Spot-and-Stalk Vs. Baiting: What's the Best Bear Hunting Method?

Spot-and-Stalk Vs. Baiting: What's the Best Bear Hunting Method?

bait vs spot-and-stalk

Spot-and-Stalk

Real men hunt bears at eye level, not perched in trees swatting mosquitoes and listening to Harlequin romances via audiobook to avoid boredom.

Bait hunting is just an advanced form of trapping in which the hunter becomes the steel jaws of the bear trap. It's a chess game, sure, and a waiting game requiring the ability to sit still and zone yourself into mental nothingness for hours — nay, days on end while waiting for that brief window when the donut-fattened bear of your dreams waddles in and you trigger the trap.


Let loose your imagination and come with me to Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness where I saw the biggest black bear of my life.


My guide, Greg Wonders, and I were sitting in a tiny hanging basin just below the mountain peak, leaning on a massive pine log killed 101 years earlier by a historic fire and eating our lunch, when he pointed up the slope and said through a mouthful of ham sandwich, "Look at that big black bear." Then, he added, "Biggest damn black bear I've seen in years."

The bear was sitting on his haunches 200 yards away, front feet between his splayed rear legs, luxuriating in the afternoon sun. He'd seen us, but was unbothered. He looked like someone had up-ended a '67 VW Bug and planted it on its bumper. Watching this massive bruin was ever so much better than watching a bear bat a hanging rotten beaver carcass around.

Spot-and-stalk bear hunting in an area with a good population of bears and huntable habitat offers the ultimate in bear hunting. It's a real hunt — dynamic and ever-changing, requiring adaptability and excellent stalking savvy. So climb down off your high horse and put yourself in the bear's kitchen and hunt him by his rules. Only by becoming part bear yourself can you be consistently successful at spot-and-stalk hunting. — Joseph von Benedikt

Bait


Show me a self-righteous spot-and-stalk bear hunter and I'll show you a guy who has sooner or later shot a "huge" bear at 300 yards only to hike over and find they could pick it up with one hand. There is no tougher animal to judge, and baiting offsets this — a lot.

Disclosure: I'm a dyed-in-the-Woolrich spot-and-stalk hunter. I'm just not imperious about it for the same reasons I don't drive a Prius or order egg-white omelettes. Bear with me here, ahem, but baiting's superior for a lot of reasons.

Portrayed as a "lazy" hunt, in truth it takes a lot more effort and time to set up a bait than it does to wander the countryside, spot a black blob, and blast it with a big bore.


It's true showing up at a bait that someone else prepped and flattening a bear with a scoped .300 can leave you feeling a little empty if all goes your way. But it rarely does. Close-range thrills and chills come only with bait hunting.

Truth is, very few parts of the U.S. are spot-and-stalk country because bears live in brush country, and outside of the alpine Rockies, you have to bait or run hounds.

Elitism aside, spot-and-stalk hunting is just not that tough. Bears, like moose, are easy to spot and don't see well. Dope the wind, and you can sneak within 200 yards with half the cast of Sesame Street behind you. Big, old bears are actually a lot spookier around a man-made bait because they know there's no free lunch.

But mostly, it's those thrills and chills that make baiting a riot, the magic of being in close proximity to a large predator. Close enough that you'll likely be able to identify a sow before you pull the trigger. And the best thing about baiting? You will never have to name those orphaned cubs that are trying to follow you out of the woods. — Skip Knowles

A 10-Foot Alaskan Brown Bear

Guide Alisha Decker (left) and Donna Boddington with the hide of Donna's exceptional Alaskan brown bear, laid out properly for a "squared" measurement. This particular bear measured out at 9 feet, 11 and 3/4 inches.

A Siberian 9-Footer

Craig Boddington poses with his guide and his kill, a nine-foot brown bear, in Siberia. Siberian bears tend to be less shy toward humans than their Eurasian counterparts and are known for destroying hunters' shed and huts where food is stored. Tours in Eastern Siberia are available in the Spring and Fall.

A 7-Foot Brown Bear

While this seven-foot kill is categorized as OK by Boddington, it goes to show that eight-foot and bigger bears do exist.

The 10-Foot Brown Bear Revisited

Guide Alisha Decker and Donna Boddington pose again with their massive kill.

Boddington With His 11-Foot Kill

Boddington poses with his 11-foot, 29-year-old Alaskan bruin killed in 1981.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 10: Snowbound Chamois

Host Brittany Boddington gets more than she bargained for on what turned out to be a grueling, snowbound and extremely physical hunt for chamois in Romania's Carpathian mountains.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 16: Cedar Break Bucks

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 13: Forest Buffalo

Craig Boddington returns to Mozambique's fame Coutada 10 for a shot a forest buffalo that's eluded him for 10 years.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 9: Aloha Axis Deer

Host Mike Schoby joins his buddies Jon Dubin and Jeff Johnston on the island of Lanai for a deer hunt Hawaiian style!

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Didn't draw? Here are five great places you can make a last-minute mule deer hunt. North America

5 Great Last-Minute Public-land Hunts

Joseph von Benedikt

Didn't draw? Here are five great places you can make a last-minute mule deer hunt.

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians. News

The Ticks Making Hunters Allergic to Meat

David Hart

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians.

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223 Ammo

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

Joseph von Benedikt & David Faubion

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are created equal. Recipes

How to Properly Grill Venison Steak

Hank Shaw

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are...

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

Remember, if you see an animal worthy of killing and pass, you may not see it again. How-To

Should You Pass up a Shot on the First Day of a Hunt?

Craig Boddington

Remember, if you see an animal worthy of killing and pass, you may not see it again.

August is the perfect time to ensure your deer stands are secure and ready. Whitetail

September Is Coming: Now Is the Time to Check Your Treestands

Jeff Johnston

August is the perfect time to ensure your deer stands are secure and ready.

Don't make field dressing a deer any messier than it has to be; make sure you have all the essentials before you go out this season. How-To

DIY Deer Field Dressing Equipment and Tips

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Don't make field dressing a deer any messier than it has to be; make sure you have all the...

Mastering this art form can bring more big bucks to your treestand. Whitetail

The Science of Calling in Whitetails

Jeff Johnston

Mastering this art form can bring more big bucks to your treestand.

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.