We've had incredible luck predator calling black bears in the past, but it’s always been in Alaska on Prince of Wales Island, and it’s usually in the spring. This season I was planning to start off on a bear hunt in Ontario. The usual method of hunting for this area is done over bait. However, I had another idea.
I wanted to be able to call bear in, and use bait sites to my advantage. The first thing I did was try to figure out what type of animal bear prey on the most in the area. After talking with the outfitter and checking around, I realized there was an abundant supply of moose in the area. So, a moose calf in distress call would probably be the most effective.
One of the main reasons people hunt over bait in this area is because of how thick brush is, and how huge of an area there is to hunt. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where bear are found, and at what time. So, we spent our mornings driving around and checking all the bait sites while looking for sign in the surrounding area. I also put numerous Cuddeback’s out to get a better idea of what time bears hit bait, and what size bear they are in the area. In my experience most of the bear move right before dark, but I was hoping to find a big bore that was out earlier and feeding in the afternoon. Too, I wanted to try to call well before dark hoping to get a bear traveling from one place to another.
As we scouted and checked cameras, we found that all the bear were coming about the same time, about 30-minutes to an hour after dark. After understanding that there would be no real advantage to one bait site over another, I decided to base where I would hunt on the terrain. I wanted to find an area that wasn’t too thick, and a place where I could possibly have a bit of a vantage point to hopefully see for at least a 100-yards.
One important thing to remember when you’re trying to call black bear is you’re going to need a gun with some incredible knockdown power. Many times bear will come charging in with no intention of stopping, so you need to be ready for a frontal shot or have the knockdown power needed to shoot through thick brush. For this hunt, I decided to use a Winchester Super X3 slug gun. I’ve always been a big fan of slugs and in a situation like this, I couldn’t think of a better setup. Most of my shots would be within 100-yards since I really couldn’t see any further.
The most difficult part of this hunt was finding an area where I could see a great distance. Bear rely on their sense of smell. I was worried that if a big bore heard my call, his first instinct would be to get down wind - so I wanted to see him before that could happen. I also tried to put ponds or steep bluffs at my back to help keep bear from circling downwind without my knowledge. The one big bonus that I found in this area was the fact that logging was extremely prominent. So, I started looking for places that had been cut a few years prior, and focused my attention there. It provided a large area were I could see pretty far, but allow the bears in the thick forest to hopefully hear my call. I also focused my attention near bait sites that had been hit, so my chances of a big bore hearing the call would hopefully go up.
Day after day I hunted hard and tried a variety of methods, but nothing happened. I never doubted that if a big bear was up and moving around he would come into my call, but that’s one of the difficult parts about hunting black bear. They like to come in late and basically sleep all day. I’m guessing if I would have just put in my time at a bait site, I probably would have tagged out on a bear. However, I was really enjoying the challenge of the hunt and trying to figure these bear out. It’s a different way to hunt, and a learning experience – one that can’t be expected to work every time. I never did call a bear in, but that’s the way it works out sometimes. Either way it’s an exciting method to try if you’re looking to hunt bear, and I can tell you from experience it’s a real adrenaline rush when it all comes together.