Guide Mike Bouchard and hunter with cape and head. Burnt ground from 2001 Biggs Flat Fire. (2002 photo)
Hunting in Montana wilderness areas pose unique challenges.
Many have to do with grizzly bears.
First, and foremost, if you know where a dead, rotting animals is, AVOID IT. Sounds simple but curiosity has killed more than cats.
Second, if you get a bull elk late in the evening, special precautions must be taken. Bulls taken in the evening will most likely not be packed to camp until the next day. If a bear gets on the elk—and it happens frequently—that’s just the way it is.
However, you need to take care of the cape, and/or hide before you leave for the night. It is best if the cape and head are brought to camp. If that can’t be done the head and cape should be hung as high in a tree as possible.
The first thing that a grizzly will gnaw on is the nose. Makes for a strange looking mount.
Any skinning or caping, of elk, deer, bear, etc should be done before leaving in the evening. Not only will bears make a mess of them, but subzero weather can make skinning and caping a chore.
Third, when you return in the morning, come to the elk from the high side and make a good survey of the area before plunging in. If you weren’t there and HE was, it makes the elk HIS property. Grizzlies seem to know that possession is 9/10th of the law.
It is also good to have extra people. One person may not bluff a bear, but a group usually intimidates.
Finally, you should be in good physical shape. Recall the story of the guide and hunter who were running from the grizzly.
Almost out of breath, the hunter looks at the guide and says, “Why are we running, we can’t out run a bear!?”
The guide replies, “I don’t have to outrun the bear.”