Hunting in grizzly territory

Hoosker Doo

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
230
Location
Afton, WY
🙄. Anyone who says you should drag a gutted elk carcass any meaningful distance has never killed an elk. And anyone who thinks human pee is any kind of deterrent to a grizzly bear must have different pee than every other human.
The kill site is already full of human scent and this “expert” thinks an incoming bear is going to smell pee then flee.

Yes you can show up in force and run a bear off. And I’ve seen them almost refuse to leave When confronted with multiple people on horseback. If you are on foot, by yourself, or have never been around grizzlies let him have it.

Not hunting right until dark, quartering an elk and moving the pieces away from the gut pile, hunting with trustworthy partners and keeping your head on a swivel are all good ideas. They are not foolproof.

If you go back to a kill site and there is no bear, remain vigilant. That likely was one of the mistakes made by the hunter and guide in the linked story.
🤣 I've dragged more elk much farther than I would ever care to again back before we were smart enough to buy quality backpacks. It also sounds like you have horses, which I was not blessed with in life. Also why I said "as far as you can" maybe that's only 10 or 20 feet, but you KNOW bears are going to be in the gut pile.
And I don't care whether or not you believe me about pissing on the hide of your elk. I've never been desperate enough to try it myself to see if it works. The biologist that carried out the studies told me they literally put out bait piles and peed on some of them and the bears wouldn't hardly touch the ones they peed on. I haven't tested it myself, but he was working for game and fish at the time. Another coworker who lives in the Grizzly capital of Wyoming said he pees on his elk if he has to leave them. I've never done it. I don't care if you try it or not.
 
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TaperPin

WKR
Joined
Jul 12, 2023
Messages
992
Don’t be this guy….

That’s a great article - should be required reading.

Pepper spray, pistol, or rifle have to be easily reachable to work, and muscle memory has to make it automatic.

Bears have personalities just like all animals, including us, and there is a wide variation in aggressiveness and thought processes.

It can be helpful to think in terms of rattle snakes - a few changes in your behavior greatly reduce the odds of getting bit. In snake country when climbing up a steep hill you don’t put your hand any place you can’t see. In sagebrush you don’t walk directly next to, or step over, anything you can’t see under or through. In ten seasons of wildland firefighting I’ve only been present with one snake bite, and that was a young rattle snake that climbed up into some brush and barely got one fang into the guy’s arm as the 6 of us were bushwhacking down a hill. We never saw the snake, and none of us had ever seen a snake hanging out that high in brush.

In griz country much of it is pretty open, or at least open enough you can pick a route with enough visibility to see a bear 50 yards out. Yes you will do more walking, and it might give you away to more game. Your personal danger threshold does change how you hunt - I’m not an extreme skier and you won’t find me still hunting dense clumpy timber in bear country, heck I won’t backpack in the primary grizzly habitat. One common thread to a lot of bear attacks is they walk around a bushy tree or rock and there is momma with a cub. Giving wide berth to dense brush or thick clumps of trees is as important as not stepping directly next to thick sage or putting a hand onto an unknown rock ledge blindly in snakey areas.

The only way to eliminate your chances of a run in is to stay home, but odds are based on your behavior so make good choices. There is a lot of stupid to be found walking on two legs, if they grew up in bear country or not. It‘s amazing more people aren’t killed given the poor choices made, so don’t blindly see a behavior and assume it’s ok to duplicate.

If you are fascinated with bears it’s fun to hang out in the NE side of Yellowstone just watching the daily movement of bears on a kill or not. The wolves drive them off, but bears are often the first ones there in the morning. If wolves don’t know about the kill a bear beds much closer to guard it. Looking at the kill and what’s around it - it would be amazingly easy to stumble into it if you just happened to be crossing through and were at the wrong place at wrong time. As with most animals a bedded grizzly can be almost impossible to see depending on the angle.

A buddy system is safer. More open country is safer. Being alert is safer. Rifle in hand with scope covers off and round in chamber when going through a thick patch you can’t go around is safer.

Problem bears are well known to FS Rangers, F&G Game wardens and biologists prior to the hunting season - I make it a point to find out if there have been black or griz issues on any backcountry trip. Problem bears are sometimes relocated to certain drainages. A helicopter pilot once told me of a couple problem bears he flew into the backcountry.

Keep in mind you may be 100 miles from what’s considered grizzly range, but individual bears can travel great distances outside their normal range for relatively short durations. I’ve seen as many grizzly above timberline as below it.

Every bear learns as a cub that gut piles are full of the good stuff. Approach from up wind, make some noise, give a potential bear time to smell and process your noise. Glass for signs a bear either was there or might still be there. Hang meat high and in as open a space as possible - it’s ideal if you can approach from a vantage point and glass for anyone hanging around.

During a spring hike it was surprising to see enough beds and scat from the previous fall to indicate a black bear camped out for about two weeks 10’ from where an elk was boned out.

Food smells in tent = bear in tent. Food smell in camp = bear in camp.
 

chizelhead

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Mar 12, 2012
Messages
193
Location
PNW
I'm guessing smelling like a dead elk or deer is not helpful in griz country. Dumb question: How do you clean yourself off after taking care of a carcass in grizzly country? How do you ensure you don't smell like a dead elk when you're back at camp?
 

Hoosker Doo

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
230
Location
Afton, WY
It's all I can do to roll an elk over without blowing out a testy, let alone try to drag one.
Haha yeah, it was never a one man job, that's for sure, and usually with a skiff of snow. (Also we were always meat hunting, so these weren't monster bulls. Worst one was dragging a calf whole over a mile on dry ground to the car. Man we were stupid teenagers lol
 

Deadfall

WKR
Joined
Oct 18, 2019
Messages
1,483
Location
Montana
Ok. So a few things.
First, if you cut an elk between 2nd and 3rd rib both sides all the way to spine (after gutted) you can twist the back half 180 degrees which will break the spine making 2 pieces. Right there you just cut drag weight in half.

Second: remove the head from front half. If you are caping then do that and break front half down to bags.

Now drag weight is greatly reduced to manageable levels to get meat away from gut pile.

Third: what a bear really wants are the guts. Get the meat 300 yards from the gut pile. If next morning a bear is around you can run him off. He may only go lay on top of the gut pile he has buried, which is far enough away for you to finish processing the hind end and hang what you can't carry or move meat further away.

4th- Grizzlies are opportunistic hunters. If you hang the meat 4 feet off ground like all the video folks do then you are screwed. However, if you hang the meat so bottom is atleast 10 feet off the ground, a bear will loose interest and move on. This time of year they are on constant search for food. If they can't get to the food after a short period of mucking about they will move on in search of other easier obtainable meals. Eating grubs and such along the way.

There is absolutely nothing that works better for improving a bears attitude then buckshot in his butt!
 

Ralphie

WKR
Joined
Feb 18, 2019
Messages
312
Once we start talking about gutting then cutting the carcass into smaller pieces, I'd much rather just use the gutless method and have very manageable pieces to move away from the gut pile. And I actually pretty much always just use the gutless on elk. For me its the fastest way to get pieces I can move and I don't have to mess with the guts. And getting them a few hundred yards from the gut pile is the goal. Much less and even if the bear is on the guts and not the meat you will still be potentially close enough to the bear to have a problem.

Immediately after the elk is dead and you find it, is your best time to spend the majority of your time getting things situated. Even if its getting dark. Odds of a bear finding it go way up once you leave and the carcass is there over night. So right after the kill get things the way you want so when you come back you don't have to go near the guts and you don't have to spend much time. Of course that's kinda the ideal and that isn't always possible.

Agree with needing to hang them up high to get them out of reach of a bear, but that is much easier said then done. Especially with stuff most hunters are willing to carry. But if you can it's a great idea.
 
Joined
Jul 30, 2023
Messages
66
Or read the book "Night of the Grizzlies"!!!

All great advice. I live in the heart of (right outside of Glacier) and pretty much only hunt in griz country. Take the basic precautions outlined above and the odds are in your favor. That being said, I still have trouble sleeping while backpacking... every little sound wakes me up and I'm listening to see if its a bear. If anyone has any recommendations on something to truly knock a guy out so they can get a good nights sleep I'm all ears. I've tried unisom with no luck.
Try some cbd/cbn gummies, particularly the CBN. You can probably find them at your local dispensary and if they don't have thc they're not pyschoactive, but they definitely bring on some serious drowsiness.
 
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Joined
Mar 15, 2016
Messages
659
Location
Boulder, Wy.
just came back from a week long archery hunt, had a black bear come into camp while im sitting at fire eating top ramen with 5 llamas my dog, on day 6 so plenty of stinky socks and such, he walked right up the trail myself hunting partner and dog have been using all week, the wind was blowing toward him as well, I yelled at him and he just kept coming, finally ran him off, llamas alarmed in the morning 530am he was under our food tree lookin at our hanging food bags , im sure he has been habituated by the hikers in the area, very few hunters, thankful it was a black bear, I cant imagine a grizzly with same attitude, be prepared and take it serious, it can and will happen if you spend enough time in the woods here in Wyoming!
 

akcabin

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Feb 10, 2023
Messages
177
Lot of bears around the area we hunt. Been declared a special management area and residents can harvest 1 brown 3 black yearly. No extra tags needed for brown. We have a cabin so it tends to attract the blacks. Odors. If they have a chance they will grab stuff. I set a package of moose burger in some tall grass/ sphagnum mosss to stay cool overnight. Easy pickins. And they are now using the cabin as a scratching post. I don't need that, a bear marking the cabin. The browns haven't been an issue. They don't seem to be as curious.
But I am certain I've walked past a few over the years. So a question, what about carrying beef jerkey in your pack ? Dried fruits n chocolate. Is there consideration twards the odors snacks have ?
. I know the risk involved and accept it. I don't carry a sidearm or spray. And don't pee on game I've harvest. I can say this. If I can get my head into the zone and hunt I need to not be distracted with fear from bears. And the 4--6' of under growth or along a stream of salmon and very tall grasses. is full of bear tunnels. Be walking through the devils clubs and find bear tunnels. Gets my attention. But staying focused and a clear head is the best protection I can have.
I just don't believe that I would have a very good opportunity to defend myself against a bear attack in heavy cover. And then get off a kill shot. I don't want a pissed off bear on me. If I can get through the initial attack for 15-30 seconds and they realize that there is no danger to them. I kinda believe that may be my best defense.
Hunting in brown or black territory is required if I want the best chance to harvest game. I just try to stay aware of my situation and surroundings. Eyes n ears open. And i enjoy the experience
 

ikeG

FNG
Joined
Jan 25, 2022
Messages
47
Is it legal for a partner, who does not have a tag, to carry a rifle during rifle season, in Wyoming?

Sent from my SM-G990U2 using Tapatalk
 

Hoosker Doo

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
230
Location
Afton, WY
Is it legal for a partner, who does not have a tag, to carry a rifle during rifle season, in Wyoming?

Sent from my SM-G990U2 using Tapatalk
As long as your not marching through a city or town causing havoc, you can carry a rifle in the woods of Wyoming whenever you want. At least I do
 
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