One of the most cunning animals roaming the woods is the elusive American black bear. With a powerful sense of smell and excellent ability to hear, Ursus Americanus is a challenging creature to hunt.
Minnesota does not suffer from a lack of bears roaming the woods, in fact the population is strong. In recent years, there has been a lack of bear hunters, however.
Avid bear hunter Mike Antonson of Ramsey, MN would like to see more hunters out there, which is why he spends a lot of his time educating bear hunters and folks interested in bear hunting. As one of the founders of the Black Bear Research and Education group, he puts on seminars for the DNR, sporting goods retailers and is featured at events around the country.
He is hosting a black bear clinic at Cabela’s in Rogers Wednesday,July 22 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in conjunction with the DNR. The cost of the clinic is $5 and is ideal for first time bear hunters or anyone wanting to add to their bear hunting knowledge.
Antonson is passionate about bear hunting and has been in pursuit of black bear for nearly 40 years. “It gets into your blood and it’s just like any other type of hunting where you are constantly learning new things every season,” he said.
One of questions bear hunters always ask Antonson about is in regards to using scents as an attractant. “When you make a change to your scent, a bear can become a little suspicious or cautious of the change and become leery,” he said.
It’s a realization he made not because he wasn’t doing as well in the woods each year, but because he wondered if there was an even better way. “You hunt and you hunt and you hunt and then you start looking at it and saying ‘what you’ve been doing has been bringing them in so why change it?’
What he’s found out is that while what he did before wasn’t preventing him from being a successful bear hunter, it was making his hunt more work.
“When you introduce a new bait you create a situation similar to when you first started baiting. It can take a bear a few days to a week to come in after the change and it might take a few more days if you make drastic changes during the hunt—when you do that you are effectively taking yourself out of the game,” he said.
Antonson spends a lot of time in the woods and dedicates a lot of the season in pursuit of bear. For hunters who can’t spend as much time in the woods, his realization about scent could be the difference between success and failure.
“There’s only so much time that can be spent hunting and if your time is limited you want to make sure you are baiting so that you’ll have the best chance for success when you are out there.”