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The golden rule to retrieving game meat in bear country is to get it out of the area as quickly as possible. The longer a carcass remains laying on the ground, hung up in hunting camp, or in the back of a truck, the more likely it is to attract a bear.

Two bears on a hillside

If you do have to leave a carcass in the field, follow these precautions:

  • Carry a lightweight tarp. Put the guts on the tarp and drag them as far away from the carcass as possible.
  • Locate an observation point at least 200 yards from the carcass with a clear line of sight. Before leaving the area, walk to the observation point and memorize what the site looks like.

When returning, approach the observation point carefully. With binoculars, study the scene from the observation point for at least ten minutes while scanning the area and carcass for any sign of bear activity.

  • If a bear is at the site or the meat has been covered up with debris and is no longer fit for humans, report the incident to Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Hunters who have lost an animal to a bear may be eligible for a replacement license.
  • Do not attempt to chase away a bear from a carcass, you are asking for trouble!
  • If you see no sign of a bear, approach the site slowly.
  • Yell or whistle repeatedly, and make noise to alert any bear you may not have seen.

If you live in bear country, avoid hanging carcasses near houses or garages. Big game carcasses stored outside should be hung from a pulley system attached to a stout 15-foot-long “meat pole” that is at least 25 feet off the ground. The lowest portion of an elk or deer should be hanging from the center of the pole and be at least 10 feet off the ground. NOTE: bears climb trees and stand on objects to reach food.

Camping in bear country
Camping in bear country