It’s no secret if you’re an outdoor person that much of the midsection and western reaches of the nation are under drought. You can check the designation of your neighborhood at this link ( I was reminded of the drought this past week while hunting elk in eastern Montana. The elk were keying on water sources, but that’s not all. Coyotes and particularly black bears were being seen frequently close to water and even in the water. My good friend Doug Gardner ( also watched a mountain lion jump up on the edge of a water tank and quench its thirst.

Unfortunately, the black bears in the area were also causing damage. It appears as if the Yogi bunch were enjoying dips in the livestock water tanks and although that act itself isn’t an issue, their Jacuzzi antics have been causing some disruption in ranching lifestyle. While cooling themselves in the manmade ponds the bears would grab the water floats designed to control water levels and break them off in playful fun. Of course this caused chaos for water control with tanks shutting down or overflowing depending on the damage.

If you’re looking to get in on some early season predator hunting you may want to stake a claim to a water source in arid country. Monitor these water sources for predators with trail cameras. However, don’t use a trail camera in Montana during hunting season, it’s illegal.

Ground blinds can also be invaluable as they offer a perfect hide to watch for predators visiting water and they aid in controlling scent by helping keeping it confined in the blind. We had several coyotes and elk walk downwind of our blinds without blinking.

Take advantage of the drought this year and help a rancher out with a pesky bruin problem. It may be a great way to tag a bear and make a new friend in ranch country.