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2017 Hungry Horse Bear Hunt Help

jnagel32

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Sep 22, 2015
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516
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Pennsylvania
So a couple buddies and I are doing our first western hunt, which is for WY pronghorn this October, but we are already starting to look for other hunting opportunities. None of us have taken a bear and would like to do a spot and stalk type bear hunt in Montana next spring around the middle of May. I have been looking at google earth for clear cuts and logging roads. I'm just looking to see if anyone on here has any experience hunting this area? I've read many blogs and posts that Unit 106 and the Hungry Horse Reservoir area specifically is a good place to see some bears. Any recommendations?

-Jamie
 
Last edited:

Ben Long

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Aug 8, 2011
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Kalispell, MT
The Hungry Horse Reservoir area is very thick, very dense spruce and douglas fir. you're right on in that there are clearcuts and closed roads. They vary greatly in how grown in they are. I know guys who bicycle/horseback these roads, glass the clearcuts or even the alpin, and have good luck with bears. Keep in mind that this area has a LOT of grizzlies (a mountain biker was killed nearby this week when he literally ran into a bear.) Know your target. Keep a clean camp. Careful after dark, dusk and dawn.
 

jnagel32

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Thanks for the heads up on the Grizzlies. I knew they were there, but didn't realize there is a huge population there. This won't be my first time in Griz country. The one buddy going with and I have backpacked through Denali NP and on the Kenai Peninsula around the Russian River, so we have a little experience, but I'll definitely heed your warning.
 

----

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Ben spits the truth.

It's amazing country, and there's no shortage of both species of bears. That area has to have one of the highest grizzly densities in the lower 48. For the most part the Glacier/Bob Marshall bears are more well behaved than the ones around Yellowstone, but last weeks shows they still deserve a lot of respect.

A large portion of the area behind the lake burned in 2015. I doubt it shows up in any aerial imagery yet. inciweb should still have a kmz file for it, if not pm me and I can send it to you.
 

BeartoothFront

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Sep 19, 2014
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Montana
Another thought about hunting bear in griz country is you've got to be 110% sure its a black bear before you pull the trigger. There were a few instances around MT and ID this year of guys shooting what they thought were black bears and walk up and its a griz. I'm sure if you hiked through AK you know what a griz is supposed to look like. Just something else to think about.
 

alwayshunting

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Jan 23, 2012
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North Dakota
I hunted around Hungry Horse a few years back. I learned a lot from that trip as it was my first bear hunt. I was a little surprised by how thick the area was. One of the areas we planned to hunt were clear cuts. There was a lot of regrowth since the satellite imagery was taken and made it pretty difficult to do any glassing. We did see a couple bears during the trip but they were the wrong flavor. We saw quite a few hunters along the open roads but never any once we got past the gates on the closed logging roads.
 

jnagel32

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Thanks for the replies and info guys. I'm not stuck on the Hungry Horse area, but it looked like a nice scenic place that would be worth the trip just to see. If there are better places for a first time bear hunter then I am willing to look to a different area. Do you guys have any better suggestions? Randy, I went on inciweb. Never used that site prior to you mentioning it. I could find a few fires from 2015 in the area, but didn't see where I could download any kmz files. Can you point me in the right direction?
 

sra61

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Mar 30, 2003
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Kalispell, MT
Something I've recently read said 1,000 + griz in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. To me that means there are probably a good bit more than that. We've run into a few. Two occasions were a little hairy. I guess some people think it's cool to hunt with them around. I think it's a PITA. I keep wondering how many people will have to be killed before the Region 1 king starts to admit that maybe they should be delisted. I don't hunt bears up here anymore. Most places are hard to see any distance. West of Kalispell seems to have fewer griz.
 

Pagosa

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Nov 13, 2011
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Montana
I hunted up there a little this spring, it seems similar to the Swans where the regrowth is fairly thick. The Doris Peak area burned and it is still open, but the trees are now 5-6 foot high making spotting tough. You might want to check out some of the private timber lands around Kalispell which generally get the timber cut and allow more spotting.
 

----

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Thanks for the replies and info guys. I'm not stuck on the Hungry Horse area, but it looked like a nice scenic place that would be worth the trip just to see. If there are better places for a first time bear hunter then I am willing to look to a different area. Do you guys have any better suggestions? Randy, I went on inciweb. Never used that site prior to you mentioning it. I could find a few fires from 2015 in the area, but didn't see where I could download any kmz files. Can you point me in the right direction?

I can't find it on there anymore either. If you send me your email I'll get you a copy of it that I still have saved on my computer.
 

dihardhunter

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Columbus, OH
Haven't hunted east side of Kalispell, but have on the west. In tight around Ashley and Tally Lake on the other side is some nice country. Bit tamer in terms of topography but many of the clear cuts are of prime age for glassing/stalking bears. A MT spring bear hunt is at the top of the list for enjoyment factor - nothing like witnessing the woods come alive and all manner of wildlife are absurdly visible that time of year. Deer, moose, elk, bears, songbirds, even had wolves serenade us one evening - spectacular place on earth.

MT 2014 Black Bear_GK (35).jpg

MT 2014 Black Bear_GK (31).jpg
 

MtnMuley78

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Jun 2, 2016
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North Central Montana
I have to also say again... grizzlies!

I used to spend a lot of time in the spring hunting for spring bears close to spotted bear and gave it up after seeing more griz than black bears. Don't get me wrong there are blackies around there and a lot of them but the grizzly population in that area is high and I absolutely do not want to take even the smallest chance. Last two times I hunted Hungry Horse I took my recurve so I would get close enough and spend enough time close to a bear that I was beyond sure.

Its beautiful country in the spring and there is nothing more relaxing than hiking a gated logging road and in the evening.
 

Matthews

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Feb 23, 2016
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PA
Hey guys I'm one of Jamie's buddies that's getting into this with him. Just wanna say thanks for all the info and help it's much appreciated.

-Brandon
 

fullhouse271

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Jun 21, 2016
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Illinois
Spent about 2 weeks out there in 2010. Good info from the previous posts. Forest is very dense down low so your gonna have to put on a lot of miles finding openings to glass. We were fortunate to fill 3 of 4 tags that year.(1 near booner and a pretty chocolate)

Grizz are for real out there. While trying to recover the big bear, my friend and his grandpa ran into a sow grizz with 2 cubs at 50 yds. Luckily they were able to back out without any incident but man they got scared pretty good. Its a little spooky hiking out in the dark.
 

jnagel32

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Sep 22, 2015
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Pennsylvania
With all the grizzlies in the area, do any of you carry a handgun like a Judge for protection? I'm unfamiliar with MT laws regarding this. Is it even legal to do so while hunting?
 

Ben Long

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Kalispell, MT
It's perfectly legal to carry a sidearm in Montana, but I agree a can of Counter Assault is more useful and less weight. If you're rifle hunting, you've already got a gun if you need it. Prior posts are correct that there are fewer (some, but fewer) grizzly bears West of Kalispell than East. All the forks of the Flathead are prime grizzly, with "no vacancy" signs up at every bear hotel. Same with the Whitefish and Swan Ranges and Swan Valley. Look farther west in the Kootenai, Bull River, Thompson River, Vermillion, Clark Fork country. Very nice country, with good spot-and-stalk hunting for black bear, with fewer grizzlies. Not as wild or as scenic as the South Fork, but simpler to hunt. Grizzlies can be found anywhere in the western third of Montana, but some places have more than others. Be sure before you shoot.
 

Cavedweller

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May 14, 2020
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From west haven utah
Hows it goin everybody? I've just been kinda tagging along and reading all of your posts. I've hunted bear 4 times in montana 3 times in the Yaak area and once around hungry horse. Killed 2 bear up in Yaak and only seen 0ne bear in 8 days of hunting around hungry horse. Haven't been up to doing any bear hunting since my dad passed away. He was my partner and best friend. But I've decided to take my own son on a spring hunt and were leaving for montana this Friday the 15th. Destination was to be hungry horse. But now I'm second guessing. Any info that anyone could
Offer would be greatly appreciated.
 

mthillrunner

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Aug 11, 2013
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SW MT
Don’t forget at this time a quarantine is still in effect in MT for those coming into MT. No recreation nor leaving your dwelling for 14 days.
 
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