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Old 12-01-2012, 09:01 AM   #46
aquadog
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Bones, generally agree with most of what you've said. We're getting off the OP topic, which is safe camping in bear country, however I think that's been pretty well covered in the posts above. Before we move to ballistics, I think bear spray is still the best bet for most people in most circumstances. Handy, not a crucial aim, tests show it pretty much will get the bear to turn and leave, whereas with a gun, a grizzly may react badly. Bears are enormously vital and can travel a long ways when they "should be dead". People equate shooting a bear to shooting a fragile human. Very different things.

Another poster commented that, in the dark, he'd rather spray down an area than try to shoot something. I have a good friend and two acquaintances who have been mauled (work in the woods, your odds go up). One is a hunting outfitter who was trailing some horses down a bushy path, bear nailed him. No time to react, no matter what you use. With spray, you could spray both bear and victim, bear 99% leaves, tend to the victim. With a gun, shooting into that mess might not be a good idea.

Agree about shot placement, etc. However our definition of defensive is different. You're talking 50 yards, I'm talking 50 feet at most, maybe 30 feet. Muzzle energy is essentially what you get. The 4,000 lb.ft. comes from a study in Alaska, that's what they concluded was a 'one shot stop' most of the time. A 12 gauge with slugs at 30' is pretty effective, and remember you're not shooting once and hoping for the best. The quick cycle time with a shot gun, while keeping the sight picture, is a bonus. I have a folding stock on mine for travel, but if there is any expectation of need, the stock is out so I can shoulder the gun and be more accurate. Frankly, it's also what I've practised and am comfortable with.

A lever action 45-70 sounds like a good choice, but I don't have one...while I know there are cases of lighter calibre handguns killing a bear, what they hand out to game officers, mining inspectors and the like, is at least a .44 Magnum, which I recall having about 1,000 lb.ft. (I know there are hot loads out there, but standard factory ammo is likely for most people). Skill level just went up dramatically though, a disadvantage. These days, fish and game guys have .40 or the like, as the biggest danger isn't bears, it's armed poachers. Think about that...

It's the old saying, "if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail". I recommend to people taking the appropriate tool for the situation. For me, that's mostly bear spray, the cabin was different. Most bears will not actually attack, my concern being that the guy with the handgun is going to pop off, piss off, and create a situation that may not have happened otherwise.

I've also read far too many posts on this site, where people think it's OK to use an inefficient calibre, as they feel they can wound the bear and it will run away. They don't think of night time, close quarters, do they have enough experience...Depends on the bear which way it runs, they're probably shooting from too far away, and the ethics of casually wounding an animal, while not thinking this through, offend me. I bet you understand that, due to the sensible comments you made.
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:45 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquadog View Post
B
Agree about shot placement, etc. However our definition of defensive is different. You're talking 50 yards, I'm talking 50 feet at most, maybe 30 feet. Muzzle energy is essentially what you get. The 4,000 lb.ft. comes from a study in Alaska, that's what they concluded was a 'one shot stop' most of the time. A 12 gauge with slugs at 30' is pretty effective, and remember you're not shooting once and hoping for the best. The quick cycle time with a shot gun, while keeping the sight picture, is a bonus. I have a folding stock on mine for travel, but if there is any expectation of need, the stock is out so I can shoulder the gun and be more accurate. Frankly, it's also what I've practised and am comfortable with.

A lever action 45-70 sounds like a good choice, but I don't have one...while I know there are cases of lighter calibre handguns killing a bear, what they hand out to game officers, mining inspectors and the like, is at least a .44 Magnum, which I recall having about 1,000 lb.ft. (I know there are hot loads out there, but standard factory ammo is likely for most people). Skill level just went up dramatically though, a disadvantage. These days, fish and game guys have .40 or the like, as the biggest danger isn't bears, it's armed poachers. Think about that...

It's the old saying, "if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail". I recommend to people taking the appropriate tool for the situation. For me, that's mostly bear spray, the cabin was different. Most bears will not actually attack, my concern being that the guy with the handgun is going to pop off, piss off, and create a situation that may not have happened otherwise.

I've also read far too many posts on this site, where people think it's OK to use an inefficient calibre, as they feel they can wound the bear and it will run away. They don't think of night time, close quarters, do they have enough experience...Depends on the bear which way it runs, they're probably shooting from too far away, and the ethics of casually wounding an animal, while not thinking this through, offend me. I bet you understand that, due to the sensible comments you made.

When thinking of the speed and power of a bear I just don't think 30 ft is far enough. I believe it's U.S. Geological Survey that has guidelines for it's forest service personnel and if a bear is within or at 50 ft and aggressive then shooting is considered reasonable self deference, notice I said aggressive not charging. A bear at that distance that is facing you is considered aggressive by biologists. Considering a bear could travel 50 yards in about 3 seconds it doesn't seem a crazy distance, tho there was a conviction for illegally killing a bear for someone claiming self deference in shooting a bear at 40 yds in Yellowstone so it's clear there is more than a little gray area. Statistically speaking bear spray is much more effective and has better results than firearms but when looking just at encounters with people who are very capable, like law enforcement and other armed armed govt personnel (fish and game, park service, etc) the numbers are much different. It is true that bear attacks are rare and encompass less than 1 % of the interactions that humans have with bears.

I will say that the idea that it's astronomically rare and you would be hit with lightning more often is a bs for those who fall in certain categories. If you are in bear territory, alone or in a small group (bears normally attack people in groups of 3 or less, in Alaska "4 or more" is a bit of a standard for bear safety, and there has never been a reported attack by a brown bear on a group of 7 or greater before 2011 when a grizzly attacked 7 teenagers) well your risk is a heck of a lot worse than the statistical average for being hit by lightning. How many people are truly at risk? Very few because most people are sitting on their couch where they are reasonably safe from bears so throwing them in the stats is a bit dishonest or stupid.

As to firearms it really is about the individual. A 12 gauge would be high on my list but only with slugs. Even 00 buck has almost no penetration after 15 ft and even the may serve only to blind a bear. Really the min handgun that one should chose to use as a bear defense gun would be a .44 mag (which does have between 1000 to 1200 ft lb in normal loading s depending on barrel length of the pistol) but even a .44 should really only be a backup or emergency gun if carried for the purpose of bear defense. Also when I mentioned pistol caliber carbines I was thinking of almost any non-shouldered cartridge like the 45-70 (yes there are pistols made to fire the 45-70). Historically speaking many of these rounds were quite powerful and use in both handguns and rifles. Also when traveling in bear country one would hope if you are carrying a firearm for bear protection, even if only partially, you would pick the appropriate ammo. The 45-70 is well over 100 years old and designed originally for black powder. Updated rounds with modern propellant and something other than lead for bullets makes a big difference.

Now this is going even further off topic but I do like the multi caliber big bore handguns that have been coming out lately and think they can be great guns for use in survival situations. I'm talking about the "Judge" line of pistols like Taurus has all tho there are several others that are equally good. They fire a large caliber pistol round as well as a shotgun round. I have a Taurus that can fire .454 which has ballistics even a bear would worry about. It can also fire .45 lc and .410 rounds. I can use it for big game, small game, snakes, signaling, bear, you name it. There are any number of specialty shot rounds from flares to bear bangers. Heck you can start fires with it. It is a big chunk of metal and wasn't cheap but we all have our vices. Really tho it is a good signaling device, excellent for self defense, good snake gun, etc. My use is more concern from javelina and wild hogs and snakes than bears but the pistol is able to cover the bases.

That being said I'm not an idiot and would carry bear spray if in bear county. I say that but bear sightings and encounters are on the rise in Texas and I just don't carry spray here. Of course I don't carry a pistol for the local bears either but ......

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Old 12-02-2012, 02:07 PM   #48
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Old 12-03-2012, 05:29 AM   #49
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While this is an admiral attempt at safely hanging your food etc .... it is too close to the tree and a bear could easily get at it.


You want it at least 5-6' away from the tree, 4' below the branch you are hanging it from and at least 9' from the ground, such as these two examples ....







You use two 25' lengths of 3/16" nylon rope, a small pulley, a carabiner and an ice cream bucket lid (with a hole punched through the centre) to keep mice/squirrels out of your food/toiletries bag as well. I have even used this system to haul 40q coolers up and stored safely for the night. Although I have had a few confrontations with bears in the bush, (including a 'Bluff Charge' by a Black) I've never had an issue with bears/rodents in camp, or getting at my food in the 23 years I've been using this system, where needed.









Keeping a scrupulously clean camp vastly diminishes the chance of a visit by an unwanted intruder!!!




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Old 12-06-2012, 01:52 PM   #50
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Based on everything I've ever heard about, read about, and experienced, the biggest deal regarding personal safety when it comes to bears in the USA is whether or not you're in grizzly territory. Black bears, especially in lower latitudes, are relatively small...a 300 lb. Black Bear in CO is considered big. Now is that 300 pounds of bear I'd like to wrestle with? No, but as others have stated 99% of black bear encounters are them running away from us. Grizzlies aren't as easily scared off, and if they attack you're basically dead already unless you happen to be a good shot AND get lucky with either bear spray or proper firearm (12 gauge, .44 Mag and up revolver) to bring down what is basically the equivilent of least 2 black bears with rabies as far as power and viciousness goes. I still carry in Colorado for black bears but I personally think my .40 SW is enough to scare off any black bear. I've seen black bears 4 times in 12 years and they've always been jogging away from me even when I'm not being loud hiking alone. Before I even had the common sense to cook away from my tent and keep food in a tree overnight I never had a black bear enter my camp that I knew of. I've never been in grizz territory though I want to go to Yellowstone next summer.

Basically I hardly worry at all about black bears when it comes to personaly safety...I carry first and foremost because of the two legged predator. Now they definitely are willing to be a nuisance. I had a friend who left a loaf of bread in the trunk of his Saturn in Golden, CO (Denver metro area) and one tore the door about damn near off and then eventually got through the back seats into the trunk. All in the dead of night about 25 yards from his house. Like any inquisitive animal, they try to get away with as much as they can when they don't see or smell humans. If my friend had been sleeping in that car, the bear probably wouldn't have even approached it, IMO, and if he did he could have easily run away if my friend made a ton of noise and movement. Most animals don't take a lot of convincing, except the ones that know they can own us real good. A normal sized black bear versus Joe Schmo with a bowie knife is practically a fair fight.
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Old 12-06-2012, 06:17 PM   #51
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hanging out of reach

I have always have used ropes and biners to hoist stuff up out of reach of bears.

Cooler, bag of cookery equipt all go up.

Tank bag also goes up, because it contains or did recently contain snacks or toothpaste.



I am looking for good ideas to purge my panniers all the rope required for all this hoisting. One of my tank panniers is full of ropes, some for clothesline, some for tarp, but most for bears,coons and critters.


Show me your pics of hanging away from bears


This pic is not in a bear area, the main concern with this elevated cooler is to be out of reach of coons.

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Old 12-06-2012, 06:40 PM   #52
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No one has mentioned the possible effectiveness of a fully automatic AK47 in a head shot, for example.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:57 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myfuture_yourdebt View Post
Based on everything I've ever heard about, read about, and experienced, the biggest deal regarding personal safety when it comes to bears in the USA is whether or not you're in grizzly territory. Black bears, especially in lower latitudes, are relatively small...a 300 lb. Black Bear in CO is considered big. Now is that 300 pounds of bear I'd like to wrestle with? No, but as others have stated 99% of black bear encounters are them running away from us. Grizzlies aren't as easily scared off, and if they attack you're basically dead already unless you happen to be a good shot AND get lucky with either bear spray or proper firearm (12 gauge, .44 Mag and up revolver)... I've seen black bears 4 times in 12 years and they've always been jogging away from me...

Basically I hardly worry at all about black bears when it comes to personaly safety...A normal sized black bear versus Joe Schmo with a bowie knife is practically a fair fight.
I hope this is a prank post, or sarcasm.

Otherwise, you need to read or experience more current information, as much of what you state is not consistent with current bear safety practice. Let's put this in perspective. You say you've seen black bears 4 times in 12 years. Last year I had a grizzly with two cubs munching berries across my driveway, about 75', watched them for about an hour. Same summer, another mother grizzly with 3 cubs wandered by, black bears are frequent neighbours. This is at home, not way out in the bush, I'm only 25 km to Whitehorse.

Grizzlies will defend territory or act to eliminate a threat, but do not typically view people as food. I have a friend and two acquaintances who have been mauled by grizzlies. In each case, the bear left them alone after believing it had eliminated the threat. My friend recalls thinking "if I don't stop screaming, I'm dead". He did so, the bear dropped him. I would add that it had him by the back of the leg where it joins the buttocks and was flailing him through alder bushes like a dog does with a stick. That's how strong they are. Or see the cabin pictures I posted. Grizzlies also respond well to bear spray, i.e. leave. So are you automatically dead if a grizzly attacks? No, use spray, play dead, they may leave you the worse for wear (none of my friends are pretty anymore), but alive, if you're lucky.

As others have posted, your luck changes if you're constantly exposed to the situation, but that's true of anything. Use a chainsaw a lot, you're more likely to cut yourself.

We had one unfortunate incident where a prospector was out staking, unknowingly walked right below a den with a mother griz and cubs. She probably killed him so quickly there was no time for any action. Given some distance, and no surprise, she may not have acted as dramatically as she did. Who knows? There is an element of uncertainty, they also have personalities. Some are mellow, some not.

If you think a black bear your size is the same strength, good luck. Not even close. While most black bears will run, some won't. Worse, some black bears DO think of us as food, and will initiate a predatory attack. If it's pretending not to see you, slowly stalking closer...bad signs. We keep it quiet, but do lose a tourist now and then to bear attacks, almost all to black bears. One young summer worker had "old school" advice and played dead when the black bear went for her - this in a public government campsite - and while the bear was eventually chased off by others, it wasn't pretty. They don't necessarily kill you before starting to dine. If it's a predatory black bear, make the meal as hard to get as possible, fight back - but only if contacted.

At another public campsite a black bear went for a fellow who was splitting wood, and he had the cool presence of mind to nail it dead center of the skull with his axe. Giant balls, and great timing. For the bear to get that close, it wasn't a bluff charge. If you're taking black bears casually, good luck with that.

I am probably more afraid of grizzlies, as I've seen what they can do, but given a choice, I'd almost rather deal with a grizzly than a black bear. Maybe it's the unpredicatability of a black bear, which I think may be higher than a grizzly.

Put another way, I've had a grizzly walk through my camp, about 25' away. I sat still, he ignored me, it was clear that he was sending a message: "MY woods". If that had been a black bear, I'd have been really worried, that close would mean intent.
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:33 PM   #54
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another bad sleep

I live in BC Canada, and yep we got bears. Lots of them. We do a lot of backpacking, dual sporting etc. into areas with bears.
There is some great advise posted here as is the regular info. that we have all read about sleeping in bear country.
When it comes down to sleeping well doing every thing your told to do still wont give you a good night sleep.
After taking precautions the rest is in our minds. The fear still lingers.
Set up camp where you believe is the safest location. Closer to people, buildings, highways, public campgrounds etc.
Even camping around light makes us feel safer. I even set up my tent with my bike on one side and a rock for eg. on the other.
I also take sleeping pills when in my tent as if your a light sleeper you'll need all the help you can get.
Getting attacked by a bear is like getting hit by lighting. Chances are it ain't gonna happen. But the fear is there right.
The better you make yourself feel the better chance of sleeping good.
Besides if you get attack chances are it will be over with quick,,,,, after the second attack.....
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:57 PM   #55
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Camping in Glacier NP the kind ranger lady came around to let campers know of bears and the fact that some were about. She reminded folks to us the food lockers to store most everything. I told her I was going to store some bacon fat on her cabin steps.Not being amused she asked why I would consider such untoward behavior . I relied she had the resources to deal with the problem and the gun shots would alert me in my tent that bears were about.
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:22 AM   #56
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My theory has always been you're more likely to get bothered by a bear if you camp in a campground that is regularly used because the local bears expect to find food there and are not afraid of people. In a remote seldom used campsite the bears don't come looking for food every night and aren't comfortable with people.

I don't put my tent right next to the bike because I've had a bear knock over the bike and wouldn't want it to fall on me while I'm sleeping. This was many years ago at Mazama Campground at Crater Lake NP.
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:17 PM   #57
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Bears...

Lots of good info here. I'm taking notes
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:51 AM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquadog View Post
I hope this is a prank post, or sarcasm.

Otherwise, you need to read or experience more current information, as much of what you state is not consistent with current bear safety practice. Let's put this in perspective. You say you've seen black bears 4 times in 12 years. Last year I had a grizzly with two cubs munching berries across my driveway, about 75', watched them for about an hour. Same summer, another mother grizzly with 3 cubs wandered by, black bears are frequent neighbours. This is at home, not way out in the bush, I'm only 25 km to Whitehorse.

Grizzlies will defend territory or act to eliminate a threat, but do not typically view people as food. I have a friend and two acquaintances who have been mauled by grizzlies. In each case, the bear left them alone after believing it had eliminated the threat. My friend recalls thinking "if I don't stop screaming, I'm dead". He did so, the bear dropped him. I would add that it had him by the back of the leg where it joins the buttocks and was flailing him through alder bushes like a dog does with a stick. That's how strong they are. Or see the cabin pictures I posted. Grizzlies also respond well to bear spray, i.e. leave. So are you automatically dead if a grizzly attacks? No, use spray, play dead, they may leave you the worse for wear (none of my friends are pretty anymore), but alive, if you're lucky.

As others have posted, your luck changes if you're constantly exposed to the situation, but that's true of anything. Use a chainsaw a lot, you're more likely to cut yourself.

We had one unfortunate incident where a prospector was out staking, unknowingly walked right below a den with a mother griz and cubs. She probably killed him so quickly there was no time for any action. Given some distance, and no surprise, she may not have acted as dramatically as she did. Who knows? There is an element of uncertainty, they also have personalities. Some are mellow, some not.

If you think a black bear your size is the same strength, good luck. Not even close. While most black bears will run, some won't. Worse, some black bears DO think of us as food, and will initiate a predatory attack. If it's pretending not to see you, slowly stalking closer...bad signs. We keep it quiet, but do lose a tourist now and then to bear attacks, almost all to black bears. One young summer worker had "old school" advice and played dead when the black bear went for her - this in a public government campsite - and while the bear was eventually chased off by others, it wasn't pretty. They don't necessarily kill you before starting to dine. If it's a predatory black bear, make the meal as hard to get as possible, fight back - but only if contacted.

At another public campsite a black bear went for a fellow who was splitting wood, and he had the cool presence of mind to nail it dead center of the skull with his axe. Giant balls, and great timing. For the bear to get that close, it wasn't a bluff charge. If you're taking black bears casually, good luck with that.

I am probably more afraid of grizzlies, as I've seen what they can do, but given a choice, I'd almost rather deal with a grizzly than a black bear. Maybe it's the unpredicatability of a black bear, which I think may be higher than a grizzly.

Put another way, I've had a grizzly walk through my camp, about 25' away. I sat still, he ignored me, it was clear that he was sending a message: "MY woods". If that had been a black bear, I'd have been really worried, that close would mean intent.
You live in Canada, I live in Colorado. If there's ever been a case of a predatory black bear in CO, it was probably over a half-century ago. I never said anything about the strength of black bears, obviously they are stronger than humans. Sorry I didn't attach a disclaimer to my post that said "this is my experience in central Colorado" (though you'd think my location under my avatar would make that obvious). Despite this, you failed to point out anything in my post that was an "epic information failure". But don't worry, you're smarter than me.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:10 PM   #59
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Not smarter, but I certainly have much more experience with bears of both types than you do. As for Colorado versus other locations, there may be some regional differences. Are you going to stake your life on those differences being major?

You did say that a man with a knife versus a black bear was almost a fair fight, if a grizzly attacks you're automatically dead...all of which seemed to indicate how you felt on the subject, and you were pretty definitive in your opinions - based on seeing one bear every three years. That pretty much added up to an epic information fail that would mislead others, therefore I responded.

If you only rode a motorcycle once every three years, would we credit your advice in that regard either?
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:24 PM   #60
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I camped for 20 or so days (90% backwoods primitive camping) on a 35 day trip last summer spanning many Rocky Mountain states, as well as Canadian provinces. I never had a problem with bears.

I always put any food or scented (think chapstick, deodorant, toothpaste etc) items in a bag at least 50 yards downwind from my tent. Everything in the bag was sealed in ziplock style bags. I never ate in my tent, but I did eat near it. If I spilled food on myself or my clothes they went in the bag or were washed in a river before bed. Sealed food items such as unopened beef jerkey and granola bars were left in my tank bag on the bike near my tent, and didn't have a problem. Of course YMMV.

I carried bear spray but never had to use it.
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