Outdoors

Bear awareness needed during big-game hunts

A grizzly bear feeds on huckleberries in this photo by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson. (Jaime Johnson)
A grizzly bear feeds on huckleberries in this photo by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson. (Jaime Johnson)

HUNTING — Bears are still out and active throughout the fall as hunters are out for deer and elk hunting — a potentially hazardous mix. 

Being bear aware is particularly important for hunters because stalking and harvesting game increases a person’s chance of bumping into bears, says Jamie Jonkel, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear management specialist.

“When travelling through dense brush or field dressing an animal, be extra aware and do what you can to warn wildlife of your presence,” Jonkel says.  “Always have bear spray close at hand.”

Jonkel says this has been an especially busy fall for grizzly bear activity, especially in Western Montana.

He offers these safety tips for hunting in bear country:

  • Always carry bear spray, have it within easy reach and know how to use it.
  • If you are going to be alone in bear country, let someone know your plans.
  • Watch for fresh bear sign.
  • After making a kill, get the carcass out of the area as quickly as possible.
  • When field dressing the carcass, keep your can of bear spray within easy reach.
  • Use special precautions if you must leave and return to a carcass, including   placing the carcass where you can observe it from a distance when you return.
  • Do not attempt to frighten away or haze a bear that is near or feeding on a carcass

Check the Deer, Elk and Antelope Hunting regulations available online and at FWP offices, or go to FWP’s Living with Wildlife web page for more information on hunting in bear country.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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