Caribou Gear Tarp

First Montana spring bear hunt

Craveman85

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2020
Messages
47
Finally got away from my evil ex and I'm planning on doing a road trip/ hunt in Montana in the spring for black bears. I'm going to be driving all the way from ny. I have 17 days maybe more at my disposal. 4 of which will be traveling there and back. I'd really like to camp out in the back of my truck and hike out in the day to hunt. I've started building a sleeping platform so I can keep gear underneath. I'm not sure exactly where I'm going to go yet. I have to do some more research into the areas. In my area of ny there are tons of places I can camp from my truck. What about in Montana? Are there places with good black bear numbers where I probably won't run into a grizzly? Not that that's a deal breaker. Just if I plan on being stealthy I'd prefer to avoid them. Are there butcher shops out there that can cut and freeze meat for me if necessary? If I get one early I'd still like to stay out there for a while and explore more. Going to order a spotting scope and binoculars this week. Usually on public land here visibility is at best 100 yards so I've never needed them. I'll be hunting with my remington 700 260 rem. It has a 3-9x40 and I'll be shooting 127 lrx bullets. I'm confident out to 400 yards but am going to keep my shots under 300. Preferably as close as possible. I've never really done spot and stalk so we'll see how it goes. I'm being given a pack by my stepfather so I should be good there. I'll be able to keep tons of junk in my truck and feel like I have most of what I'd need. Anyone know the rules of bringing firearms across state lines? What about handguns? I'd like to bring my 1911 or 44 as backup. Any hints/tips/ recommended areas for me to try?
 

Dzlmech

Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
56
Location
Kalispell, MT
I'm here in NW Montana, there are lots of places to truck camp. That should be easy to get around. sometimes your hikes may be coming out in the dark. It seems like grizzly or wolves are moving into all the areas but there's still bears out there.
Since you're driving out here, transporting your firearms shouldn't be an issue. I would definitely keep them hidden in your truck and maybe locked up at stops just cause I don't trust most people.
Your dates are good, depending on snow, you could be a bit early but that end of May is great time.
hopefully that helps you get started.
 

wllm1313

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
11,866
Location
Boston
Finally got away from my evil ex and I'm planning on doing a road trip/ hunt in Montana in the spring for black bears. I'm going to be driving all the way from ny. I have 17 days maybe more at my disposal. 4 of which will be traveling there and back. I'd really like to camp out in the back of my truck and hike out in the day to hunt. I've started building a sleeping platform so I can keep gear underneath. I'm not sure exactly where I'm going to go yet. I have to do some more research into the areas. In my area of ny there are tons of places I can camp from my truck. What about in Montana? Are there places with good black bear numbers where I probably won't run into a grizzly? Not that that's a deal breaker. Just if I plan on being stealthy I'd prefer to avoid them. Are there butcher shops out there that can cut and freeze meat for me if necessary? If I get one early I'd still like to stay out there for a while and explore more. Going to order a spotting scope and binoculars this week. Usually on public land here visibility is at best 100 yards so I've never needed them. I'll be hunting with my remington 700 260 rem. It has a 3-9x40 and I'll be shooting 127 lrx bullets. I'm confident out to 400 yards but am going to keep my shots under 300. Preferably as close as possible. I've never really done spot and stalk so we'll see how it goes. I'm being given a pack by my stepfather so I should be good there. I'll be able to keep tons of junk in my truck and feel like I have most of what I'd need. Anyone know the rules of bringing firearms across state lines? What about handguns? I'd like to bring my 1911 or 44 as backup. Any hints/tips/ recommended areas for me to try?
1. Pretty much everywhere has peaceable journey laws, meaning you don't have to adhere to local laws while traveling between states. Really only a issue if you travel though MA or Chicago. Generally speaking in a locked case outside of the passenger compartment is the "most" legal nationally. I bring mine into the hotel room when I'm traveling if in a vehicle where they can be see. If you cant get them out of sight you should be fine in terms of theft. Also I prefer not to stop in major metro areas.

2. There are grizz in MT but they aren't around every tree, in 3 years of hunting there I never saw one.

3. A lot of butcher shops aren't open in the spring, kinda hit or miss. I'd plan on boning out the meat, and putting it and the hide in a cooler with dry ice. Dry ice on top meat/hide below to freeze it.

4. Your rifle setup will be fine. When stalking pay attention to the wind as much as anything, buy a wind indicator... little bottle that puffs powder if you don't have much experience. You don't need it but it makes things more obvious.

Travel time 2 days solo to MT is gonna be rough but it's doable. My personal preference is to do my night driving in the morning, leave at like 2 or 3am, drive in the dark with a fresh cup of coffee and then be done for the day when it starts to get dark.
 

QuazyQuinton

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
277
Location
Western Oregon
Not much to add, except to say that I think you're doing it right. A manageable trip with reasonable expectations. Go and learn. Study maps (especially elevation and slope aspect) and hike a lot. Get comfortable with your optics; I can't imagine hunting even in tight cover without binos. Spring bears can be invisible or all over the place, so just get out there and learn.

QQ
 

IAhawks84

Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2019
Messages
92
I'm no expert, but there is a ton of good information all over this site. Sometimes I look in other sections as well and find a lot of great information. Good luck!
 

Craveman85

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2020
Messages
47
I plan on driving it in 2 15 hour intervals. If I get one and have time to spare I may take a few extra day road trip on the way back. I've been hiking with 60# of lead in my pack lately. I've been working on losing weight and getting in better shape. My heaviest was 356 (I'm 6'4) last March. I got down to 332 in April/may. Then since I left my ex around Halloween I've gone from 332 down to 288. Hoping to be 260 by the time I get out there. What should I bring for field processing a bear? I have on x maps for my phone. Will be bringing a back gps and one of those spot things to check in with.
 

Craveman85

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2020
Messages
47
I may even buy another rifle before then. But I have a huge emotional attachment to my 260. I've had it 16 years. It was originally a 243. It's never missed or lost an animal. I only shot one deer twice but it didn't need the second shot.
 

Dzlmech

Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
56
Location
Kalispell, MT
Weather and temperatures are totally unknown. Some years, it can still be snowing in May, others it can be high 70-low 80s at the end of may. be prepared for anything. at that's just talking about the NW corner of the state. let alone if you're east of the divide, it could be worse, or better.

Field processing a bear, granted I haven't had a chance to do it myself, appears to be similar to an ungulate. it's just a matter of pulling meat from the bones. and if it's warm, you'll want to get that hairy hide off asap.
 

SaskHunter

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 7, 2018
Messages
1,848
Location
Saskatchewan
For field dressing/processing, bring game bags (enough for 4 quarters, straps/tenderloin, head and hide), at least two good knives that you are comfortable with (I always bring a spare, last thing you need is to put your knife somewhere mid field dressing only to never find it again and have no spare). My spare head lamp is in my "kill kit", tags/license, gloves, extra plastic bags, small knife sharpener, zip ties, sharpie/pen, 50ft of paracord and a small tarp.

Edit: cutting up a bear is no harder than cutting up a deer and you cut roughly in the same areas. You don't need Rambo knives either, I prefer smaller blades and everything can be done without a saw. Finally, make sure to look up bear skinning videos and you can even keep a diagram saved on your phone/printed, of where to cut the hide in your kit in case you are somewhere with no signal. That's the "hardest" thing with skinning a bear "rug style", knowing where to make the cuts.
 

wllm1313

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
11,866
Location
Boston
I may even buy another rifle before then. But I have a huge emotional attachment to my 260. I've had it 16 years. It was originally a 243. It's never missed or lost an animal. I only shot one deer twice but it didn't need the second shot.
No need to buy another rifle.

A knife and game bags are all you need.

Watch a couple YouTubes about skinning bears, make sure the lines are even left/right for a good rug.

Once you skin a bear roll the hide up flesh side in.
 

Craveman85

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2020
Messages
47
My go to knife is a buck 102. I'm not sure if I'll go with a rug or shoulder mount. I never even thought about headlamps. What kinds of foods should I be eating during the hunt with all the walking I'll be doing? I'm assuming a ton of carbs.

I don't think my stepfathers pack is going to work. It was only dated for like 40#. I might have to buy one after all.
 

wllm1313

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
11,866
Location
Boston
My go to knife is a buck 102. I'm not sure if I'll go with a rug or shoulder mount. I never even thought about headlamps. What kinds of foods should I be eating during the hunt with all the walking I'll be doing? I'm assuming a ton of carbs.

I don't think my stepfathers pack is going to work. It was only dated for like 40#. I might have to buy one after all.
How much camping have you done?

For food I just focus on making it easy to deal with and tasty. Ostensibly you will be burning lots of calories.

If your truck camping and not backpacking your average 50-80L day pack will work. Meat is dense so you can get away with heavier packs then say if you were trying to carry 70lbs of camping gear.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by a big trip in a new spot, just gotta take it one detail at a time.
 

Craveman85

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2020
Messages
47
How much camping have you done?

For food I just focus on making it easy to deal with and tasty. Ostensibly you will be burning lots of calories.

If your truck camping and not backpacking your average 50-80L day pack will work. Meat is dense so you can get away with heavier packs then say if you were trying to carry 70lbs of camping gear.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by a big trip in a new spot, just gotta take it one detail at a time.
I camp often here in ny but usually 3-5 days. Usually I'm just eating tons of meat and not doing extensive hiking. My diet has changed a lot over the past couple of months and Im still not sure I know how to eat right I guess. I'm thinking I'd like to hunt an area somewhere near a city or town. Just in case it's too cold for camp showers and I need to get a room for a night to wash my jiblets lol.
 

Craveman85

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2020
Messages
47
Also what are the odds of finding an elk/deer/moose shed? Am I allowed to keep them out there?
 

wllm1313

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
11,866
Location
Boston
I camp often here in ny but usually 3-5 days. Usually I'm just eating tons of meat and not doing extensive hiking. My diet has changed a lot over the past couple of months and Im still not sure I know how to eat right I guess. I'm thinking I'd like to hunt an area somewhere near a city or town. Just in case it's too cold for camp showers and I need to get a room for a night to wash my jiblets lol.
There are some good threads on food and some members are super into it, you could start a new thread if you want specifics.

You can pick up sheds, some states and areas limit you so folks aren’t messing with animals in their winter range but typically by bear season you are fine. I don’t really look for them but find them nevertheless. In a 10 day trip if your hiking off trail a lot you have a decent chance of finding some.
 

ChaosOneZero

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 21, 2020
Messages
187
Location
Pennsylvania, living in Virginia
There are some good threads on food and some members are super into it, you could start a new thread if you want specifics.
Yeah, some good threads on here and elsewhere on the internet. Just search for “backpack food options”, “backcountry food calories per ounce”, “backpack hunt food”. If you have a dehydrator it really opens up your options to make your own combinations.
 

QuazyQuinton

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
277
Location
Western Oregon
What time of day are bears typically out in the spring there?

I can't answer for Montana, but a little further west (NE Oregon) they can be out most any time of day. We generally stop for lunch and/or nap sometime during the day, but they can be out any time. Late evening is generally the best time.

Weather can be as important as time of day. Bears generally prefer nice weather. I've heard a saying that if you don't want to be out in a t-shirt, the bears don't want to be out either. I wouldn't go that far, but bears do like sunshine.

Patience behind the glass is key.

QQ
 

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
97,445
Messages
1,484,901
Members
30,666
Latest member
Bberry15
Top