Tag Archives: protection against bears

Reminder To Be Safe

by Woodsbum

Here is a first hand account of someone that was attacked while thru hiking the Appalachian Trail. Here is his story:

His story is here

This goes to show a few things in regard to bear encounters. Bears do what they want, when they want. It first attacked the guy in his sleep and bit down on his leg. When the guy fought back, the bear really didn’t go anywhere. It kept on messing with him. Once the guy finally got the bear to leave for a short period of time, he was able to escape. The bear came back after he left for help and destroyed his gear. It would have destroyed the hiker if he was still there. If the guy had some sort of personal protection to fend off the bear he might have faired a bit better. Of course it is not “politically correct” to carry a pistol for protection, but a .44 mag through the face of a bear chewing on my leg would have been my #1 choice. This guy punched the bear and screamed at it as his only form of protection.

This guy also was the cause of the bear destroying someone else’s tent due to the blood trail he left on the way to find help. When they went into some shelter, the bear shredded the tent of the girl that was helping him.

So, let’s recap this whole thing:

  • Guy gets bit.
  • Bear shreds tent
  • Guy punches bear
  • Bear shreds tent
  • Guy yells at bear
  • Bear shreds tent and chews gear
  • Guy takes off to another tent
  • Girl helps guy and they go into some shelter
  • Bear shreds that tent and chews all his gear
  • Cost of bear attack on humans well over $1000 due to no active protection against bears
  • Bear will probably be shot because it hurt a human
  • Guy needs EMT to give him a bandaid.

If it had been me:

  • Guy gets bit
  • Bear gets shot
  • Guy bandanges himself up and makes breakfast (bear tenderloin and backstrap)
  • Guy patches half dozen holes in tent and continues hiking
  • Bear still dead, guy taken care of, no further damage to guy or girl like previous story and lots of bear jerky for the rest of the trip

Seriously people, don’t go all touchy/feely because you want to save Yogi. Yogi was a fake bear. Protecting yourself in the wild is exactly that: protecting yourself. Get serious about it and actually make certain that you are going to come home.

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Bear Spray

by Woodsbum

So many times I hear people talk about carrying bear spray versus a firearm when in a high predator area. Now, I agree with a lot of the research that bear spray is quite effective with regard to bears. It may or may not be the defensive weapon of choice. I do wonder how effective it is across the board with all predators and whether it should be a substitute for a gun or additional carry item.

Here are a few resources:

Shoot or Spray?
Living with Grizzlies
Using Bear Spray to Deter Mountain Lions
The Bear Necessities
WDFW Bear Spray Overview
MT FWP Effective Use of Bear Spray
Attacks by Cougar and Bear in US and Canada

Here are a couple observations that I gleamed from these resources:

  1. You are more likely to be killed by a bear, but attacked by a cougar.
  2. Attacks number higher overall (fatal and nonfatal) due to cougars.
  3. Bear spray works well on bears, but “MAY” help deter cougars.
  4. There is a huge push for bear spray for protection and guns have fallen out of favor.

In the articles, I can see how their scenarios play out better for use of bear spray. All the stories of attacks they use are close range charges where quick reaction and wide area of affect are the deciding factors in the encounter. There really was no mention of stalking or bears investigating your campsite. In those situations I have just fired a warning shot and the bear takes off. The same thing has worked for me with regard to cougars. Cats tend to stalk you and attack you from behind. They are ambush predators. The nice thing about cougars is that you can, a lot of times, smell them before you see them. There is definitely a musky, “death” smell for lack of better adjective when a cougar is around. This can help you out if you are being stalked.

No matter whether it be a bear or cougar that is messing with you, the statistics don’t cover a few things that the selected stories preach to support the author’s point of view. Each of the selected stories will lead you to believe that there is no time to think or react and you will be ambushed without warning. The reality is a bit different. Reality is that paying attention to detail, being extremely careful, and making sure to NOT be prey can give you some warning. It isn’t sure fire, but it is a start. This is a better approach than assuming you will be a victim. All about the situational awareness.

Now that I have ignored the anecdotal bedtime stories that support either spray or guns it is time to apply some common sense:

  • Bear spray works really well on bears.
  • Bear spray “may” help deter cougars.
  • Bears are VERY hard to kill.
  • Cougars are much easier to kill.
  • Bear spray holsters and quick draw options are available.
  • Pistol holsters are available in numerous quick draw options.
  • Guns can be used to signal in times of distress in a louder manner than a whistle. Bear spray can’t signal anything with the “pssssfffttt” sound it makes.
  • Guns can be used to feed myself in times of need. Bear spray just seasons the still alive menu item.
  • Guns are effective against 2 legged threats even when they are on drugs. Bear spray “may” deter a 2 legged threat.
  • Just the open carry of a gun “may” deter 2 legged threats. Bear spray is less likely. Studies on violent crime in cities supports this statement. If you wonder it’s veracity park a Maserati GranTurismo convertible full of gold on the street in South Chicago and see what wards off attacks best, guns or bear spray. I will stop by the hospital/morgue to check the bear spray results.

My personal opinion is that you should evaluate your situation and environment, then take the tools that will protect you in the best manner. No matter whether you choose bear spray, silly string or a S&W 500 each one has its uses and place. What I hope any reads took from this is that it doesn’t matter what you take. Just have great situational awareness, carry something to protect yourself, and don’t be negative because someone else chose something different.

Personally, I take a .44 mag or .357 in a cross draw configuration for quick access and a can of bear spray on a 550 cord “holster” in heavy bear areas. The extra weight I carry may just save my hind quarters……

Lastly, there was an incident in Alaska on Tuesday. It appears that someone stopped a charging bear with a pistol. The bear charged the guy from 20 yards away and was shot 5 times to stop it, then a final shot to finish it off. This is one of many pieces of anecdotal evidence that shows that firearms in the hands of someone trained will work to stop a charging bear. Ultimately, use what you want and are comfortable with as long as you are trained in its use.

Good luck and stay safe!!!

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