Elk hunting in montana could mean sharing territory with predators. While you’re not likely to see a wolf or grizzly bear during the course of an elk hunt in most places, they are a factor on the landscape and hunters should be concious of their presence.
Elk numbers and overall population health is excellent in these areas. Hunters who utilize horses to access remote, low pressure wilderness areas tends to skew the odds in your favor. That said, being aware of predators and how they influence elk behavior is important for any hunt in a remote Montana wilderness area.
Predator attacks on humans are extremely rare but encounters are entirely possible so be prepared. Carry bear spray and/or a sidearm and keep a key eye on the sign. Fresh bear tracks and scat often give fair warning to scoot away and find a new zone to hunt. The most dangerous scenarios involve sow’s protecting cubs or a grizzly on a kill.
Wolves are often moving and don’t stay in one place for long. Howling and fresh wolf sign doesn’t last long. Wherever possible, carry a wolf tag in case you cross paths and keep on hunting despite their presence.
During the rut, bulls are brazen, loud and easier to locate than normal. Outside of the rut, bulls move to sanctuary areas where they can recover and feel safe. There are two consistencies that will always apply to elk behavior. Food and water. Find the food, find the water and work the heavy cover in predator country.
Dark timber is critical when bulls are not in full rut mode. Work the edges of cover and you will find tracks, scat and rubs in many areas. Cover is especially important for solitary bulls that do not call or make much noise. On the contrary, elk in herds will sometimes find the most open ground possible in response to predation. Open ground gives them a clear view of anything coming. Find some high ground where you can see the open areas in the landscape and try to locate herds. If they are not visible, duck into the timber and follow the signs.
After the Shot
Depending on where in Montana you’ll be hunting, your kill site can become an issue in grizzly country. Field dress the animal and move the meat well away from the gut pile. Separating your meat from the gut pile and hanging it high can save some major headaches in grizzly country.