Spring Bear Hunting

Spring Bear Hunting

After following along with Top Priority Hunting’s 2018 bear hunting season on YouTube this spring, we (Joel, Ryan, and myself) decided running a bear bait could be a great way to get out this spring, stretch the legs, do some scouting for fall, and perhaps even take a bear or two. We had no idea how much excitement this bear season would hold. Here is a recap of our season.

Pick a General Location. We knew a few areas that held bears from our experience hunting, and we listened up whenever there was a good bear hunting podcast. Brian Barney with Eastman’s Elevated put a couple great ones late winter that helped us decide on a location–close to grass, close to or near rocky areas where a den might be, and not too low in the elevation (as the snow would continually melt through the season and impact bear activity).

This was the night we picked the general area for our bear bait. Saw a bunch of elk to boot!

Start Gathering Supplies. We used a combination of molasses oats and old bread as the base for our bait. We also tried out a variety of scents and flavorings, including Moutlrie’s and Boar Masters among others. We also contacted a few local eateries about getting their old grease and picked up some chocolate sauce containers on the cheap from Costco. One truck load from the bread shop took care of our bread needs for about $20. As for the barrel, a friend helped us weld a chain to the barrel and cut a small hole in the side to limit the amount the bears could get to at a time.

Bear baiting is a family affair.

Set the Bait and Camera. We mulled over a few specific locations, but ultimately went a little higher up the mountain to set the barrel. We rode four wheelers a mile or two in and then hiked the last half mile or so straight up. It wasn’t so bad the first time. But the second, third, fourth, etc. time doing that hike with heavy packs full of bear bait got old fast. (Note to self for next time.) We picked a flat spot near a grassy park, dammed off the back of the barrel to force bears to enter from the direction of our stands and camera, and hacked off some limbs for the tree stands.

Bear baiting was a different type of heavy pack–good training for fall!

Feed the Bears. The next few weeks were  a waiting game. Since it was a new bait site, it took a while for the bears to start hitting it. We had it set up on April 17 or so, and didn’t have our first bear until May 7, I believe. But once the bears started to come in, it didn’t take long for a lot of different bears to start hitting the bait. Between the three of us, we made sure to restock the bait about once a week, sometimes twice a week. We arm twisted whatever buddies we could get to come help us carry the bait up the steep hill to the site. Most of the bear action was at night, but early morning and later evening hours also started to produce some bear activity.

Here’s a good sized boar we happened to catch on camera during daylight hours.

The Hunt. We initially hunted the bait from the tree stands we set up. Unfortunately, we had assumed thermals would get the wind in our favor nicely for an evening hunt, without thoroughly vetting the directionals that time of day. Unfortunately, there was a fairly constant directional blowing up the draw. The bears were coming in above the stand, so any chance at sitting the stand and taking a bear were nixed early on. However, we shifted strategy a bit by coming in around and high, above the bait, and watching from a distance before stalking in. This produced some good encounters.

Joel’s Shot. The first encounter that produced a shot occurred in late May. Joel went in with archery tackle, hung out above the bait, the snuck in when he saw activity. He was able to sneak in to about 40 yards, and made what we thought was a pretty good shot on a bear. But unfortunately he was not able to recover the bear. We saw it show up a few days later on the trail camera and were not able to locate a carcass as the season went on.

Tayler’s Bear. I went up again a few days later, rifle in hand. I’d never taken a bear and didn’t have much more time to hunt. I wanted to get it done. So I sat up above the bait about 200 yards away with a good wind and waited. For about three or four hours. Finally, I heard the chains of the bait rattle. A couple blonde color phase black bears (they were regulars) showed up. I had already decided if the bigger of the two showed up, I would make an effort to take him. The trees around the bait were thick, and I didn’t have a clear shot, so I started slowly sneaking in. It took about five minutes, but I crept through the trees to about 60 yards before I had a good opening. I sat, rested the Tikka 6.5 Creedmore on my knee and waited for the right shot. The bigger of the two blondies walked back into view near the bait and sat down, facing immediately away from me. He slowly started to quarter to the left. I waited until he quartered enough to give me a good shot at the lungs on his opposite side–he did so a few second later, and I squeezed the trigger. He jumped, yowled and headed down hill out of view. The other bear lumbered off in confusion and stopped about forty yards to my right. I told him to move along and he obliged. After calling Ryan, my wife, and my dad, giving the bear a bit to bleed out and die, I hiked down to the bait. There was good blood. I peeked over the ledge and could see my bear piled up. Success! He was a younger boar with a beautiful blonde coat!

Blake’s Shot. Ryan’s younger brother Blake had been staying with us this summer, moving pipe for a local rancher. He hasn’t shown a lot of interest in hunting, but when he came up, he decided to give a bear hunt a go. So we signed him up for Idaho’s mentored hunter passport and Ryan and Joel took Blake to the bait. (Blake had also helped me haul in bait on one prior occasion, so he had some skin in the game.) On back to back nights Blake had a shot at that smaller blonde bear and unfortunately wasn’t able to connect. It was a good lesson for him that hunting doesn’t always come easy, and it’s important to invest time on the front end to practice shooting more and make sure you’re comfortable behind the trigger.

Summary. We made about 20 collective trips in to our bait with 50-70 pound packs. We probably saw about 25 different bears on camera, including two or three really quality boars. These big males rarely hit the bait during shooting hours, but it was fun to watch them through trail camera pictures. Ultimately we were able to come away with one really cool blonde bear and a ton of memories and lessons for next year. We feel bear hunting is an important part of conservation and were glad to do our part this year. Not only is bear meat good eating, but controlling the bear population is important to our elk and deer populations.

Keep up with Scott Ellis’s Turkey Season on YouTube

Keep up with Scott Ellis’s Turkey Season on YouTube

We have enjoyed working with Scott Ellis in developing the Turkey Tech mobile app. His turkey calling credentials are tried and tested in the field every year, and 2019 was no different. He completed another single season slam (his third), bagging each of the four species of gobbler in the United States. You can keep up with these hunts, and many great others, but subscribing to his YouTube channel, Hunt Quest.

Hunt Quest is in its third season, and in addition to a ton of great turkey hunting, you’ll also get to see Scott, his friends, and family, chase trophy whitetails, hunt hogs, and work some waterfowl. Watching these shows is a great way to sharpen your turkey hunting abilities during the off season, enjoy high quality hunting video productions, and get to know Scott a little better.

Please subscribe to Hunt Quest and let us know what you think of the show.

We have a podcast!

We have a podcast!

Our business is working with expert callers and hunters and disseminating their knowledge into a format that’s accessible and intuitive to our customers through mobile apps.

Providing additional information through a podcast platform goes hand in hand with this model. To this end, we’ve launched the Got Game University Podcast, which will be organized by series.

Each series will focus on hunting a certain game animal. Right now, our series include ElkNut, Turkey Tech, Duck Tech and Whitetail Tech (one for each app we’ve developed). Each series will primarily feature our expert callers on each app, with occasional guest appearance from other industry experts.

The focus of each series and episode will be to help the do-it-yourself hunter increase their odds of success hunting. If it’s elk you’re after, we want to help you learn the language so you can have more meaningful encounters with elk. Turkeys? The goal is to help you take gobblers pulse and tailor your calling to that specific bird in that specific situation, and then execute a well-placed shot. I think you get the picture. Knowledge equals power, and we want to help you become a force to be reckoned with in the woods!

Be sure to subscribe to the Got Game University Podcast. We’re on iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

Youth Column: My First Deer Hunt

Youth Column: My First Deer Hunt

This article was written by Luke, the oldest son of Got Game Tech founder, Tayler Tibbitts, putting into words his first big game animal hunt where he was the shooter. 

Although I’ve been hunting with my dad before when he’s shot something, this late whitetail deer season was my first time having the gun in my hands. On December 29, 2018, I had turned ten, eight days ago, which is when youth can hunt big game in Idaho. The only general season open in my area was a late short-range weapon whitetail doe hunt. I was hunting with a Savage bolt-action .20 gauge shotgun with a slug.

My dad and I woke up at 6 a.m. and planned on hunting the river bottoms that bordered some fields. I had butterflies in my stomach as we left the truck and headed down to the creek bottom. We first saw some whitetail does around 7:30 a.m., but shooting light wasn’t until 7:45 a.m.

At 7:45 a.m., the does we had seen moved to about 160 yards away. This gun was sighted in for longer ranges than a typical shotgun and had a scope, but that was still a long ways away. I tried to find the deer in my scope to see how I felt, but had a hard time finding the deer.

Fortunately, another group of deer walked out in front of me at 30 yards! I held still and was really quiet. I had some trouble taking the safety off the gun as the first deer came into my sights. I thought I had it on fire, but when I pulled the trigger nothing happened. This happened a second time too! Finally, I was able to get the safety all the way off and settled the cross hairs on one of the does.

I was resting the gun on the fence in front of me, and when I pulled the trigger, the doe didn’t even run. She just dropped. I shot her through both lungs. After I shot this deer, I felt happy and proud of myself because I managed to shoot my first big game animal. My first phone call was to my mom, and she was really excited for me. I also called my grandpa and uncle, and they were excited too.

I helped field dress the deer by unzipping the hide on the belly and holding the legs while my dad worked with the knife inside. After finishing, we dragged the deer through the creek and across the field to our truck. We aged the meat and turned it into steaks and jerky. We’ve eaten the meat from my deer for dinner. It feels good to provide food for my family.

My favorite part of this hunt was the feeling of shooting the deer, because of how exciting it was. I like hunting because of how hard it can be–you might need to walk a long ways and do hard things to get the right shot.

In 2019, I plan on shooting a mule deer buck and a bull elk. I am going to apply for controlled hunt tags in Idaho, and if I don’t draw, I’ll hunt over the counter. I am planning on scouting with my dad during the summer and fall to prepare for my hunts.

Whitetail Tech App Launches, Free for Limited Time!

Whitetail Tech App Launches, Free for Limited Time!

The Got Game Tech team has partnered with whitetail wizard, Steve Stoltz, of Buckmen TV, to bring you a great tool that will help you become a better and more successful whitetail deer hunter.

The Whitetail Tech mobile app takes Steve’s hunting wisdom, which is expansive, and breaks it down in easy to digest sections and topics. On the app you can learn rattling sequences, review myriad hunting tactics, and even sharpen your deer calling skills. This app is a game changer, and it’s free for a limited time! Download it on the App Store and Google Play today!

Whitetail Tech App