Bowhunters are primed for the deer and elk season to open in Montana on Saturday. They’ve checked and double checked their gear, practiced for months and have their plans lined out for a successful season … well, most of them do. The archery season has already opened in Idaho, our neighbor to the west, and last week an Idaho bowhunter provided an unexpected reminder. A 55-year-old Idaho Falls man was attacked by a sow grizzly with three cubs in the Island Park area on Monday. Fortunately he was treated and released the same day. Although he had bear spray, the hunter told Idaho Fish and Game officials that he was unable to reach the spray. Instead, he grabbed his revolver and attempted to shoot the bear at point-blank range. A special IDFG team went back to the site to search for the grizzly but found no indication the bear had been shot. They also discovered a dead deer nearby that the sow and cubs had been feeding on. So the hunter appears to have snuck up on the sow who was defending her cubs and her kill. That’s the dilemma archery hunters face in bear country: if they are quiet to sneak up on game, they may also sneak up on bears. Also, elk bugles and cow calls can lure in bears as well as elk. The only surefire way to avoid the problem is to not hunt in grizzly bear country. Barring that, hunters need to be on high alert for bears at all times and pack pepper spray. No hunt is worth dying over, so be careful out there. To read more about the bear encounter, log on to The Billings Gazette’s website at http://bgz.tt/ju4ch.
(Written by Brett French – Outdoors Editor for the Billings Gazette)
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