How To Attract Black Bear Without Bait

More states now provide Black Bear hunting seasons than a decade ago. Although bear baiting is a popular and effective method, not all states with bear hunting seasons allow hunters to bait. So, how to attract black bear without bait has become a topic of concern for hunters. 

Hunting black bear without bait can be one of the most difficult and scary experiences you’ll ever have. While laying bait for your target would undoubtedly facilitate the hunt, it is not always permitted. Baiting regulations differ from one state to the next, and violations can result in harsh penalties. 

However, there are other effective methods to get their attention, without resorting to food enticements. It might seem like a difficult task but by employing the proper strategies and precautions, you can effectively entice these elusive critters. Keep reading the article to immediately discover what these alternative methods are and how to implement them effectively.

Black Bear Behavior 

It’s important to understand the basics of black bear behavior. The more you know about these animals, the easier it will be to attract them. 


Black bears inhabit a wide range of environments, including forests, mountains, and wamps. They prefer areas with dense vegetation, which provides cover and easy access to food sources. Black bears are generally solitary animals, with males being more territorial than females. They normally like to forage and roam alone. 


Black bears are omnivore, which means they eat a wide variety of foods, including both plants and meat. Their diet consists of roots, berries, meat, fish, insects, larvae, grass, and other succulent plants. Bears are drawn to human rubbish, livestock or pet food, and other human-associated edibles such as fruit trees. They also scavenge for carrion and will occasionally hunt larger prey, such as deer.


Black bears are most active during early morning and late evening, but they can be seen throughout the day. They tend to be solitary creatures, except during the mating season or when a mother is caring for her cubs. During winter, black bears enter a state of hibernation. Black bears can climb and swim quickly. They are able to escape danger by climbing trees or traversing bodies of water.

How To Attract Black Bear Without Bait 

In addition to using bait, there are 4 alternative methods of attracting bears that are highly effective, including: 

  • Set up GPS
  • Check the thermals 
  • Follow the food
  • Play predator calls

Each method has its own way of applying it, let’s learn in detail below. 

Set Up GPS

Online tools like BaseMap and Google Earth are excellent for scouting virtually from your home. They can assist you in locating potential hunting areas, water sources, food, neighboring highways, land accessibility, and cover.

Make cautious to look for areas with dense foliage and drainages if you plan to venture into the notorious bear territory. Since bears frequently hide in these places, you can get an advantage over them before visiting. 

Check The Thermals 

Not to sound too technical, but thermals and wind play a vital part in bear hunting. When you spot a bear, be aware of thermals. Thermals are key to achieving success when pursuing your prey. 

how to attract black bear without bait

Air currents known as thermals rise and fall in response to daily temperature variations. Make sure you are in the proper location for the thermals to transfer your scent away from your target since they will bring it with them. Depending on the time of day, this may differ. Prior to actually starting to stalk the bear, you could occasionally need to wait an hour or two.

When the sun heats the earth in the morning, the air rises and thermals move upward, much like fog. When the air cools in the evening, thermals will go downward. When hunting black bears, take use of the wind and thermals. 

Follow The Food 

Acorns, berries, and clovers are among the foods that black bears frequently pursue. You are better off following thick acorn levels in the fall; in the spring, seek for dense clovers and skunk cabbages. 

Weather and elevation also play an important effect on the available food sources for any particular year. Bears can be found at all elevations, but they are concentrated in places with plenty of food. 

During the warmer months, it is less common to observe bears out in the open. Dark timber is an excellent spot to begin your bear search when the weather is warmer. Bears usually work the edges between dark timber and open country for food. You’ll find your prey more often if you follow timbered fingers and dark, cold gulches.

Hunters should go to higher land in the morning to search for nearby drainages before thermals increase. This tells you what’s in each drainage point and where the bears congregate.

Play Predator Calls

Black bears are naturally curious animals and are often drawn to the sound of other animals in distress. By playing predator calls, such as those of coyotes or mountain lions, you can pique their interest and lure them in. 

Predator calling is not that difficult. Shaded slopes in the heat of summer and sunny slopes during the cool days of fall or spring are among hunters’ preferred spots to make bear calls.

It’s important to note that predator calls should be used with caution and only in areas where black bear hunting is allowed. Additionally, you should make sure you’re not endangering other wildlife in the process.

Read this post: How Far Can A Black Bear Smell?

Comparisons: Bait Vs. Non-Bait Methods

While using bait to attract black bears is a common practice, it’s not without its drawbacks. Here are 3 aspects of comparison between bait and non-bait methods you should consider:

  1. Cost: Baiting can be expensive, as you need to purchase or make large quantities of food to set up an effective bait station. Non-bait methods, such as  predator calls, are often more affordable.
  2. Safety: Improper execution of baiting can pose a risk. Bears that become habituated to human food sources may become aggressive or pose a risk to public safety. Non-bait methods do not have this same risk. 
  3. Ethics: Some people view baiting as unethical, as it alters the natural behavior of the animal. Non-bait methods allow for a more natural interaction with the animal and lessens the impact on the environment. 

Leave a Comment