1st tag: MT General Elk - Solo too risky?

WCB

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Joined
Jun 12, 2019
Messages
1,381
Yes to dangerous....please turn in tag and request it be given to me. I'll sweep some areas for you for the next time you draw and map all bears.

Seriously though. I'd be more concerned about being in good enough shape to pack an elk by yourself if you have never done it. I guided in one of the worst areas for bears only saw 3 in 5 years and I was there archery and rifle season. Pay attention to your surroundings and camp smart. The "no" grizzly areas all have mostly had their share of sightings...hell people still say the Bridgers outside of Bozeman don't have them...I know several people who have seen them in there.

Just go where you have the best chance of killing and elk and don't sleep on your gut pile when you kill one. You will be fine.
 
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inquisitiveram

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Apr 24, 2021
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24
I have lived in Montana my entire life and have been in Kalispell (heart of griz country) for most of it. I know all of the precautions, take them, and I still have a bit of a "pucker" factor when I'm hiking in two hours in the dark to get to my spot every time my headlamp casts a shadow on the trail in front of me. I had my 5 year old son with me this past year and we cut a fresh griz track in the snow from that night heading the same direction we were going (again hiking in pre-dawn) so we turned back and went about a mile up the road. Three years ago I quartered a 5 point bull by myself that I shot right at dark about 8 miles (as the crow flies) from where a guy was mauled by a griz about a month earlier. I was looking over my shoulder with my headlamp, on high alert, and anxious the entire time... but it was worth it to experience taking that elk by myself.

All this to say, you can take precautions and be aware but you may never fully get comfortable with them around. This is where the man-up advice from above comes in. I would love to hunt non-griz country but that would completely eliminate my ability to day hunt from home. I guess the moral of my post is that you can go out, be smart, and know that the odds of encountering a bear in a negative way are very low especially if you are paying attention. I will say having a partner hiking up the trail with me in the dark takes away all fear.... know that is not logical... the risk is the same but there is just something comforting about knowing you have company.

If you do decide to go solo in griz country, I would suggest truck camping and doing day hunts to at least eliminate one element of worry (you can keep your food in the truck and drastically reduce odors). Actually, upon further thought, I would suggest truck camping for your first trip regardless as it will help you be more mobile to actually locate elk. If you backpack in you are committed to an area and it might be a dud. Most of all good luck and have fun! And tell the wife to calm down, you are more likely to get injured in a car accident on your drive there then to be injured by a bear hunting solo! haha actually don't tell her that... I've made that mistake and suddenly I'm dealing with a different kind of bear! Now that's sound advice!
Great insight and advice—thanks for sharing! I’m gonna truck camp and planning to partner up with a guy on here. Been a great learning experience and dialogue on this thread—i’m looking forward to the trip!
 

mavinwa2

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Sep 11, 2018
Messages
333
Location
Res WA ST, winter>Gilbert AZ , NR>AZ, UT, NM, CO.
Had some experience with grizz, in NW, SW Montana, NW WY.

As solo on foot (no stock) or even with a partner, your biggest challenge will come AFTER you get an elk down.
Even with gutless processing, that fresh meat smell in the breeze is ringing the Grizz dinner bell!
Beast is gouging itself in September/October and bear aggression is an understatement.

Pack out the best, prime meat first if solo. For me that is both backstraps and 1 rear qtr boned. Rest of meat gets bagged and hung a distance from carcass/guts. Bull head-antlers too and this comes out last.
Hunting solo, the mornings, early afternoon were my best, safest time to put a bull down.
 
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inquisitiveram

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Apr 24, 2021
Messages
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Had some experience with grizz, in NW, SW Montana, NW WY.

As solo on foot (no stock) or even with a partner, your biggest challenge will come AFTER you get an elk down.
Even with gutless processing, that fresh meat smell in the breeze is ringing the Grizz dinner bell!
Beast is gouging itself in September/October and bear aggression is an understatement.

Pack out the best, prime meat first if solo. For me that is both backstraps and 1 rear qtr boned. Rest of meat gets bagged and hung a distance from carcass/guts. Bull head-antlers too and this comes out last.
Hunting solo, the mornings, early afternoon were my best, safest time to put a bull down.
Makes a ton of sense. Pretty shocked at how cavalier some people—and even some TV/Youtube personalities—are when it comes to hunting in bear country. Yes, generally speaking the chances of a negative encounter with a black or grizzly bear are low, but engaging in hunting, and archery elk hunting in particular, exponentially increases those odds, as it often involves violating most bear safety principles (not walking around at dark, traveling with food/meat, and willingly entering Bear territory during the time of year when they’re most active). That should cause anyone planning on hunting in bear country to carefully consider the risks and be prepared, at the very least.
 

204guy

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Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
1,113
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WY
Have a bit of experience hunting in grizz country with people who are paranoid about g bears. It can absolutely wreck the experience for some, and they weren't solo. Tough to know until you try, though.
 

mavinwa2

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2018
Messages
333
Location
Res WA ST, winter>Gilbert AZ , NR>AZ, UT, NM, CO.
Added...

going back in later that day or next day around 9am, solo or w/partner, approach carcass upwind. Want the wind blowing our human scent down to kill site. Glass that kill site for bears or signs of. Same for area where bagged meat is hung, usually few hundred yards from carcass-skeleton-gut bag.

Have lost elk meat upon going in for 2nd MT pack out. Partner & I glassed, saw meat on ground, bags ripped open and never approached any further. F-It, turned around and left. We got only the backstraps, t-loins and 2 boned rear quarters on the 1st pack out from that bull. Next year (1987) in same area, I experienced a grizz charge and never went back to northwestern MT!

Lost another bagged elk meat going on a solo 3rd round WY pack out. It was just trim; rib, neck, lower leg shanks meat etc. Found bull head 100' away from tree it was hung in. All ripped up, lower jaw-tongue gone but easier to trim the rest away, bringing skull-antlers back to camp.

Had problem in unit 62 archery OTC Colorado too. Solo hunt 2019, black bear got bull's front shoulder qtrs, bagged rib, neck, shanks and brisket.

I cannot fathom processing an elk during the evening darkness in Grizz country!
For those that do, bet pucker factor on high and they better keep their shiat wired tight.
 
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doffiehoward

Junior Member
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Jan 26, 2021
Messages
25
Location
Pennsylvania
I have lived in Montana my entire life and have been in Kalispell (heart of griz country) for most of it. I know all of the precautions, take them, and I still have a bit of a "pucker" factor when I'm hiking in two hours in the dark to get to my spot every time my headlamp casts a shadow on the trail in front of me. I had my 5 year old son with me this past year and we cut a fresh griz track in the snow from that night heading the same direction we were going (again hiking in pre-dawn) so we turned back and went about a mile up the road. Three years ago I quartered a 5 point bull by myself that I shot right at dark about 8 miles (as the crow flies) from where a guy was mauled by a griz about a month earlier. I was looking over my shoulder with my headlamp, on high alert, and anxious the entire time... but it was worth it to experience taking that elk by myself.

All this to say, you can take precautions and be aware but you may never fully get comfortable with them around. This is where the man-up advice from above comes in. I would love to hunt non-griz country but that would completely eliminate my ability to day hunt from home. I guess the moral of my post is that you can go out, be smart, and know that the odds of encountering a bear in a negative way are very low especially if you are paying attention. I will say having a partner hiking up the trail with me in the dark takes away all fear.... know that is not logical... the risk is the same but there is just something comforting about knowing you have company.

If you do decide to go solo in griz country, I would suggest truck camping and doing day hunts to at least eliminate one element of worry (you can keep your food in the truck and drastically reduce odors). Actually, upon further thought, I would suggest truck camping for your first trip regardless as it will help you be more mobile to actually locate elk. If you backpack in you are committed to an area and it might be a dud. Most of all good luck and have fun! And tell the wife to calm down, you are more likely to get injured in a car accident on your drive there then to be injured by a bear hunting solo! haha actually don't tell her that... I've made that mistake and suddenly I'm dealing with a different kind of bear! Now that's sound advice!
Excellent write up YoungBlood! I lived in Kalispell from 2009-2011 and hunted griz areas as well. Coming from Ohio at the time I had never hunted any bear country. At first it was definitely nerve racking to say the least but after pushing myself into the uncomfortable situation I gained experience and more confidence to hunt those areas. My advice is the same above and ease yourself into it if you have major apprehensions about hunting griz country. Truck camping is definitely a good way to ease in and get more experience. Good luck.
 

Krm140

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Joined
May 17, 2021
Messages
9
Man, I'd just go solo in non grizz country. Then you don't have to worry about somebody else's schedule or agenda. I hunt solo a lot, for those two reasons. But I don't blame you for not wanting to hunt solo in grizz country. We saw like 20 of those bruisers in Alaska and they are next level predators.
Any àdvice on how to pinpoint decent elk units that don't have high wolf/grizz populations. This is info I'm trying to find to begin my search
 

huntnful

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
285
Any àdvice on how to pinpoint decent elk units that don't have high wolf/grizz populations. This is info I'm trying to find to begin my search
Call their fish and game department. They should be helpful!
 

JeffRaines

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2015
Messages
1,117
Added...

going back in later that day or next day around 9am, solo or w/partner, approach carcass upwind. Want the wind blowing our human scent down to kill site. Glass that kill site for bears or signs of. Same for area where bagged meat is hung, usually few hundred yards from carcass-skeleton-gut bag.

Have lost elk meat upon going in for 2nd MT pack out. Partner & I glassed, saw meat on ground, bags ripped open and never approached any further. F-It, turned around and left. We got only the backstraps, t-loins and 2 boned rear quarters on the 1st pack out from that bull. Next year (1987) in same area, I experienced a grizz charge and never went back to northwestern MT!

Lost another bagged elk meat going on a solo 3rd round WY pack out. It was just trim; rib, neck, lower leg shanks meat etc. Found bull head 100' away from tree it was hung in. All ripped up, lower jaw-tongue gone but easier to trim the rest away, bringing skull-antlers back to camp.

Had problem in unit 62 archery OTC Colorado too. Solo hunt 2019, black bear got bull's front shoulder qtrs, bagged rib, neck, shanks and brisket.

I cannot fathom processing an elk during the evening darkness in Grizz country!
For those that do, bet pucker factor on high and they better keep their shiat wired tight.

I had one of the bear bios in Montana give me some good advice for hunting griz country - do not get caught quartering an animal in the evening. He said he's comfortable hunting and camping with them, but he doesn't hunt the late evening solo for that reason.

Sounds like his advice was spot on.
 

gunnerblue

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2021
Messages
15
I have used the Big Game Combo to hunt in both SW and NW MT a few times. I also hunt in the ID Panhandle where there are also populations of grizzly bears. I'd always advise hunting with a partner in these areas (although I do hunt solo sometimes as well). Twice as many eyeballs and having a partner to help deal with possible injury shouldn't be overlooked.
 
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