Yeti

FIRST Western Hunt...SPRING BEAR '22

mtnhntr99

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Joined
Feb 21, 2022
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24
I'm finally doing it! Heading out from the Midwest in a few weeks for my first ever western hunt. If anyone has any tips, tricks, or advice I would love to hear them.

I graduated college in May of '21 and finally have the means to acquire the gear and purchase the tag. My brother, Dad and I landed on Southwest Montana for DIY spring bear. We'll be hunting in BMU 520. (I'm aware of the quota, but it appears the average close date over the past 10 seasons is May 26th and we are hunting the 14th-19th.)

We've decided to not camp in the backcountry for the first trip and instead have a base camp at the car with 2-3 mile hikes into different glassing knobs each day (found by escouting). The plan is to do relentless glassing on south-facing basin slopes. I've heard early morning and late afternoon/evening are the best time for bear activity? Not sure what we'll do during the high noon hours...maybe fish or nap? We're all a little anxious about that other type of larger, browner bear so I doubt anyone's going to be taking an afternoon snooze. As for grizzly protection, we'll have one guy carrying the black bear rifle along with a .357 (180gr hard cast) while the other two of us carry 12ga with slugs.

I know the chances of success are slim on the first self-guided western hunt, but man I would love to bring home some bear meat/fat. The hide/skull are definitely secondary, but I'll still need to do more research on proper field care for them as it would be cool to get a rug.

Updates/pictures will be coming following the hunt! Check out the gear list below...I know some areas still need *upgrades but those will come with time.

Gear List:
Rifle: Browning Hell's Canyon - 28 Nosler
Optic: Viper PST GenII 5-25x50mm

Binos: Diamondbacks 10x42
*Spotter: Athlon Talos 20-60x80
Range Finder: Vortex Ranger 1500
Tripod: Bog Adrenaline
 
Last edited:

Bluffgruff

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Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
854
Location
Colorado
A clean camp, situational awareness, and bear spray, in that order, are all better than a gun for grizzly bear protection.

That's all I can help with. Not much of a bear hunter.

Good luck!
 

ElkFever2

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Mar 4, 2019
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Location
Iowa
Welcome to HT, and good luck. Are you experienced using a spotter? Binos on a tripod? If not, practice when you can before you leave. There are considerations for using optics when it’s rainy, windy, bright and sunny, etc. Best time of day to glass has some to do with bear activity, but also a large part of the day you have to contend with mirage, which can really put a crimp in searching far. As far as down time during the day, you don’t have to hunt every waking hour. It’s beautiful country - just take it in
 

SCliving Outdoors

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Feb 9, 2018
Messages
439
Location
South Carolina
Welcome to HT, and good luck. Are you experienced using a spotter? Binos on a tripod? If not, practice when you can before you leave. There are considerations for using optics when it’s rainy, windy, bright and sunny, etc. Best time of day to glass has some to do with bear activity, but also a large part of the day you have to contend with mirage, which can really put a crimp in searching far. As far as down time during the day, you don’t have to hunt every waking hour. It’s beautiful country - just take it in

This is good advice. Binos on a tripod are a game changer. I wish I would've started doing it a lot sooner.

Have fun on your hunt.
 

338BearHunter

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Apr 20, 2022
Messages
131
Location
New Hampshire
Enjoy this most awesome hunt. Envy setting in.

Be sure you get the right type of bear spray as grizzlies prefer certain seasonings on their hunters.

Still, as overrated as bear spray is, you sound a bit overgunned and might want to trade in one of those 12 gauge shotguns for a can anyway. Since you're walking in a few miles every day, carrying more guns than needed will be taxing.
 

jpcoll01

Active member
Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Messages
57
Spray all of your clothes with permethrin to avoid ticks. Make sure you have a tripod adapter for your binos as they will be much easier to spend time in than a spotter. I'm a terrible bear hunter, but I do know those two things, LOL. I'll be out there with my son 5/4-10 trying to find a couple bears. Goot luck!
 

338BearHunter

Active member
Joined
Apr 20, 2022
Messages
131
Location
New Hampshire
Spray all of your clothes with permethrin to avoid ticks. Make sure you have a tripod adapter for your binos as they will be much easier to spend time in than a spotter. I'm a terrible bear hunter, but I do know those two things, LOL. I'll be out there with my son 5/4-10 trying to find a couple bears. Goot luck!
Kudos on the Permethrin recommendation.

Its a ritual of mine. Every year, I spray all hunting clothes with Permethrin. Invariably, the only time I get ticks is when I go into the woods with different clothing. I've sat in piles of leaf litter with permethrin clothing and no problems, then go walking on a trail in street clothes and BAM - three ticks on my chest and arms.

I buy the bulk and mix it myself. About 1/10th of the cost of using the pre-mixed stuff.
 

vinmcq

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Joined
May 7, 2015
Messages
20
I agree with schoolhousegriz and I know that is easy for us to say but it’s true.
Keep your attractives (food etc) hung away from camp , don’t eat in camp, don’t give them a reason to snoop around and they won’t bother you.
If your just glassing from a knob and not sneaking around the woods trying to sound like game ( bow hunting elk), you will also have a low chance of stumbling on one.
When hiking in and out, just stay together and make a little conversation and they will get out of the way.
If you super lucky, you will glass up a big Grizzly and get a picture to show your buddies back home.
Good luck on your hunt.
 

mtnhntr99

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Joined
Feb 21, 2022
Messages
24
I agree with schoolhousegriz and I know that is easy for us to say but it’s true.
Keep your attractives (food etc) hung away from camp , don’t eat in camp, don’t give them a reason to snoop around and they won’t bother you.
If your just glassing from a knob and not sneaking around the woods trying to sound like game ( bow hunting elk), you will also have a low chance of stumbling on one.
When hiking in and out, just stay together and make a little conversation and they will get out of the way.
If you super lucky, you will glass up a big Grizzly and get a picture to show your buddies back home.
Good luck on your hunt.
Appreciate the advice. And yes, really hoping to see a grizzly or 2 behind the optics. Should be a great week!
 

mtnhntr99

New member
Joined
Feb 21, 2022
Messages
24
Welcome to HT, and good luck. Are you experienced using a spotter? Binos on a tripod? If not, practice when you can before you leave. There are considerations for using optics when it’s rainy, windy, bright and sunny, etc. Best time of day to glass has some to do with bear activity, but also a large part of the day you have to contend with mirage, which can really put a crimp in searching far. As far as down time during the day, you don’t have to hunt every waking hour. It’s beautiful country - just take it in
Thanks for the advice. I’ve haven’t spent a ton of time behind a spotter(outside of the rifle range). All three of us have tripods to accompany our binos and have been practicing when possible. It’s definitely difficult to simulate 800yard+ glassing in the heavily wooded Midwest, but we’re doing what we can. The learning curve will be enormous, but half the fun is going to be figuring everything out along the way.
 

mtnhntr99

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Joined
Feb 21, 2022
Messages
24
Enjoy your hunt. I think you are a little too nervous about grizzlies. Especially if you guys stay somewhat together, you will be fine.
Thank you. And I would agree we’re too nervous. Realistically the drive out to Montana will be more dangerous than hiking around in griz country for a week.
 

mtnhntr99

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Joined
Feb 21, 2022
Messages
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WTF are you carrying two 12 gauges? Just carry a rifle. It’s far more effective, and then when you see a black bear across the canyon, you can shoot it with it.
^This is my favorite reply

To clarify, we were always going to have a rifle (28 Nosler) and were not planning to run around the mountains hunting black bear with shotguns - they were strictly for close range griz protection.

Now I know the original post says otherwise, but after some more thought we’ll have one of us carry a 12ga w/ slugs, and the other two will have bear spray/handgun.

It’s probably still overkill, but if it doesn’t slow us down and makes us feel more comfortable than I don’t see why one of us wouldn’t carry a shotgun.
 
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