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Thread: Never been around bears...

  1. #1
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    Default Never been around bears...

    I don't run into many bears in NC so coming to Alaska where the chances are better of running into one is a bit unsettling, especially since my daughter will be with me. I'm going to buy the bear spray, talk or make some noise when we walk and try to see them before they see us. I thought about bringing a gun but my biggest pistol is a 9mm and my 12ga is a bird gun. I was messing around in my boat box and saw an airhorn, noisemaker to the USCG, and wondered if that would help in case we need to scare, or at least make one pause for a few seconds while we exit stage left.

  2. #2
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Common sense and a can of bear spray should suffice.

    Chain link waders would be nice, but would not be very comfortable.

    Personally, I like guns and carry one with me almost everywhere I go. Riding the Harley, bars and do drop ins, camping, remote trips in Alaska, all the same to me. The gun I carry depends on the critter I plan to encounter. 32 H&R magnum for the Harley vest, baby 40 S&W in the car, 10 mm for crackheads and pot farmers while camping and canoeing in the mountains of NC (ever see Deliverance?), 45-70 guide gun and/or S&W 500 for certain trips to Alaska. I trust 4 legged critters far more than 2 legged critters.

    With that said, most folks fear bears too much and the media sensationalizes the rare attacks in the same way they do shark attacks. Most bears are just doing their thing and seeing them in the wild should add to your trip, not detract from it. However, I do appreciate your concerns since you are taking your daughter. I tend to pack more heat on Alaska trips for the same reason (my wife). But I am honest enough to admit the truth, we fear bears far more than we should. The more time I spend around them, the more this is confirmed.

    Dang lower 48'ers. ha ha..


    -Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  3. #3
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Default Learn about bears first

    You don't need a bear defense gun for most of Alaska and the 2 you have won't work anyway.Get some good bear behavior education. The following link will take you to one of the better free online training video series. The info in this series from BC Canada is spot on. Sit down with your daughter and watch them together. It will ease a lot of your anxiety about bears, who are for the most part pretty easy to get along with in the wild.

    http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfd/Library...s/bib22777.htm

    With that knowledge in hand you'll be able to deal with nearly every bear you'd possibly run into. For that one in a thousand bear, keep your bear spray on your belt, strong side, just like you'd carry a pistol. You need to be able to 'draw & shoot' the bear spray just as quickly.

    The pocket airhorn is an excellent tool as well. It can not only be used for emergency signaling, but they are extremely effective in "bear education". If you have a bear that is showing signs of curiosity about you, most often a single long blast of an airhorn will quickly send them heading the other way. It's a very underratted device that is extremely effective. Also pretty good for walking through thick wilderness and giving a toot every couple minutes. Just about impossible to sneak up on a bear when you couple regular loud conversation with a few airhorn blasts.All this said, chances are that you won't see a single bear during your visit. That's just the way it goes.

    Good luck!
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

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    "paddle faster boys...I hear banjo music"

    Thanks for the advice. I don't like to be hit with the airhorn, experienced several times thanks to good friends, and figured a bear wouldn't like it either. I really hope I do see some just for the experience, just don't want any personal contact...

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    ....

    With that knowledge in hand you'll be able to deal with nearly every bear you'd possibly run into. For that one in a thousand bear, keep your bear spray on your belt, strong side, just like you'd carry a pistol. You need to be able to 'draw & shoot' the bear spray just as quickly.

    The pocket airhorn is an excellent tool as well. It can not only be used for emergency signaling, but they are extremely effective in "bear education". If you have a bear that is showing signs of curiosity about you, most often a single long blast of an airhorn will quickly send them heading the other way. It's a very underratted device that is extremely effective. Also pretty good for walking through thick wilderness and giving a toot every couple minutes. Just about impossible to sneak up on a bear when you couple regular loud conversation with a few airhorn blasts.All this said, chances are that you won't see a single bear during your visit. That's just the way it goes.

    Good luck!
    I would concur with JOAT. I typically carry bear spray but if in Brownie territory I carry a air horn as well. A gun is too clunky and more work. Everybody should employ non lethal methods first, so you end up carrying all three and you will never use option number 3, leaving you having to clean number three for nothing.

    I have seen a lot of bears while fishing, brownie, blackies, even a glacier bear (blue one). Most of the time they arent interested in you and I have literally had them fall asleep after gorging on salmon a hundred yards away. I give them the space, it is technically their river and I am just visiting. Treat them with respect and 98% of the time you wont have any issues. Let them know you are there and most of the time they will either leave or continue fishing.

    Every once an a while you run into a feisty one particularly if cubs are nearby. I have found in most of those occasions a airhorn is all you need as the audio assault on their ears usually makes them think twice. If they are still persistent then a quick jolt to their olfactory senses and burning associated with bear spray will send them running. But honestly if you tried number one to let them know and didnt leave forcing option 2 then you are stupid. Just be careful that you are not shooting option 2 into a high wind, that stuff sucks.

    Most of the time I can tell if a bear is fiesty and just leave, but that comes with experience.

    Rule number one in bear country is treat them with respect and give them space.

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    Member mekaniks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by halibutk View Post
    Rule number one in bear country is treat them with respect and give them space.
    Yep. Most of them are just doing what bears do. Respect that, stay out of their space and you will be fine. If you have a good dog for a hiking buddy that helps too....

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    bears are like giant dogs (think big scary dogs), in fact more people get mauled by dogs in Anchorage that get mauled by bears in the world every year. Treat them with respect, make noise and you'll be fine. They don't stalk you like Mt. Lions
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  8. #8

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    1. The air-horn thing never worked for me; it did not even alert bears in my experience. Clanking pots were better.

    2. The bear spray can't be taken on commercial aircraft; and most private pilots will not let you do it on their planes either, many will ask, and if you did carry it, it will have to be in an approved container that the private pilots won't likely have and neither will you. So you're gonna have to shell out $50 for something like bearspray in alaska, then leave it there.

    3. Only certain guns (very large caliber, high velocity handguns; shotgun slugs) and accurately placed shots can take down a bear. Anything else and you are in trouble with an angry, injured bear.

    4. What DOES work is staying the heck away from bears, and by that, I mean 500 feet and more; that means 2 football fields. And that is minimum. Better yet, make it a 1/4 mile (which a running bear can cover in less than a minute, by the way).

    In sum, airhorns, bearspray, and guns are a waste of time and money. Staying far away from bears is a good idea. They aren't very aggressive animals normally.

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    I have been in mountain lion territory before...fresh tracks on the top side of a snow covered blowdown will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up!

    I'm going for the bear spray at Sportsman's warehouse and Jordan wants the air horn. Sounds like if we don't crowd them or surprise them, then should be ok. I really would like to see one on the stream doing their thing since it's one of theose "parts of Alaska" everyone keeps asking me about.


    Sorry Dan, been in SC since 1741 and all those generations have only made it from the Lowcountry to the Upstate...probably take us several thousand years to get up that way.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by SC2079BS View Post
    I have been in mountain lion territory before...fresh tracks on the top side of a snow covered blowdown will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up!

    I'm going for the bear spray at Sportsman's warehouse and Jordan wants the air horn. Sounds like if we don't crowd them or surprise them, then should be ok. I really would like to see one on the stream doing their thing since it's one of theose "parts of Alaska" everyone keeps asking me about.


    Sorry Dan, been in SC since 1741 and all those generations have only made it from the Lowcountry to the Upstate...probably take us several thousand years to get up that way.
    Look: you simply cannot bring that bear spray on the commercial plane; your luggage and carryons will be checked, if you're lucky it will only be removed (100% chance of this); if you're not lucky they will pull you off the plane and give you a lecture. I'm not even sure about the air horn and bringing that thing on a commercial plane and sure hope you don't start bleeping it in campgrounds where there are other people. Freaking annoying, and doesn't work. Try a bear bell.

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    Member power drifter's Avatar
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    There was a thread about this not long ago and liked the idea that some are starting to carry a marine flare. Looked like a better choice than bear spray. At least local pilots will let you have it onboard.

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    steve, going to buy it all at Sportman's Warehouse in Wasilla. The spray is $31, the air horn is $9 but they have a $20 coupon in The Milepost, so I'll waste $21. On the other hand, I would never get over not having something if we ran into a worst case scenario.

    I've already been pulled out of line, scolded and had TSA confiscate a can of gun cleaning spray from my locked gun case, so I know how they do things. Probably on some watch list as I type this...

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    Member DRIFTER_016's Avatar
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    We had a can explode on our DC3 one time.
    Pretty scary deal when the pilots or anyone else on board can't see a thing.
    That was before they were outlawed on planes (probably the reason they were outlawed).
    The only safe way to transport bear spray on a plane is in the float of a float plane.

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    Member FNG IN AK's Avatar
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    Flew ERA Alaska, ANC to Kodiak, for a 2-day business trip in May. Planned a few hours fishing, so called ERA to ask about carrying bear spray in checked luggage. Not only told that it was OK, but told in a tone indicating that it's common practice and I must be a cheechako for even having asked. I checked again at the airport, before boarding. No problem.

    Suprised me, actually.

  15. #15

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    If you fly with a real bush pilot that takes guys fishing, chances are he either has a dry bag or an old ammo container to put your bear spray in. Worst case is they put it in the floats which is fine they just get a little wet.

    Every bush pilot i have flown with ask where your bear spray is so he can put it in his bear spray container or int he floats. Most of them expect you to have it. As mentioned you will have to buy it up here.

    I had one guy give me one on his last day fishing cause he couldn't take it home. I gave it to the next "bear snacks" i mean tourists i saw. Hopefully they didnt have to use it and they passed it on to another group.

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Always seems that at least one or two bits of bad advice pops up on these threads. BTW, lots of folks keep assuming you'll be flying out somewhere. You've never said, but exactly where will you be fishing at?

    Been there, done it myself... the pocket air horns DO work to move 90% of bears away. When moving through the wilderness, an air horn will notify 100% of the bears in the area that you are here. Most bears will keep their distance, others may hang around and try to figure out what kind of a bear you are. That's where the talking loudly part comes in. You'll probably never even see these bears, but they will be out there.

    The buffer zone for 99% of all bears will be in the 25-50 yards range. If you find yourself closer than 25, slowly back off. If you're more than 50 and the bear is fully aware of you, you probably won't need to do anything different, but don't get any closer and alter your course away from the bear while keeping it in view. It's not unusual at a salmon stream to have bears wander up within 10-15 yards of you. As long as the bear is going about it's own fishing and you're not doing anything stupid to attract the bear to you (i.e. don't grab your stringer full of fish and run), then the bear and you can co-exist just fine. If you were there first, the majority of the time the approaching bear will leave you alone in your spot and go find his own spot.

    There are exceptions to every rule and there are exceptional bears that break all these rules. Big brown bears are used to everyone getting out of their way. Honor that code if they approach. Just back away while looking down and not making any eye contact. That is a sign of surrender and the bear can feel good about himself and being a big bully. He'll probably just go get his fish and move on.

    Black bears that approach are of greater concern. Generally the black bears are the "chickens" and will run away at first contact. If a black bear takes interest in you, it could be sizing you up for dinner. These are amongst the most dangerous bears out there. With this kind of encounter, you must stand your ground. Stand up fully erect or even step up to make yourself larger/taller looking. Yell at the bear like you're scolding a bad dog and wave your arms. If the bear continues to approach, you're going to have to hit him with bear spray so get ready to nail him square in the face when he gets within about 5-7 yards. After you hit him and send him snarling and sneezing back into the brush, you must leave the area quickly. He'll probably come back and the scent of the pepper is actually an attractant to bears.

    Yes, bear spray is affordable and you can buy it at a number of places when you get here. For the record, Alaska Airlines DOES allow pepper spray in the checked baggage. Obviously you can't have any pepper spray in a passenger compartment. The TSA/FAA imposed rule is that you can't transport any compressed gas container that contains more than 4oz and defense sprays must be less than a 2% concentration of the active ingredient. Most bear spray canisters exceed these thresholds.

    I guarantee that you'll be able to sell your can of bear spray to just about anyone at the end of your trip. Offer it up at half-price or whatever and you'll pass it on to someone else who could carry it for awhile. Please don't take it to the airport and turn it in to TSA. It will then get destroyed. Better to pass it along to others who may benefit from it.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

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    Not flying anywhere once I land at Anchorage because I can't convince the kid that flying small planes is FUN! Dad had a Champ and a Cub and I flew sailplanes but she won't budge on the small plane thing and I don't want to spend $600 on a fly-out just to have it ruin the whole trip. So, I'll have to wait till next trip to hop a puddle jumper ride (((((

    I was going to give them 50-75yds and leave inside that. Lots of good information for me to think on over the next few weeks. Shoot, if anyone wants the spray or the horn, they can have them. I'll be done with it by Friday (26th) or Saturday (27th) in the Valdez/Anchorage area so shoot me a message...first reponse can have it.

  18. #18
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    I'll be in Valdez on those dates...
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

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    Great info on those videos JOAT. Hawaiians don't see many bears

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    Wrong place...be in Seward, not Valdez...sorry JOAT, sent the pm before I saw my mistake...

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