During bear season you’ll need a lot of bait. If you don’t buy discounted supplies, costs will add up in a hurry. Over the last couple months, I’ve called shops and restaurants around town and chatted with hunters and guides about where to find cheap bait. This blog offers a few ways to save money on your next bear hunt.
Food Banks and Bakeries
I volunteered at the homeless shelter last summer preparing meals. In the morning I had to sort out moldy bread and take it to the dumpster. Homeless shelters and food banks get day-old and expired bread from bakeries. Oftentimes they can’t use it all before it goes bad, and any bread with a spot of mold gets thrown away. Touch base with a local shelter, and you might hit a gold mine for bait (Homeless shelters can always use donations. Think about dropping off some bathroom supplies or laundry detergent when you pick up your bait.)
I have friends that go to the Franz outlet in Helena that sells a grocery cart full of expired bread for $5. Donut shops and candy stores can also provide treats that bears love. Maybe follow your mom around for a day to find the best ones (#burn). Check with local factories, meat packing plants and other large-scale production facilities as well.
I ran into a bear hunting guide in the woods last month and talked for a while about baiting. He recommended used restaurant grease. He likes to burn it when setting up a bait site. I have found that even just pouring the grease on the ground will draw bears in as well.
I’ve had better luck with chain restaurants that have systems set up to recycle grease. Red Robin has been awesome for me this year. They get rid of about 5 gallons of grease before opening each morning. 5 Guys gave me some grease with chunks of hamburger and bacon that worked great as well. Other shops will only have peanut oil from fries, which won’t smell quite as strongly but will work. The heavier grease, that settles to the bottom of vats, has a stronger smell than the lighter grease on top. Some managers will act like you’re crazy for asking. Stick with it. Eventually you’ll find someone that’s excited to contribute to your hunt.
Butchers have tallow and other animal parts they throw out or sell at low cost. A ribcage or leg bones will add more flavor to your site. Certain states have regulations when using game animal parts, so check the handbook before heading out. Also, consider creating a compost bucket of your own food scraps and peels in the days leading up to the hunt.
Get creative and remain persistent. Keep your eyes and ears open, and you’ll end up finding something tasty.
Good luck this season,