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Thread: How likely is a bear encounter, and can I rent a firearm in AK?

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    Default How likely is a bear encounter, and can I rent a firearm in AK?

    I'm headed up to AK the first 3 weeks of August, and will be primarily fishing and hiking on the kenai, and up to denali park. I don't really have any experience with bears, although I'm a hunter and do have experience with firearms. Unfortunately I don't own a suitable sidearm to bring with. Is it possible to rent one in AK, or is it inexorbitantly expensive?

    I plan to make lots of noise as I move, and of course carry little to no food, but I still wonder how likely a bear encounter is...

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    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmbartender View Post
    I'm headed up to AK the first 3 weeks of August, and will be primarily fishing and hiking on the kenai, and up to denali park. I don't really have any experience with bears, although I'm a hunter and do have experience with firearms. Unfortunately I don't own a suitable sidearm to bring with. Is it possible to rent one in AK, or is it inexorbitantly expensive?

    I plan to make lots of noise as I move, and of course carry little to no food, but I still wonder how likely a bear encounter is...
    I wouldn't really worry too much about the bears if you camp and travel smart. Keep a clean camp and make noise when you walk around. Step on sticks and break them as you walk. Talk with others in your group in normal voices, ect.. and you will most likely never see a bear. Enjoy your trip.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I've never heard of a firearms rental place, so that's probably not feasible. Buy some bear spray when you get here, and then follow the previous poster's advice. Keep your campsites clean and make noise, and you should be fine. It's entirely possible that you'll see bears, but highly unlikely that you'll have any problems.

  4. #4

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    thanks for the input guys...is there any brand of bear spray recommended over others? I've heard too that some people tie bells to their shoes to make noise. Sounds kinda silly, but if it keeps the bears out of distance, that's fine with me.

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    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    Most sporting goods stores do sell "bear bells". Kinda like those on a xmas stocking. A string of 4-6 on a piece of strap. I've never worried enough to use them, but alot of hikers do. Just tie them on your pack or belt loop ect... Just them sound of a human voice will generally make them get out of your way and you will seldom ever see one. They spook very easy if they are not on a food source. With that said, where you will need to be most careful is around a stream filled with salmon. In other words, their kitchen table. Even then, just keep your head, talk to them, and slowly back off. Keep a clean camp, and store any food you do have well away from your tent. Alot of tall tales out there, don't let them all go in your head.

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    Member AKRDGRUNNER's Avatar
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    Default Counter Assault/UDAP

    Those two brands of spray have worked very well for me in the past. You can buy them at rei, sportman's warehouse or just about any outdoors store.

    my .02 worth

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    I listened to a talk from a local federal bear expert recently, and according to their research bear bells don't work. The bears don't associate the tinkling sound with people or danger, so they ignore them. At least that's theory. Talking/singing and breaking sticks seem to work well.

    Another interesting statistic is that people with guns who encountered a bear were more than twice as likely to get mauled as people without a gun. It seems a lot of people with guns either aren't as experienced with their firearms as they think, or there's a lot of bad shots out there, or the the guns they were using weren't up to the job. I do know if you wound one, it is less likely to just turn and walk away. Not trying to discourage you from taking a gun, but you should be aware of the options.

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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default I heard

    that those alaskan brown bears like to sprinkle pepper spray on bells for dinner!!

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    Bring a rifle with you rather than a handgun. *Almost* ANY rifle is better than a handgun.

    BTW, you're more likely to have a heart attack while hiking than to have a bear encounter - unless you eat in your tent, have fish smell on your clothes, etc.

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    Default I agree

    Quote Originally Posted by Kenaimike View Post
    Bring a rifle with you rather than a handgun. *Almost* ANY rifle is better than a handgun.

    BTW, you're more likely to have a heart attack while hiking than to have a bear encounter - unless you eat in your tent, have fish smell on your clothes, etc.
    I like 12guage w/ brenekes myself

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    I prefer guns myself, but for your situation, I say get a can of spray when you get up there. Common sense will take you far. Make noise, stay out of the dense brush as much as you can, and enjoy yourself man. I liked the earlier comment about it being more likely that you have a heart attack than a bear attack. Good stuff. Likely very, very, true.
    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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    Member matjpow's Avatar
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    I've never used bells because I worry that it might attract bears. They are curious and they might want to check it out to see if that sound is coming from a food source. The human voice is very distinct and (unless they have been conditioned by someone feeding and talking to the bears) they don't want to have anything to do with people.

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    Just walk through the woods and repeat following very loudly.... "HEEERRRRR BROWNIE BROWNIE BROWNIE"..... If that freaks out your trail companions try this one..... "GET OUTA MY WAY, I'M COMIN THROUGH!! THIS IS MY TRAIL!!!!"

  14. #14
    mriguy
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    Default Spray...

    As stated earlier, the bear spray is VERY effective. You must not panick and use it too early, but it will stop a bear in a full charge. That pepper really burns them, probably because their sense of smell is like 1000 times better than ours.

    That being said, DO NOT test your spray to make sure or just to see how it works. After it is sprayed and sits for a few hours it has the opposite effect. There are videos out there that show a griz licking a log that was sprayed with DAP the day before! That's why it is recommended that each person in the party carry a can, and if one needs to be used, leave the empty can there. Oh, shame on me, I just told you to pollute! Sorry, but that's the advice.

    Or, you could just spray your buddies back pack (assuming you can run faster than he can)!!!!

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mriguy View Post

    That being said, DO NOT test your spray to make sure or just to see how it works.

    !!

    Good point above. I was a prison guard for five years and each time we discharged a can, we had to clean the nozzle with a Q-tip and alchohol. Otherwise the residue left behind will clog the nozzle and render the can useless. Don't test it unless you are prepared to clean the nozzle in a similar way.
    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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    Thanks for all the tips and insights guys, I really appreciate it.

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    Just ensure you can run faster than the slowest person in your group.

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    Default Help with the scary bears.

    My husband and I have lived in Alaska for almost a year now. He is terrified of bears. We live out on some property in Palmer and though we haven't seen any bears this summer our neighbors have. We have bear spray and a 45-70 rifle but he still doesn't like to take walks with me and he won't let me walk by myself. I had to argue quite a bit in order for him to agree to me growing some vegetables and any berries were totally not up for discussion. We have a barbecue but he won't let me use it. Any suggestions on what I can do to get him to calm down? I actually sent him the link that 6XLeech posted a couple weeks ago hoping that it would calm him down. It helped a little bit and we went for one walk but he spent the whole time watching the sides of the trail like a hawk and stopped us twice so he could listen to some noise he heard. We were out for only 15 minutes and haven't been out since. I don't want to wait until winter before I can go for a hike. There are some great trails around our house and I want to enjoy them. I didn't move here so I could be held captive all summer. I understand being respectful and not leaving food around but I think he is way over board. Any ideas?

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    My kid is out right now fishing for silvers armed with a can of Mt. Dew. I grew up that way around here and he will grow up the same way. Bear encounters are very rare and actual maulings are even more rare.

    My husband and I have lived in Alaska for almost a year now. He is terrified of bears. We live out on some property in Palmer and though we haven't seen any bears this summer our neighbors have. We have bear spray and a 45-70 rifle but he still doesn't like to take walks with me and he won't let me walk by myself.
    That's actually really sad. I spent eight years working as a land surveyor in rural Alaska. I packed a gun for about 30% of the time. The rest of the time I carried nothing. In those years I can't remember a single bad bear encounter. I grew up in the Talkeetna area where we have bears around all the time. I fished every day I could as a kid, often out all night long. I will allow my son and daughters to do the same. Never once have I had serious bear trouble. Yep, I've had to run them out of the yard now and then, but it isn't like they are out to get you. Your husband needs some serious help. His fear is a phobia and phobias are not healthy.
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