By Montana Grant

Posted: March 9, 2023

Hunters can also become hunted. Early hunters and mountain men had to compete with predators for their harvests. Daniel Boone, Jim Bridger, and Meshack Browning often encountered and fought bears, panthers, wolves, and other critters.

In Montana, and other remote areas, predators are still very much a concern. Remote area hunters could become dinner in a moment. They say that you will never see a mountain lion that kills you. These cats are stealthy predators. Bears can also ambush hunters before they can react. The first Grizzlies of the year have been seen leaving hibernation in the past few weeks.

In the 1950’s, a notorious Alaskan guide came across a gruesome site. Bill Pinell was hunting on Kodiak Island for large brown bears that reside there. These HUGE bears are apex predators. Apparently, a solitary bear hunter had disappeared years before. No one ever knew his fate. Pinnell came across the mixed bones and skulls of a giant bear and a human. The hunter’s rifle was broken but had a spent cartridge in the chamber.

Each year in Big Sky Country, hunters have close encounters with bears. Both Grizzly and Black bears live off the land. Campers, hunters, and fishermen are often attacked. Even mountain bikers have been attacked. If a bear is aggressive, they often get what they want. Mountain Lions are also a concern.

As a result of these grizzly encounters, outdoorsmen are encouraged to carry bear spray or protection to help fend off any threats. Avoiding any and all encounters is the best protection. Store food and gear appropriately. Stay alert and be observant.

In past elk archery seasons, I have come across several bears. Normally they are solitary boars. The worst threat is when you come across a sow and cubs. I have had the good fortune to have not seen them afield. During one day of hunting, I did see 6 different male grizz within 20 yards. Each bear was a different size and color. They all went the other way when they saw me. They were also within close proximity to the elk that I was calling. Normally I smell bears before I see them. Bow hunters hunt into the wind but the wind can change. Stumbling in between a sow and cubs almost always results in an attack.

Hunters that are on a fresh kill are always at risk. Grizzly bears can smell blood from many miles away. Gunshots can be like the dinner bell. Gut piles are inviting fast food stops for predators. Predators will not share their meals. Hikers, joggers, and bikers may mimic escaping game.

On one hunt, I came across a flock of Ravens in the middle of the forest. As I went closer to investigate, I observed 3 bears on a carcass. Any carcass in bear country is likely to have a bear or lion nearby. Stay off the menu and avoid these locations.

Be Predator aware and alert!

Montana Grant

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