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Wed., Sept. 28, 2016, 11:27 a.m.

Two Montana bowhunters injured in grizzly bear attacks

This undated photo provided by the National Park Service shows a grizzly bear walking along a ridge in Montana. Grizzly bears have rebounded from widespread extermination across the Northern Rockies over the past several decades. But conflicts with humans have been on the rise, and the death of a Montana man on Wednesday brings to at least seven the number of people fatally mauled by bears in the region since 2010. (uncredited / Associated Press)
This undated photo provided by the National Park Service shows a grizzly bear walking along a ridge in Montana. Grizzly bears have rebounded from widespread extermination across the Northern Rockies over the past several decades. But conflicts with humans have been on the rise, and the death of a Montana man on Wednesday brings to at least seven the number of people fatally mauled by bears in the region since 2010. (uncredited / Associated Press)

HUNTING  – Two hunters were hospitalized after encountering grizzly bears in separate incidents over the weekend in southwestern Montana, state wildlife officials say.

A bowhunter looking for elk was mauled by a bear on Sunday in the Tom Miner Basin north of Gardiner, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says in a news release. His hunting party believes he was attacked by a female grizzly with two cubs.The man had bite injuries, but was taken to a hospital and released.

Another hunter encountered a bear Saturday after calling for elk in the Cabin Creek area north of Hebgen Lake. He was treated at a hospital for minor injuries and released.

Wildlife officials say elk bugling or cow calling can bring in bears and bears may be drawn to areas where deer or elk have been.

Officials are encouraging hunters to carry bear spray and hunt with at least one other person.

Note that areas with high deer and elk hunting success may attract bears (ravens circling may indicate a kill). Elk bugling and cow calling also may bring in bears. It is important to stay alert.

Hunters should have with them what they need to immediately field dress their game. If hunters have success in the field and can’t haul their meat out right away they should remove the meat from the kill site and hang it at least ten feet off the ground and at least 150 yards from the gut pile.

Returning to the meat later, a hunter should check with his or her binoculars to see if the meat has been disturbed. Hunters should never attempt to haze a bear off a kill.

North Idaho resident and filmmaker Bob Legasa has been bowhunting in Montana and offered this report today after seeing this post:

There are a tremendous amount of grizzlies in Park County. I had heard there were 20 grizzlies in the Tom Miner Basin that were out in a meadow every evening making it a photog's dream.

During our archery elk hunt last week we had grizzly sightings almost everyday and had two encounters with aggressive grizzly bears. One episode they were tracked/followed to within 20 yards and the griz would not retreat or leave after talking loudly/yelling at him, the second time was after a calling sequence where after 20 minutes we crossed the creek and went up a steep embankment to get closer to the bull, we looked down and there was a grizzly 45 yards away going back and forth over the two areas we had been set up earlier. We lost sight of him for a few minutes and then he returned and was frantically looking/smelling with even more determination to find us.

These growly bears have become immune to humans presence. I know of some friends with some damn close encounters last season, 8 feet!!! 

After four years of carrying the same can of bear spray which had recently expired, Legasa felt bought a new can and used the opportunity to test-practice with the old can. In the video below, the bear spray trigger malfunctions and will not turn off when released. That's one of the types of issues that can occur with expired bear spray cans.  Incidentally, Legasa says, "That spray is NASTY; just a little whiff from being downwind had me gagging while I was filming this."

Bear Spray from Bob Legasa-Freeride Media on Vimeo.

A note on the video: Even if the bear is not charging, a brief burst of bear spray aimed into the ground just in front of the bruin will billow up to set a brief irritating barrier that can thwart an attack, experts say.

Also, I carry 10-ounce bottles of Counter Assault. Experts say check the label and make sure you're getting 30 feet of distance and at least 9 seconds of available duration.

Expirations on FRESH bear spray are out 4 years. The expiration dates are mostly linked to the reliability of the propellants.

I addressed many of these topics with a bear spray expert in a 2012 video.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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