Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: A few more questions

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Coloma MI
    Posts
    42

    Default A few more questions

    I post this here as we are headed for AK flyfishing....with that said, Mods feel free to move this thread if it should belong somewhere else.....

    We are planning to fish the Russian with a fly up and a 4 day walk out. that said, alot of what I have read is, it is not if we run into bears, it is when, while fly fishing this area.

    My question is should we carry protection and should that protection be spray or a side arm or neither? Transportation from the lower 48 to AK is not a concern as is carry laws, 3 out of 8 of the group are LEO's, and the rest of us have CCW's. We have the 3 pistol grip 12 Ga, and 3 SW 500's. This is not a thread about what is effective but more to the point of "do we actually need the firearms?" I have spoke to a couple of people on this board to this exact point and have received a couple of different responses.

    Honestly, carring a firearm is a hassle in my book. Either slung on the shoulder while trying to cast or a 500 in the holster at the ready is a pain. Do we really need that as part of our gear? I understand that their will be encouters but being bear smart, is that enough?

    Now, just for grins, 3 out of the group have fished this trip in prior years. We have 5 that have never been to AK, and I am one of them. The last thing that I want to see happen is a false charge where someone takes a bear out of fear and the repercussions that go along with it. But we still want to be safe. Where is the line in the sand while flyfshing this river system? I would think that pepper spray would be a bit less harmful but is that just seasoning or is that actually effective and at the cost of pepper spary, is it needed?

    Mark

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Juneau
    Posts
    2,127

    Default

    Everyone doesn't need a firearm, but there should be at least one if not a few. The threat of bear aggression during salmon runs in remotish areas is pretty slight, they have better things to do and better things to eat than you, or your pancakes. You'll hear the whole range of responses to this but I have spent a lot of time by myself or in two's on salmon rivers with lots of bears and rarely a pucker and never a false charge, much less a real one. If you have 3 to 4 people in a group...you will be even better off...stand together and look big. And, that thing that went bump in the night is probably a porcupine, and don't get rattled until you hear your pots and pans and coolers clanging. Relax and enjoy and leave most of the heaters at home.

    My dad came up from Wisco and floated the Togiak this year with my gear (I was out of town....nice guy eh?) and his buddies insisted on bringing their pieces, no matter what I told them. After it was all said and done, they wished they had just brought one for the group of three and saved the ten pounds for beer (that's another 12 pack in case you don't know how much it weighs)

  3. #3
    Member danattherock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    5,608

    Default

    I carry my S&W 500 and Marlin guide gun 45-70 on all my float trips. I would not come to any place in Alaska where bears are likely to be without the revolver at least.


    With that said, there is a lot of judgement that comes in to play. Don't let your fear cause you to shoot prematurely. It is very easy to be scared by a bear, in close proximity to you, even though that bear would not harm you. Keep the mindset that when you see a bear in the wild, you are trespassing on its property. That bear has the right of way and at all times your respect. Big difference in fear and respect. Fear, while a way to protect us from harm in some instances, also can trigger irrational reactions of violence that often put us in a more dangerous position than we were actually in to begin with. Respect on the other hand, will never lead you astray. Knowing whether to be scared or respectful is not as easy as it sounds. This is where cool nerves come in. Easier said than done.


    Been in two near shoot situations myself. One at 22 yards and one at 30 yards. I am 6'6" 300 lbs and a very skilled marksman. Familar with bears and their behavior. I have seen around 40 brown bears at close distances in the wild on float trips and other ventures in Alaska. Not being cocky, even though it sounds this way, just pointing out that I can handle my own. And I was scared as school girl. I won't even try to lie about it. Until you have shined a flashlight into the eyes of a 600 lb animal at 20 paces, it is hard to predict how you will feel. So bring a gun if you are proficient with it and keep your cool. If you can do that, I would suggest bringing it without reservation.


    For your tree hugger friends, or someone scared to death of a bear attack, have them buy some spray in Anchorage. They are either unskilled with firearms, or trigger happy due to irrational fear. In either case, not good candidates for carrying a firearm in bear country.


    For what it is worth, my line in the sand is 20 yards assuming the bear is coming my way. Tell your tree hugger friends about the "play dead" and "many charges are fake charges". My life (and my wifes) are worth too much for me to find out in this manner. If a bear is within 20 yards of you and coming towards you, it is time to be proactive in my opinion. With this being said, had my "line in the sand" been 30 yards, I would have shot two bears that intended no harm to me at all. That would be a lot to live with.


    So give lots of thought to these issues beforehand so you can rely on instincts if the situation ever arrises. Get out and shoot the revolver/shotgun a lot prior to the trip. Read up on bear behavior (lots of books out there), and above all else, use good common sense. Give them their space, make noise as you travel in dense areas, keep a very clean camp, etc... This will keep you more safe in bear country than being careless and carrying a firearm.




    .
    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.

  4. #4
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Eagle River/ Juneau
    Posts
    5,154

    Default

    I would reccomend not planning on fishing during the hike out as the trail is not very close to the river at all, and the trails along the river will pretty much all be bear trails.

    I don't carry ever, might have pepper spray once in a while but never a gun.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  5. #5

    Default

    Had a run in with a bear at twenty feet with my two kids and wife next to and behind me while on the Russian. Later when I was able to look at it objectively, he wasn't interested in me or mine in the least. One, maybe two guns in the group, Counter Assault or UDAP spray for the rest.

  6. #6
    Member Scottsum's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Kenai, Ak
    Posts
    395

    Default I rarely walk in the woods without it.

    I carry at least my .44 with 330 grain "hot loads" every time I hike anywhere up here. I've pulled it and pointed it at bears huffing and coming my way, but I've never had to shoot. Most of the time, they just want you to get out of their favorite fishing hole or you startled them and they're just rying to show you who's boss. I saw 7 bears in two days at close range on the upper Kenai last year, but none of them wanted anything but their fair share of the bounty. Still, I rarely travel very far from the boat without my pistol, and walking, you just never know when you're going to come around a corner and be unintentionally stuck between mom and a couple of cubs.

    My recommendation is defintely to have at least a few firearms in the group, and when you're hiking, stay together and make noise. (fishing is safer IMO becuase you're not likely to startle a bear or get between it and it's young on the stream)

    I second fishkill's advice.

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Wasilla, AK
    Posts
    147

    Default

    As you can see, lots of opions. I have to agree with a couple firearms in the group and personally I think everyone should have pepper spray. Recent studies have shown it to be highly effective when used correctly. The trail at the Russian is over grown, like a tunnel in some places. Bears, like people will often follow the path of least resistance, ie. the trail or the river. The bears will not normally attack unless they are protecting something (cubs, moose kill, etc..) or they are startled. I had a buddy who was combat fishing, leave the lower Russian River, walk 5 yards to the trail, and popped out right between mom and the cubs. He got about 10 feet and the bear was on him. Tore him a new one (buttocks and shoulder) and then left him there to tend the cubs. People all over the river, broad daylight, on the trail. He has recovered nicely. Just realize, you can't protect someone else at a distance with pepper spray. All the other advice given in the previous posts IMO is very valid.

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    soldotna
    Posts
    527

    Default

    Pepper spray is easy to carry, so I'd have everyone armed with a can. I'd also have a gun amongst the group; you can pass it around as it gets uncomfortable as long as everyone knows how to use it. I wouldn't go up there without protection... I see bears up there more often than I don't, and I wouldn't feel safe if I wasn't armed with something at least.
    www.akfishology.com

    fishing isn't about life or death... it's more important than that.

  9. #9
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Eagle River/ Juneau
    Posts
    5,154

    Default

    Do what you feel comfortable with but don't worry that much about bears once you get away from the combat zone with the yahoos who walk up to the bears they are pretty skittish. Make lots of noise (as in talk noisily when you are traveling, those bells do squat) keep your camp clean and you'll be fine. I've never had a problem with a bear on the russian except for once when a bear spooked a huge rainbow feeding on a PMD hatch that I was about to catch... Stupid bear.

    Again do what you feel comfortable with, I understand that having a firearm in bear country is a big confindence booster, if I could afford a half decent pistol I'd probably carry once in a while, especially on a few choice creeks that'll remain nameless and when I'm fishing by myself. Don't let carrying a firearm make you feel protected though, follow bear safety rules. People with guns get mauled about as much if not more than people w/o guns (probably cause everyone carries guns up here)

    Also there are very rarely bear attacks on groups of more than three people most people who get attacked are solo and less commonly in pairs.

    When I have a firearm its a shotgun with 2 firecracker shells followed by slugs, I only have the shotty around fish counting camp where we have to condition the bears to not come around. The basic idea is, anytime a bear comes close enought to shoot with a cracker (about 10 yards) shoot it, they don't bother us much after that. If you do bring guns consider rubber slugs or bean bags as your first shot when fishing or around camp so if a bear is poking around you can scare it away fast (pots and pans work just as well).
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Juneau
    Posts
    2,127

    Default

    Getting most rubber bullets and bean bag rounds are controlled for law enforcement/government agencies....it may be difficult to get those and it's just something else to bring....bring your smarts, and don't worry about putting anything in your magazine except for big lethal rounds....if I'm pulling the trigger, I mean it. If the situation calls for a non lethal round, you have more than enough time to put one in the gun, on the flipside, if things are serious, do you want one more thing to worry about.....probably not.

  11. #11
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    5,594

    Default

    I'd say with all the hassles of airlines and TSA, leave the gun at home and pick up some pepper spray when you get here. The odds of a bad bear encounter are pretty slim.

  12. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Coloma MI
    Posts
    42

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Catch It View Post
    Getting most rubber bullets and bean bag rounds are controlled for law enforcement/government agencies....it may be difficult to get those and it's just something else to bring.........probably not.
    Sorry, but we do not have that issue..Like I said out of our group there are several of us are LEO's, again transporting is not an issue.....we have the backgound to carry on the plane.

    But do we need it?

    I guess I am liking the advise that carry pepper spray, pull the trigger prematualy, no harm no foul,,,I guess that is was I was looking for.

    Mark

  13. #13
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Eagle River/ Juneau
    Posts
    5,154

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Adjusted3 View Post
    But do we need it?
    No,

    but some people feel like they do because they are scared. There are a few places I wouldn't go without a 12 gauge or a heavy rifle but the Russian River isn't one of them.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  14. #14
    Member danattherock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    5,608

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Adjusted3 View Post

    But do we need it?

    Need? Hmm... well, I guess not when you get right down to it.

    One could also say you don't need to wear a seat belt. You don't need extra fuel in the plane. You don't need spare batteries for the gps and flashlight. You don't need a repair kit for the raft. You don't need a few days extra food on a float trip. You don't need a first aid kit.


    You picking up what I am putting down?


    You don't need it till you do





    .
    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.

  15. #15
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Juneau
    Posts
    2,127

    Default Why live in fear.

    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    Need? Hmm... well, I guess not when you get right down to it.

    One could also say you don't need to wear a seat belt. You don't need extra fuel in the plane. You don't need spare batteries for the gps and flashlight. You don't need a repair kit for the raft. You don't need a few days extra food on a float trip. You don't need a first aid kit.


    You picking up what I am putting down?


    You don't need it till you do.

    If these guys have some leo's with them, I'd presume they can handle a firearm in a fast situation better than the common fisher/hunter and as such should probably not be too freaked out if things get hairy. That said as long as there are a few guns around things will be fine and to get all amped up about bears in AK just proliferates an image that needs to go away. As far as over packing anything, make it first aid supplies, decent food, good clothing and lots o common sense and conservativism. Keep your eyes and ears open, enjoy yourselves, and enjoy the bears, they are beautiful. Nearly none of them are a threat, and properly handled, even those can be deterred by using your head. A bear a hundred yards away is not on your track looking to munch on your head. I'm no Treadwell, but I think the danger is overblown and planning logistics should focus on other things that really are percentage issues, like weather, bugs, injury, and weather.

    And seriously, dont worry about the beanbags, rubber bullets, cracker shells etc. They are most important in a set camp where a bear starts figuring out a free meal over time and needs some negative association...not on a moving trip where bear contact is going to be intermittent and probably different bears each time. Bring lethal, and know your weapons well enough that if you win the bear attack lottery you can put the odds in your favor as best you can. Many a man with a big heater has had his scalp ripped off and never fired around, which tells me a gun doesn't ensure your safety, but, having a clean camp, making noise, staying together, keeping your eyes open....will.

    Ponder this, do you start your daily commute each day with the lingering fear you will be mangled in a wreck? PRobably not, but you subconsciously check your speed, scan your mirrors and keep your head out of your butt...same goes for bears, the rest is largely up to fate.

    So, relax, and enjoy.

  16. #16
    Member danattherock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    5,608

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Catch It View Post

    I'm no Treadwell, but I think the danger is overblown and planning logistics should focus on other things that really are percentage issues, like weather, bugs, injury, and weather.

    .

    Well said man. I have been around lots of bears on float trips in Alaska. Had a few in camp. One walked up on my tent on the Goodnews in 2007 at about 3 am. He looked as scared as I was if that is possible. Never had one do anything aggressive in nature. I carry the 500 S&W and a Marlin Guide Gun but doubt seriously that I will ever need to shoot it. But like I said, you don't need it till you do
    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.

  17. #17
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Coloma MI
    Posts
    42

    Default

    guys, your responses are right on point... this is exactly the info we were looking for. decisions dicisions....

    Honestly, I don't want to carry in the back country. I like the suggestions though.

    Mark

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •