North west riders weigh in; Firearm for bear country travel (Montana)

Discussion in 'Americas' started by 5 speed, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. 5 speed

    5 speed Long timer

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    Been reading the ride reports and want to plan a Solo trip to follow the northern part of the CDR. The Grizzly thing concerns me. Sure carry some spray. So what do you do if that doesnt work? Or you are in your tent and cant spray it? Just want to know how many of you carry firearms? It not my thing and I dont own a gun but I mean if you got attacked, maybe it wont do any good. But at least the rangers can identify which bear it was that ate me by the fact he only has one eye:eek1 Just sayin.....
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  2. bikerfish

    bikerfish flyfishandride

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  3. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan from Scottsdale Supporter

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    Lots of good tips in that thread. I learned a bit. I've bumped into bears in Maine, Yukon, AK and even Yellowstone. Had a place in Truckee that got quite a bit of bear traffic too, so everybody had to install bear boxes for trash. Never carried a gun, though.
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  4. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    As someone who has done lots of sport shooting, I can tell you that your best bet is the bear spray. If you are not a gun person, your chances of successfully defending yourself against a truly aggressive grizzly are slim. Even with a large caliber handgun such as a .44 mag or .500 mag, shot placement would be essential. Even seasoned shooters would have a difficult time under such stressful conditions. There are rifles and shotguns that would work better, but carrying something like that on a motorcycle isn't really practical.

    On using bear spray inside your tent: that would be very unpleasant for you, but better than being mauled. Look at the bright side: once your tent smells like pepper spray, you won't have to worry about being attacked any longer. :lol3 Seriously, though, bear spray is statistically more effective. Also, if you cross into Canada while up north, you won't have to worry about what you are carrying (just make sure the can says "bear spray").

    Full disclosure: I chose to carry a .44 mag while camping in the northern USA, because I like it and was too cheap to buy bear spray.
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  5. 5 speed

    5 speed Long timer

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    I will say the article posted did shed quite a bit of light. I have always kept a really clean camp. Someelse posted the drumming/noise making to let all know you are there makes some sense as well. I see many Black bears in Florida (Ocala National Forest) and they are on the small side in comparison just based on food availability. I had one come within 20 feet of me in some scrub while I was eating lunch. I heard some noise and stood up and could see him in the bushes. Turned on the bike and blew the horn and then kept blowing, he stood up and looked and then ran like hell. I do carry a small air horn and probably that and bear spray would be enough for normal situations (ie some crazed bear that ignores the normal tactics-or maybe a deaf bear?) guess that could occur. I also agree its probably safer away from a campground where they know meals may be available.

    I will say, I have had one bad experience that spooked me good. I was camping at Brown Mtn in North Carolina. There are camp sites on the road leading up to the riding area. Had my dirt bike on the back of my Grand Cherokee. There was no one else on the mountain except me. And its miles away from any houses. I was definitely all alone. I was startled awake by something in woods. straining to hear and using elimination, not a bear, not deer, racoons, etc. I fell back asleep and then was awakend again, one of those where you know something woke you but you cant tell what. It was very stealthy and was circling the camp with a wide berth. I figure it was a mountain lion which got me concerned. Looking out through the tent window, I couldnt see a thing, but damn if I didnt see the Brown mountain lights!! Starry night no clouds but flashes of light, no thunder, nothing. I admit that was so bizarre its the first time I decided to finish the night off in the car!

    Anyhow, I would prefer not to have a gun; I dont really believe in hand guns; you know as the song goes, Hand gun was made for killin. I also like the idea of some line strung around the campsite with some small bells. I have a headlamp that has flash mode and would hope between the air horn, flashing lights and if worse came to worse the spray, issues could be avoided.

    Also good to see the posts from people that have been up in that area for years not really having an issue. Fingers crossed. Thanks for the tips.
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  6. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Please don't take this as criticism, but you sound like a city person. Remember that you are the top of the food chain, even if unarmed. Try to embrace the solitude, and it will become your paradise. No need for drumming, bells, or horns. Become one with the landscape, rather than an irritation to it, and it will comfort you. (I sound like a hippie :lol3)

    I have never heard of a mountain lion attacking through the wall of a tent. They prefer to pounce for the kill, and the tent blocks their view, making that impossible.

    Bears will rip through a tent if they smell food inside, which could be something as small as fresh toothpaste on your teeth. strict food policies nearly eliminate that risk.
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  7. Str8lin

    Str8lin Keep it moving!

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    Lived and worked (outside - NParkS) in griz country (MT and WY) @ 20 years, would see them hunting and hiking, but THEY would avoid a confrontation. NPS rangers ONLY carry pepper spray (mostly Counter Assault) in the largest canister. I have seen this used against griz and quite the deterrent - note this is not bear repellent, use only ONLY when being aggressed toward by bear.

    Re - firearms, unless you are in total control of your shot and it is dead on accurate for lethal kill, which is very hard to do on charging or frontal ground approach, you will just piss off the bear which will assure he will be eating your liver within a few minutes. Pick up a few good books or internet articles on traveling in griz country, camp and eat smart when in their neighborhood (no food in tent - sex neither) and you will be fine... you are more likely to be hi by lightning or head on with semi then bothered by a bear.

    link for Counter Aasault - http://www.rei.com/product/722005/counter-assault-bear-deterrent-spray-102-oz
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  8. Motomantra

    Motomantra Registered Lurker

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    You can tell bear shit from other animals scat. It has bells in it & smells like pepper.

    Use large canister bear spray, not a gun. Wounding him will just piss him off.
    Learn to read body language of the species.
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  9. byways

    byways byways

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    No gun you can reasonably conceal/carry on a moto trip will do anything more than piss off a grizzly bear. I'll guess the same with black bears.

    If anything is going to work, it will be a clean, properly managed camp and cooking ... and bear spray.

    But in my three decades camping in grizzly country, not to mention black-bear country, I've never had an encounter. See them all the time in Yellowstone, just up the road from me. But never anyplace else.

    Many, many black bear encounters in California's Sierra Nevada, in contrast. They run away when I yell at them and bang my pots.
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  10. KOH

    KOH Adventurer

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    Just a reality check - when your up close to a bear - you very quickly come to realize that, you are not at the TOP of the food chain. During my last border crossing ( into Canada) the customs official specifically asked if I had bear spray - apparently you cannot bring it into the country - but you can sure enough buy it there - go figger. I carry both an air horn and spray. You cannot overstress the importance of a clean camp - keep any food away from your campsite. Use the Bear Storage locker ( if available) - ensure any food stuffs are kept away from the camp site.

    KOH
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  11. kithough

    kithough FL Snowbird

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    From what I have heard, nobody in AK has been killed when using bear spray, and it gives a bear a bad taste (pun) for coming near humans. If a gun is used successfully, the animal still needs to be destroyed.
    When I was in back country in AK, I was carrying a .357 mag revolver. The owner said "if you have to use it, for god sake, don't shoot the bear. It'll piss him off". If needed, shoot in front of it. The sound concussion and the dirt in his face will give him pause to rethink whatever was on it's mind, giving you time to back away. If still in danger, shoot the shoulder to cripple. You'll never get a brain shot.
    Heard of long ago at Philmont Scout Ranch, a kid wore his socks of the day to bed, after being told not to. Woke to a black bear biting his foot- for the salt? And a scout master had tied food up between 2 trees, then was sleeping under it. A b bear was using both trees to climb until it fell on the scout master. Both jumped up and ran opposite directions.
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  12. Wansfel

    Wansfel I'm not lost! The world is just a bit misplaced.

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  13. rockitman4x4

    rockitman4x4 ol retread

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    I carry a 18 inch barrel 12 gage shotgun, I have made it where it comes apart and fits in my dry bag. Can be put together in under a minute. I carry it when I'm out fishing. When I set up camp its the first thing out of the bag short enough to be able to use in my tent. 3 inch magnum slugs will stop a bear and just the sound of racking it will send most undesirables packing. I have taken it into Canada lots of times with no problems.
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  14. CharlestonADV

    CharlestonADV I do my own stunts. Supporter

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    According to everything I researched on this issue...bear spray is a more effective defense than a handgun. FWIW, I'm not suggesting that a legally carried handgun isn't a rational piece of travel gear.:D
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  15. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    I don't see this fence doing much to stop a bear & there are guns to be had for same price range as this overpriced fence. Just an IMO comment, nothing more.
    I've heard both sides of the spray thing from people experienced with living in backwoods bear areas-some say it's the best whiles others say it usually will simply piss off the bear. I suppose better than nothing is the answer.
    I have a "bear bell" I'll sell ya (seriously,I do) :D & still in the pkg..
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  16. Wansfel

    Wansfel I'm not lost! The world is just a bit misplaced.

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    Electric fences appear to work quite well in Alaska where thee are REAL bears including Polar Bears. On the other hand gun users tend to fair far worse in the REAL world. YOUTUBE test.

    But I'm sure none of this will change your mind and I hope the other campers in your vicinity are laying very low when you start "repelling" your next bear.

    In 60 years of wandering the woods, I've never had a close call with a bear, but there is always the next time. I use to carry a gun, but decided the weight wasn't worth the bother any more. Besides I have my own solution now. I carry butter flavored Pam. A little dose around the neighbor's tent or on their back when not looking and I sleep great! Also works great when mounting a flat tire and for cooking!
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  17. Metalcarver

    Metalcarver Geezer Berserker Supporter

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    Coupla points. Bears ain't dumb. Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming have lots of open range. Camp next to cattle. What bear in his right mind would choose a rangy hunk of goat meat over a slab of nicely marbled beef? Plus you get serenaded to sleep.
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  18. BUZZARD II

    BUZZARD II Old Geezer

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    For the last 16 years of my career I taught firearms at the police academy level. (combat pistol, shotgun, sub-gun) My guess would be maybe 5% of the trained shooters would stand a good chance with a pissed off bear.

    Most cops really don't care too much about shooting. Unless you do and practice accordingly you won't be able to do much with a pistol. And I mean a lot of costly practice.

    Something like a 12 gauge with an extended 8 shot magazine is another story. But then you got to practice with that too.
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  19. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    RE,"none of this will change your mind"?:
    I wasn't making an argument (I'm not experienced enough to do so)& after reading and talking about the bear thing to others that live around bears year round(they come & go here in my part of E KY) the opinions are kind of mixed as to repellents. I've seen back country rangers laugh at repellents, while others carried them. My childhood was full of outdoor mags & pics of people shooting angry bears:D
    My electric fence comment was based on what appeared to me as a "real skimpy" electric fence for too much money in that particular link! We have them on pastures & surrounding our woodsy home site for deer. They could jump over it backwards but mostly honor the fences even though low wires.
    The gun might be handy for AH's that spray PAM on tents?:rofl
    As for needing an 8 shot magazine to shoot a bear-HA! seems to be a declaration of war on bears? After a shot or two from a 12ga slug gun he's either dead or eating you?
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  20. Wansfel

    Wansfel I'm not lost! The world is just a bit misplaced.

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    Understand about the bears back east. I'm not too worried about black bears here in the wild. They are not acclimated to humans and I would suppose the bears back east would be more problematic than these bears. However, Griz and their brethren the browns in AK, are a whole different animal. I've run across black bears, but not Griz and I really don't care to either.

    ++ on slugs, but I don't carry one hiking or biking. They do so in AK though. Many of the bee hives around here use the electric fence successfully for bears.

    My concerns are night. Too late for the shotgun when a griz is pulling you out of your tent. I follow the guidelines, keep food stuff and smells away from the tent, hang my food bag down wind, or use the bear boxes where supplied. And I usually sleep pretty well.
    #20