Later in spring as the bush transforms into a lush, green garden, the black bear rut kicks into high gear. In my region, that’s usually around the May long weekend. And if you’re hunting a large boar during the rut, there’s no better bait than a half-dozen female beauties dining at one location. During the peak of the rut, such a location will showcase some of most intense and exciting bear behaviours. Indeed, the dynamic can change quickly when another dominant boar appears. You’ll often see bears fighting for the right to breed, challenging the established social rankings.
Big mature boars are smart, wary creatures that seldom drop their guard, but during the rut, they can be less cautious while seeking sows in estrus. And alpha boars will travel many kilometres in search of hot sows. Although hunting over a bait site that’s frequented by sows in estrus sounds like a slam dunk, it can be quite frustrating. Even though they can smell the sows, mature boars may also be well aware of your presence, leading them to continually circle the site out of range. This behaviour can go on for hours, even days.
Once an alpha boar has bred a sow, he’ll move on in search of other sows at different bait sites, so encountering one of these trophies can require some luck with your timing. That’s why bait stations visited by multiple breeding sows are best—if you miss one boar, there are still plenty of opportunities for the hunter as more bears come in.
If you’ve got a boar circling and watching a hot sow at your bait site, he will eventually commit and come to her. Such a trophy-calibre bear usually has just one thing on his mind—to get in and get out with her as quickly as possible. So, the moment he makes his move, you must be ready to take the first ethical shot presented.