A 69-year old man was recently mauled by a grizzly bear in southwestern Montana, authorities said. The victim was hunting Flattop Mountain near Big Sky when the attack took place. The hunter was able to walk out where he was transported by ambulance to a local hospital where he was treated for injuries to his shoulder and hip. The man suspected the attack took place because the hunter had been too close to the kill site of another hunter’s harvest. Carcass defense is one of a handful of primary causes of bear/human conflict.
This is a dangerous time of the year for hunters in grizzly country. The grizzly bear is starting to leave the high mountain moth sites, moving to the lower country for the vegetation that will sustain them through the winter months. These areas are generally in cover, making it difficult for hunters to see bears – and when using proper hunting techniques, it is difficult for bears to smell and hear hunters.
Tips for staying safe in Grizzly Country
There are exceptions to every rule but, for the most part, there are a few situations in which hunters find themselves in danger with grizzly bears. The aforementioned carcass defense, sows with cubs, and anytime a hunter gets too close to a bear.
Killing game in grizzly country poses additional challenges if you keep the carcass at your campsite. Also if you have to leave it overnight in the field. Know the rules about food of any kind – including harvested animals – when staying in the outdoors in grizzly country. Not only will it keep you safe, but it is also the law in many states. When leaving an animal in the field because it is too late to pack him out, pull quarters as far away from the “gut pile” as possible and hang quarters in trees.
Harvesting of a grizzly in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is illegal. However, a grizzly can be shot and killed if a hunter’s life is in imminent danger. Pepper spray is a proven defense mechanism in the right scenarios. However, most hunters prefer carrying both pepper spray and a sidearm.
Know the areas you hunt, look for signs of grizzly bears, and understand the stages of a grizzly bluff charge/attack. Be cautious with food – and always keep your head on a swivel.
The Grizzly population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is thriving. In most areas, it is not a question of if, but when you will see a bear. Proper preventative maintenance procedures upfront will help keep you safe. Couple that with doing the right thing in the field and keeping your wits about yourself is also crucial. Following these tips will ensure you are in the best shape while hunting grizzly country.