I'm getting back into spring bear hunting this year and am curious to see what others are doing.
In the past I've had success with drawing in blackies and avoiding grizzlies by following the advice to avoid meat and meat smells. I don't know how true that is but in 4 seasons of activity I never saw a grizz or grizz track at my baits.
I use a suspended barrel. My rationale is not to waste bait (and effort) on cubs and magpies. I hang my barrel so the opening is armpit high on me...I'm 5'10". I figure any bear that can get the bait is close to being a shooter. I like to find a spot with 3 close growing birches near some piney cover. I don't want the bear feeling too exposed. The 3 birches is where I hang the barrel. Then I find a good tree nearby to hang my stand in.
The best is a birch with a spruce or two right behind it for breaking your silhouette when you're in the stand. I try and orient my site so that I can approach from downwind or at least crosswind.
For bait I use horse grain w/molasses. To that I add a gallon of Costco immitation maple syrup and an 8 ounce bottle of vanilla extract. Then I pour a second bottle of vanilla over the barrel. I also use a scent drip system. I borrowed the idea from the whitetail hunters that use the doe-in-heat drippers.
I take a 2 liter soda bottle and fill it with a syrup made from a canister of of presweetened cherry or grape Koolaid. With an awl I punch a hole in the cap and run a 4 foot length of yarn through the hole. I use duct tape and coat hanger to make a hanging loop on the bottom, then I take a spare cap off of another bottle for transport and swap out at the stand. At the site I hang this bottle at least 12 feet high. On average it take about 4 days for the liquid to wick completely away. This year I'm going to try the bear magnet in anise.
I also rake away the leaf clutter in front of the barrel down to bare dirt so I can measure track size. I have even hauled in river sand for this purpose.
The last thing I do is pile up some pine boughs and leaves under the bait.
The reason for this is I take the rule about removing the bait "including contaminated soil" seriously. I do not want a ticket. The boughs and leaves contain any incidental liquids and after baiting season is over I burn that spot after I remove the barrel. No residual bait smells and no digging.
I tried doing honey burns but they were more work than they worth. I am considering popping some popcorn at the site this year since that is a powerful aroma.