Lots of varibales with the Merriams...public land ..hunting earlier or later...but regardless..we struggled too for the most part
Think it depends on where you go..we did kill 5 (shot 6) in MT but the place has been hit hard by something that has all but wiped out the bird population in parts of region 7 in the prairie..river birds were okay...praiire birds may not recover for a while where we've hunted for the past 9-10 years..it was sad ..heard from some other guys that hunted in another area that Blackhead diesase had taken its toll...I don't really know what happend..only the places that always held birds were ghost towns.
As far as Idaho
I have to admit the "Bear Factor" aspect made me both nervous and excited...Hunting the western regions is always an adventure to me but being way down the food chain in this case just added excitement...had a guy stop and talk to us while we were trying to figure out where we were on a back road outside of Bonners Ferry..was riding with a rifle because 3 wolves had jusy attacked his brothers cattle and he was searching the meadows for em..no doubt was going to shoot em..we saw wolfe and bear tracks side by side
I really read up and my conclusions right or wrong were:
If you see a bear (especially a grizzly) and run..you're toast ....and that many that tried to fend off a charging grizzley with a fire arm got mauled....they panicked..did not aim well...froze and didn't shoot at all...those statistics made an impression on me....those that did not panick...stood their ground and used bear spray.....did well...the spray is some bad stuff if you can put it in their face
So I bought two cans of Frontiersman Bear spray..9 ounce cans that disperse in 5 seconds with a range of 35' (gave my buddy "Wasp & Hornet " spray...with camo tape on it..so he thought he just had a bigger can of what I had
part of my back up plan
There were a few walks including coming out right at dark one evening without a flashlight..that I kept my hand on the spray can and was ready....Seriously..I believe I'd have stood my ground to the end mainly because I know to run etc would have been a mistake..the 2nd part of the plan was that if one of us got pinned down by a bear the other would stick the gun barrel in his ear with pressure and empty the Hevi shot and the other loads that we had in our gun besides turkey loads.
Nothing goes to plan but you have to be delusional enough to think you have one that would work.
We stayed together and it would probably be like hunting Texas..you don't worry about rattlesnakes too much until you see one and then you're on edge...if I had actually seen a grizzly..I probably would not have gotten out of the truck again
I loved the place and the land...but if I went again..I'd carry a side arm and the spray just to cover my bases
Something about being told by the ranger that 7 Grizzlies were using the back side of a big meadow after you've been cruising around it gets your attention