If you’re planning on bowhunting around the greater Yellowstone area of Montana this year, don’t forget to pack your pepper spray. A pair of incidents this past weekend resulted in one hospitalized bowhunter and one dead grizzly—adding to a string of bear encounters that have already occurred during the relatively young 2007 hunting season.
According to reports, three men bowhunting north of Gardiner were sitting about 15 yards apart Saturday while the one in the rear used a cow elk call. One bowhunter later told state game and fish authorities that he knew there might be trouble when he spotted three grizzly cubs coming toward him.
That, may we suggest, is definitely a bad omen of what might be about to transpire.
The adult female grizzly bringing up the rear “got a whiff of him, apparently, and rolled him over,” said Mel Frost, a spokesperson for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The hunter reportedly did not struggle and remained still, while the bear thankfully moved on.
“He remembered to play dead, so she bit on him and left,” Frost told the Bozeman Chronicle newspaper.
The hunter was taken to a Livingston hospital, where he was treated for non-life threatening puncture wounds to his shoulder and a gash on his hamstring.
In a second weekend encounter, two bowhunters from Pennsylvania initially used pepper spray on an attacking female grizzly, but subsequently used a firearm after the bear spun around for a second attack, authorities said.
The shot proved fatal to the 300-pound sow grizzly. FWP authorities later recovered the carcass.
FWP did not immediately release the names of any of the hunters involved in either incident and both areas were temporarily closed to further hunting.
“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, then you get a double,” said Kevin Frey, the bear management specialist for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks who investigated both incidents. “It’s not a good deal.”
The weekend’s first attack occurred within a mile of where bowhunter Dustin Flack of Belgrade was mauled by a grizzly with three cubs on Sept. 14.
In separate incidents last month, two bowhunters in the same general area reported finding grizzlies on their elk kills as they attempted to track and recover animals they had shot earlier. Neither were attacked or threatened, though they left the area immediately upon seeing the bears.
Be sure to make that the large, industrial-sized pepper spray cans, OK bowhunters?