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Thread: Bear spray failure

  1. #21
    Late this afternoon, coming off the mountain from our end of the day hike, we ran into a hunter with his pointer, heading up the mountain to chase grouse. He was carrying a side by side shotgun, looked to be 20 gauge, and on his pack waist band had bear spray.

    With our dog, I know she will give us bear warning with a bark, but then beat feet for us, ultimately bringing the bear to us. Would be interesting to know what this hunter’s handgun skills are, and how he reasoned out his bear planning.
    Likes pretty much everything in every caliber.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Behind the redwood curtain
    Posted today, black bear not grizzly, it's really rare that they walk right up on a porch around here. Wonder who is feeding this one and/or not securing garbage.

    A couple of good close up views, anyway with just a window in between.

    ETA: reading the comment by the photographer and looking more closely at the background in the photos, pretty sure I know who made this observation and sent the photos in. If I'm right, botany background but no wildlife expertise and not at all a clear thinker under urgent stress. Good thing that window was in the way. Semi-rural area but not that far out of town.

    And it's wildlife week, here's a photo of a really skinny mountain lion in an even more developed area about 10 miles north:
    Last edited by Salamander; 09-19-2019 at 11:36 PM.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Rocky Mountains

    Bear Repellent

    Random nobody.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Rocky Mountains
    Colorado Springs had a relatively cool, wet summer so you would think there would be plenty of forage for the Bears in the woods. However there have been reports of bears wandering into town daily.
    Random nobody.

  5. #25
    Member Erick Gelhaus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    northern CA
    Just back from nearly two weeks in eastern ID and MT/WY. Saw a couple of adult Grizzlies at a distance but that was it. Fortunately, I am unable to add any useful information to this discussion.

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by GJM View Post
    Oops, make that “Outside Bozeman.”

    Here is my take on bear spray.

    From the perspective of a park ranger, bear spray is a perfect recommendation. It doesn’t cost much. Compared to a firearm, it takes relatively little skill to use. It keeps guns out of the hands of people with a low skill level. And, perhaps most importantly to them, the bear is unlikely to get hurt.

    From the perspective of a regular person, bear spray is also an excellent recommendation. They want something that makes them feel better, and frankly it may be more effective for most people, given the amount of firearms expertise required to use a weapon defensively against a bear.

    From the perspective of a skilled firearms person, I think bear spray sucks. A skilled person knows that bear spray is not part of a layered approach, since deploying bear spray compromises your ability to effectively deploy a firearm. If bear spray fails, you are unlikely to have time to deploy a firearm. Yet having bear spray with you, at least in lower 48, creates opportunities for second guessing by the authorities and public at large, in your defensive use of a firearm — as in “why did you shoot the bear when you had spray?” I think a warning shot effectively becomes your “bear spray.”
    I keep some around. Usually in a water bottle pocket on a day pack or on a hip holster. That's based on where I go and what I'm doing, generally backpacking/boat exploring in bear dense areas in temperate rainforest country. There are a few situations where I don't like what a bear is doing but I don't feel justified in shooting it/firing a warning shot. Going after a flopping fish, nosing around a Forest Service cabin but not actively breaking into it, sniffing around a beached kayak, etc. Behavior that needs to be discouraged strongly but not lethally. Why not a warning shot? I've thought I was blissfully alone in the middle of nowhere and turned around and seen another guy 50 ft upstream waving at me. A sprayed bear is generally shook up for 10-15 minutes whereas a bear scared off by a warning shot is stressed and running and likely to maul somebody in it's way. I've seen warning shots have absolutely no effect, and while I have no data whatsoever to back this up I assume the bear got acclimated to them by previous encounters. It's still my go to response if I just look up and see a bear, because there might be cubs around and I want them running, but I've run into a couple of grey areas.

    It does compromise your ability to effectively deploy a firearm. I used to think I could draw SHO from a chest rig and draw spray WHO from a hip holster, and just drop the can and not be too much worse off if the spray failed, but hard practice showed that to be false. It can be done, and pretty effectively, but it compromises one or the other, increases the chances of a dropped firearm, and requires a lot of practice that isn't really applicable to other training. I don't spend enough time in bear country to justify the practice anymore. I have a lot of confidence in spray. I don't have as much confidence in spray manufacturers. It's either a gun situation or you're taking a chance with spray, because you voluntarily put yourself in a bear dense area and you're not dealing with a particularly aggressive bear.

    The only lower 48 place that is bear dense enough that I think this would be applicable is Yellowstone. I think you'd have to make a decision based on where you're going and why you're going there on whether you have a responsibility to have a non-lethal deterrent that you're reasonably competent with. Wounding a bear and sending it into another party is bad karma, and so is making a ranger deal with tracking and killing a wounded bear that's holed up in thick brush. I don't know where getting myself mauled by trying to use spray is on the karma scale, but giving what I'm doing and why I'm there I keep it around. If you're in a hunting party, in a place where brown bear may be present but aren't dense/acclimated, or with small children I think spray is just taking up room on your person/confusing your response/putting yourself at risk. Practice your warning shot and follow up from a good chest rig in various clothing layers and with/without a backpack.

    Make sure it's a bear. I've had a number of guns pointed at me over the time I spent in AK because someone heard me coming through brush and 'Thought I was a bear'. That has probably skewed my opinion on the spray/firearm question.

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