High Country Baiting in the snow?

Darin Cooper

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Well, I'm trying something new this season. I bought a new toy - a 2Moto Radix snow-bike kit for my YZ450 motocross bike. It's a kit that basically bolts onto the bike replacing the rear wheel with a track and the front wheel with a ski. I picked it up used for about 25% of retail so I figured what the heck.

Got it all put together Friday and hit the high country this weekend. This thing RIPS! Super easy to ride for a capable moto pilot. Fast, agile, and great suspension. Type 2Moto snowbike in Youtube if you're curious. I will post some helmet cam vid and photos next week.

Being the thinker that I am, I decided to haul some bait into some high country locations that are typically very difficult to access until near the end of the season. The snowbike worked great for this since it has a built in rack. I hauled about 75# loads in on the snow right to the bait sites I picked.

I realize most of the bears are living the easy life down in lower country at the moment, but that yummy scent will hopefully travel a loooooong way down the canyons and bring some bears up higher for a free lunch. Anybody had any luck snow-baiting like this off a snow machine, X-country skis, or snow shoes? Curious to hear your experience or I'll find out soon enough for myself I guess.

I will get some photos next weekend when I haul in more bait. I was solo this weekend. Most fun I've ever had baiting though - that's for sure!

Coop
 
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Darin Cooper

Darin Cooper

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Got the crib built and hauled about 500 pounds of bait and my buddy into the baitsite on the snowbike this weekend. As expected the bait was still not hit - since there's no food up that high for the bears right now. The snow is coming off FAST though! It melted 3 feet in six days! I put a camera in but probably won't hang a stand until memorial weekend when I can hopefully hike in without having to post hole thru the soft snow. We'll see how it goes from here. I have four other baits running in lower country that are all getting pounded so this is more of an experiment and an excuse to use the new toy. Hoping we'll tap into some new bears though. I have a better spot to in mind for this project next season that will hopefully melt earlier and tap into the lower country bears via excellent scent travel.
 
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Darin Cooper

Darin Cooper

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Here's a pic of my toy...



Didn't check the bait this weekend - figured it would be a slushy slop-fest but I'm going to try to hunt it next weekend. Hopefully it's getting some action!
 
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Darin Cooper

Darin Cooper

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Houston, we've got bears - and man they are happy to find this spot up in the snow! I would post some of the better color photos, but I can't get anything over 1.5 MB to load... Help!

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Darin Cooper

Darin Cooper

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This bear did not like the bright light flashing at him so he kicked my trail camera's ass. I did get some interesting photos after it was on the ground....


This photo reminds me of the song by Foxy Shizam... "That's the biggest black ass I've ever seen! But I like it, I like it!!"

How em-bear-assing!

I have since installed a much sturdier system that puts the camera inside a metal box that is screwed to the tree and chanined with a padlock.
 
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Darin Cooper

Darin Cooper

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Saw a different bear on the bait last night... a good looking sow, but probably only a 200# bear, maybe 5 1/2 footer. Hopefully she will bring this big black boar back in. She cut my scent trail where I walked in at about 20 yards and moved off after doing about a 270 degree circle around the bait out of range. Pretty crafty old girl. She might get whacked if I don't see the boar sometime this weekend. Real pretty hide on her. I didn't pull the camera card last night, but I will download pics/video off it this weekend to share and hopefully a grip and grin photo too. Burning a lot of diesel in my Duramax and am ready to drop the hammer! A few buddies will be up too so we should have some more bears down by Monday.

Coop
 
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Darin Cooper

Darin Cooper

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Finally found a way to upload the better photos... here's a color shot of the bear.
 

Curtis C

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Darin the site limits the size of photo you can upload. If you resize the pics you should be able to post them. I use Windows XP Power Toys resizer. If you search "picture resizer" you should be able to find one that will work with the browser you use.

C
 
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Darin Cooper

Darin Cooper

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Thanks Curtis - I found a way to do it with hotmail and Silverlight that will batch - resize a lot of photos at once. I have photoshop, but didn't want to have to do it manually every time I wanted to upload a photo. You might post that tip under the photo thread - it was my biggest headache for a while.

Coop
 
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Darin Cooper

Darin Cooper

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The bear I hunted on this bait did a pretty fine job of outsmarting me. He would never come in without making a full 360 degree survey of the bait first to check the scent. I did devise a plan to intercept him since he would circle about 100 yards out (I determined this because he would periodically clack his teeth together to warn other bears and me that he was coming). I did this one night and stalked in on the bait after he made the circle and got in range. Unfortunately he moved off into heavier cover and bedded to chew on some goodies he stole before I could get a good shot. It got too dark to shoot and I eventually spooked him trying to get a shot.

Here's my observations from the experience:

1.) Bears tend to head to lower country when they come out of the dens because there is very little food for them to eat up high in early April when they emerge from the dens. Furthermore, since all the sows head down, the big boars tend to head that direction as well since the rut will be starting soon.
2.) You can keep a bear up high if you happen to get your bait in a place where the scent will hit him before he makes it down - As best I can tell, this is what I did with the bear on my bait this spring. He never really left it.
3.) High country baits would probably get better (like any bait does) with age... the bears you entice the first year will keep coming back to check it and more bears continue to find them. Kinda works like a favorite bar or restaurant once the word gets out.
4.) In general, I don't think high country baits are as effective as baits at lower elevations for spring hunting. However, if a guy is running a fall bait consistently the odds of good spring action there are probably much higher.

All in all it was a fun experience and I learned a lot about hunting the smartest bear I've ever dealt with. Eventually I got the fleeting opportunity I needed, but the circumstances prevented me from making a good shot. A bedded bear at 30 yards in low light with too much cover around him is a recipe for a wounded bear. So ultimately he beat me at the game. At this point in time I'm not planning to use the site again, but time will tell... come next April or even this fall I might have to sign up for a rematch and give it another shot. Meanwhile, I'll also be running a bait in lower country that I can expect to see nearly 10 X the action on. Sometimes the challenge of taking a smart one outweighs the allure of taking an easy bear, but after a long, long season an easy bear sounds like good medicine!

Coop
 

Nick Muche

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Cool stuff Coop! Up until last spring I had never hunted bears with my own tag, the past two years I shot smaller bears than what I wanted due to be limited on time. I hope that next year I can be picky and out smart a bigger one by luring him into the site in daylight. That has been my problem. Time will tell, best of luck!
 
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Darin Cooper

Darin Cooper

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Nick,

A guy told me about a smart trick he's successfully used to keep bears off at night. He places an old battery operated transistor radio set to an AM station on his bait when he leaves the stand. Keeps them away during the night - and after a day or two of this, he's usually able to take a bear early in the AM or the next evening during legal shooting light. I've never used the tactic, but I have seen the results. Might be worth a shot!

Coop
 
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