Shooting fish in a barrel. Shooting ducks on a pond. Easy as pie. Slam dunk.
Do you see where I'm going with this? As spring starts to blossom across North America, hunters get antsy for turkey hunts and the even more controversial spring bear pursuits. The controversy springs from the fact many black bear hunts occur over bait, and a portion of the public, including some hunters, believe it's too easy to shoot a bear over bait.
Sure certain areas of the country have opportunities for spot and stalk, and even calling action, but the majority of black bears are dispersed in dense forests, requiring some incentive for them to appear. As a native of the Great Plains I enjoy a good spot-and-stalk hunt as well as the next guy, but I also try to hunt smart when dropped into new environments.
There's no doubt some bait hunts fit the definition of a slam dunk, but don't bank on it. My first black bear hunt ever was a daily hair-pulling event of ghost bears raiding bait stations in the middle of the night. A last-light encounter in the final minutes of my hunt ended successfully with a big bear, but it was the only bear I saw the entire trip. It also led to my less-than-full mop of hair. Another trip to Saskatchewan ended similarly with a giant bear dodging me daily, and on the last day a gorgeous 300-pounder took the giant's place at the table, giving me a perfect Mathews-made opportunity. I took the shot, but still anguish over the monster that got away.
Just in the past couple weeks I've had conversations with two friends who had 2011 fall tags and monster bears patterned with scouting cameras. Both appeared to be slam dunks for bruisers tipping the scales at well over 400 pounds. Both friends hunted nearly every day for 30 days and both were unsuccessful. Like shooting fish in a barrel, right?
Slam dunks occur on pheasant hunts, whitetail hunts and other critters depending on management schemes, population densities and terrain. But just because bait is involved in bear hunting doesn't mean you should prepare a spot in front of the fireplace for a bear-skin rug.
What's your stance on baiting black bears?