Field Dressing in Bear Country
Being quiet in the woods and hunting is definitely different than hiking. But once you have an animal on the ground, it’s time to Be Loud.
CARRY Bear Spray – each person in the hunting group should have a can.
When you have an animal down, there are different ways to minimize bear attraction depending on how you plan to pack it out. Keep your rifle and bear spray close at hand. And Be Loud during processing – talk, clap your hands, and keep watch.
1 – Gutting the deer/elk: Once you remove the offal, move the carcass 100 yards away from the pile (or vise versa) to break down the animal to pack out or drag out. (The theory is the bear will be more attracted to the stinky gut pile, than the meat.)
2 – The gutless method is skinning and removing the meat (4 quarters, back straps and tenderloins) in the field and leaving the skin, bones, and guts in the woods. Bag, then pack or hang the meat away from the carcass as soon as you have it removed.
If you have to make more than one trip to pack out the meat, first, hang the meat you can’t carry. Then on your hike out, hang a piece of flagging tape 100 yards down your path, where you can still see the hanging meat. This is for when you return. You will stop at the flagging tape and observe the meat for 5-10 minutes to see if there are bears or other predators there. Be Loud and have bear spray ready as you approach your meat.
If a bear has claimed your meat – take pictures, mark the location, and report it to FWP Game Warden (1-800-TIP-MONT). They will investigate and you may be eligible for a new tag.
How to stay safe afield, from MT FWP:
- Pack meat out as soon as possible.
- Avoid cutting up carcasses at dusk or night. If you kill an animal at dusk, be prepared to cut up the carcass in the dark by carrying strong headlamps. Be extra vigilant and watch for bears.
- Properly hang meat until you can retrieve your downed game.
- If you must leave your animal, return to the site carefully. Leave it in an area that is easily observable from a distance.
- Drag gut piles into open areas, if possible, and at least 100 yards from your carcass as soon as possible.
- If a bear has claimed your animal, do not attempt to haze or frighten the bear away. Report any lost game to FWP.
Here is a very informative video – https://youtu.be/tihgSHMHVhA