Bird Hunter Shoots, Kills Charging Grizzly Near Front


A pheasant hunter shot and killed a grizzly bear Nov. 4 near Pendroy along the Rocky Mountain Front that charged him after it was surprised by the hunter’s bird dog.

The incident occurred after the resident hunter had shot a pheasant near an irrigation canal on a farm about two miles southeast of Pendroy, almost 20 miles north of Choteau.

The female grizzly was in a patch of willows along the canal with her three young-of-the-year cubs. She emerged from the willows and charged the hunter’s dog.

The hunter yelled at the bear, which turned and charged him. The hunter shot in the air once with his 12-gauge shotgun.

Bear Scene Near Pendroy. Photo courtesy of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

As the bear continued to charge, the 69-year-old hunter finally shot at the bear twice, hitting it in the chest and face. The final shot came when the animal was within 10 feet.

The bear returned to the willows, where the cubs had remained. By the next morning Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials went into the willow patch and found the sow dead and the cubs were gone.

The female bear was determined to be 9 years old and weighing about 500 pounds.

In recent years, grizzlies have wandered out onto the prairie away from the Rocky Mountain Front, following irrigation canals and streams and river bottoms, including the Sun, Teton and Marias rivers.

With bird hunting under way, hunters along the Front, especially in riparian areas, need to be aware they are in bear country.

FWP recommends hunters carry bear spray and be ready to use it at all times. Statistically bear spray offers better personal protection than a firearm when faced with a charging bear.

For more information, call FWP in Great Falls at (406) 454-5840.