure off your bait sites from other hunters. I believe this to be the intention. I have spoken with the National Forest Service and DNR a number of times about guides with high number of bait sites. Hopefully they will restrict the number of baits a hunter or guide will be able to put out very soon. There are still a number of other variables that may affect your baits: food availability, heat, dryness, activity in your area, etc. This year is turning out to be very wet and this summer is very hot. Food should be growing like crazy in the woods. Some spots will not be accessible to bait. Those bears have it made this year. I suggest bringing out the big guns and present them with your best baits. Black bears like big brown hairy beavers. I have seen them used by stringing them on a line near bait sites in Canada. Sure seems to turn them on.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

News Feed from FeedBurner

You can now subscribe to the Castle Creek Outfitters blog via News Feed from FeedBurner. You can have it delivered right to your email as well.

There is a link above to view the News Feed (orange button) and a textbox to the right to subscribe to have the articles sent via email.

Hope you enjoy the articles - Thank you!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Dinner Bell

When you are baiting your sites - try to make some noise. First of all so you don't startle the bear(s) and find yourself in a situation. Secondly - so they get trained to the dinner bell. I personally whistle as I walk down the trails and always with the same stride. Some bears tend to stay nearby in bedding areas or just beyond the bait sight waiting for their next meal. I have seen a number of them come in on camera just a few minutes after I finish resetting the sight and leave. Some have even given me a hard time to get out of there so they can come in to eat. I find it safer to have a routine – so we both know what to expect.

Like most manmade creations - I find it unethical to utilize them to trigger a reaction in the bears much like Pavlov’s dogs. Baiting with your ATV makes sense in rural areas, but at least turn off the machine and walk in a significant distance with the bait. Taking the muffler off your old truck and driving through the woods is just plain lazy and you should get nailed to the wall by the DNR.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Back Trackers

Bears can smell anything and everything. I have seen a grizzly bear find a chicken wing across a valley two miles away. What does that say about you at the bait sight? You are basically you know what. There are however a few things you can do and be aware of. First of all - whoever is doing the baiting has an upper leg on anyone else in your hunting party. The baiters scent is familiar to the bear by the time hunting starts. You might actually want to do some hard work and get off your fat ass if you want to be more successful. Depending on the wind - the baiter’s scent is always there. The bear just doesn't know if he is there now, just left or was there hours ago. He will have to figure out if it is safe to enter the sight. It is nice that he has been acclimated to your scent.

Another tactic I like to use are scents. I like to place skunk scent between me and the bait. Maybe a little closer to me. Be warned I have been charged by bears a few times thinking I was a skunk eating his food. They do not tolerate skunks in their food and chase them out. It is funny to watch them try to get out from under the bait with a huge bear hanging over them.

Get as much food scent up in the air as possible. Bring a water bottle of molasses and fling the molasses out of the bottle up into the tree leaves or needles. The higher the better. You can get 5 gallon buckets of it from your local feed mill. You can also bring your own buckets for them to fill. Don’t bring the molasses up into the stand with you for obvious reasons.

Putting bar grease (that’s right – the stuff they cook your food in) in the bottom of your bait for the first few times baiting and over the logs - you can even mix it into your corn / bread mixture. The bears like the taste, but most of all they get it on their paws from moving the logs or digging in the bait. This is important because when they leave they are leaving a scent trail into the woods for other bears to come across to follow back to the bait. The more back tracking bears to the bait the better!

Scent is going to be your biggest ally and also your biggest foe. Try to reduce your scent. Use scent killer, wash your clothes in scent products, don't smoke, try to mask your breath and don't touch evey single thing you come across in the woods.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trail Timers and Cams

Great aids in bear hunting are trail timers or trail cameras. You can collect data on the date and time, temperature, moon phase and photo of the animal that passed through or stopped at the bait site. The trail timer works by a string line pulling the plastic disconnect (zip-strip) out to turn off the clock - trip it. However, I have had jays land on the line and get tangled-up right in front of me numerous times to send false readings. Coons and skunks are notorious trippers as well. When you place the plastic back between the contacts the clock will show the time and date it was turned off for you to take note of. It will continue running again from that moment on. Bring a watch or cell phone for reference to reset the date and time. I carried a notebook or a smart phone to take stats of the sites activity when I use to use trail timers. This was before the age of trail cameras. Rabbits and badgers are too low to trip the line, but you notice them at the bait with trail cameras. If you leave any scent on the trail timers you will more than likely pay for it. The cubs and the ever inquisitive adult bears will chew on them and there goes your liquid crystal display. It seemed as though all of my cases had at least one nice puncture in them. Bears always brake the lines and obviously get tangled up in the string. I always carried two full spools of sewing string with me in brown. I borrowed them from my wife. These were great aids in knowing when bears were coming in for the first time or if one was there at all along with the obvious sign. There were a few times where I had to fight to get a reading from a smart bear. I once put out three lines cause he kept circumventing the trip. The biggest problem with trip timers is that it is a onetime event. Did other bears come in and who was first? The little print or the big one?

Film trail cameras were ok and the digital ones were expensive. Then IR (infrared) came out. That is when I decided to go all out and buy a bunch of digital infrared trail cameras with bear cages and locks. It was like night and day. My biggest concern was theft. The bear cage can be mounted with a screw(s) and then pad-locked with a cable around the tree. The trail timers were under $20 each. Now we were talking $250 for the camera, $50 for the bear cage, 6 D batteries and $20 for a 2 GB memory card. To have a bunch of these units at every bait was a little unnerving. They have come down a lot in price, but still not disposable. Funny thing - no one has ever touched one. Mostly due to no one ever finding them. It pays to put extra effort into your setups and get away from the humans. I carry an extra memory card for every camera. Once I reset or check a bait I swap out the card and make note of which bait it came from. It is worth the investment until you can one day just pull the pictures from your cell phone with blue tooth…hint hint to other EE’s (Electrical Engineers) out there! Another tip is to bring a laptop with you and leave it at your home base or secured in your vehicle. It is always nice to put the photos in the proper folder right away however you decide to organize them. One last tip is beware of the red light emitted from the LEDs at night from the IR. I know deer don’t like them too much. Bears tend to be indifferent. But still try to do something to make it less noticeable at the bait sight. There is also a slight click from the shutter when the photo or video is being taken. I never found the laser to be all that useful. I usually just use a line of sight and that has been good enough.

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