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Old 01-11-2010, 03:05 PM
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
3,895 posts, read 3,777,712 times
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Montana Grizzly,
Nice to see you on the boards again. I thought you went into hibernation!

I haven't tried those BRENNEKE slugs you mentioned. I usually make do with a 3 inch magnum load. Kick like a mule in that short gun, but seem to work OK.

Hope you are wintering well.
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:16 PM
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Great advice here! We have property in between the Cabinets and the Coeur d'Alenes on the ID-MT border, and we're looking straight up into grizzly habitat in the Cabinets. Fortunately for us that's on the north side of the river, and we're on the south side. We've seen a black bear on our own property. Next summer we hope to put in a cabin, and learning proper bear etiquette is really a must! Now I'm really glad there's no stream on our land!
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:00 PM
475 posts, read 1,125,500 times
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Thank you for such great detailed information MTSilvertip
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Old 01-11-2010, 10:01 PM
Location: MT/36 yrs full time after 4 yrs part time
1,827 posts, read 2,306,650 times
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Originally Posted by MTSilvertip View Post
I used to spend a lot of time in the Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness, and still spend a lot of time in the Gallatin and Lewis and Clark National forests.

Yes there are bears. and depending on the time of year and the current food supply, there can be a lot of them.

Black bears you will find all over the place. They even come into the larger towns from time to time. 95 times out of 100, they will run from you, but if you get between a sow and her cubs, or surprise one at close quarters, or they feel trapped, watch out. There are far more bear attacks across the US each year involving black bears than grizzlies, partly because there are a lot more black bears across a much wider range, but they can be dangerous if the situation is right.

Grizzly will do what they want, when they want. Normally, if they don't feel threatened, or are just having a bad day, they will leave you alone. Other times they will attack for no apparent reason. They are extremely dangerous and even though many people survive bear attacks, many don't.
During the 2008 hunting season alone, in the September - November time frame there were 5 grizzly attacks. Last year there were 3 I can remember for sure.

Bear spray works fine under the right conditions, but if the wind is blowing in your face when you spray, you just blinded yourself because the spray will drift back on you, and THAT STUFF REALLY BURNS!!!!
I sold the bear spray for a while and got hit by some during a demonstration by the sales rep. That is why I am really watching the wind when someone lets one of those things off!!
Recent studies have been in the newspapers stating that if a bear has been sprayed before, it is less likely to stop if sprayed again.

Carrying a big pistol for protection will probably get you eaten. I like to go into the woods with someone who is carrying a hand cannon, because once they shoot the bear and tic them off, I can get away while they are getting eaten. It takes a precise shot with a lot of knockdown power to stop a grizzly. And it is pretty hard to make a precisely placed shot when an animal that weighs in excess of 350 lbs is barreling down on you at 30 miles an hour roaring, snapping and blowing slobber all over the place. Kind of gets your adreneline going. Makes placing your shot kind of difficult.

I prefer the pistol gripped "riot gun" 12 gage shotgun loaded with slugs and 00 buck. You have a fast rate of fire, it is a defensive weapon for close in work, and you can put up a wall of lead to at least blind the bear that is coming at you. You don't have to aim closely because of the spread pattern of the shot.

I have spent the better part of the past 35 years in the back country and have never had a real problem with bears of either species, but I respect them, and watch out for them. During the summer, along the creeks and rivers is the worst place to be, especially in the high country. Creeks are good places for bear to find fish, snails, crawdads, insects, and berries in season so they patrol the banks all the time.

Making noise is a good idea, talking loudly, singing, whistling all help the bear know where you are so you don't surprise them and they have a chance to get away. Air horns work well on a bear that isn't really aggressive, just curious, but I doubt they would turn a charge. I had a friend blow up a whole string of firecrackers under the nose of a black bear. The bear jumped when the first ones went off, then got curious about the rest of the string and followed it around as they went off and moved around.
Don't let your dog run loose because if they find a bear, and irritate it, the bear will give chase and the dog will run straigt back to you for protection.

Don't wear musk perfume or aftershave. Musk is a challenge or a come on and the bear will take you up on the offer.

Don't keep your food close to your sleeping area if you are camping, put it at least 10 feet up a tree and at least 5 feet from the trunk.

Do your cooking at least 100 feet away from where you are camping, and don't camp within at least 50 yards of a creek or stream.

I have had 2 close calls with grizzly, I was able to back out of both of them. I was armed, and the bears were both within 20 yards when I saw them. One never saw me, the other I talked to, and calmly backed away. He watched me and once I got back out of his immediate area, he turned and walked off. I could have killed either of them if necessary, but by keeping cool, I was able to extract myself from the situation without hurting either of them or me.

You take your chances in the back country here. Traveling with a companion is a very good idea, watch all around you and be aware of your surroundings. Use your nose too. Grizzly aren't too worried about bathing and can really stink so you can sometimes tell if one is in the area if the wind is right.

Bear spray works, and it is non-lethal. I just wouldn't bet my life on it as my only option.

Take someone familier with the local animals when you go. I have had a lot more problems with cow moose than bears.

One last thing, check with the forest service and Fish and Game before you go into an area because they will usually tell you if there is a problem bear in the area.

Have fun!!
[i]The following is an"add-on" to my earlier post of noon today............
I have more time tonight than I did earlier.[i]

First let me say that your lengthy post above is about as thorough and correct as it could be. Your knowledge about the various aspects of the outdoors, wildlife, bears etc,etc is extremely broad......I sincerely compliment you and your ability to convey (via the written word) what you know so well.

Secondly, I just happened across your post of 12/18/09 regarding "Montana's Happy People". I thoroughly enjoyed your comments and found your last (3) sentences to be a "great summary" of "what Montana and Montanan's are all about".

I am not native to the state, but know I couldn't have found a better place back in 1976 and and then built our own home here in 1980. Colorado was fine until it's demise in the 1960's & 1970's.......... let's hope Montana does not follow in it's foot steps.

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Old 01-12-2010, 05:21 AM
Location: NW Montana
6,258 posts, read 10,704,973 times
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I am afraid once I smelled his particular smell he would smell the one in my pants
Thanks for a post that I could hardly breath through
Guess I can pony up some harrowing tales about the prairie dogs around these parts.
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Old 01-12-2010, 06:26 AM
Location: In The Outland
6,028 posts, read 9,289,601 times
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Originally Posted by seven of nine View Post
I am afraid once I smelled his particular smell he would smell the one in my pants
Thanks for a post that I could hardly breath through
Guess I can pony up some harrowing tales about the prairie dogs around these parts.
I used to do a lot of backpacking back in the younger days and one time I woke up with a black bear sniffing my face while I was sleeping in my sleeping bag. That happened in California at a popular camping area (Little Yosemite Valley), where a lot of bears hang out.
Another time here in Montana we were living in the town of Hot Springs and my wife heard some scratching on our window. She peeked through the venetian blinds to see a bear's face right at the window about a foot from her face.
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Old 01-12-2010, 01:07 PM
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
3,895 posts, read 3,777,712 times
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I thank you for your kind responses to my post. I do get a little long winded at times, "ask me the time and I will tell you how to build a clock"

Montana Griz, you are too kind, but your words are deeply appreciated.
I am glad to see you back on the boards, and hope to hear much from you. You are a prime example of someone moving into the state and embracing it to make it his own.

Seven of Nine, nothing worse than a prairied dog on a rampage!! Those things are Dangerous!!
A friend of mine was attacked by a vicious gopher once. I had to rescue him, and it wasn't easy while I was laughing that hard!! Dang thing treed him on the hood of the truck and wouldn't leave.

Actually, the rattlesnakes in your part of the country spook me more than the bears do, I guess it is what you are familier with.
I will agree that meeting a Grizzly at close range is a very religious experience, (and a change of drawers is not a bad idea )

When I was growing up near Bozeman one summer we had black bear all over the place. The worst case was the bear who broke into a neighbors house and locked itself in the basement. They couldn't figure out how to let him out because the basement opened into the main house and they would have had to run outside with the bear on their heels to let him loose.

Life in Montana is always an adventure!!!
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Old 01-12-2010, 05:13 PM
Location: Somewhere in time.
519 posts, read 982,453 times
Reputation: 261
Bear in the basement would definaly require a change of pants. And I know this is a little goofy but one summer my inlaws pond a fish was nesting near the shore near the beach and we would try to go in and it would try to attack ya. Crazy I know. I am sure we looked pretty stupid screaming cause of a dang fish. LOL.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:59 PM
Location: Pluto's Home Town
9,995 posts, read 8,732,631 times
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Well, I don't know about fish,but one morning in my youth I went to a big party in the high desert. After much tequila and silliness, I bedded down in my sleeping bag in the front yard of the little desert shack to enjoy the night air. I woke up at just before dawn with an epic hangover to the sound of very small footsteps. I sat straight up and saw a rooster staring at me. I shrugged and lay back down. Step, step, step...looked up and the bold little bas***** was right next to me. I sat up and shoo'd him away and lay back down...step, step, step....sat up again and shoo'd the watch rooster away again...lather, rinse, repeat a half dozen times, with increasing profanity selected for maximum rooster intimidation but with minimum likelihood of waking hosts....I would have gladly wrung it's neck or clocked it with a rock at that point, but it was the family watchrooster after all, so I conceded defeat and drove off into the desert without saying goodbye to any of my friends.

It was humiliating to say the least, and I am convinced to this day that that rascal would have gladly pecked out my bloodshot eyes out had I given him the chance...so I don't doubt your fish story..

Now, returning to bears. I get the pepper spray idea, but is there any scent you can put on your tents, packs,etc. to keep them away at night? that they really, really hate? Ammonia? Smelling salts? I am guessing this is more important for black bears, but...
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:45 PM
Location: Montana
1,219 posts, read 2,419,134 times
Reputation: 647
Remember that black bear scat is sometimes tubular and usually messy, and has seeds, apple peels or stuff like that in it.

Grizzly scat looks the same except it has jingle bells in it and smells like pepper spray...
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