A couple of hunters were forced to back off and relinquish their elk kill to an aggressive grizzly bear. Sheriff says they made a wise decision.
At around noon on Sunday, the Sheriff’s department of Beaverhead County, Montana, took a 911 call from a pair of hunters who said that they’d downed an elk but wished to abandon their kill. They reported that they had competition for the prize: an aggressive grizzly bear.
The hunters, a father and son, had been bowhunting for elk and had killed a cow. As they followed the blood trail, a grizzly bear began to parallel them, showing signs of aggressive behavior by huffing and growling at them.
The two men immediately backed off from their pursuit and called the sheriff, Franklin D. Kluesner, who said that the two had “made a wise choice” in abandoning their kill. A Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman indicated that warden Regan Dean gave them permission to abandon the elk.
“The hunters saw the bear and believe it was a grizzly. Based on its behavior, we believe it’s highly likely to have been a grizzly bear,” Kluesner said. “The most prudent thing to do was definitely surrender the elk.”
The two men were hunting in Montana’s Big Hole Valley wilderness.
“Much of the Big Hole Valley is very remote country. Other than hunting season and firewood cutting, there’s very little human activity,” said Sheriff Kluesner. “But elk hunting season has just started, and there’s a lot of fall left before these bears go into hibernation.”
Kluesner also suggested that hunters carry bear spray and have it at the ready when hunting in bear country. Although the father mentioned that he normally carries a pistol, the Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman replied that bear spray was a more effective deterrent.
The Sheriff also emphasized that when encountering a grizzly, “The best thing is to walk slowly in the opposite direction from the bear, trying not to make any aggressive gestures or movements, or make eye contact. And try not to run. They are predators and running away can trigger a predatory response.”
“The forest is a beautiful place, but it can be very dangerous,” he said. “We just need to find a way to share it with the bears.”
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