10 conseils de pro pour la chasse à l'ours

10 Pro Tips for Bear Hunting

Having decided to start bear hunting a few years ago, I have since accumulated several tips from friends, as well as those from seasoned professionals in this field. Their combined experience allowed me to collect a wealth of valuable, even essential tips to tackle this adventure successfully. Here is my “harvest” of pro tips for bear hunting.

Signature: by Valérie Gauthier, Sportchief and Ecotone ambassador

  1. Target locations for baiting sites
Use bait in specific locations. Based on my observations over the years, I favor locations near a stream or beaver pond. The Big Boys Outdoors team reiterates the importance of avoiding areas that are too open and prioritizing a mature forest in which the bear will feel safe.

    Dan Lavoie, speaker and hunting guide, who has been hunting for 25 years and organizing bear hunting expeditions for 12 years, adds that it is important to do good scouting to ensure that there are no has no other hunters within a 3 km radius. If the sites are too close to each other, the same bear will go to feed at the two baiting sites, so it halves the presence on your site.”, he explains, recalling that the 3 km can vary depending on the topography of the sector. For example, if a very large lake is nearby, we can reduce the 3 km since the bear will never swim across.
    Moreover, Dan Lavoie never hunts on a new site the first year. For him, there is a study phase before switching to hunting mode: “I study the potential and habits of game. This way I can easily see the trails left by the bears as they come and go. Only then did they choose our location to install our lookout. This way we ensure that we are not close to their trail, which could harm the habits of our game by detecting our presence during hunting periods.” Then, 100% of the time, he will recommend a path to go to bait and another path to go to the viewpoint (lookout). “Past experiences have shown me that in a good majority of the time, bears will even ignore the smell of footsteps on the ground directing them towards the viewpoint. This is why I will favor two trails to avoid bad experiences in the hide site.”

    1. Establish a routine

    Start feeding your bait sites early in the season to take advantage of the fact that bears are more active after hibernation and looking for food. Be regular about your site feeding times, then try to always do the same process or noise, they get used to your regular presence and the sound left on site. For example, hunters at Big Boys Outdoors explain: “Don’t hesitate to do the same ritual with recognizable noises, like banging on your barrel before leaving the area.”

    1. Lures and food

    Olfactory lures are good ways to attract bears to the baiting site given their very keen sense of smell, their nose will easily lead them there. Feed your sites regularly and note that they have a sweet tooth. Using popcorn, molded bread and sweet coulis are excellent suggestions. Be sure to use long-distance scent lures to attract animals to your site, Big Boys Outdoors recommends.
    This is also one of the best pieces of advice dictated by Dan Lavoie: “Smell is your best tool. Bears are easily outsmarted by their stomachs. They come out of hibernation, and they have eaten some vegetation in order to trigger their intestinal process. They are therefore actively looking for food. No matter what food you use, to remove a bait site, put the package on the odor side. Lots of smells!”, he insists. He even goes so far as to make scent lines in an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), along paths or ATV trails over good distances (around 1 km). For what? It is well known that bears love to use forest road networks or trails in search of food. If they pick up your scent line, they will inevitably arrive at your site. “Also, the sooner bears discover your site, the more regular the visits will be and most bears reside within a radius of 2 to 4 square km. Once an interesting specimen is there regularly, you're off to go hunting.”, he lets it fall. 

    Be careful, however, not to leave the site without food for more than 3 to 4 days, because the bears will leave in search of food elsewhere!

    The daughter of Valérie Gauthier, our ambassador, proud of her harvest.
    1. Target the best location for watchtowers

    When choosing the location of your watchtowers for black bear hunting, it is important to take the prevailing winds into account. To minimize your own odors, position your treestand so that the wind carries your odor in a direction opposite to where you placed the barrel.

    Tailwinds are risky. If you choose to hunt with wind coming from behind you, I suggest creating a scent line between you and the feeding site with scent lures to try to foil their attentions as the bear can easily detect you. The best solution remains, in my opinion, to refrain from hunting when the winds come from behind you in order to avoid making the game fearful.

    "The basis that should not be minimized, pleads Dan Lavoie, is to remain an ethical hunter with clean and not reckless shooting, no matter if it is hunting with a firearm, crossbow or bow."

    1. Control your odors when bear hunting

    The black bear's sense of smell is extremely keen, so minimizing your human scent is crucial. Use deodorizing products specifically designed to neutralize any odors you may have. Avoid any perfume. Wash your clothes with odorless detergents and ideally hang them outside to dry. While traveling in the forest, try to also minimize contact with vegetation to reduce the transfer of odors. Put all chances aside. 

    1. Preparation and equipment

    Make sure you have all the necessary equipment, suitable hunting clothing , silent and with camouflage to conceal yourself well. Mosquito jacket or hood, bib, gloves, cap, etc. A proper, well-fitted weapon before switching to hunting mode.

    1. Surveillance cameras

    Using surveillance cameras can be a useful tool. Placed in specific areas such as in game movement corridors or directly at the feeding site, they will certainly help you identify potential game and the time of its movements during your absence. This can be beneficial for you in gathering information for your hunting strategies. Big Boys Outdoors adds that it is important to choose a camera with good video quality to properly identify bears visiting the site. “You will thus be able to notice a particularity of each individual and thus establish your hunting objectives accordingly.”, they dictate. 

    1. Activity period

    Bears are generally most active around dawn and dusk, so hunting during these times can increase your chances of spotting a nice big buck . Sunny days can make hunting more difficult because bears are less active. On the other hand, cloudy or rainy days are often costly.

    1. Bait barrels

    The use of bait barrels is necessary, regardless of the model. I suggest you tie them to a tree or a solid anchor to prevent game from moving them in the forest. Barrels are often locked to prevent the bear from accessing them too easily. Leave only a few small openings for the bear to feed. Near the barrel, you can place liquids such as grout to increase your visits, the smell left on the paws of the last bear may attract other individuals.

    1. Mental preparation

    Bear hunting can require long hours of waiting and seeing nothing. It is important to mentally prepare for this wait and be focused on the end goal. So be patient and have a good hunt!


    Last but not least, what does Big Boy Outdoors recommend to us? Be patient! “Don’t be discouraged if you only see females and young males at the start of the season. Females who regularly visit your site will attract mature males during the mating period.”