Early in the spring, both male and female bears of all sizes begin to show up at bait sites to replenish calories after the long winter months. The closer your bait stations are to dens, the more likely you are to see bears. Hunting these sites in the early spring can sometimes be fruitful, but with the peak of the rut still weeks away, the best is yet to come. More often, early-season bear baiting is slow, with few or no visitors for weeks as the bruins slowly emerge from their winter dens and wander in search of food sources.
With the bears not interested in much else besides eating, their behaviour is quite predictable during this time. It’s not uncommon to see multiple bears feeding together peacefully with little or no tension between them. My trail cameras have captured up to six bears feeding together under the moonlight, for example.
To attract black bears straight out of the den, you need a strong odour—the more horrific the smell, the better. It also helps to disperse the scent throughout the woods. Since beavers are a favourite bear snack, tether one behind your quad and drag it around to create a scent trail leading to the bait station. To attract even more bears, I also dump restaurant grease at my bait site (below). It sticks to the bears’ paws and creates even more scent trails leading to my set-up.
Note: If the weather turns cold, bears have been known to abandon bait sites and return to their dens to wait it out, making hunting unproductive until the cold snap passes.