First Western Hunt- MT Black Bears

kommj

Newbie
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Jun 9, 2019
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8
Hello all,
I've been looking into hunting black bear in the west for several years now and will be trying to finally get out this spring. The area I plan to hunt is unit 106, making day hikes into and around the great bear wildness from flathead national forest lands. I will be hunting with a partner and we are planning on dispersed camping in the national forest near the road system so we have mobility if needed. My OnX marks multiple sites as dispersed camping sites in the area. I assume you may dispersed camp elsewhere as well, as long as you are not in the river corridors? I am planning on contacting the parks service to make sure we understand all the rules, as neither of us have hunted or camped in Montana. We are also both new to grizzly country. I will be doing some serious homework on identification. Mostly I'm looking for any advice on common mistakes or violations we need to avoid, both about hunting and being on the land in general.
 

Legend

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 13, 2017
Messages
487
You can pretty much camp anywhere you like on National Forest land so don't sweat that part. As for violations....um follow the regs and use some common sense and you will be fine.

This part of Montana can get a lot of snow. So watch snow depths and don't show up on April 15th planning to hunt the backcountry.
 
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kommj

kommj

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Jun 9, 2019
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8
Thank you for the info. We are looking at mid to late May as of now. It will most definitely be a learning experience.
 

mtwarden

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Joined
Oct 18, 2016
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6,716
Location
Montana
May in NW Montana can bring a wide array of snow depths- it obviously effects bear habits, but can also greatly effect your access to hunting areas

for snow depth, pay particular attention to Noisy Basin Snotel at 6000'

https://wcc.sc.egov.usda.gov/nwcc/site?sitenum=664

and Emery Creek Snotel 4400'

https://wcc.sc.egov.usda.gov/nwcc/site?sitenum=469

I'd also make note of the telephone numbers of the Hungry Horse District Station and the Swan District Station, depending on where you're hunting. The Forest Service folks are a great resource on what roads are free of snow and travelable as they have folks heading out daily trying to get projects done.

FWP has a good bear identification program; obviously if unsure- pass

https://fwp.mt.gov/hunt/education/bear-identification
 
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kommj

kommj

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Jun 9, 2019
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Thank you for the links. I appreciate your help. I realized today that many of the roads I was looking at for camping and access initially do not open until May 15. We will be arriving May 12 or 13 so I now think we will be starting in the northernmost sections closer to the major roadways. Is it safe to assume there is a decent chance many roads which open May 15 will not be passable by then anyway?

I have also run into a question related to glassing. Many of the glassing nobs I am locating are 1/2 to 1 mile from the area I will be glassing. Understanding that a lengthy stalk will be necessary, is this too far to be glassing from?
 

mtwarden

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Oct 18, 2016
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Montana
depending on the winter and spring, road access could be an issue

not unusual to drive a mile or so on a pretty clear road and then round a corner where it doesn’t get much sun and hit 2’ of snow

a week or two out, the local FS station will have a pretty good idea of what roads ( and how far) are drivable.

not unusual to glass long distances spring bear hunting
 

rruchti

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2021
Messages
15
depending on the winter and spring, road access could be an issue

not unusual to drive a mile or so on a pretty clear road and then round a corner where it doesn’t get much sun and hit 2’ of snow

a week or two out, the local FS station will have a pretty good idea of what roads ( and how far) are drivable.

not unusual to glass long distances spring bear hunting
I have a similarish question. Looking at MVUM maps for certain mountain ranges roads are closed certain dates. I assume these are actually blocked off or are they kind of drive at your own risk. Wasn’t sure as some roads closed til mid June seemed like roads that would clear pretty early. Thank you in advance
 

mtwarden

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Oct 18, 2016
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Montana
^ those designated roads are almost always closed with a gate and locked
 
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kommj

kommj

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Jun 9, 2019
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As we're getting closer to season I've come up with a few more questions if anyone can offer some insight. Number 1, what age class of burns are worth looking into for spring bears? I know the heat of the burn and other factors apply, but is there a general rule of thumb? One of our spots we're planning to hunt is the edge of an older burn bordered by some unburned timber and avalanche chutes, but we're wondering if it's too old. Number 2, how far should I reasonably be able to shoot in order to be effective. I have several days lined up for practice and was able to shoot a paper plate sized group at 300 today from the bench (my first time shooting longer ranges). I plan on taking some time to practice from the prone and seated position as well. Thanks.
 

MTbowhunter36

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Mar 10, 2012
Messages
634
Location
NW MT
As we're getting closer to season I've come up with a few more questions if anyone can offer some insight. Number 1, what age class of burns are worth looking into for spring bears? I know the heat of the burn and other factors apply, but is there a general rule of thumb? One of our spots we're planning to hunt is the edge of an older burn bordered by some unburned timber and avalanche chutes, but we're wondering if it's too old. Number 2, how far should I reasonably be able to shoot in order to be effective. I have several days lined up for practice and was able to shoot a paper plate sized group at 300 today from the bench (my first time shooting longer ranges). I plan on taking some time to practice from the prone and seated position as well. Thanks.
The age of the burn isn't as relevant as the food source they're keying in on. If it's next to timber and avalanche chutes, I would definitely focus there as long as the elevation is good.

I've shot bears with a bow and rifle. Farthest shot with a rifle was 128 yards. It's a very enjoyable experience when you spot it and try to stalk in as close as you can. Once a bear is spotted you'll want to take time and observe it for a bit to ensure there aren't any cubs hanging out in the periphery. Good luck. Sounds like you've scouted a good area.

Sent from my SM-G781V using Tapatalk
 

mwf008

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Mar 19, 2020
Messages
160
FYI… Borders changed for 2022. There is no longer a 106. I’m sure you noticed but in case you didn’t check it out. Also, the new 130, which had former parts of 106, is now open into June.
 
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kommj

kommj

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Jun 9, 2019
Messages
8
Thank you for the information guys. I did see that the borders changed. Just to confirm, a kill tag is valid in any unit, correct? That's how I understand the regulations. Also, that makes me feel better about my shooting. Between putting in range time and trying to make good stalks we should hopefully do well.
 

kordo

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2022
Messages
33
New to bear hunting MT as well. Thanks for the great info guys. Excited to give it a go this season.
 
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