Bear baiting opens July 27

Bear baiting opens this Saturday. I started thinking last winter about where I wanted to put the bait barrel. It seems like somewhere on this 45 acres we own there would be a good spot. There isn’t. For the sake of the dogs and bears, who should never meet, it needs to be far from the house.  I don’t want to tromp through bog to get to the barrel every day, or draw the bears near the camp and homes close by. Good places for a barrel didn’t have a good tree for the stand. It was frustrating.

I had to keep landowner permission in mind. You can’t place a barrel on someone else’s land without permission. Along with permission to bait on the land, the specific location also matters. I went to land a friend owns and looked for signs of bears. No tracks in the sand or mud, no hair, no ripped up stumps or logs. I couldn’t find a good place for the tree stand; recently harvested, the bigger trees are in wide open spaces. Nothing there for me.

Steve and I looked at another piece of land Sunday afternoon. The further he drove the more discouraged I became. We got out and walked in one spot but the only good spot for the bait was easily accessible and wide open. I don’t want someone to stumble upon the site, and don’t want someone tampering with it. The search continued.

Finally, on foot, at the top of a hill, at a group of large pine trees, with a clearing for the barrel and straight shooting alley, we found the site. It’s not perfect but it will work just fine. The next step was talking to the landowner to tell him exactly where the site is and get permission.  He’s providing permission in writing.

bear bait barrel

I’ve spent most of my time sitting in a tree stand at this bait barrel.

We’ll be carrying the tree stand, barrel and chain up a steep hill. It isn’t accessible by vehicle. I’ll carry bait and later rifle and pack up the hill. I’ll get my daily dose of exercise.

I’m drawing on three years of hunting (tree stand, on foot, and behind a one-sheet ground blind), two years of baiting and the ability to call our friend Peter when I have questions. Steve will help me set up and tear down the stand, and then I’m on my own most of the time.

I’ll be writing about the barrel and getting it prepped for the bait, what I’m using for bait, tending the barrel, and other aspects of baiting and hunting. Bear hunters are often called lazy. I’ll show and tell you about the work involved in tending a single bait. I plan to visit a ground blind or two to take pictures, and I’ll show you different barrels and buckets.

I planned to write this series without emotion but that’s not my style. I’ve already been frustrated. I’m a little nervous. I’m setting up in a new spot. I don’t know anything about the bears in the area. I have no experience drawing them into a new barrel, only someone else’s stories. Which way will the bears come in…if they come in at all? There’s comfort in familiarity and this time, I have little of that. Most of all, I’m nervous because I’m doing this under public scrutiny. Friends tell me not to take the bashing personally. I hope when people who disagree with baiting comment on what I’ve written that they’re respectful and civil. I can have great conversations with people who are willing to discuss rather than brow beat.

Keep an open mind and learn with me. I’m open to advice and interested in your tips. If you’d like to tell your bear baiting story please email me.

Robin Follette

About Robin Follette

Maine Press Association award winner, 2013. Robin's Outdoors, Bangor Daily News, third place in Sports blogs. I grew up with a fishing pole in my hand and have always loved the outdoors. From gardening to hunting and fishing, kayaking, camping, hiking and foraging, most of my time is spent outdoors. I teach outdoor skills as a volunteer instructor for Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs and Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. Pro-staff at The Limb Grip. My personal blog is here. I'm currently working on my first book, a collection of short stories based on my outdoors experiences.