Grizzly Tips for Hunters
from the Game Trail
For the first time in a long time it’s raining outside, a good, all-day rain! For such a wet spring it really dried out over the summer months. Fall is definitely here and that means so are hunting seasons. The beginning part of the archery elk and deer season were a little slow with the heat; a lot of hunters backed out of the woods because they knew they couldn’t care for the meat properly. Unfortunately, some didn’t make that wise decision and struggled with wasting some meat.
As I type this, we have had four wolves shot in the Panhandle Region, and those four people had some interesting stories of their hunts. Wolf season opened on August 30 and runs through March 31 in the Panhandle Regions which includes Hunt Units 1, 2, 3, 4, 4a, 5, 6, 7 and 9. If you kill a wolf you obviously need a tag and you must report the kill within 72 hours at 1-855-648-5558. Then you must present the head and the hide to a Conservation Officer or the Regional IDFG Office in Coeur d’Alene.
For those who are interested in trapping wolves, you must take the wolf trapping education class. We will be hosting one in Sandpoint on November 4. Please call our Regional Office at 208-769-1414 for more information and to sign up if you are interested. Trapping season starts November 15 and will run through the end of the season on March 31. All of the Panhandle Region units are open to trapping except Units 2 and 3.
Recently bears have been in people’s minds and in the media, especially grizzly bears. To me, grizzly bears represent the freedom that attracts me to our wild places. Hunting elk in grizzly county makes me feel alive, knowing something out there can eat me, or at least beat me up pretty good. Statistically, a hunter has a better chance of dying from a heart attack while hunting or getting killed in a car crash than being attacked by a bear, let alone a grizzly bear. But yes, as we all know, it does happen and it happens for various reasons, some of which we can control and some we cannot. In other words, shit happens. Can we be better prepared for when the shit hits the fan? Absolutely! Here are some tips for hunting in Grizzly country.
First and foremost you have to be aware that the act of hunting puts you at risk of encountering grizzlies. Calling game, cover scents, and game attractant scents may attract bears, cats, or wolves. While hunting in grizzly country pay attention to fresh bear sign by looking for bear tracks, scat and concentrations of scavenging birds such as magpies, ravens or crow. Some grizzly bears may move in the direction of gunshots because they have learned to associate hunting activities with a gut pile or animal carcasses.
Get that elk or deer carcass out of the area as quickly as possible. The longer a carcass remains lying on the ground, hung up in hunting camp, or in the back of a truck, the more likely it will be discovered by a grizzly. The sooner elk and deer are taken home and butchered, the better off the situation.
Carcasses left for a period of time require special precautions. Carry a colored lightweight tarp to put the guts on, and drag them as far away from the carcass as possible. Then use the tarp to cover the carcass. This will reduce the scent trail from the gut pile to the carcass, and discourage birds and a bear’s attention to the carcass. Find an observation point to view the carcass from a safe distance before you re-enter the area of the carcass. When returning, approach the carcass carefully and yell or whistle repeatedly. With binoculars, study the scene from the observation point and scan the area for the carcass and any movement. If a grizzly bear is at the site and refuses to leave or the meat has been covered by a bear with debris, leave the area immediately and report the incident to IDFG.
Use a weapon only if bear pepper spray is unavailable. Be aware that bears wounded with an arrow, knife or firearm may intensify the level of attack. If you have to kill a grizzly in self-defense, take careful aim and attempt to knock it down by hitting major bones in the front shoulders or with a well-placed shot in a vital area. Leave the scene immediately, clean your shorts out, and call IDFG.
Waterfowl seasons open October 1. Be sure to have your gun plugged, the proper license, and non-toxic shot shells. Also, remember that Scaup season does not open until October 22, so learn to identify your birds in flight or stay home!
Unfortunately, with hunting season upon us, there are some folks who never learned hunting ethics and feel they can steal your wildlife by poaching. These folks sour our image as sportsmen and ruin it for the law abiding hunter. We have a responsibility to report illegal activity and stop these wildlife thieves. Please take the time to make the call to our Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 800-632-5999, your local Conservation Officer, or 911. Leave No Child Inside