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Home>Topics>>Bear Hunt, Part 2

Bear Hunt, Part 2

Thu, 25 Aug 2011|

Kevin Shea continues his hunt for bears in Montana and shares some tips on traveling light in bear country.



[MUSIC] Hi, day three of the bear hunt and so far nothing. Winter seems to have been hanging on a little bit longer this year than last year, so. End of April and we just had snow a few minutes ago, but it didn't stick. So I don't know if the bears are moving too much. Fish and Wildlife said they're just starting to come out. A few people have brought bears in but not too many yet. But we'll just keep hunting. So I wanted to show everybody some of the stuff I'm bringing with me. And this is what I would consider traveling light, you know? I don't leave with less than this really. You never know when a, half day turns into an overnight because you got stuck someplace or, God forbid, an injury or what have you. So there's my bow. I've got four broad heads with me and one judo point so I can stump shoot and maybe a little small game. I, carry my phone. There's no reception here, so I shut it off and put it in the backpack. Oh and by the way I, make sure I tell my wife where I'm going. Don't know exactly, but, like today is Lion Creek Road. So if something happened, or I didn't come back. The Rangers could come here and find the truck, or wherever the truck is parked, and then look from there for somebody. That's a good tip for everybody, get in the habit of telling somebody at home where you're gonna go, at least the general area. Rain gear, that also protects against the wind, wind gets pretty rough here. Because rifle season and archery overlap during bear season here in Montana, you have to wear your blaze orange even if you're archery hunting. I carry a handgun and I'm not in general a big handgun guy, but this is grizzly territory and I've gotten some conflicting information. A lot of the authorities prefer pepper spray. A lot of the old timers prefer the handguns. I'm kind of on the fence. What I've found is up here a few times the wind was so bad I dont' think the pepper spray would have been effective. Would've been, I would have had to be too close to the bear. So I don't know. I will say that if you choose to go the handgun route from what little bit I know, you need an adequate handgun. Which means a powerful hand gun and that's not easy to shoot. It's a, I have that 44 Magnum and I have hot loads for it. Factory loads. And that is not a, comfortable gun to shoot. So, I practice with lighter loads and then, that's gonna be just for emergencies. By the way I don't travel anywhere with a loaded gun. The shells leave the gun, right into the box and the box is separate from the gun. I want no handgun problems. Extra sweater, so I have the extra sweater, extra jacket in the backpack. I put my orange on before I leave. Wishful thinking, some gloves, in case I get something, to clean it. A couple of hot-packs. My shooting glove. I take a spare shooting gloves. I have two flashlights. I have two compasses. One compass in my backpack and I have another one I am wearing on me. Knife, couple of knives I have for trimming branches if I find a spot that I really like and I want to sit still quiet for a little while. I can prune a little bit around me. And for cutting bigger limbs I have this little brush saw. Extra water, I have some first aid bandages with me and a space blanket, in case I do get caught here over night, it's, heh, very cold. So, that's it. Let's go. See what we can do today. Okay. Today is Tuesday, May 10th and the weather finally broke over the weekend. I was in mid 60s when I got out here today. It's in the high 50s right now. The snow pack is finally starting to melt. There's grass on the logging roads and I'm trying a different spot today. I was just wondering through the woods looking for some clearings. Still no sign of bears. Fish and Wildlife said that. They just don't indicate a few bears in right for hunters. So just have to stick with it. I only have a week and a half left that I can hunt. I have to go to New York for my son's graduation from College. So, I'm going to miss the last week in May which would probably be. The best week this year because of the long winter that we had. So I can't really change up my tactics, there's nothing else to do right with early bear spot and stalk that I know of except Look for grassy areas, when they're just starting to, kickstart their digestive system, eating the wet grasses and, that's about the only thing I can think of to do right now. Another day, another spot. No pretty spot I found. North of where I was. In an are called, North Fork, of the Flathead River. And, all the runoff, all the tributaries are really flowin hard now. They're expecting some possible flooding here, because we had heavy snows, and a late winter. Now all a sudden the temperature's gettin up into the. High, 60s every day and the runoff is starting from the mountains and I don't know if the, river is gonna hold it. We're getting some flooding already. We'll see what happens, but real pretty spot. This is the kinda road that we've been looking for. I'll talk as loud as I can. This is the kind of road that we've been looking for. Real green lush grass, kinda dampish, and this is what the bears usually need to kinda kick start, jump start their digestive system after hibernation. So, we finally found one of the right kind of roads, but it's got no bears. What are we doing? Ed Wood, what do you suggest? Stop laughing. >> Keep walking. >> Keep walking. [BLANK_AUDIO] >> We're on our way to do some bear hunting and came across a moose. See how close I can get to this guy. It's about 7:30, and I found one more spot that I want to try before the night's over. About another hour and a half I guess. As you can see, there's telephone pole. And I'm about. Quarter a mile off a road there's a telephone pole that way and another past it. And then I have a, a run of utility poles. I don't know if you see them, but that's what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna follow this run, it's not quite. As pronounced as logging roads. But hopefully there'll be some grassy spots, and maybe I can find a bear feeding. >> Today, with my friend Ed Downy, hey Ed. What's up buddy? Huh. Still looking for bears, and still aren't finding any. I think it's just Gonna be a late season for them because of the long winter we had. But we did come across the utility pole. Which has been all clawed up by bears. Goes all the way up, you can see the claw marks. And they really did some damage here on this utility pole. And look how worn away it is. Show them the fur? See there's a nail sticking out. And we got, bear fur on it, bear, hair. So, yup, this is the place, but it wasn't this year; it was probably last year. And, we'll be back here again. And these are the kind of easements we're looking for. Hopefully find one with more grass on it than this one. This one's kind of brushy. And I'll see if we can find another spot. Well, I just saw my first bear on this trip and it was a brown colored. Black bear, it was big, but I had to wait to make sure it wasn't a grizzly cuz I'm not allowed to shoot a grizzly, and I missed my opportunity. But that's what it's all about, so I'm very happy to see my first bear here. He was a nice size, but, I, I was afraid he was a grizzly, and then he Got my wind, and that was it. Let's see if I can get up on him. Okay, that was pretty exciting. First black bear I've seen on this trip. But it had a brown collar to it, so some people refer to that as a cinnamon phase or cinnamon color black bear. But I was afraid it might have been a grizzly, so I didn't take cover right away behind a tree, I stayed out with my [LAUGH] binoculars to try and get a good look at it. And right about the time I realized it was a black bear, just a brown collared black bear like the one I had shot last year the wind changed on me. And I'm standing by some moss, and if you can see, that moss hanging down, it keeps going back and forth, as the wind changes. So at a wind change, and just when I had decided that it was a black bear, let's go take cover, I'm standing right on it's path [LAUGH] Wish I had a good shot at it. So just as I decided it was a black bear and get ready to take cover and fumbling to get the camera out to get some footage of it. The wind changed. I watched the moss, I'm looking up, I see the moss go right towards the bear. Same direction. I'm like, no. [LAUGH] So that was it. He winded me and I caught a little footage of it running away. That might be it for tonight. I'm gonna hang out a little bit longer. It's starting to get late. And then just come back and hit it again tomorrow. Yesterday afternoon, late afternoon was the closest encounter I've had so far with a bear this season. Wind changed, I got busted, and that was the end of my chance. So I only have few days left. I only have, three days left that I can hunt this year for bears, and I'm still in the Swan Mountain range. That's the area that I'm at, and, I'm trying a different spot. I wanna let that spot where I got busted yesterday. Quiet down for another couple of days and I'll make that my last place. So, let's see if I can make something happen here tonight. I've been hunting this trail in this area along Swan River and it was nice because I'd seen one bear here, not too much activity though. And no other hunters and sure enough as I'm walking that same trail, there's some fresh bear scat, maybe, I don't know, day or two old. So, you know, here's the trail. It's right on the middle of the trail. This is the trail where I had seen the bear. You know, further down, so, it's the right place and starting to be come the right time, just that the late Winter holding on had the bears coming out of hibernation late. And the season ends today May 31st, but I think that next week things could really be hopping here, but that's the way it goes. Good scouting for next year.