Dillon, MT., October 20, 2015—In recent years many public lands in Montana, including the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, have implemented Food Storage Orders that affect hunting practices and how hunters set up camp. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest would like to share some tips for storing food, attractants and carcasses to help hunters develop good habits as bear populations expand.
- Bring your animal carcass home or to the butcher while you finish your hunting trip if you live within driving distance. If you’re from out of town, some businesses offer storage for carcasses. There are many butchers, outfitters or other businesses with walk-in freezers can provide space to hunters.
- Plan for animal carcass storage while camping. Bring storage for the carcass for example, in the form of a truck with topper, enclosed trailer, horse trailer with full doors, or certified bear resistant containers. If you use hang poles, the carcass must hang ten feet high at its lowest point and four feet away from climbable supports and must be 100 yards away from your camp. You may also want to bring pulleys and ropes to help hoist your carcass between trees.
- Pack a tarp or strong plastic sheet to gut your animal in case you down your game near a trail or need to leave your carcass overnight. Gut piles are the most attractive to bears and other scavengers. If you use a tarp or plastic sheet to drag the gut pile away from your animal you may avoid finding a bear on your carcass in the morning. You must drag gut piles at least 200 yards from National Forest system trail to help prevent trail users from surprising a bear feeding on it.
- Don’t hang or butcher your animal in camp. Blood on the ground is a powerful attractant to bears and other scavengers.
- When retrieving game, leave a member of your party to “attend” the carcass if possible.
- Borrow bear-resistant containers for FREE from your local Forest Service office. There are a variety of items from coolers to panniers to backpack barrels. Please call ahead to find out what is available at each office.
- Take advantage of the permanent food storage boxes in many of the Forest Service campgrounds for your food and other attractants.
- When in doubt, call your local Forest Service or MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks office. They are happy to help you plan your trip and troubleshoot any attractant storage concerns. Be aware that Montana State Wildlife Management Areas have similar requirements.
Remember that all attractants must be acceptably stored at night and attended or acceptably stored during the day. Carcasses or partial carcasses may only be left on the ground if they are one-half mile away from any sleeping area and 200 yards from any Forest Service system trail.
The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest instituted a forest-wide order on June 1, 2014 which is in effect from March 1 through December 1 annually. The storage requirements and tips can be viewed online at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3844391.pdf. For more information contact your local Forest Service office.