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Thread: Bear Spray

  1. #1

    Default Bear Spray

    I am relatively new to alaska.. can anyone tell me how effective bear spray is... I was told that this subject was taboo but I cant imagine that it would be

  2. #2
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    It's not a "taboo" subject at all. Simply be prepared to hear a LOT of folks provide their opinions stating that guns are better.

    Bear spray, when used properly, will work most of the time. Get training and learn about bear behavior and how to venture into bear country. Avoidance is always the best option.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  3. #3
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    First of all, welcome to the forum



    I agree with JOAT's comments above.


    I prefer guns, but that does not make it right for everyone. Good camping practices, making noise in dense areas, keeping a clean camp, limited smelly foods in camp, giving bears their space, etc... are far more important. And for the most part, are all that are required. But there are times, when that is not enough. "Bad bears" or what ever you want to call them, exist. Below is a response I posted to a recent similar discussion. It may offer some insights for you.


    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. In both instances, the bears were coming towards me and it was dusk or night. My wife and I take remote float trips in Alaska each year and this is the setting for the majority of my experiences. 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 a 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. Consider the 4 lb electric fence from www.udap.com . 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.





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    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

    Default Using the voice

    Yeah, I'm probably gonna get some interesting responses but, in the several instances where I had a potentially toothy situation I talked to them. Human voice alone can be an effective defense. You need to know how to say whatever you're going to say. You can say anything at all, if you use the right tone of voice. If that failed, which it didn't, I'd pull the trigger. Of course, I might have been lucky, but that's a big part of anything.

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    #1 Bear Attacks, Their Causes and Avoidance, by Steve Herrero. (or something similar).

    #2 If you educate yourself and you don't want to see a Bear, you most likely won't....If you see a Bear, more then likely you will be fine.....If a Bear attacks you will most likely survive it.................if you get shot with a SW 500 or a 12 guage slug you most likely will not survive.

    #3 If you're not going to carry a 500 or at a minimum a 12 guage, and if you're not going to invest alot of time in practice, then don't carry a firearm.

    #4 The question is not what is the best defense, the question how can I best be safe hunting, camping, fishing in Bear Country.

    #5 You will get a ton of opinions

    Oops....to answer your question, have not personally witnessed it being used on a bear...........but one word of advice, leave the safety pin in place, because I know it works on fishermen.

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    I have used all three methods above. When fishing, hiking, etc I carry by .44 mag revolver on a chest holster. when out with my daughters (5 and 3 yo) i carry spray. i have never been charged by a bear or pulled and fired my revolver under stress, so i am more comfortable with spray, as i don't want to have there be an accident and my daughter gets shot. i practice bear drills with my daughters, and they know what to do if we encounter one and i give them the command. on a float trip this summer,we had a brown bear come across the river to take a better look at what we were cooking up. he came closer and closer and we simply shouted and talked to him, and after a couple of minutes, it dawned on him that he should look elsewhere and he turned around. different methods for different situations, that's how i look at it.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2PawsRiver View Post

    #3 If you're not going to carry a 500 or at a minimum a 12 guage, and if you're not going to invest alot of time in practice, then don't carry a firearm.
    #3. That's not based on good research. There are many documented instances of lesser calibers being used against bears with successful results.

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    You;'re right there are, heck you could most likely stick a .22 mag in his ear and touch one off and, it would be effect..............just not sure if I want to hang my hat on it.

    I think #5 applies here.

  9. #9
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    I think you should carry the most powerful firearm you can shoot accurately and safely handle. If that is a 44 mag, so be it. If it is a S&W 500, even better. If it is a Remington 870 with 18.5" barrel, fine. But don't bother carrying something that will wound a bear with no realistic chance at killing it (and killing it quickly). That would be comparable to putting gas on a fire. Lots of calibers are capable of mortally wounding a bear. The question is, what caliber will mortally wound a charging bear before it gets to you. Nothing to take lightly.
    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.

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    http://www.absc.usgs.gov/research/br...epperspray.htm

    That's a link to research done by Tom Smith, USGS biologist, on bear spray effectiveness and background on how it can, and sometimes doesn't work.

    Another consideration, for a couple of reasons, is how many people are in your backcountry group. First, bear incidents with groups of people larger than 3-4 are rare. Second, if you have several people, especially kids, in a group firearm storage becomes more of an issue as does assuring that your field of fire is clear of people.

    All that said, I'm usually in the woods with nothing or bear spray, and occasionally a 12g w/slugs.

  11. #11
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    Default I agree

    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    It's not a "taboo" subject at all. Simply be prepared to hear a LOT of folks provide their opinions stating that guns are better.

    Bear spray, when used properly, will work most of the time. Get training and learn about bear behavior and how to venture into bear country. Avoidance is always the best option.
    I have been dealing with brown and black bears for a living for years. Used all methods, i.e. shotgun, pistol, and pepper spray. All have there places, but JOAT says it best. 99% of my encounters, I used pepper spray effectively..

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    .

    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.

    .
    Aww, c'mon now Dan... scared to death tree huggers? Unskilled or trigger happy due to irrational fear. Sounds very steriotipic, like something I would expect from Archey Bunker.

    I am neither a tree hugger, nor scared of bears. When I first started using the same country griz used I was a quite nervous (another word for fearful) at times. So I got a Redhawk 41 for protection, well actually peace of mind because I knew the chances of me stopping a close charging bear with a handgun were about nil. I figured I might get one into it before it reached me, then maybe be able to put one in it's head while it was gnawing on me.

    Anyway, I have since become quite accustom to traveling and living in griz country and I used to not carry a firearm or spray without any fear. Knowing how to act in bear country is the best preventative measure against a bad incident with a bear. However, I have decided to start carrying spray with me because my frequent trips into bear country increase my odds of a possibly unfriendly encounter and I would rather not become a statistic or needing a lot of plastic surgery.

    As for shooting skill, I may not be the best but I am better than average. I've shot two antelope on the dead run (55 mph) with first shot from my 7mm and dropped them in their tracks. My average skeet scor after my first (and last) season was 23-24. And I earned my expert small arms ribbon in the AF shooting a 38 and 9mm. The later wasn't a big challange but I almost always had the best scores in the class. So, I consider myself both very knowledgable and proficient with firearms.

    That being said, I feel a lotbetter about stopping a bear with UDAP than a hand gun.

  13. #13
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    .

    I prefer guns, but that does NOT make it right for everyone.

    Below is a response I posted to a recent SIMILAR discussion. It MAY offer some insights for you.

    Montanabearspray,

    You should read more thoroughly before you respond.

    After reading your post, I agree that you are better off with a can of pepper spray.

    Also, I can tell you are a small fellow by the argumentative undertones in your post









    .
    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.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    Montanabearspray,

    You should read more thoroughly before you respond.

    .

    Dan, First off, my handle is MontanaRifleman, not Montanabearspray. Some refer to me as Montana, MR or by my name, Mark. You can call me a lot of things, but please be respectful and dont play games with my handle. It's not becomming of good character which I know you have.

    Next, my reply was to your stereotypic statement regarding tree huggers and folk who are too frightened to shoot straight, which is all too often used to label those who carry bear spray instead of guns. Stick to the facts.

    Cheers,

    Mark

  15. #15
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Mark aka MontanaRifleman aka Montana aka MR,

    The point I am making is that the previously posted message was directed to the other guys treehugger friends. So it was not "stereotypic" it was literal in its original context. I made it extremely clear that this was from a RECENT SIMILAR post.


    And I was just kidding with you on the Mtbearspray bit. I did not realize how seriously you took your "handle".

    You are definitely not a treehugger. Wound up way too tight for that.


    We are all friends here




    .
    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.

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    Mark aka MontanaRifleman aka Montana aka MR,

    The point I am making is that the previously posted message was directed to the other guys treehugger friends. So it was not "stereotypic" it was literal in its original context. I made it extremely clear that this was from a RECENT SIMILAR post.


    And I was just kidding with you on the Mtbearspray bit. I did not realize how seriously you took your "handle".

    You are definitely not a treehugger. Wound up way too tight for that.


    We are all friends here




    .
    Dan, my appologies if I miss understood you. That type of verbage comes up way too often in this debate and has nothing to do with the facts.

    And being wound up tight is good for reflexes in bear country

    Cheers

  17. #17
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post

    And being wound up tight is good for reflexes in bear country.

    If the wind and bear are coming from the same direction, you will need them





    .
    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.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    I think you should carry the most powerful firearm you can shoot accurately and safely handle. If that is a 44 mag, so be it. If it is a S&W 500, even better. If it is a Remington 870 with 18.5" barrel, fine. But don't bother carrying something that will wound a bear with no realistic chance at killing it (and killing it quickly). That would be comparable to putting gas on a fire. Lots of calibers are capable of mortally wounding a bear. The question is, what caliber will mortally wound a charging bear before it gets to you. Nothing to take lightly.
    OK, now back to the discussion...

    Just how reliable is a hand gun... even a 500? The bigger the cartridge and the smaller the bear the better the chances of stopping the bear, generally speaking. However, the vast majority of bear hunters usually hunt in pairs (or more) and are usually carrying a 300 mag or bigger. Bear hunting guides (the pros who do it for a living) are usually armed to the teeth with a 375, 416, 45/70, etc. Way bigger than a handgun and a lot easier to aim and hold on target and shooting 300-400 gr bullets at a lot higher speed than a handgun. Why is this? Because the effects of lead on bears is notoriously unpredictable and the general philosophy of most experienced guides and hunters is to use as much firepower as possible to prevent a bad day hunting.

    I read a story on this site about a hunter and a guide that came upon a large brownie at close range. The hunter shot the bear with his 338 and the bear acted like nothing happened and stood up. The guide fired his 375 (for some reason, guides almost always have bigger guns than their clients, go figure?) and hit the bear squarely, knocking it down. The bear got back up This same sequence with hunter shooting 338 and nothing happening and guide knocking bear down and it getting up occured two more times. The 3rd shot form the guides 375 finally finished the bear. It took 6 shots, 3 from a 338 and 3 from a 375 to stop this bear. So, how do I feel with a pea shooter like a 44 or even a 500? No thanks, I'll take spray.

    Spray (especially UDAP) has proven to be very effective against bears. Handguns used against bears have shown to be about 66% effective, about 2 out of 3. Not bad odds, but then again, not real good either.

    From the facts I've seen, I''l go with the spray.

  19. #19
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default BS

    Just because a hunter and a guide are out bear hunting together, doesn't mean that either one of them are a good shot. They could be horrible shots for all you know. Do you automatically assume that everyone driving a car does it well? Hell, maybe you do, but others should get some meaning from this. For a "stick to the facts" guy, you are laying it on pretty thick. I seriously doubt that six center mass shots were fired, irregardless of what they might have said after the fact.


    The statistic on bear spray being so effective was no doubt done by a bunch of little treehuggers in Montana and Canada whom are mentally, emotionally, and physically incapable of defending themselves with a firearm. Fragile flowers they are. I was a prison guard for 5 years, and the pepper spray is not that effective on convicts. I doubt it is more effective on bears than it is on convicts.


    Everyone knows that you can make a study show what you want it to show. Just move this here, move that there, add a variable here, drop one there. You know, much like how these economic stimulus plans are formulated.


    I have read up on the studies myself. What the treehugger does not tell most people is that he counted every bear shot with an air rifle, 22, 32, 38, 9 mm, and all the other crap that poorly prepared people take for bear protection. What effect does shooting a bear have with a 38? A double dose of him wanting to rip you apart. Gas on the fire as I said in my first post here. That is in the "study" that suggest firearms are 66% effective. The same study probably only tested the bear spray on calm days too. F&#*$* treehuggers.


    WANT A REAL "STUDY":

    Do one where only 44 mag and up is counted.

    Lets be sure to test the bear spray up in the arctic in mid Sept when the winds can blow 20-30 mph regularly.

    Do the test in Alaska on 400-700 lb bears rather than the little black and brown bears it was tested on.

    Now break out the bear spray and show me how effective it is.

    I am no physicist, but I am quite certain that my 440 gr bullet that comes out of my S&W 500 at 2,600 feet per second will penetrate the wind better than an aerosol spray.

    Ask the guy doing the study, what the hell you are supposed to do when the bear that just got sprayed with pepper spray comes back. For anyone that does not know, this is often the case. They get a face full of pepper, run off, shake it off, and come back pissed off!! This was left out of the study I am sure. So my question.... WHAT DO YOU DO???

    And the last part of the test, comparing spray to firearms, lets see how long it takes to reload?




    .
    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.

  20. #20

    Default

    The statistic on bear spray being so effective was no doubt done by a bunch of little treehuggers in Montana and Canada whom are mentally, emotionally, and physically incapable of defending themselves with a firearm. Fragile flowers they are.
    Not stereotyping??? Do you realy need to type stuff like this to defend your view? Give it a rest, I'm sure we all know you're a big tough guy, especially with your 500 S&W.


    The study was done out of BYU and the study popualation from AK. Yes, some were using smaller cal and some not proficent with their handgun. They did take into account environmental conditions with spray and wind was almost never a factor. BTW, UDAP shoots a 70 mph spray.

    440 gr bullet @ 2600 fps out of a 500??? Now that is imperssive... way more than the factory loads show... 275 gr @ 1660 fps, 350 gr @1400 fps, It's amazing your 500 shoots a lot bigger bullet than a 375 RUM which shoots a 350 gr bullet @ about the same velocity, especially since the 375 case is about twice the size. But maybe it does? I'm not an expert on the 500 S&W. At those bullet weights and velocity, it would put a serious jolt on most people's wrist, but maybe folks who aren't 6'6" and 300 lbs should just stay out of bear country... fragile flowers that they are. Hey, ya wanna come mountain climbing with me someday? I dont use ropes

    I've been on this topic numerous times, and numerous times I have challanged anyone to show me where anyone who used bear spray to deter a bear was seriuosly injured. And no one has yet showed me one single case, and no one has showed me a case where UDAP was used that there was any injury at all, wind and all. The facts please, let's stick to the facts and leave the emotional frail tree hugger stuff out of it.

    Oh, and the study included black bears, griz and polar bears, like I said, it was with Alaskans.

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