Contributors to this thread:
Black Bears vs Thermacell
I had the opportunity to speak to a very reputable bear outfitter this past weekend at the Springfield Outdoors Show about this very subject and he really has me thinking I will be leaving my Thermacell at home. Simply stated " If you can smell it, so can the bears" Without a doubt, they put out a odor, and there where so many times I'm glad I had one, however, bears have extremely good sense of smell. He suggested washing all my hunting clothes in a Permathone based wash, a good head net and of course gloves. Bear hunters know they come in from all directions and I got to thinking maybe I've blown a few opportunities by using one. Debate free, no, but I'm hopefull some of the outfitters will chime in and give their 2 cents.
"Permathone based wash" What will that smell like?
I agree they stink but as you know Rich movement from swatting at bugs will be the ruin of many a bear hunter.
0utfitters I talked to here about it said bring it and they added 1 point that I'm sure you, me, and many others will think of: If they smell that they'll smell you because you don't have the wind.
I hear you though... I HATE watching that stinky mist coming off the Thermacells.
Bug Tamer sure helps but they still like to hover right in your face and they have all friggin day to find a way in. I'm using mine.... when I have to. Cooler days I try to go without.
I have hunted bear from the ground using the Thermacell with NO adverse effects.
Not an outfitter. Have hunted baited bear 23 times and taken 13.
Forget the thermacell question and ask yourself this:
Do you really believe that you can sit within 10-15 yards of the the food source of the animal with arguably the best sense of smell in the animal kingdom and them not know you are perched there?
The one's you see know you are there and don't care. the one's you don't see know the same thing, but care.
It's not the thermacell, the cutters spray, the anise mist, or scentlok, or spay on scent removers that matter. it is whether or not the bear cares, not whether or not he knows...........trust me...........he knows.
You have not blown any opportunities with a Thermacell. If they can smell it, they can smell you and you are more of a concern.
In terms of violating sensory thresholds, the movement resulting from the absence of a Thermacell far exceeds the scent exposure for the aforementioned reasoning. At a bait site, bears, even large bears, are MUCH more tolerant of strange smells than they are of even a little movement.
....have been on 15 bear hunts. Biggest bear scored 21". We do know that a big bear is an old mature cautious animal by nature, and we do know that bears have an absolute incredible sense of smell. We also know that animals can be conditioned to almost anything. So there is no one answer that applies to all hunts, and exiting conditions.
My view has been to be scent free, esp. scent lock and rubber bottomed boots, and to approach the stand quietly. I generally do not use a thermacell. I believe that if a trophy class bear associates ANY foreign odor to a hunter, it is game over. If you had some noisy hunter in the stand with a thermacell the week before.......odds go down when you get there.
I killed the biggest Bear I have ever seen last year and my Thermacell was on. Nuff said.
I've killed some nice size bears with Corey and G. Chase in fact introduced them both to thermacell yrs. ago. I would NEVER go on a spring hunt without it!
As everyone said, the bears know you're there, I'm pretty sure they just don't see you as a threat to them or their food source.
Permanone or permethryn spray is a good effective for your outerwear - but it's not bullet proof (and it does smell for a day or so). It doesn't deter black or horse flies from using you as a buffet either.
The Thermacell's 'active ingredient' is plant based and in my opinion totally 'bullet proof'. I fire mine up as soon as I get into my treestand. I notice it keeps skeeters, noseeum's, black/horseflies a comfortable distance too.
It's not had a negative impact on my seeing bears yet.
Due to my experience over the past few years of bear hunting with a thermocell and the previous 20+ years, without a thermocell, I'll stick with the previous 20+ years type of hunting.You can use your own judgement on what you want to use, I think the reputable outfitter that Treestandwolf mention knows his business. I'll use my Thermocell for Spring turkey hunting, but when I go bear hunting I'll use my headnet.
UMMM... The woods are NOT scent free are they?? Animals might be able to smell a Thermacell, but the question is whether or not it is a scent that alarms them or not. I've never had any game get spooked at the smell of my Thermacell.
I've tried hunting them without one, constant movement. I've tried hunting them with one, sat stone still for hours. We've killed bears without them. We've killed bears with them.
Your hunt will be 100x more enjoyable with one, if the bugs are bad.
Jerry Russell's Link
Ive been on one bear hunt and have killed one bear! I quickly learned they could smell me.
One tip for you is if you are walking to your stand make sure if you see a bear that you look directly in front of your bow at the arrow heigth to make sure there is not a limb that the arrow will hit before the arrow leaves your bow!!!!!
I think that arrow may have finally landed by now!
From a bear outfitter...
I don't think that anyone on the planet was more wary of the smell of the thermacell than I was when they first came out. I just flat out could not bring myself to believe that something that had that odor would not have an adverse impact on bear hunting. I was dead wrong.
With countless experiments now behind us in multiple areas of Canada and Alaska, I believe that a thermacell has absolutely no negative impact whatsoever on bear hunting over bait. I discouraged their use for a couple of years but was on the way to being convinced several years ago and decided to use one myself for a two week period and performed these little test.
I started by placing some recently used thermacell pads on top of bait barrels while hunting and watched the response of numerous bears of various sizes. Not a single bear showed an ounce of concern or gave any attention to these pads. On a couple of occasions, bears even picked up the pads showing minor curiosity. These were several different age classes of bears. I have never seen a difference in the numbers or sizes of bears that are taken by those that use them vs those that don't. I have, however, seen a great difference in the level of enjoyment of the hunters that bring them up.
The final test was inintentional and occurred after I had arrowed a big boar while using the unit. Another large bear came into the bait and walked to within 5-6' of my tree stand that was less than 6' off the ground. He showed no alarm whatsoever as he circled the tree numerous times. I decided to leave my gear in the tree for the night and track the bear I had arrowed the next morning. When I returned in the am, my pack was destroyed and the bear had climbed into the tree and chewed the thermacell unit to tiny bits.
I would certainly second those that have mentioned that a thermocell helps to reduce movment in the stand. I am certain that bears smell the units but in my opinion, there is simply no association with danger. I would not even consider hunting bear without one and strongly encourage hunters to bring them to our bear camp.
Good luck on your hunt.
Russell Outdoor Guides
I have been on 10 baited hunts, and taken some nice boars over the years....all while using a Thermacell. I tend to agree, that they do in fact smell the odor, but for whatever reason they choose to ignore it on a given occassion. One trick I have learned, that has proven to work several times involves both the thermacell and your natural odor. I have experienced several mature bears that refused to come to the bait while on stand, but yet would visit either early morning, or late night as the trail-cam pics supported. On these bear I left my t-shirt in the stand overnight(Usually had plenty of sweat), and used Thermacell pads..both in the stand and on the ground near the bait. Each time thereafter, the bear would show during evening shooting hours. Some of them took two or three nights of leaving the articles, but they showed nonetheless. I guess when you think about it, they must get conditioned to the smell, and since they ate without interuption the day before..totally disregard it. As others have stated...it is imperative you remain absolutely movement free..as one wrong move, and all your effort is for nothing. Not sure if others will agree, but this "Trick" has worked for me.
I prefer that my clients are comfortable, quiet and enjoying their time on stand as opposed to being bothered by bugs. They regularly kill big bears and the success rate certainly hasn't gone down since the use of Thermacells became common. I do caution them to have extra pads and butane handy so that replacing them during the hunt if necessary doesn't require a bunch of noise and movement while they rifle through a pack looking for them. I personally couldn't imagine not using one during my own hunts - bugs suck - so why beat yourself up? But... maybe it does makes a difference where the bears see heavy hunting pressure but that has never been an issue in areas I hunt. Do what your guide suggests and good luck, hope you get a bruiser.
I hunted bear in Cananda several times in the 90's. No thermacell. we would use head nets and duct taped all seams between sleeve and glove, boots and pants and head net.
We would also wear long shorts under our pants and long sleave T-shirts under our jacket. This gave a layer of protection of where the outer garmet may lay tight on the skin.
I have had so many black flies on my legs that it looked to be a singel large mass of movement...and no bites.
I plan on doing a hunt next spring and will take the thermacell "just in case". But my primary defense will be the tape and layers.
Two things regarding your hunt.
First, you were too darn close to the bait. I'm reworking that spot for myself this year and after about the middle of June I'll post a photo of at least a 20 inch bear from there.
Second, how in the world could you shoot accurately with your pants down around your knees and having to stretch over to pickup your bow without falling into your own mess!!!
Bear Track's Link
Lmao I shot that bear at 87 yards! I hear a lot of bears on the other side of the trail!
I know Morgan is dying to hunt the same stand and get a bigger bear than Dad!!!!
I agree with Rob and Bou'bound. To be honest, I truely believe we hunt less days per hunter than before. And I attribute it partially to therma cells. Our guests sit quietly and motionless in their stands, enjoying the hunt, rather than swatting and twitching at mosquitoes. Bears are so aware of the slightest movement, and take that movement away, and you have success. I remember the first one I ever saw was carried by the VP of Bass-Pro. He was trying out the product. I had him and his wife on the most horrible of bait sites for mosquitoes and they never needed a head net for the bugs. He shot his bear and I have a picture of a hunter the week prior with the bear he shot and him, absolutly covered in mosquitoes. Then a week later, same bait, not one mosquitoe in the picture. I became a believer and not sceptic from there on.
I wouldn't hunt with a outfitter that says I couldn't use a Thermacell...not because I couldn't handle the bugs..but because if he doesn't know that it doesn't make a difference he can't be that bright...LOL
I'm sure its been said in previous posts...if the bear can smell your Thermacell he can smell you...
I shot my first bear in 1982 and averaged just about a bear a year since...so I have a good amount of experience on both guided and DIY hunts...I'm convinced the majority of the bears know somethings not right but as long as they don't catch you moving (much) or get a good snoot full of you...you'll be fine Thermacell or not....
I'll say this as well...(and get beat up for it I'm sure)
The longer you sit a bait and "the" bear scents you the better your chance gets at having the bear come in... Almost like he becomes use to your odor...
Naturally there will be some bears that will react negatively to any odd odor but that goes back to the the fact that the bear is gonna smell ..you..the Thermacell...the candy bar in your pack ..ad well as the bottle of water you brought in....catch the right bear at the right time. Just my 2 cents..
The last several times I have hunted bear I would take a small amount of anise and place it on the thermacell pad only to cover about 1/4 of the pad it seemed to help alot. I had multi bear very curious. I also believe that big mature bears alway know your there just depends on how brave they are
I have said for years if someone asked me to name a product that is actually BETTER that it is advertiused to be the first product that would come to my mind is a thermacell. they are game changers
I'll definitely be taking my Thermacell to NB for my first bear hunt with TSI this Spring. Walmart had the refills on clearance so I stocked up. Living here in mosquito hell(SC) I've noticed that the Thermacell doesn't work on the gnats that live near the salt marsh. Long sleeves and a head net are the best you can do for them
Had my Thermacell on last year went I killed my WI. bear. The bear circled for close to 45min before commiting to coming in but I believe most of the time they know your there anyway. I wouldn't hunt with out one here in WI. in Sept.
Here is a link to a Thermacell thread that we had going last year that may be of interest.
I had the odd guy use them never seen any differense in activity. just always use the wind to your advantage if the wind is wrong for your bait hunt one that is right. Good luck.
The bear is coming in to a rotten beaver carcass.
You, in a tree, represent a submissive animal (smaller bear, or whatever) that has yielded the bait.
So you smell funny..IF it smells you at all. As long as you let the bear come in to eat, he should do that.
Experience with man as a threat is conditioned by contact and adverse interactions.
Big bears come from low pressure areas. We had a prohibition on bear hunting in NJ for a couple of years (DON'T get me started) and we had bears, including some monsters, with no fear of people. The first bear season there were a lot of bruisers taken.
Didn't seem to bother this guy or any of the other bears that I saw that week. The smokey stuff you see is in fact what comes off the thermacell. The flash on my cell phone really makes it show up. And yes he is looking right at me, they all did and didn't care one whit that I was there
This one didn't seem to mind my presence either.
I guess this photo proves that bears are apparently spooked by thermacells
Looking at Bous last photo is what started this whole thing anyway! I will be taking mine, with all these tips and thoughts. Have a great spring everyone!
You actually believe that your going to sit on a bear stand and the bears aren't going to smell you and know your there no matter which way the wind is blowing? A bear can smell an ant fart five miles away in the dead calm! Your not fooling them one bit...wake up! If a bear wants to come in and eat the goodies, it doesn't matter if you are covered in ScentLoc or smell like a french whore....he knows your there, period!
I agree 100% the photo above proves as much that they are an issue as a photo of a dead proves they are not.
it is not about thermacells in general and bears in general. it is about how one bear at one moment in time will react and that is totally unpredictable............
so fire up the theremacell and enjoy the bug-free vigil.
Rich u are thinking to much lol its a known fact bears no when a hunter is in a tree , there urge to eat over comes there fear, they have been conditioned to respond when they hear or smell a human walking towards bait with bucket in tow ,, Id rather leave human scent or any other scent at the bait this way its not a new scent when they come walking in .
I killed one bear in the AM my guide outfitter said NO way bears dont come in the AM ,, i went out at 7am was back by 830 woke his ass up and said now u owe me i just killed a PY bear. I pushed a bear off the bait . i didn't have time to dump the bait he was coming back my stand was 12 yards from bait only 4ft off the ground i hung it . I was just in the tree stand had to grab bow and shoot as bear was mere yards from me .
Bears are measured in 1/16 ths of an inch. Most other species in 1/8's. The required 60 day drying period begins ONLY AFTER the skull has been completely cleaned either by boiling or beetles. If you have any measuring questions please let me know. C
I actually have a running Thermacell in this beaver just to prove my point that it doesnt matter.....
After Shug's comment and photo I think we can put this baby to rest.
Charlie.... personally, I measure in 1/16" as well..... drying period isn't nearly as long though.... =D
if it matters that is.....
Lou, Yes , overthinking the whole thing I guess, good to hear everyones replies.
Shug, hopefully you got that Thermacell back, cause bears think those beavers are tasty!
Shug and Chip nailed it. Amen.
I don't know. just because something stuck in a beaver does not stop something from eating it does not mean that if it was not in a beaver it would still not scare something away.
the beaver has a way of creating an unusual distraction that may over-ride commn sense and caution.
And.....cause alot of divorces!
And now I think we can really put this baby to rest:)
Agreed. Many a bear on a beaver will act like they've never seen one before in their lives....
Perhaps the question should be "does the use of a thermacell impact hunts for mature bears"?
nice backpack there shug. who makes that.
Shug, no denying you know what your talking about, nice bears !