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 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 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!

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 12: High Plains Elk

David Draper teams up with Fred Eichler to hunt elk on the high plains of southern Colorado.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 8: Midnight Sun Grizzlies

Kevin Steele and CZ-USA's Jason Morton return to Alaska's arctic tundra for Kevin's second and Jason's third attempt on the legendary species. Things are looking up on day one but time will tell if the boys will get a shot a the king of the tundra.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

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.

If you're spending time in the outdoors where you might encounter bears, carry one of these guns. Survival

Which Firearm Is Best for Bear Defense?

Larry Case - July 11, 2018

If you're spending time in the outdoors where you might encounter bears, carry one of these...

Dream of a job in the hunting industry? Here's the inside scoop on some of the most coveted positions in the outdoors. Stories

17 Dream Jobs in the Outdoor Industry

Kali Parmley

Dream of a job in the hunting industry? Here's the inside scoop on some of the most coveted...

Over the years, Remington has introduced a continuously expanded variety of Model 1100 shotguns. Guns

Remington Timeline: 1963 - Remington Model 1100 Autoloading Shotguns

Hunting Online Staff

Over the years, Remington has introduced a continuously expanded variety of Model 1100...

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

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...

Take the mountain hunting challenge. Camping

Backcountry Hunting Guide & Necessary Gear

Joseph von Benedikt

Take the mountain hunting challenge.

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.

Here's where to find them, plus a bonus recipe. How-To

How to Find Morel Mushrooms in the Spring Woods

David Draper

Here's where to find them, plus a bonus recipe.

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.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now