First Bear

WARNING: This video contains images that may be offensive to some people. Watch at your own discretion. On another note, someone has already mistaken the motorcycle revving in the background as the bear moaning but this is not so. He expired almost immediately and there is no audible sounds coming from the bear. It was a very quick and humane kill.

You might think that bear hunting is easy or a guaranteed thing here in Minnesota because the DNR allows baiting for bear hunters. Baiting for bear can start two weeks prior to the season so by the time the season begins, you should have your bears coming in and everything lined up to take your bear opening day right? In a perfect world, maybe so. Or if it were that easy, baiting probably would not be allowed.

I have tried baiting bear several different odd years now without ever getting one bear to come in for the bait. Mostly, I just gave up and didn’t bother applying for bear tags because it was a lot of work, time, and money for nothing and I spent most of my time chasing after whitetails with my bow anyway. Once deer season started, I pretty much abandoned the bear thing.

Well this year I drew a permit so I went ahead and bought my tag. After making up my mind, I was more determined to make it happen and wasn’t giving up so easily this time around. I kept baiting well into deer season and am glad I did.

After five weeks had gone by, I had tried baiting in 4 different areas without so much as a sniff from a bear. And then I received a call from someone who had been having a bear damaging their apple trees. I quickly got in and setup a bait station on this property of over 200 acres. After scouting it out, I decided on setting up about 800 feet to the West of the apple trees, on the other side of a pond set back in the woods near some denser cover. There was an old metal wash bin sitting back in the woods right near by so I grabbed it and figured it would work well to flip over the top of the bait to keep smaller critters and rain out.

Right away I returned the second day to check the bait and put more bait down. The wind was gusting hard that day as I was walking down the hill to my bait station, buckets in hand and looking ahead to see if any logs had been moved or the wash bin flipped – but no. Then I noticed something and looked up a bit and just past the bait pile was a bear standing there, quartering away from me and licking his lips. I was a bit surprised because it was only about 2:00 in the afternoon. He still didn’t know I was there and I quickly set my buckets down waiting for him to notice me. Turning, he looked and saw me there and then quickly trotted off into the woods. I put out more bait and left.

The following day I brought a treestand with me, set it up and sat in it right away. Figuring he might show again early, I arrived earlier and sat a long sit. Just as it was getting dark with only a few minutes of shooting light left is when he showed up. By the time he was out in front of me where I could make a shot, it was too dark. He would not leave either. I could only see shapes at this point. Once in a while it sounded like he was sweeping at the ground. I sat and listened to his generally heavy breathing and sighing. Finally, I had a couple of friends show up to help. They were able to walk in and push him out so that I could climb down from my tree without revealing my location or having him know that I was there. Not to mention it was just creepy sitting in the pitch black with a bear right under me.

I continued baiting daily and sat again a day or two later. He never showed up, yet it was obvious he was coming in to the bait every day. I feared he was only showing late at night now due to our previous encounters. I decided to skip a day of baiting and sit the next to see if that would reset his clock. The temperature was dropping and the nights were just starting to really get cold, dropping down into the 30’s F.

Sure enough, he showed up well before dark this time, first coming from the North and then hooking in from the East downwind. He had a very noticeable limp in his step, favoring his back right leg. As he arrived at the bait, it was apparent he had no idea I was there. Only once did he lift his head for a second and give a quick sniff but got right back to the food.

As he quartered away nicely I really took my time and lined up a shot tight behind that front leg. Holding the pin on his vitals, I wanted to make sure I was on spot. Squeezing the release I watched the light from my arrow fly right into the bear in just a perfect way. Taking off, he didn’t make it more than 15 yards and was expired within seconds.

Bowhunting Bear in Minnesota

This bear dressed out at 145 lbs.

Upon closer inspection, it appeared he had some kind of wound that was infected in his back leg. Perhaps it was good for him that he crossed my path. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to having my first taste of bear!

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