NEW SITKA Ambient 75

Improved bait barrel


New member
Apr 2, 2001
Hey Guys, I'm new to HT and like it so far.

I live in Idaho at the moment but lived in Alaska for 8 years prior to moving. I tried baiting there and got lots of activity but no shooter bears on my bait. I read about how its critical to keep a site baited once its hit or you'll lose those bears for the rest of the season. The same rule applies both ways--once you condition them to find food at your bait they'll keep coming back until you screw-up and fail to rebait for 2 or 3 days in a row and re-condition them not to come back.

Well this gave me an idea-figure out a way to make my bait accessible to only those bears big enough to shoot while simultaneously frustrating the little bears into going somewhere else.

Here's what I came up with--hang the barrel (horizontally) from two trees so it swings free and high enough so that only big bears can reach the bait. Try it and I think you'll like the results.

Here's my building plans:
Take a clean 55gal drum and cut half of one end out so you have a halfmoon opening. Install two heavy eyebolts along the side (this will be the top when its hung up) one at each end so that the halfmoon opening is up. Cut out an 18 inch square access door in the top of the drum between the eyebolts and reattach with hinges and a hasp so you can easily rebait after its hung up.

Now drag it out to your site and hang it up. I hang mine so that the bottom of the opening is armpit high on me (I'm 5-10). I also put about 3 feet of chain on the eyebolts and then tie the ropes to that. I had a bear claw through the rope of my first hung barrel. I also poke a few holes along the bottom to let the maple syrup slowly drip out and to let any rain water drain.

For bait I really like sweet horse grain; its cheap, sweet, bears like it and they have to stay at the bait to eat it. I add a couple of gallons of maple syrup and hand a few vanilla drips in nearby trees. I like this system because any regular activity usually means the bear hitting it is a decent size animal and the barrel makes a great judging guide. Any bear that can stand and stick his whole arm in the barrel is about 6 foot. If he has to bend over at all, he's over 6 foot. Also by making them stand you can get a better view of their undersides which make sorting the sows from the boars much easier. You can see a wet sow's teats pretty clearly this way.

A vanilla drip is easy to make: Buy a few pint bottles of immitation vanilla flavor remove the caps and poke a small hole in the center of each cap(DO NOT PUNCTURE THE FOIL SEAL NOW) take a 2 foot piece of white kitchen string(or whatever you have handy) tie a knot in one end and run it through the hole to form a wick. Next, duct tape an elongated coat hanger to the vanilla bottle to form a hanger. When you get to your site poke through the foil seal and hang up out of reach. If you didn't make your hole too big it will take about 4 to 5 days for the bottle to drip dry.

You can do the same thing with bacon grease too. Save up about a pint's worth. Warm it enough so that it pours easily, and pour it into a 2 liter soda bottle thats been painted black. Now pour a pint to a quart of vegetable oil on top of that and shake well. Save some extra bottle caps to make wick-caps from so you can put your wick on at the site. The black paint keeps the grease warm and liquified if there's been any sun at all.

I'll be baiting in 39 this year. Good luck.
Sounds like alot of work just to feed some bears.I bet the little ones find there way into your barel too.I just cut a 6" hole in one end ad 50# horse charger and 5 gal frialater grees and lay it on its side.No water gets in and the bears hafta reach in with a paw and work the bait out.It takes one bear about 5 days to emty it.If you got a wet sow coming you will see the cubs before you see her.

Welkome to the board and good luck this spring bear hunting
Hey Tobey, you gonna get a semi load of jellybeans and stuff like last, or was that Steve Nissley that had the jelly beans
If you live nesr a Hersey chocolate plant you can get the rejects for free. I can not bait were I live so the only use for it is to fee to cows. Cheep energy.

Tobey, that was alot of words to describe something that only takes about an hour to make. Between me and 3 friends who use the same type barrel, we've never seen a small bear hang around longer than a minute or two and that was only to sniff around for leftovers. As far as wet sows are concerned most I've had come in to bait run their cubs up a nearby tree first. They may or may not do this where you notice but when she stands to get into the bait you can see her teats hanging there plain as day.

You'r right about one thing, there's definitly more work involved.
2-fingers, You're not Planning to Bait were I am ARE YA ?!?!?!? ;) I will be above Idaho city in 39 :D HAve ya been to that area yet to See the Snow melt?!!?\

We've pulled several bears consistantly out of there but None real huge ones...

I like your Baiting Idea.. Now I'll know when I run Accross your Bait site :D :D

I diden't mean any disrespect for your bait sistem and am sorry if I inplied that!!!
I run about 40 baits a year and have around 30 bait hunters booked each year.Last year we estamated we where feeding a minamum of 80 bears.We killed 25 and no wet sow's.Your Sow's must be diffrent then our's Up here a sow will not come into the bait when she has cub's she stays out on the primeter and gards wiel the cub's eat.She only drives her cub's up a tree if theres danger in the aria.Like another bear coming in or the hunter spooks her.We like feeding the cubes and whet sow's just to keep them helthy and to keep them of other baits where the hunters don't have any ethics.We also study our baits and know when we have Cubes coming and wount put a hunter there unles there is a biger bear also eating there.But we make it cleer to that hunter there is Cub's coming.
Good luck hunting and hope you get a big one.
I like the idea and it's good to see a new approach to an old way of hunting. I wish more folks would be creative like this. I also wish I could try it here in Montana, but alas it's a hike and look, and hike some more type deal here.
Tobey, no offense taken at all. If your running that many sites you have a ton more experience at this than I do. I only run one site and move it if I have too, so i guess its easy to get caught up in the details. This worked for me and I just wanted to share it here in case someone out there was having the same problem.

I cooked up my "system" because although my area had good numbers of bears, it was a two hour drive from my house and rebaiting after work became really difficult and I lost some big bears(based on tracks left at my bait) because I couldn't keep up. The vast majority of hits were from 4-foot two year olds. They were neat to watch and I learned more about bear behavior from them, but I was after a 6-footer and was tired of feeding little bears. My ground baits were costing too much in terms of gas and time.

I pretty sure I'll get some more education on bears in the next few weeks. I never really thought about before but its entirely possible that bear behavior varies from population to population, so if these Idaho sows come in with cubs I'll just shoot them too..............with my camera.

Oh yeah Guys.....scent drags! Work like a charm. Burlap bag stuffed with some rags and 5 feet of rope. Drag whatever scent you like(I use the same bacon flavored oil I use for the scent dripper bottles) from your site to nearby trails, saddles, ridges and streams. Drag existing game trails because thats where the bears walk.

Also, rake the ground down to bare dirt right in front of your bait to get a look at tracks. Rule of Thumb for you who may not already know: The width of the front track (across the toe pads) in inches, is roughly equal to the body length in feet. i.e 6-inch track usually means 6-foot bear etc.

BTW I got a digital camera for christmas so I'll be posting pics of the set up and any bears that come in. I'm currently in negotiations with the HWMC (House Ways and Means Committee aka the wife) for a CamTracker so I can photo bears 24/7.

I call her the HWMC 'cuz in my HOUSE she MEANS to find WAYS of stopping me from spendin' money. LOL

Good luck with hunts and aquistions
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