Bear Country Camping

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by Blaise W, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. airjammer

    airjammer Been here awhile

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    Growing up in NW MT, Have had more close crossings with Grizz in the Mission Mtns than i did in Alaska.

    Hang your food
    Look for sign (poop, debarked trees, uprooted stumps, etc.)
    Make noise

    ....and if you've got a gun, file the end-sight off so it doesn't hurt(as much) when he/she puts it up your arse.
  2. Cortez1000

    Cortez1000 n00b

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    I have spent a lot time in South Africa and saw the bears in this country it is the country especially for wild animals,Every tourists likes that country i am very excited to see that wild animals especially bears. Plenty of black and brown bears around me and every tourists very excited to see that.
  3. LeftCoastMan

    LeftCoastMan Been here awhile

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    I think hanging food has been deprecated, by law, in many areas with indigenous bear populations. Along the Pacific Crest Trail (which of course isn't for motorcycles, it's strictly for hikers and, in some parts, horses) in California, it's illegal to hang food, because sows have trained their cubs to climb the trees to knock down the bag. Obviously, bears are smarter than Yogi ever was in the cartoons.

    In my experience in camping on the western and eastern sides of the Sierras, almost all campgrounds have lockable food lockers. They way they're built, you could put gold bars in there and protect them.

    If you're not in a developed campground (which are cheaper, cause they're free), you are required by the local park constabulary to use a bear canister for food, or actually anything that has an odor (like shampoo or soap). I bought one of those canisters, but I just see no way to pack it on my bike. Hence, I stick with developed campgrounds along the Sierras.

    As for a gun? I've said this before. Unless you're calm when you fire a gun (and I mean FBI/Secret Service calm), you're going to miss, or worse yet, wound the animal, piss him off, and you're dinner.
  4. pne

    pne Been here awhile

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    had one bear encounter in new mexico, no food or anything scented in the tent. Still that night I heard him outside the tent poking around, started hollering and what not. In the morning sure enough bear tracks all around. The next night same spot, I test fired the bear spray (I will trust that can over a gun any day), and slept with it in the sleeping bag with me. I don't think the bear came back but if he did I slept right through it. Got woken up by coyotes in the wee hours of the morning, go figure.
  5. 2rock

    2rock Motoholic

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    I did an eight week trip to AK this year in may and june, yep froze my but off, spring never arrived! Saw lots of black bear along the hwys, and only 2 grizzlys, they where both on the Dempster. I never met anyone who lived in the backcountry that carried bear spray, up in Keno City, the Canadians laughed and said bear spray was for the city people, they carried guns, I noticed they didn't say if they carried rifles or pistols. In Haines AK I met a retired state trooper who specialized in bear maulings, he carried a SW 460.
    Next year I'm going back to AK, I'll bypass Canada, and take a 460. I think some people on here that push the bear spray are anti gun anyway.
    btw.. Never test fire your bear spray in camp, that's an attractant.
  6. StriderJim

    StriderJim Adventurer

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    People who don't like, don't use, and don't know anything about guns are invariably great authorities on them.

    Their advice is often something of the form: "you'll be shaking so bad you won't be able to hit anything".

    What they're describing, of course, is what THEY THEMSELVES would be doing.

    Their imagined world doesn't include people who are 1) not policemen and yet, 2) actually know how to handle firearms and can do so under stress.

    What these 'authorities' never know is that there are well-trained 'citizens' walking around in the US. They also don't know, and wouldn't believe if you told them, that a lot of (most?) cops are not particularly good shots, nor have most trained under stress.

    That said, most gun owners rely on the firearm as a magic talisman, and are sure that when the time comes, they will "rise to the occasion". In fact, they will fall to their level of training. They get by with this magical thinking because, for the most part, people never need to use guns.





  7. aquadog

    aquadog Dude Buddha

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    I pretty much agree with the above, with one addition.

    Just to clarify, there are about 15 residents in Keno, and that's not a good representation of the Yukon population or what can work overall. There is often a reason people live so far from the mainstream...or down in the holler. Sorry, Kenoites.

    This keeps coming up in the forum, usually as "those Commie Canadians don't allow my handgun" (and if I can't take my gun, I'm not going there). Canada has a very high per captia gun ownership rate, we just use them as tools - which can include bear defence. The right gun works. However, bear spray is quite effective and well tested, and is very convenient. Don't discount it.

    One thing that becomes apparent on this forum - although not in this thread, which has been really reasonable and respectful of other opinions - is how little a lot of gun owners know about ballistics, or how tough bears are, but how willing these people are to discount solutions other than a gun. Bears are not furry people, and your .45 won't solve the problem.

    I agree that people who don't like guns often speak with great authority on the subject, but many gun owners are equally willing to ignore facts. That's the "magical talisman" part, which I totally agree with - my gun will make me invincible. It's not magic, it's a tool, if you're going to use one, know what it can do, how, when.

    For fun, try ripping 3/8" plywood like paper, with your *bear hands*, snapping studs off like toothpicks, and sticking your fingernails in and splitting studs lengthways. This isn't a furry person.

    My GF cabin on a mining creek near Dawson City got hit by a grizzly last fall, see photo. We boarded it up as best we could in November at -30, then I went back this summer to rebuild walls. A new bear had moved in and was bugging her. One of the tools in the truck is not like the others. I'm a 95% bear spray guy, but sometimes a permanent solution is called for. Does that make me AC/DC? :evil Choose the tool for the time and place, and keep an open mind.

    Most of the advice on this thread about clean camping, etc. is right on. For anyone who has done much rescue or emergency service work, you know that the accident/incident avoided is the best one of all.

    [​IMG]


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  8. GrizGirl

    GrizGirl Long timer

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    I push bear spray and I own guns so your comment about people pushing bear spray being anti gun is misinformed and just plain wrong.

    I spend time every summer photographing grizzly bears in Alaska and the Yellowstone area. I stay at a wilderness lodge when I go to Katmai and the manager has been managing bear lodges and guiding fishing expeditions for decades and is a native of Alaska. The lodge where he and his wife spend 6 months of every year has one grizzly bear per square mile and zero roads - the only way there is float plane or boat. They have guns but they don't carry them in the field, they carry bear spray and flares. Those that really know bears, especially grizzly bears, carry bear spray.

    BTW, consider yourself lucky that you missed the hot spell that happened in Alaska in June. I spent 10 days in Kodiak and Katmai and it never rained, I saw very few clouds, and it was hotter than I'd ever seen it there. Fairbanks and Anchorage had record highs as well. I would have much rather had it be the normal cool and wet that I am used to when I visit. It was fun to get the pics of the bears cooling off in the water though, so that was a bonus of the heat.
  9. aquadog

    aquadog Dude Buddha

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    More blunt than I was, but absolutely right from my point of view. Nice job! Want to trade? And yes, we went from a late, cold spring to worrying about forest fires. Nice summer this year.
  10. 2rock

    2rock Motoholic

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  11. GrizGirl

    GrizGirl Long timer

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  12. 2rock

    2rock Motoholic

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  13. aquadog

    aquadog Dude Buddha

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    Well, at least you picked a pistol that might do some good. I find it surprising how many people make the assumption that a 9mm or .45 will be effective - that's the "magic talisman" effect StriderJim referred to. Or they say "I'll wound the bear and scare it away", which 1) isn't going to happen with a pissed off bear, 2) is repugnant. If you're going to shoot, kill it.

    A lot of stories about the little old Alaska granny who regularly offed bears with a pistol are just that - anecdotes without back up. Spray has been tested, and does work.

    I'll stick to spray most of the time, but appreciate your sense in using a BIG pistol!
  14. chris73

    chris73 Been here awhile

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    I have lived in bear country my whole life, and have come upon bears walking on trails. It happens so fast, that I would rely on my bearspray first. I have never been charged, but I have had my shed tore apart in Kitimat BC by a black bear. Rely on your bearspray. It works. Research it's effectiveness on the intrernet and you will see. I also pack a 44 mag short barrelled rifle with hard cast hot loads. This is my black bear cougar gun. It helps me sleep at night on the island. Up north I pack a coach gun with hevi shot bear sabots or challenger slugs. Americans have Brenneke and dixie. All the gun really does for me is give me peace of mind. At a distance I can fire a warning shot... never have. Close up and taken by surprise, the bear spray would come out first. It's never an issue for me, because I keep my camp very clean. I set up a cooking area away from my tent. Keep my food cached and soaps and smelly things in a seal line and away from the tent.
  15. 243Win

    243Win Been here awhile

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    That is pretty much what I've told folks I've met while out and about if they happen to inquire "if & why" I may have a firearm with me.

    "It's pretty much a sleep aid."

    I'll usually have a firearm and a can of spray. And while pondering it alone at night out in the woods, I tend to have more faith in the spray as I think about it.

    Only had a bear in camp once. Slept right through it in my tent. I get up and my buddy that slept in the truck bed with a canopy was all :eek1

    "Did ya see it?"

    See what.

    "The bear!"

    Tracks everywhere in camp. We'd camped next to stream full of spawning salmon while out elk hunting. Since then simply possessing a bear tag has been deterrent enough.:D
  16. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Canada is not very gun friendly .. flares has been mentioned and of course bear spray.

    have carried pepper spray before in heavy bear country, but never flare guns.

    A Molins No. 1, 1 inch calibre Very pistol, c1940, made by Berridge Ltd.
    [​IMG]
  17. LifeScribe

    LifeScribe Canadian

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    Bears generally won't bother you unless you provoke them or have food improperly stored (ideally hung 10-15 in a tree- 50 feet from your campsite).

    Have solo camped/ hiked in bear country numerous times-- and you're right it is definitely a bit un-nerving.

    Have had a few close calls with bears on the trails, but if you make noise and show them you're not a threat they'll walk away. Even had a rare encounter with a Cougar - about 25 yards from me (note-- very seldom if ever will you encounter these-- did not have bear spray but managed to walk away from this. After this incident I bought a Tarus Judge (Revolver):D which fires a .410 slug. It was much more comforting having that in the backcountry.

    -Jeff

  18. Rusty Shovel

    Rusty Shovel Adventurer

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    I keep a .357 and Ambien. That way, I wake up in the morning and wonder how I got all those holes in my tent. :rofl

    Seriously, though, I was once told to MISS the bear with my first shot. The loud sound and flash will likely confuse and frighten the bear. Even a grizzly will run if startled. Hurting it, I'm told, can have an undesirable effect; the pain response and resulting adrenaline dump can cause a bear to become extremely aggressive.

    Of course, if the flash and boom doesn't deter the bear I'm gonna shoot it as many times as I can. Figure if I'm gonna be bear poop, I want the animal to suffer. Perhaps it would die of infection in a couple weeks or so. Not soon enough to help me, but I'm spiteful that way.

    I have no illusions about the likelihood of stopping a determined grizzly with a handgun.
  19. Callahan

    Callahan Long timer

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    Maybe by it taking a couple of painful weeks to die then that is very painful with you sloshing around in its belly, and that sounds pretty good and spiteful ?
  20. mefly2

    mefly2 Long timer

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    Several years as a NPS LE ranger in Glacier NP allowed several close encounters with and a respect for the black and grizzly bear as well as the 12 gauge shotgun... Feeling really secure with a 44 mag handgun is like saying you'd go bear hunting with a 30-30. We spent countless hours in LE working with OC and "bear spray" - not a good thing for the untrained as it has a very bad effect on most humans and a not very consistent effect on other mammals... sometimes the sprayer gets it worse than the sprayee.YMMV; just my experience ...