Contributors to this thread:
well after 3 years we finally got drawn for a MN bear hunt, this is our first bear hunt and I am taking my bow and my dad and uncle are taking rifles. We are going the first week of September and the guide said he does not recommend thermacels or expandable broadheads unless its rage which I usually use Grim reapers for whitetails but think im going to try the QAD Exodus for the bear hunt. Since its my first bear hunt im just wondering if there is anything you guys recommend us taking such as are mosquitoes real bad that time of year there do you think we need bug headnets or anything else, any help is much appreciated. Thanks
Why does he not recommend thermacels?
He never gave me a reason I asked if could use one there and he just said he doesn't recommend them I'm guessing because of scent I've spoke with two other outfitters there that didn't recommend them either. One outfitter even has it on his website they are not allowed because "bears can smell them". But honestly after reading all the good threads about them I'm probably going to throw it in my bag just incase
Congrats on the tag! Where in MN are you hunting? TODDY
We are hunting in grand Marais at Northshore outdoors we have spoke with him several times he's a real nice guy and sounds like they kill some good bears, I'm really looking forward to it!
You will absolutely NEED some type of bug protection! Be careful about going against what the guide says tho.
I always use a thermacell. The skeeters can be thick sometimes. This northern MN bear didn't mind the smell.
Ya I agree I would not use it without the guides permission I just meant if the bugs are eating me alive and are making it miserable i might ask to use it.
Granted I haven't hunted bears in mn but I have hunted enough deer there. They didn't mind the thermacell. I highly doubt they even smelled it. Tuff to do if your down wind. The state bird of mn is the mosquito so rather then being ate alive I would take one.
Bears don't mind the thermacell, they can smell you, most of the time they know you are there anyway.
You are in for a treat beautiful area and bear hunting can't be beat for fun!! Motionless is important and therma cell lets you be that. I cant let them land on me without swatting at them.
I hunted with Kelly in 2013 and had my therma cell with me on the trip. He said the same thing when I asked him about it so I didn't use it. Ended up the bugs at my stand weren't bad at all. Others in camp had bugs worse though. Fun hunt for sure.
I was fortunate to hunt in MN last year for bear the first week of the season. Bugs weren't bad where we were so we didn't use anything. We were in the Brainerd area. Good luck!
I would have DIED from blood loss on my MN bear hunt had I not had my Thermacell
The short answer... Bring a head net. I hunt about 200 miles south of there. I've been bear hunting for several years. I don't use bug spray while hunting. I rarely use a Thermacell. Over the years I've noticed that the mosquito activity slows down (from the summer peak) when September 1sr rolls around.
I use either a Bug Out type jacket with the hood. I also have used the head net with the two wire circle to keep the netting away from your head.
Location, water and temperature all factor into mosquitos.
Location- bears tend to like thick, low wet areas. Unfortunately so do mosquitos. Low areas tend to be less windy. Less wind means more sisters around you.
Water- during dry years there is less water, puddle etc... For them to lay their eggs. Less water, fewer mosquitos.
Temperature- the hotter and more it is the greater the mosquito activity. According to the internet, over 55 degrees F is when they become active.
Tree stand vs hunting from the ground. The further you are off of the ground (usually windier also) the less mosquitos.
So if you are hunting from the ground by a swamp on a wet year with no wind on a hot humid day. You better be prepared.
ask your guide if he thinks a hunter can set up 15 yards from the bait and a bear not know it. if he says yes................find another guide.
of course bears can smell thermacell. they can also smell your boots, what you had from breakfast on your breath, and the granola bar in your pack.
Another option, treat clothes with permethrine. Then use the Wildlife Research bug spray on your hat light gloves and face.
I've hunted Spring Black Bear since '02....three trips were without the benefit of a thermacell. The permethrin spray (permanone by Sawyer's) augmented by muskol brand bug dope and headnets worked "ok" on mosquitoes but were I effective on blackflies, no-seeums and other blood suckers.
Having said that, I'm in Bou'bound's camp. If my guide or outfitter tells me he's got a "no thermacell policy" I'll be looking for another outfit.
Bears know you're there.... you're just not being seen as a threat or a food source. To think otherwise is nonsensical.
I drew a tag for area 12, more hunters and less tags every year makes for about every 3rd year here. I always have the head net and gloves and the thermacell is in my pack for the calm nights. In my opinion you are much better off with a bear smelling that than with the inevitable movement without it! Good luck and enjoy your hunt! I probably won't even start baiting until I return from elk hunting mid September.
Thank you everyone for the advice . Much appreciated
Your hunting with Kelly Sheppard - we did about 6 years ago.
On a 1-10 we rated his outfitter a 4.5 on the scale. It was that high because like you point out....Kelly is a "nice guy".
We went with the "Do it yourself" hunt and I think back then it was $550.00 per hunter.
We camped out in Kelly's front yard as other hunters did as well. We were lucky to get the concrete slab!
We were all bow hunters and we told Kelly we needed bow stands to hunt. He was to pre-bait the stands and shows them to us. He supplied the bait that we would subsequently take over baiting the sites. There was always allot of bait - no problem there.
We hunted the second week and when we got there, ready to go...we waited just over 2 hours for Kelly as he was tracking a wounded bear, which was never found. When he did show up, he assigned a guide to us that showed up and led us to our bait sites.
We brought our own stands. You can about figure how this worked out.
Active baits it appeared which was encouraging but try and find a tree that was respectable to shoot to / from the stand to the bait - OMG!
We were able to get a few stands in but went back to Kelly and told him what was up. He showed us a couple of other sites. My "best" bait was like I was on a telephone pole tree.
I never did see a bear. I had a wolf come in and steal bait several times on one sit at the telephone pole stand.
One of our hunters did bring a rifle along with his bow. So he decided to use one of the rifle stand a couple of nights.
He's in his stand when he catches a glimpse of black making it's way on the trail into the bait. Ya see it, ya don't see it and then ya see it and you don't as what appears to be a bear approaching! At one point the approaching object appeared to be walking on it's hind legs! This really had the hunter scratching his head!
The hunter, a State Trooper, stops and looks and see's the black object now just about at the bait...ITS A GUY! This person was wearing a black hoodie with white lettering on the front. What was worse was it was one of the GUIDES!
One of the Guides decided to check the bait! The outfitter knew our hunter was there but no one checked with the guide. We dropped him (hunter) off so there was no vehicle at the road - talk about a disaster waiting to happen!
The guide eventually see's our hunter and waves, leaves his bucket and walks off back down the trail! WTH?
There was three of us, I never saw a bear, one buddy passed a bear due to it's size and the third friend did shoot a smaller bear the very last night of the hunt with a rifle.
You'll find Kelly to be very nice and he try's to accommodate folks.
But here's the problem as I see it.
There are several guides up there and although I haven't hunted with anyone else, basically same results with a second outfitter some of our guys used before Kelly.
These guys almost always seem to over book! They take on way too much and every hunter in camp is another 500 - 600 bucks.
In fairness this was a Do It Yourself Hunt with an Outfitter. I love Do it Yourself hunts. But when your actually preparing and setting up a bait site, I believe you, yourself, take more time/commitment to the site than a Outfitter who's trying to put together 50-60 bait sites!
We are Do it yourself hunters and that year because of circumstances, we could get up to bait and thought this would be an answer - have some one bait - place to stay.
We have done thee best when we are on our own.
I've killed 7 bears in Minnesota (all bow) and always when hunting by ourselves - not a realistic feat if you live 900 miles away however for most!
That year with Kelly if I remember correctly we had 3-4 bears killed in camp total and the one that was wounded and not found. This was the end of the second week.
Haven't been back - thought about stopping and saying Hello - he is a nice fella....but like Clint Eastwood once said "A man's gotta know his limitations"
Oh and by the way - Yes, use the Thermocell and Yes, shoot an expandable blade. All my bears have died with either a NAP Spitfire or a RAGE head. A Wisconsin bear also died that way as well!
Thank you for all the info blood trail we are doing the fully guided hunt and are staying in a motel I don't think he does the camping in the yard anymore. We already put deposits down and booked our room you have me a little nervous now. Fastflight did you have this same kind of experience with kelly?
NO, my brother went in 2012 and I went in 2013 and we both got a bear. Kelly is a nice guy as are his guides. He had a guide named kyle that owned some cabins in town and he let us use his freezer at no cost. He does bring in a lot of hunters but seems to have enough baits to keep people going to active baits. In my opinion you definitely want to go the first week if possible. Minnesota average bear is pry 175 lbs so don't go in thinking 300 to 400 is common. Let me know if you have other questions.
KSA - I wouldn't be nervous I guess, it may be all good. Yes, bears in MN average 175 pounds so don't expect any 500 pound brutes (not that we haven't seen some lofty bears in the area).
Kelly may have given more attention to the fully guided hunts? But our experience, only one time, was not the best in our opinion and we do all our own hunts now. If it wasn't for my wife with a WI tag this year and a Elk hunt - we'd be back in MN hunting this year again. We will next year.
Keep in touch - hopefully you all have a decent hunt. We'll keep the fingers crossed here for ya!
Keep us posted.
There's big bears in MN. Be patient. Be quiet. Hunt them like you would big whitetails. I shot this 450 lb bruiser last fall.
Well... Not sure where that pic came from. Lol. Here's the bear
I usually just have a bug jacket in my pack if need be and usually just pull the hood up to keep them off my neck. Generally I don't end up needing it though. I agree with everybody, the bears usually know someones there but their stomach wins. Used a thermacell a few times but I like the bug jacket better. Shot bears with rocket steelheads and fixed, all with the same results. Good luck on your hunt!
Bears were built to be hunted with a bow - devastating on the bruins!
Well...what was the outcome? Report....
Not a very good outcome thank you guys for all the help again though. I used 4 preference points and never saw a bear. My dad saw a big one the first night in the stand but it was just a narrow shooting lane to the bait the the bear would only stick his head and neck out over the bait to eat never giving him a shot. Than he passed on a little one on the last day. My uncle shot a smaller one and he saw a couple other smaller ones. And I was in a hang on the first night with the screw in tree steps on it which is fine I have zero problems with treestand usually but I'm a short guy at 5ft 5 in and before we got there the guide debated switching me and my uncle since he's taller, but elected not to because I was using a bow and it would be a better stand for a bow well I saw why he wanted to switch us when we got there he said the steps had been in the tree atleast ten years, and my short butt trying to climb up those was a laughing site to see I could barely reach them than getting out was a whole other story I had to swing down from the stand grabbing the top step than basically just siding down the tree till I felt a step under my feet. So than I told the owner that night what happened and he seemed like I wasn't the first one than he gladly switched me to another spot that was on the ground. I never saw a bear but it was still a good week with my dad and uncle and that's part of hunting it doesn't always work out I was glad my uncle got one. We all still tipped the guide as if we got one because he worked hard trying to get us one it just didn't work out. I'll be buying PP again and try and go back in another 3-5 years and prolly try a different outfitter, I'm not mad I didn't get one that's part of hunting but there was a few other things we wernt thrilled with but oh well we will try again.
You should try Blooming Valley Outfitters in Greenbush Minnesota. Great camp and even greater people. They are in the no quota zone so you can buy a tag over the counter.