“Calling All Bears”
By Barry Dart
Over the past few years I’ve done an annual and now semi – annual self guided bear hunt in central Ontario which consists of setting up and maintaining bait stations to spark both the curiosity and hunger of the local black bear population here in Kawartha Lakes.
For those of you who bear hunt this way, you know how much work is involved. Time management is key when you commit to the task of bear baiting, which I won’t elaborate on except to say; keep the barrels full, human scent around your baiting area to a minimum and maintenance time at the site short.
Having said that let’s say your bait site is set up, you have consistent bear activity and you are ready to go. As you prepare for a morning or evening hunt and you are getting your back pack in order, make sure you add a rodent and cottontail distress call to your equipment list. I have been carrying predator calls for years when I sit at bait sites and they’ve been game changers on many occasions.
For example, a perfect time to use a mouse distress is when a bear has come into a barrel, sits down behind it and won’t offer a shot. Many times in this case with a couple of very soft “squeaks” a bear will get curious enough to step out for a closer look. Soft and subtle is the key here. Never be aggressive with the calls at your bait site.
Another great example of when to use a predator distress call is if a bear comes into the bait and for whatever reason you make some noise and he spooks off. In this case, wait for 10 minutes or so then use a very soft cottontail distress. Blow the call just once or twice very softly and that’s it. Often times it will bring a bear back in for a look. I’m sure there are bear hunters that will read this and want to argue this suggestion; however from my personal experience I have called bears back to my bait site 3 different times in the past couple years using calls.
Using a tactic like this especially when you are hunting over bait is not the magic answer for shooting that trophy of a life time, however it can make the difference between getting a shot or coming away empty handed.
Remember “hunt smarter not harder”