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Questions About Black Bear Hound Hunting in Montana

Nameless Range

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I know there are quite a few big fish to fry in the world of comments, hunting proposals, etc, right now. Something I have thought about lately is Montana’s impending black bear hound hunting season. Being frank, I know very little about hound hunting, much less hound hunting and bears.

FWP has put out a proposed map, that I sense will be changed a fair amount by the time all is said and done, but I figured this is as good a place as any to ask about what folks think about hound hunting with bears, potential conflicts, and some assumptions I have that are wild ass guesses.

bearhunting.jpg

Full disclosure. I would prefer a Montana where hound hunting with bears was not an option. But I am ignorant as hell and have some specific as well as general questions about hound hunting.


Questions:

1. Do you believe that hunting black bears with hounds will result in a fair amount of grizzly conflicts? If so, does it even matter really (As in, who will know anyway)?

2. The hound hunting that occurs on Montana’s landscape now, occurs over the winter. Do you think there will be a fair amount of user conflicts when it occurs in May/June? I can imagine people hiking with dogs, shed hunters, bear hunters, fishermen even, etc having conflicts.

3. Is dogs running onto private property an issue with hound hunting in general? I am not assuming this issue will be any different than it currently is with cats, but I just was curious.

4. We will have hounds running around at the same time as calving is occurring or about to occur in ungulates. Are hounds only focused on that which they are tracking? Do they mess with ungulates too, if they come across them?

5. When it comes to hound hunting with bears. Are they treeing them basically? Is it similar in that folks will be looking for tracks to turn their dogs loose on?

6. If I shoot a bear, and there is hound hunting occurring in the same area, will I potentially be dealing with a bunch of dogs barking at me while I’m skinning it until their owner catches up? Will I have bear sprayed them and or killed them by then? I have little patience for dogs off leash that F with me, anywhere.

7. Are all these concerns overstated? As in, will there be so few hound hunters chasing bear on the landscape that for most of us, we likely won’t even run into them and this is much ado about nothing?

8. Do you anticipate that after say, a decade, black bear take will have increased in a meaningful way due to hound hunting with bears?

9. Are hounds likely to be aggressive to other dogs? When I am out mushroom hunting or shed hunting in May with my lab, and if we were to cross paths with a pile of hounds in the hills, will it be an issue? Again, I have little faith in dogs not under direct control of their owner.

10. Knowing we are doomed to this due to a legislative action. How would you comment on the map above? More, less? FWP has asked for statements of support where warranted ( a tactic to water down the BS I know), but I am willing to do so where it makes sense.

Some of these questions are white belt in nature, but I have never had interest in hound hunting anything and so I am ignorant, and am genuinely curious about how folks imagine this will play out.

We have until the 21st of January to comment.


Thanks for any input
 
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Ridgerunner6901

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Libby, Montana
Ok so disclaimer, I don't have hounds, but have accompanied those who do on a few bear hunts. They look for a specific animal to set the pack on, they don't randomly release hoards of dogs throughout the countryside. Strike dogs usually are used to pick up a hot trail and then the pack is loosed once the track gets hot. These dogs are trained to follow that track, not patrol the hillsides committing random acts of assholery. Houndsmen go to great lengths to keep the dogs from chasing deer, elk or livestock. In my limited experience there were multiple bears chased, treed and left with no harassment to horn hunters, berry pickers, or their dogs. Hounds are pretty darn efficient at getting bears in front of hunters so the harvest numbers could increase? But I seriously doubt everyone and there brother will be running hounds anytime soon.. I mean there's no shortage of mountain lions?
In short I don't think it will hinder your hunt for others to be allowed to chase with hounds.. if fwp's grizzly number estimates aren't skewed (wink) grizzly encounters will be minimal.. wolves will be the houndsmens biggest fear.
 

Gerald Martin

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Jul 3, 2009
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7,109
I know there are quite a few big fish to fry in the world of comments, hunting proposals, etc, right now. Something I have thought about lately is Montana’s impending black bear hound hunting season. Being frank, I know very little about hound hunting, much less hound hunting and bears.

FWP has put out a proposed map, that I sense will be changed a fair amount by the time all is said and done, but I figured this is as good a place as any to ask about what folks think about hound hunting with bears, potential conflicts, and some assumptions I have that are wild ass guesses.

View attachment 206682

Full disclosure. I would prefer a Montana where hound hunting with bears was not an option. But I am ignorant as hell and have some specific as well as general questions about hound hunting.


Questions:

1. Do you believe that hunting black bears with hounds will result in a fair amount of grizzly conflicts? If so, does it even matter really (As in, who will know anyway)?

2. The hound hunting that occurs on Montana’s landscape now, occurs over the winter. Do you think there will be a fair amount of user conflicts when it occurs in May/June? I can imagine people hiking with dogs, shed hunters, bear hunters, fishermen even, etc having conflicts.

3. Is dogs running onto private property an issue with hound hunting in general? I am not assuming this issue will be any different than it currently is with cats, but I just was curious.

4. We will have hounds running around at the same time as calving is occurring or about to occur in ungulates. Are hounds only focused on that which they are tracking? Do they mess with ungulates too, if they come across them?

5. When it comes to hound hunting with bears. Are they treeing them basically? Is it similar in that folks will be looking for tracks to turn their dogs loose on?

6. If I shoot a bear, and there is hound hunting occurring in the same area, will I potentially be dealing with a bunch of dogs barking at me while I’m skinning it until their owner catches up? Will I have bear sprayed them and or killed them by then? I have little patience for dogs off leash that F with me, anywhere.

7. Are all these concerns overstated? As in, will there be so few hound hunters chasing bear on the landscape that for most of us, we likely won’t even run into them and this is much ado about nothing?

8. Do you anticipate that after say, a decade, black bear take will have increased in a meaningful way due to hound hunting with bears?

9. Are hounds likely to be aggressive to other dogs? When I am out mushroom hunting or shed hunting in May with my lab, and if we were to cross paths with a pile of hounds in the hills, will it be an issue? Again, I have little faith in dogs not under direct control of their owner.

10. Knowing we are doomed to this due to a legislative action. How would you comment on the map above? More, less? FWP has asked for statements of support where warranted ( a tactic to water down the BS I know), but I am willing to do so where it makes sense.

Some of these questions are white belt in nature, but I have never had interest in hound hunting anything and so I am ignorant, and am genuinely curious about how folks imagine this will play out.

We have until the 21st of January to comment.


Thanks for any input
I have spoken with the main proponent of the hound hunting bill several times.

This is the original areas mapped out with closed zones in black to avoid areas where conflict was highly probable rather than just possible. The FWP proposed map is much more restricted than the area originally proposed. Personally, I was a little ambivalent about adding hound hunting for bears but since it has been made legal, I would prefer the hunt area to look like the original proposal rather than FWP’s map. My main rationale is that FWP is overreacting to potential lawsuits and in so doing the limited area is going to concentrate hound hunters in smaller areas open to running hounds. We will definitely see an impact to bear numbers in these areas. Most of the areas open to hounds per FWP’s map have lower bear numbers already.

In attempting to mitigate grizzly conflict FWP is going to cause user conflict in zones open to hounds.

To address some of @Nameless Range’s questions here’s my thoughts for whatever they are worth based on my experience running lions with my friend.

1. Define conflict… will grizzly bears be killed by hounds or hunters? No. Would hounds chase a grizzly? For sure, but from what I have heard based on Idaho bear hunters experience it isn’t hard to tell of the dogs are on a grizzly and call them off the track by toning them through their collars.

2. User conflict during spring. There won’t be any more issues with hounds than any other dog/dog conflict among hikers. Hounds aren’t aggressive towards other dogs. They’re focused on doing their job. No different than a bird dog looking for birds.

3. Private land conflict. Just the same as lion hunting. Going to depend on the locale and land ownership. I could anticipate potentially more conflict since bears in general run further than lions when they are chased. Longer distances are going to cover more properties so there could be more trespassing but I don’t know how to quantify how much more. Also, spring bears are generally dispersed in the mountains since they’re primarily eating grass.

4. Hounds get broken off of running “trash” pretty early in their training or they don’t get to run. Deer and elk or their fresh tracks are encountered almost every time hounds are turned out, especially when lion hunting since lions concentrate on areas of high deer/elk density during the winter. It really isn’t a concern, IMO.

5. Yes. Some black bears refuse to tree and are brought to bay on the ground but it’s a low percentage.

6. I highly doubt it would be an issue. Hounds aren’t going to be out roaming the mountains in packs. Hounds aren’t going to be aggressive towards humans. I would be way more concerned about being bitten or mauled by a random dog being walked by its owner on a sidewalk than by a pack of hounds. They are hunting, chasing a scent and aren’t territorial.

7. Most likely overstated. You will definitely encounter hound guys on the roads while they’re looking for tracks or a scent. Probably hear some hounds in the distance when they’re chasing a bear. Very unlikely to see a chase come by you when you are in the woods.

8.More harvest of bears is a potential. It’s going to be a reflection of attitudes towards bears more than anything. I would expect the highest pressure on bears to come from a few outfitters who view all predators as competition and are also interested in capitalizing on an opportunity to sell a new hunt opportunity. Most local bear hunters won’t killed more bears than they do now.
I am personally concerned that the smaller hunt area will cause higher bear mortality in local areas. In my experience, hound hunters want their dogs to get to chew on a dead lion or bear occasionally as a reward. If all the hound hunters are concentrated into small areas, more bears will be collectively harvested in certain areas even though individual hound hunters aren’t killing but one or two over their dogs each year. I would prefer that to be spread out over a larger area. Given the current attitude among FWP leadership, I don’t believe there is enough responsibility to monitor this effectively.

9. No. I have never experienced hounds being aggressive towards other dogs, except for a few times when a cat was actually killed and one dog would try to stake their claim that this was their cat and would growl at other dogs trying to chew on it.

10. I want more areas than less to avoid concentrating the pressure and causing localized conflict or over harvest.
 

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TheTone

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Avoid roads and atv trails and you will be away from the vast majority of houndsmen. The biggest conflicts I’ve heard of in Idaho are in the fall where we have some overlap in places with archery elk season and also with houndsmen finding bear baits and using them to strike off of. Experienced guys will really only kill big bears, newer people or ones that just hate predators will kill about anything
 

Big Fin

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Are we talking conflicts with other hunters who are not using hounds? Conflicts with hounds and grizzly bears? Legal conflict with groups that will use hound hunting near grizzly areas as another way to attack hunting with hounds or bear/lion hunting?

Lots of "conflict" topics are now introduced with the passage of this legislation. That's just a reality, whether one supports, opposes, or is indifferent about hunting bears with hounds.
 

westbranch

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I have only been in ID a few years so less experience than the above guys. But see/hear a lot of hound hunters in the spring and fall. Have heard hounds in the woods several times but never saw them. Mainly just see the hunters cruising the roads with hounds in their trucks.

Have changed archery elk spots due to hounds a few times, but end up changing more often due to other elk hunters.
 

Pagosa

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I’ve been around bear hunting with hounds in western Oregon. I think most of the concerns are overrated. Lots are areas have no hunters in the spring season. I can see purists spring spot/stalk bear hunters getting upset with houndsmen. I’m afraid most of the trouble could be involved with outfitters or inexperienced houndsmen attempting to chase bear with untrained hounds. And I agree you need lots of roads to access to hunt with hounds whether your roading them, looking for tracks/strike, or hoping to jump one crossing the road. I would only hunt roaded areas to be able to stay up in front or close by the hounds due to wolf problems. I will not likely ever chase game with my hound in wolf areas, it really takes the fun out of it.
 

Bambistew

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Damn, Montana is on a roll! Do you think hunting deer and elk with hounds will be in the future? Seems plausible.

At least deer, CWD will be the reason.

What other opportunities are Montanans missing out on? Baiting? A crossbow season?

I'm indifferent to hounds, but how much more hunting opportunities can they really make and with a straight face, belive they are not doing any harm, socially speaking? Both hunters and non hunters. It will be interesting to see how success rates compare. The spot and stalk guys losing a little and the hound guys gaining a little? Will quotas be met sooner? I'm thinking the hounds guys won't really effect that, but the rest may feel more pressure to fill a tag due to increased hunting "pressure."
 

Gerald Martin

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I'm indifferent to hounds, but how much more hunting opportunities can they really make and with a straight face, belive they are not doing any harm, socially speaking? Both hunters and non hunters. It will be interesting to see how success rates compare. The spot and stalk guys losing a little and the hound guys gaining a little? Will quotas be met sooner? I'm thinking the hounds guys won't really effect that, but the rest may feel more pressure to fill a tag due to increased hunting "pressure."
I am definitely interested in seeing how much increase in harvest will happen in areas open to hounds. Especially in unit 200 which is probably one of the few units with high numbers of bears.

Unit 200 is in close proximity to region 1 and it’s high number of hound hunters as well as being the territory of multiple outfitters, one who already takes a lot of bear hunters and has hounds for lions.
It also has a June 15 closing date.

I don’t buy the narrative of increasing black bear populations pushed by some folks in NW MT.
 

OpenCountry

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Avoid roads and atv trails and you will be away from the vast majority of houndsmen. The biggest conflicts I’ve heard of in Idaho are in the fall where we have some overlap in places with archery elk season and also with houndsmen finding bear baits and using them to strike off of. Experienced guys will really only kill big bears, newer people or ones that just hate predators will kill about anything
This as far as roads and trails. A bear can go a hell of a lot farther than a lion can so I couldn’t imagine a houndsman wanting to cut lose in some of the more rugged and roadless areas of that map. I know my two hounds will stay home during the bear season so I can still enjoy spot and stalk spring bear hunting. There’s something special about that time of year and out hiking around after long winters. It’s one thing to be able to cut wolf tracks in snow to protect them, but cutting them lose without knowing isn’t worth the risk once the snows gone imo.
 

MTelkHuntress

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Good thread, I was also curious about these issues. I saw a comment about potential conflicts involved with sows with cubs. I also don't know anything about hound hunting but can anyone speak to this concern? Or is this normally a non issue?
 

Pagosa

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I would imagine once the Cubs go up the first tree and sow continues on the houndsmen would pull the dogs off the treed Cubs. Cubs would go up rather quickly and most likely could be determined from the Garmin gps. Bears can run for miles once they are jumped
 

bigsky2

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I agree with Gerald, I wish most of the western half of the state was going to be open as originally proposed, or else no hound season at all. I live in 400 and am definitely concerned about overharvest, especially since we don't have a quota. I think a quota should have been put in place at least the first year or two to monitor the added pressure that this season will create.
 

JLS

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Almost Arkansas…..
Wait a minute, so when it came to elk shoulder seasons, folks wanted them to try it in a few small select areas first and see what the measurable impact was. Now, with hound hunting for bears that’s not an acceptable approach?
 

Gerald Martin

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Wait a minute, so when it came to elk shoulder seasons, folks wanted them to try it in a few small select areas first and see what the measurable impact was. Now, with hound hunting for bears that’s not an acceptable approach?
Not apples to apples.

A better comparison would be if pheasant season would be opened to allow dogs to participate in the hunt but only a few units would allow dogs and it would be on an OTC tags. There would be much more concern about those areas being overwhelmed than if a lot more areas were open.
 

teamhoyt

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glendive, MT
Allowing hound hunting for bears in the quota areas is going to close season pretty quick i would guess. I realize they close pretty quick anyway. I dont think it should be allowed in the limited areas.
 

bigsky2

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What did the commission decide on the bear hunting with hounds? If it passed as proposed, do the available hound hunting areas match up with the map above? Did they do away with having FWP check your bear in person?
 

Bowhunter65

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Marion, Montana
This was approved with the exception of the harvest ending date for using hounds, May 25th will end harvest with hounds, training season will end June 15th. You can listen on youtube starting at 2:20 on there. All houndsmens will be required to use the garmin tech on our hounds also. So the hunt could be over as quickly as it started with this garmin tech.


So, in Idaho where there are several methods of harvest. Hunting black Bear with hounds being the lowest harvest rate. here is a scale. Remember using hounds in Montana will only be during the spring hunt.

Harvest- For calendar years 2018- 2020; as you can see below hound hunting makes up around 17% of the total harvest. With equal harvest in the spring and fall season. One question is, can hound hunter which sex the bear is when they pursue or tree it. Can they be selective? The paper attached verifies that question regarding hound hunting. I asked around an dam having trouble finding a similar study with bears.

Method of Take (2018-2020)FallSpringGrand Total
Bait49635524048
Bait and Hounds1985104
Hounds6947221416
Incidental628108736
Other691988
Predator Call6511
Stalking91414822396
(blank)3473107
Grand Total286060468906


 

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