(from the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks)
With some hunting seasons already underway and big game rifle season just around the corner, hunters should think ahead about what they would do in an encounter with a bear and carry and know how to use bear spray.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) Bear Management Specialist, Jamie Jonkel, says that the very act of stalking game, such as deer and elk, in the fall increases a hunter’s chance of bumping into bears.
Jonkel said, “Harvesting an animal elevates the risk of drawing in a bear, so hunters need to be extra cautious.”
The first thing to remember is to get the harvested animal out of the area as quickly as possible. The longer a carcass remains lying on the ground, hung up in hunting camp, or in the bed of a truck, the more likely it will be discovered by a bear.
Carcasses that must be left out overnight should be cached and made visible from a distance.
When returning, approach the downed animal carefully and yell or whistle repeatedly. Study the scene from an observation point and scan the area for movement.
Jonkel says that hunters should follow these tips in bear country:
• Always carry bear spray, have it close at hand and know how to use it.
• Hunt with a partner or let someone know your plans and periodically check in.
• When field dressing the carcass, keep your can of bear spray within easy reach.
• Get harvested game out of the woods quickly.
• Carry a lightweight tarp or space blanket to put the entails on and pull them well away from the carcass and then cover the carcass with the tarp to reduce the scent, if the carcass is left unattended.
• When returning to a site where harvested game is left unattended, study it from a distance first and signal your approach by making plenty of noise.
• Do not attempt to frighten or haze a bear from a carcass.
A "How to Hunt Safely in Grizzly Country" brochure with these tips and more is available at the FWP Missoula regional office. For more information on hunting safely in bear country, go to the FWP website . For up to date information on bear pepper spray products, visit the Center for Wildlife Information web site at BeBearAware.org.