With some hunting seasons already underway and big game rifle season to open Saturday, hunters are reminded that bears are still out and active throughout the fall. Hunters should think ahead about what they would do in an encounter and carry and know how to use bear spray.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) Bear Management Specialist, Jamie Jonkel, says that the moment hunters start to think about heading afield is also the time to plan on how to react in the case of an encounter with a bear.
The first thing to consider, Jonkel says, is that the very act of stalking game increases a hunter’s chance of bumping into bears.
“When travelling through dense brush, be extra aware and do what you can to warn wildlife of your presence,” Jonkel says. “This can be hard to do because you don’t want the deer, elk or birds to know that you are nearby. Just do your best to find this balance and have your bear spray close at hand.”
Jonkel offers a few important 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 detailed plans.
•While hunting, pay attention to 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 then return to a carcass, including placing the carcass where you can easily 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.