Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The 2022 archery and general rifle hunting seasons will be more dangerous this year due to the unusual amount of bear activity throughout Montana this year.

KGVO News spoke to Vivaca Crowser, Education and Program Manager for Region 2 with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks on Friday to get important safety information out to hunters in the upcoming season.

Hungry Bears may Fight you for your Kill

“This is a time of the year where we are putting ourselves out in more dangerous positions as we're out hunting trying to be quiet out there and bears are out and about of course preparing for the winter season so they're out busily looking for food,” began Crowser. “This year has been extra tough because there's been a natural food shortage for bears, and that means they're concentrated at least in a lot of places in areas where they are to looking for food just about anywhere they can find it.”

Crowser said hunters should ask themselves important questions before heading out in the field this season.

Ask Yourself 'Am I Bear Prepared?'

“Do I know what to do if I have a bear encounter?” she asked. “You must mentally prepare yourself. Of course, have bear spray and have it within reach and know how to use it, and that ‘know how to use it’ piece is really key. To help you, there are several things that we're doing here and right away to help prepare hunters we're doing some online training, and the first one of those is tonight (Friday, October 14), so you can actually find that information on the Fish, Wildlife and Parks website.”

Crowser said the most dangerous time for a hunter in the field is after they have brought down their deer or elk and are field-dressing the animal because hungry bears have a keen sense of smell.

Most Vulnerable while Field Dressing your Animal

“When you harvest an animal and you're field dressing and you're tagging that animal then make sure that if you've got a hunting partner,” she said. “It’s great to assign somebody to keep the eye out and to be the watcher in the area. But where it gets especially dangerous is when you have to leave an animal. Obviously, you can't pack it all out or whatever the circumstances are, and so in those cases, you want to make sure when you return to the area, you find a good vantage point where you can survey the spot. Make sure there's not a bear in the vicinity. Make lots of noise and be extra careful in those situations.”

Crowser said part of any hunter’s preparation has to include safety items, including a fully stocked first aid kit in case of a fall or an injury.

“First make sure you have your survival gear which includes first aid equipment with you and that is stocked and repacked,” she said. “I know I just did the same thing. I just got mine out and looked through the inventory and restocked it because sometimes you do that and it sits in your backpack for years and you don't know if you have everything you need, so that's another key thing to do for any sort of emergency or injury type situation.”

The archery season is underway and continues through October 16, while the general rifle season begins on October 22 and ends on November 27.

Get more details at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website.

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