When shopping an outfitter that sells hunts over bait, previous success is crucial. That being said, what constitutes success? Most first time bear hunters ask how many bear were taken the year before. Though this is a valid question, there are many factors that should also be taken into consideration.
The amount of bear harvested, paired with how many hunters were hunting is a good start but first and foremost of all outfitter success is spot rate. How many of the hunters actually saw a bear on or near their bait? This answer is crucial to gaging your outfitter as experienced and professional. A good outfitter will show you a bear and hopefully multiple bear.
How does that happen? Consistency!
Proper and diligent baiting will promote the desired outcome of a bear presenting itself to an area, hopefully during shooting hours, to garner itself a well thought out meal. If an outfitter is sporadic or inconsistent with baiting times or feed, the likelihood and predictability of a ‘hitting’ pattern won’t be discovered.
Many outfitters have their own method of baiting and what to bait with. Some use barrel and popcorn or cereal mix, carcasses secured to a tree or in our case, ‘A’ framed logs with a host of carb filled goodies delivered daily with no fail.
What we have found over the years is that this method not only leaves no pollution (the logs can biodegrade if a bait is abandoned) but during late summer and the early part of fall (our preferred hunt time) bear just love those sweets and our hunters appreciate not having to share a close quarter with any form of rotting meat.
Though some bears may be curious, rotting meat sometimes dissuades a bear from coming in.and that’s a chance that we don’t want to take.
We ensure that an unchanging meal is delivered with predictable timing each day. The daily routine not only keeps bear moving in, but it also allows us to chart ‘hit rates’. A ‘hit’ is when the bait has been opened and emptied of its contents. Though we bait for several days prior, 7 days of unfailing consecutive ‘hits’ constitutes an active bait that we are willing to put a hunter on as the likelihood of seeing a bear is high.
This type of diligence will enhance an outfitters overall spot rate increasing their personal success and therefore give their hunters a much higher chance of a fortuitous harvest which is rewarding for both parties.
That being said, even if an outfitter practices consistency, they can destroy a high spot rate with excessive harvesting (we will talk about this in a future article). A recent trend has emerged with the over sale of bear hunts by some. Advertising a nice number of bear taken the year before is used to ‘bait’ hunters in with the dream of almost guaranteed success but the often overlooked information is how many hunters it took to yield that number.
20 bruin harvested last year with an outfitter may sound impressive but pair that with 100 hunters over baits, that number quickly becomes feeble and reveals a likely low spot rate. When you contact outfitters, and ask for spot rate (which is a mandatorily charted in Ontario), they should be able to not only tell you, but a good outfitter will show you as they have likely noted it for their own records. This is done to ensure consistency and help track population patterns for future years’ hunts.
The size of the area managed can also affect spot rate if an outfitter over sells their hunts. A small area can easily become over hunted if not properly controlled and a large boar can very well rule a large area and assist in deteriorating your chances if they have pushed off other bear from the area. Keep this in mind when asking for numbers of hunters relative to size of area managed compared to sighting. Wawang boasts a 1200 square mile bear management area and enough diverse habitat to support many bruin of all sizes.
For the past ten years we have averaged a 93% spot rate and in 2012 with 17 hunters participating, 13 harvested bear, 2 missed shots and one didn’t attempt a shot. 2 were well over 400lbs and the average being 300lbs. Many were submitted and were either Pope and Young winners or Boone and Crockett recipients.
In the end, our motto is “We do our best to put the bear in your sights, it is up to you what you do with that chance.” This should be the mantra in the forefront of your mind when shopping an outfitter for that heart pounding hunt!
Until next time….When the opportunity presents itself, GRIN AND BEAR IT!