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Thread: Bear Protection: another perspective

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    Member Boreal's Avatar
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    Default Bear Protection: another perspective

    Hello all,
    I am curious what you all have to say about bear protection. Specifically, the efficacy of a handgun vs. bear spray. I apologize if you have all weighed in on this topic, but I have found more discussions in the gun forums nay-saying the effectiveness of bear spray. Given the new journal article that will be published in the Journal of Wildlife Management that studied the efficacy of guns vs. bear spray, and concludes that bear spray is more effective, I am curious what you all use and recommend for bear protection in the woods.

    Thanks.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    The simple truth is that there is no real way to do the test in a controlled environment. With spray it is probably easier to get a hit on the bear for the average person. That said a bullet through the central nervous system of a bear will bring about an immediate end to the confrontation. In the end it is about the user and what makes them comfortable so they can get to the point of enjoying the outdoors.

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    Member Boreal's Avatar
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    Thanks LuJon, that's exactly my point in asking. Given that you can't test in a controlled situation, a good alternative is to survey those with experience to find out what they use and why. Given the strengths and weaknesses of each method, which do people prefer to bring with them? Myself, I'm competent with a rifle or shutgun, less experienced with a revolver, and trying to figure out the best way to keep me, my wife, and my six year old safely enjoying being outdoors as much as possible.

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    the thing I always question about these studies is how can you test all the factors involved. First each and every case can be different meaning what is the bears intent in the first place,is he just curious,a littled annoyed with you,is he protecting his food source,is he startled,is she protecting her cubs,is he/she old and cant catch food so looking for something new,or just plain pissed of and just feels like killing you.I have spent a lot of time in bear country and I do see a lot of instances where bear spray could work but I also believe that if the intent of the bear is to kill you there is not any spray in the world going to work,well unless the spray is lead of course.
    I do thing the spray is a good idea in certain situations and certainly better then nothing.

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear View Post
    is he just curious,a littled annoyed with you,is he protecting his food source,is he startled,is she protecting her cubs,is he/she old and cant catch food so looking for something new,or just plain pissed of and just feels like killing you.
    These factors are applicable to the human part of the equation, as well. It's a common theme amongst those who spend lots of time in bear country, the right body language can prevent an attack, the wrong provoke it.
    " the stars, the snow, and the fire. These are the books he reads most of all." ~John Haines

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    Quote Originally Posted by cdubbin View Post
    These factors are applicable to the human part of the equation, as well. It's a common theme amongst those who spend lots of time in bear country, the right body language can prevent an attack, the wrong provoke it.
    you are absolutely correct there.I have many an hour in close proximity to bears and how you carry yourself is very important...

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    There's no reason not to bring both a firearm and can of spray while in bear country. The question is, which do you reach for first when you have a close encounter with a bruin? As Bear stated above, it depends on the attitude of the bear.

    In my view a gun in the hands of someone who doesn't know how to use it (such as myself) is probably more dangerous than a bear. That being the case, I'll carry spray.

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boreal View Post
    Specifically, the efficacy of a handgun vs. bear spray.
    From the study it states that handguns had an 84% success rate. From one of Tom Smiths prior reports bear spray was calculated to have a 90% success rate.

    In the recent study long arms success rate was 76%. With a difference of 76% and 84% the authors state that there is no stasticical difference between using a long arm or handgun.

    Alrighty then, if a 8% variation between long arms and handguns is not stasticically significant then a 6% difference between handguns and bear spray is also not stastically significant.

    Folks should go to the thread in the hunting forum and open and read the actual study posted in post #7. Skip the number crunching.

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ear-protection

    What is really interesting is that the data set does not include AK DLP data since 2001 due to changes in privacy laws preventing access to the files. Since 2001 the data only includes media articles. A decades worth of data is not included in the study unless it was reported in the media. The study even admits that the media primarily focuses on bear attacks that result in injuries which skews the data set. They cause an eye brow to raise when they discuss the missing DLP data since it will increase the number of dead bears which is a bad thing.

    The study is a good case for how to process data from small data sets and how to determine what piece of data matters to the outcome. As for how it quantifies "rifle" "handgun" "bear spray" vs injury it falls short of reflecting the current state of things, but does provide a good base line. In the end it only matters what you are comfortable with and are willing to use.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boreal View Post
    Hello all,
    I am curious what you all have to say about bear protection. Specifically, the efficacy of a handgun vs. bear spray. I apologize if you have all weighed in on this topic, but I have found more discussions in the gun forums nay-saying the effectiveness of bear spray. Given the new journal article that will be published in the Journal of Wildlife Management that studied the efficacy of guns vs. bear spray, and concludes that bear spray is more effective, I am curious what you all use and recommend for bear protection in the woods.

    Thanks.
    Use the search function. There will be people who carry guns, bear spray, bear bells, and then people who stay far away from any bear. Guns and bear spray are of absolutely no use unless the implements are in the hand of the person at all times, ready to fire, and (with a firearm) the person is a crack marksman and able to hit a dinner plate size target (the head), with a heavy weapon, moving towards you at 30 mph while shooting from the hip. Bear spray - same thing - has to be ready to fire, safety off.

    Facts of life are that most people aren't prepared like this. They have the gun slung over the shoulder, the bearspray somewhere else, they are climbing around with both hands, or in water fishing (and gun/bear spray in the boat, or on a gravel bar). Guns/bear spray does no good. If a bear charges you, and they sometimes do, you just have to hope that it stops and growls instead of pouncing on you and batting you around. You'll find occasional accounts on this website of those who actually have taken down a charging bear on Montague I. (John S, for example), and another who got quite the scratch taking a dump on Kodiak island. There haven't been any reports, at least on this website - of its members, being seriously injured. I think there was a poll a while back that 1/4 of the website members polled, had actually had a DLP.

    Last bear "encounter" I had was a bear eating an unused can of bear spray left unattended in camp in an empty framepack (by another member of party). Made quite the mess and from the looks of what was left, the bear apparently liked the taste.

    All that said - I do NOT like to be around bears. I am of the "stay away" mode of protection first, bear bells second (I never carry spray or firearm).

  10. #10

    Default the fine print

    Quote Originally Posted by stevesch View Post
    Bear spray - same thing - has to be ready to fire, safety off.
    I handed bear spray to a person once. They read all the little instructions in fine print, and then about 10 minutes later looked at me and said "Wouldn't I be a bit chewed up by the time I got done reading this?"
    Dear whatever doesn't kill me, I'm strong enough now. Thanks.

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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    Bear encounters vary significantly. Yes in the worst case scenerio it doesn't really matter the bear will get you, but it isn't really accurate to say all defence of life scenerios happen this way.
    I had a close encounter where I saw the bear well before it saw or smelled me.

  12. #12

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    AK Ray - You are so right....was charged, shot, killed, and put my tag on the black bear. Events like this never get added to the effectiveness of firearms.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tombo View Post
    AK Ray - You are so right....was charged, shot, killed, and put my tag on the black bear. Events like this never get added to the effectiveness of firearms.
    I don't think that you told the guy at BYU that wrote that study, about your experience. His report seemed to know little to nothing about people that have actually shot a charging bear.
    Dear whatever doesn't kill me, I'm strong enough now. Thanks.

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    When you choose an outcome it is easy to "mine" for facts to support that outcome. I have pepper-sprayed my share of "mean" dogs due my fitness activities with the same amazing results but nothing is more effective than a CNS hit from a rifle on any animal.

    I believe the actual person plays the larger part than the type of weapon thus statistics hold no weight unless this is taken into account. Had I not just read a book on bear attacks I probably would have entered the area I was baiting without a round in the chamber and the outcome could have been different.

    Weapons have zero effectiveness until used by a person. If your ineffective your weapon is ineffective, thus most of the studies are worthless propaganda.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boreal View Post
    Hello all,
    I am curious what you all have to say about bear protection. Specifically, the efficacy of a handgun vs. bear spray. I apologize if you have all weighed in on this topic, but I have found more discussions in the gun forums nay-saying the effectiveness of bear spray. Given the new journal article that will be published in the Journal of Wildlife Management that studied the efficacy of guns vs. bear spray, and concludes that bear spray is more effective, I am curious what you all use and recommend for bear protection in the woods.

    Thanks.
    There is a story often heard in a guide's camp that states one can tell the type of bear that left his stool by close examination of the stool. If it contains berry seeds, it's most likely a black. If it contains small bells, and smells of pepper spray, it's very likely a brown or grizzly.

    After having guided grizzly hunters for more than 35--years, I will tell you that my advice to clients was to bring anything larger than .30 caliber. That meant a 338, 35, 375, or 45. Whatever the choice, it had to be able to take out the large bones found in big bears. Handfguns won't do that. I never expected to see a one-shot kill on a large bear, though I've seen several. The idea was to break down the bear so that it is anchored in a place where you want him, not wandering around in thick brush. If you're not bear hunting, but only sightseeing, fishing, or hiking, I suppose a big rifle seems a burden. Weigh that against possibly losing youre life. Worse still, losing the life of your wife, girlfriend, or child.

    I can tell you from experience that almost nothing short of a hand cannon will stop a charging grizz . . . . .

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tombo View Post
    If your ineffective your weapon is ineffective, thus most of the studies are worthless propaganda.......
    .........mostly made by inexperienced liberals......

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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    Or the holier than thou, sure I can do it, but lesser mortals should never attempt it crowd.
    Science has a rich history of proving itself wrong.

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    This is a very good, new and recently released presentation about bear spray and guns. I actually agree with 98% of what the Wild Life Biologists says. And the fact he references Stephan Hererro, probably the world's best bear expert. It's worth watching by anyone who lives in Alaska or plans to visit.
    Here's a link:

    http://youtu.be/PExlT-5VU-Y

    The name of the presentation to try another link if this one does not work is:
    Safety in Bear Country - Dr. Tom Smith - 2012 NOLS Faculty Summit


    But still, given what he says, I still bet, if he was stranded in a remote location, and he had to walk out, I guarantee you if he had a gun, he would take it with him as opposed to leaving it behind.

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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    Been the rounds with Dr. Tom Smith and was unimpressed, no thanks!
    Science has a rich history of proving itself wrong.

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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    http://www.adn.com/2012/07/14/254223...ng-ordeal.html
    "It was kind of trotting around me, and then it would charge and growl," said Jones-Robinson, an English professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. "It charged, and I used my bear spray when it was about four feet away and then I fell with my pack on and dropped the bear spray."
    She said the bear charged at her several times, including once after it tried to attack her dog. That's when she smacked it in the head with her walking stick, which broke. She also attempted to distract it by throwing the package of macaroni and cheese.
    "All I could think about was this bear is so close to me I can see its teeth," she said. "I could have kissed it. I wished I had a gun."
    Science has a rich history of proving itself wrong.

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