Encounters between hunters and grizzly bears are rare, but experts say it’s important to be prepared and hyper-aware of your surroundings, and avoid settings where you could surprise a bear.
Research shows that bear spray, not a gun, is the best tool for the job if conflict does arise. A healthy fear, respect, should encourage the outdoorsperson to be prepared. Always keep at least two cans of bear spray within easy reach. That’s advice from Kristin Combs with Wyoming Wildlife Advocates for hunters who may encounter a grizzly bear while tracking mule deer, elk or other game.
Combs says for hunters who do not take their kills back home the same day, be alert when you do return. She says like all other animals, bears will protect their food source, and no carcass is worth your life. “If you come upon a carcass, and a bear has already claimed it—and it looks like it’s been partially buried, or covered, or maybe the bear is actually in the area still—that’s the best opportunity to just walk away, and leave that for the bear,” Combs says. While hunting practices are not in sync with standard safety protocol in bear country—hunters intentionally don’t make loud sounds to announce their presence, for example, or travel in large groups—Combs says there are still ways to stay safe. Be hyper-aware of your surroundings, stay clear of heavy timber cover, and areas with dense willows to avoid stumbling onto a bear’s day bed. [full article]