Yeti GOBOX Collection

Bear spray vs. bullets: how to stay safe in grizzly country

I think should I hunt in Grizzly country or even take a stroll in it I would bring along a rifle. Even a 308 with 200gr bullet's is a lot more powerful than any handgun. For that matter even my 6.5x55 with 140gr bullet's may be more than any handgun. I lived in grizzly country in Alaska for a few years, never saw the first one. Lived not far from grizzly country in Montana for several years, never seen a grizzly. I suspect two things cause a grizzly charge; first would be surprising one at relatively close range second running into a mother with cubs and or getting between a mother and cubs. I think it's pretty obvious that bears of any kind don't wonder around looking for humans to eat! I have been around a lot of black bears in Montana and never had one even bluff charge. I watched a video on youtube of a black bear charge that wasn't a charge! The guy let the bear get to close then jumped up and started yelling and shooting his gun in the air. Bear took off running and ran right over the top of the guy, never slowed down. He called it and attack! The bear probably had no idea where the noise was coming from just panicked and ran pretty much blindly. Not one scratch on the fool that got himself in that position to start with.
 
Going into Grizzly country is like getting on an airplane, you just have to accept that there is some risk.
It seems the analysis of risk whether recreating in bear habitat or flying is emotionally skewed way out of proportion, especially when the reality is the risk of injury or death is very low. Consider that if you analyze the risk readily accepted everyday in driving your automobile in the usual traffic conditions and you apply similar dramatic emotional perceptions to driving risks, then you would likely quit driving and just travel in bear country and/or by air ... 'much safer!
 
Bear hunts, a handgun is a nice addition. Ever pushed through thick poor visibility brush to find a wounded / downed bear? I did this several years ago when my friend shot a bear. A long gun going through brush vs a handgun and OC is not remotely close to a choice at that point.

I am a major advocate for OC during hunts though bear hunts, or Fall MT season archery for elk when bear season also begins, I'll have both.

Rifle elk, OC all the way. I more often than not leave my handgun.
 
Interesting...

Officials ranging from US Forest Service, biologists, FWP Wardens, etc.

Bear charged... no mention of OC.

Griz shot and died approx 20 yards. Hmmm... I'm happy to hear all is well for the group. Saddened for the gent who succumbed (stroke) after attack and...

Now have officer(s) that killed a griz by firearms that died at approx 20 yards. Had this been a Joe or Jane that killed a griz @ 20 yards... well, let's just say, precedence has just been set.

"They yelled and made continuous noise as they walked toward the site to haze away any bears in the area. Before they reached the site, a bear began charging the group. Despite multiple attempts by all seven people to haze away the bear, it continued its charge. Due to this immediate safety risk, the bear was shot and died about 20 yards from the group. The bear was an older-age male grizzly"

 
I carry both as well. Doesn't take a whole lot of wind to make your spray be a poor choice. I always have rifle hunted in Griz areas this year will be my first for archery. That is going to put me on my toes a little more. Horses, pistol and spray makes me feel a bit more comfortable in bear country.
One of the qualities between the best and lesser brands of bear sprays is not just the quality and quantity of the irritant, but also the ability/power/duration of the propellent.

For a variaty of reasons I have read in detail the Smith Herreo Bear Spray study over and over. It is very well done and conclusive. Wind is not really an issue.

Two times now I have been dropped off in Alaska. Once by bush plane into the interior and the other time by boat along the coast. I bought the $20 non-resident small game liscense and was wandering about hunting game birds and arctic hare living off the land. It was a great adventure both times.

Also I once lived and hunted in Northwest Wyoming. Back then multiple resident antelope tags were so easy to get and I hunted them up high in meadows surrounded by Aspens. Grizz tracks were commonplace.

Further in this bear experience I once was a hunting guide in black bear country and also taught outdoor education. Being a biologist I conducted field trips with high school students in black bear country.

With such responsibility and experience I gathered and evaluated every last drop of info/data on bear spray effectiveness.

Without question, without any doubt, the best bear spray, used correcty is an overwhelmingly better choice than any firearm, especially a pistol.

One of the first things I did when bear spray came on the scene was buy an extra can and just "blast it out" to pracrice with it. It is impressive to say the least. The holster should be a chest holster by the way and the newer models have a better more ergonomic handle.

Waking the walk, rather than talking the talk; One elk hunting trip I had a decisiion to make while following an elk trail in Wyomings grizzley country. I ran across a set of sow grizz tracks with cub. The differences between black bear tracks and grizz tracks with a clear print is simply unmistakable.

Anyway,,,it was either take that trail following the grizz tracks back to camp or go way around, up and down a canyon and get back to camp after dark.

I shouldered my 30-06, kept my spray right in my hands and made a large volume of noise with a whiste as itook the bear trail back to camp withoit incident.

When flying arounnd by bush plane in Alaska, always bring duct tape with your bear spray. Few bush planes have that super sealable box required to bring bear spray inside and it will need to be duct taped to the wing struts outside. Most bush pilots carry duct tape for this, but it hurts nothing to have a small roll with you.

Saddly the shooting industry has undermined bear spray effectiveness since day one. This has risked hunters lives and seen a lot of bears needlessly killed.

Brown bears are a very valuable trophy animal. A shame to see them killed needlessly thus robbing many hunters of the opportunity for a tag.

False charges are often the norm and standing on thier hind legs is a way of checking things out. I take with a grain of salt all these statements of actually being charged. Of inteest is the fact that the average duration of a bear attack is one second. Just a swat,,,usually to the head and face.

One true brown bear charge of note happened in Romania a week before I arrived there, Previously safety in numbers was had by hikers by staying in larger groups. 4 or 5 peolpe was the record for a brown bear attack. A brown bear broke that record and set a new one by truly charging into a group of 7 hikers

Almost 50 years ago I hiked across the Canadian Rockies with only a backpack and big knife. That was long before bear spray. I sure welcomed the development of bear spray.
 
I think should I hunt in Grizzly country or even take a stroll in it I would bring along a rifle. Even a 308 with 200gr bullet's is a lot more powerful than any handgun. For that matter even my 6.5x55 with 140gr bullet's may be more than any handgun. I lived in grizzly country in Alaska for a few years, never saw the first one. Lived not far from grizzly country in Montana for several years, never seen a grizzly. I suspect two things cause a grizzly charge; first would be surprising one at relatively close range second running into a mother with cubs and or getting between a mother and cubs. I think it's pretty obvious that bears of any kind don't wonder around looking for humans to eat! I have been around a lot of black bears in Montana and never had one even bluff charge. I watched a video on youtube of a black bear charge that wasn't a charge! The guy let the bear get to close then jumped up and started yelling and shooting his gun in the air. Bear took off running and ran right over the top of the guy, never slowed down. He called it and attack! The bear probably had no idea where the noise was coming from just panicked and ran pretty much blindly. Not one scratch on the fool that got himself in that position to start with.
it has been about 8 years since i have hunted grizzley country,,,or even been in it. I miss that. Jack O'Connnor once said a mountain with a grizzly on it was far more interesting than one without.

Going back many decades The book "Bear Attacks Their Cause And Avoidance" by Steve Herrero was the standard for bear awareness. This was basis for his doctoral work as a field biologist operating from western Canada. This book was written before bear spray came on the scene.

This reseach was the first of it's kind. The next best study was the one on bear spray effectiveness he did with co reseracher Tom Smith. My interest in bears of all kind led me to take several week long field classes on bears and for a window of time study them worldwide.

There are inernational bear studies going on and the information is intense and solid.

Regarding attacks they come in two forms.

One caused by a sudden surprise encounter and the other by a predacious bear whose intent it is to eat you. Black bears being predacious are far more common actually than grizz/brown bear predacios attacks,,,why??? One factor is having so many more people meet black bears.

Another is bears going very hungry from habitat degradation and food supply collaspe.

Tha most dangerous black bear encounter I had was with a huge male black bear on a trail in the willows along a stream. Not only did he refuse to yield ground, but he was exhibiting the aggreisve behavior and noises i had learened to be aware of in my bear studies/classes,,,a chopping movement with his jaw and an associated sound,,,bad news bear.

I had my bear spray and my rifle,,,it was a little 223 and the very last time i ever took a pea-shooter afield hunting. My minimum now is 6.5x55 with 155 grain Lapua megas as a defense load,,,again my minimum. In 270 I relard those now impossible to get 180 grain Barnes originals

The bear was standing his ground, his head seeming as big as a dry wall bucket an under his huge fat belly was a rock with vertical flat spot, which I shot with my pea shooter. It sent pieces of rock stinging into his belly, he spun around mid air and ran so hard and fast, unhamed, that he snt dirt and pebbles back at me.

An odd fact is that bear spray is less effective on black bears than grizzly/brown bears. about 85% with black bears and close to 100% with brown/Grizzley bears. Something about sensitivety in the nasal passages.


Distinquising between brown and grizzly bears is important. While the are the same genus/species they have evolutinary and ecologly differences.

Brown bears eat more fish and plant life, do less kiling for a living and tend towards less aggression,,,all the opposite with the grizzly. They evolved on the acrtic plainswith little natural cover to hide/flee into. So when it comes to fight ot flight thay have developed a greater fight response being more charged with fight chemistry hormones as verified by blood analysis. They have chemical hair triggers loade with strss hormones unlike forest bears.

I write so much about bears to honor a contract I made with the bear clan a half century ago while backpacking across the Canadian Rockies armed only with a knife.

One moonlit night a sow grizzly and her two 2 year old cubs paid me a visit while i was sleeping on the ground. There is a much longer story here but I will contain not share it. Actually I woke up in the morning and daclared it was a dream untill seeing that I was surrounded by piles of fresh grizz droppings.

Since they chose to leave me in peace, I have chosen to never harm or hunt a bear of any kind. This story goes deeper including my writing articles for small rural newspapers where bears are again on the rise. My goal is to increaes bear awareness so fewer bears get in trouble with people and have to be killed. All part of that old "contract" I made that night in the wilderness of British Columbia.

Whenever running into a bear afield I immediatrly discuss my bear contract,,,and just in case the bear refuses to honor it I have a whoppy big can of spray and some type of firearm as MY SECOND defense option.

I could tell you all true bear stories till the cows come home.

Mustangs Rule.
 
it has been about 8 years since i have hunted grizzley country,,,or even been in it. I miss that. Jack O'Connnor once said a mountain with a grizzly on it was far more interesting than one without.

Going back many decades The book "Bear Attacks Their Cause And Avoidance" by Steve Herrero was the standard for bear awareness. This was basis for his doctoral work as a field biologist operating from western Canada. This book was written before bear spray came on the scene.

This reseach was the first of it's kind. The next best study was the one on bear spray effectiveness he did with co reseracher Tom Smith. My interest in bears of all kind led me to take several week long field classes on bears and for a window of time study them worldwide.

There are inernational bear studies going on and the information is intense and solid.

Regarding attacks they come in two forms.

One caused by a sudden surprise encounter and the other by a predacious bear whose intent it is to eat you. Black bears being predacious are far more common actually than grizz/brown bear predacios attacks,,,why??? One factor is having so many more people meet black bears.

Another is bears going very hungry from habitat degradation and food supply collaspe.

Tha most dangerous black bear encounter I had was with a huge male black bear on a trail in the willows along a stream. Not only did he refuse to yield ground, but he was exhibiting the aggreisve behavior and noises i had learened to be aware of in my bear studies/classes,,,a chopping movement with his jaw and an associated sound,,,bad news bear.

I had my bear spray and my rifle,,,it was a little 223 and the very last time i ever took a pea-shooter afield hunting. My minimum now is 6.5x55 with 155 grain Lapua megas as a defense load,,,again my minimum. In 270 I relard those now impossible to get 180 grain Barnes originals

The bear was standing his ground, his head seeming as big as a dry wall bucket an under his huge fat belly was a rock with vertical flat spot, which I shot with my pea shooter. It sent pieces of rock stinging into his belly, he spun around mid air and ran so hard and fast, unhamed, that he snt dirt and pebbles back at me.

An odd fact is that bear spray is less effective on black bears than grizzly/brown bears. about 85% with black bears and close to 100% with brown/Grizzley bears. Something about sensitivety in the nasal passages.


Distinquising between brown and grizzly bears is important. While the are the same genus/species they have evolutinary and ecologly differences.

Brown bears eat more fish and plant life, do less kiling for a living and tend towards less aggression,,,all the opposite with the grizzly. They evolved on the acrtic plainswith little natural cover to hide/flee into. So when it comes to fight ot flight thay have developed a greater fight response being more charged with fight chemistry hormones as verified by blood analysis. They have chemical hair triggers loade with strss hormones unlike forest bears.

I write so much about bears to honor a contract I made with the bear clan a half century ago while backpacking across the Canadian Rockies armed only with a knife.

One moonlit night a sow grizzly and her two 2 year old cubs paid me a visit while i was sleeping on the ground. There is a much longer story here but I will contain not share it. Actually I woke up in the morning and daclared it was a dream untill seeing that I was surrounded by piles of fresh grizz droppings.

Since they chose to leave me in peace, I have chosen to never harm or hunt a bear of any kind. This story goes deeper including my writing articles for small rural newspapers where bears are again on the rise. My goal is to increaes bear awareness so fewer bears get in trouble with people and have to be killed. All part of that old "contract" I made that night in the wilderness of British Columbia.

Whenever running into a bear afield I immediatrly discuss my bear contract,,,and just in case the bear refuses to honor it I have a whoppy big can of spray and some type of firearm as MY SECOND defense option.

I could tell you all true bear stories till the cows come home.

Mustangs Rule.
That is very interesting! I know that a couple from Southern California used to visit a brown bear area every summer and live among them. Their thought was the bears weren't really dangerous. Short story it was an old hungry bear with bad teeth that killed and ate both of them. Out in bear country seeing the grizzly or brown is probably a rare thing unless your actually hunting them. And from everything I've read, attacks are provoked by surprising them or a mother protecting cubs. Oh and surprising a bear eating! I think in that country my gun would be my first form of defense and spray second. I say that for no other reason than I think the gun speaks louder farther than the spray and a can of spray would be more maneuverable in close. Down side of in close with the spray might be you get a dose of the spray yourself!

I haven't read the book mentioned, haven't even heard of it before. But I do have a copy of Alaska Bear Tales and it is not only terrifying but has good advice in it about bears I think. Of course that is simply opinion as I said earlier I've never had a run in with one and I have spent a lot of time in their backyard years ago.

I think the best way to deal with bear country is to realize that bears are wild animals and tend to act like wild animals. I wouldn't try to feed Bambi in the back yard, why fool with a animal that may well decide to eat you right after maiming you? Wild animals. My though on them is to let them be and let them know your there if you can, most will simply leave you unless provoked. And if your out hunting some dangerous animal and it's you that ends up on the menu, well, you had your chance and the dangerous animal won! Funny how a guy out hunting a bear get's mauled, scalp torn off, full of bites and broken bones laying in the hospital crying about how the bear tried to kill him! DUH!
 
For those advocating for best spray I shall share with you a story.
Colorado - a very popular campground adjacent to Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.
Problem black bear (ok, problem stupid people if we are being precise).
Having worked there for several summers and helped out both the federal rangers and the CPW folks with bears and other critters, moose mostly, in bad circumstances I became the de facto problem bear "guy".
Was issued bear spray and rubber slugs for our shotguns to haze bears away from occupied campsites/areas.

So we have a black bear boar - good sized guy for Colorado - of about 275# that I have had a run in with a couple of times.
Little things like busted into dumpsters and tearing into truck camper shells going after coolers.
So we are eating dinner in the campground and hear someone yelling BEAR! BEAR! BEAR!
Hop on a golf cart, grab bear spray from the truck, and go to the campsite with all the yelling.
Our problem bear was eating out of a cooler while the campers and their Belgian Malinois dog were 20 feet away yelling at the bear. Dog was throwing a fit but clearly wanted zero to do with actually tangling with the boar.
I walk up with all of the confidence in the world, get to about 5 yards, and spray that bear full in the face with the can of bear spray. Zero wind. New container of spray. Full 5 or 6 seconds of spray. Head shot.
Waiting on the bear to run off...
Nothing happens.
And I mean NOTHING.
Bear stares at me giving new definition to the words "mean mugging".
Huffs once.
Pops his jaws.
Then puts his head back into the cooler and continues eating bacon.
I retreat and go get the shotgun.
Took 2 bean bag rounds and a rubber slug to finally haze that bear out of camp.

That was on a calm black bear under ideal conditions.
No way in hell would I trust bear spray to deter a riled up brown bear!
Although I have had fantastic results with bear spray on a semi-feral dog one time.
 
Remember people this is the 21st century. It doesn't matter about what the bear does to you or the bear's horrible life choices. Less lethal is the best option otherwise the fake news might be the one eating you alive. Bear Lives Matter.
 
https://www.onxmaps.com/blog/bear-spray-vs-bullets-safety-in-grizzly-country


Bear spray vs. bullets: how to stay safe in grizzly country
Todd Orr looked like he’d been through hell, only worse. Staring into the camera of his phone Orr was streaked with blood, with large chunks of skin hanging from his head. He held the phone and spoke into it as his other arm hung useless, broken from the impact of what he described as a sledgehammer, but with teeth.

Orr was hiking in the mountains near Ennis, Mont. when he came upon the bear in a meadow. The female grizzly, with cubs, did nothing out of the ordinary, as far as grizzlies go, and charged. The fury of a bear protecting her cubs charged through the cloud of bear spray Orr let out and was on the man’s back, clawing and biting.

Convinced the intruder was sufficiently taken care of, the bear rounded up the cubs and disappeared back into the woods.

Limping back towards the safety of his truck, Orr’s ordeal wasn’t over. The bear returned and for the second time that day, Orr felt the fury of an enraged mother grizzly. Satisfied it finished the job this time, the grizzly left Orr, who limped back to his truck and filmed his predicament on his smartphone.

todd_orr_photo.jpg?mtime=20170706152911#asset:3970
Bear attacks are becoming more commonplace
According to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Orr’s double mauling is one of seven encounters with people and grizzlies in Montana this year and since Orr’s mauling, two more hunters were attacked. Attacks on a pheasant hunter on the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal land, and a hiker near Whitefish, are both confirmed to involve grizzlies.

With a growing number of grizzlies in Montana, as well as the three states that make up the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and the general rifle season fast approaching, anyone hunting in grizzly country needs to prepare for encounters.

The bear in Orr’s case seemed to have charged right through the cloud of bear spray he laid down, but according to a study published by Tom Smith and Stephen Herrero titled, Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska, done on Alaskan brown bears, spray is still the best means of deterring a charging bear and a sidearm may be only fit as a last resort.

The study references 72 different instances of bear spray used on aggressive bears over a span of nearly 20 years. The study found 92 percent of the close encounters with grizzlies were stopped by the use of bear spray. The cases all reference instances with bears either seeking food or displaying aggressive behavior.

Three of the cases happened so close that injuries were sustained by the bear, but the injuries were minor and didn’t require a hospital and the bear was still ran off through the use of the spray.

What’s a good defense from a 600lb grizzly?
Firearms may lead to a high risk of injury from the bear, or from your hunting partner. In 2011 a man was attacked by a grizzly while hunting in Montana. His hunting partner attempted to save him by shooting at the bear, but the bullet hit and killed the hunter. A similar encounter occurred in British Columbia in October of 2014 when a hunter survived an attack from a grizzly bear, and a bullet wound from his friend who tried to halt the attack.

Bear spray, may be a safer, more effective alternative to a firearm, but by no means is it perfect. In 11 cases featured by the efficacy study, the spray was misused as a deterrent when no bears were present. In each of those cases, the residue actually attracted grizzlies to the area.

bear_spray.jpg?mtime=20170706153632#asset:3972
Chuck Bartlebaugh is the founder and director of the Center for Wildlife Information, based in Missoula, Mont. and said it’s not uncommon for people to misuse spray. Bartlebaugh said misuse, or even distrust in the effectiveness of spray sometimes stems from misinformation.

Bartlebaugh said people often don’t fire the spray until it’s too late. He said some National Parks tell people to wait until the approaching bear is 30 feet away, but because of its speed and momentum, the bear will almost surely come into contact with a person at that range.

“It takes time for the bear to assess what’s happening and divert its charge,” he said. “If you spook a bear at close range, you’re going to get mauled.”

Bartlebaugh said to try and fire the spray at least 60 yards away, instead creating a wall of spray the bear has to run through. He also stressed practicing using your spray, just like you would a firearm. He said most, if not all, cases of spray not working properly are from user error. People often don’t have the spray at the ready, fumble with safety and most often fire the spray too high over the oncoming bear.

Bartlebaugh also recommends the Counter Assault brand specifically. He said other brands may not be approved by the EPA and carry a heavier oil content, which in colder weather, makes the spray heavier and sink low instead of making a protective barrier at the bear’s face level.

The rise in grizzly populations in the lower 48 have lead to an inevitable rise in human-bear encounters. Some claim the rise in encounters is due to a lack of fear bears have for humans after decades of being protected.

The upcoming decision to delist grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem may introduce a hunting season for grizzlies and some believe a hunting season will instill a fear of humans into grizzlies.

Bartlebaugh disagrees about a hunting season making bears wary of humans, though. He instead thinks it’s more likely the use of spray will be a lesson passed on through generations of bears.

Bears certainly are capable of learning the nuances of being hit with bear spray.

In some cases featured in the efficiency study the can of spray didn’t even need to be fired to deter the bear. The report references 10 instances where the mere sight and sound of the safety coming off a can of spray was enough to make a bear think twice.

Regardless of what you carry at your side, though, there’s no substitution for common sense, awareness and a good hunting buddy when sneaking through the woods. The West’s population of grizzlies is growing and with that, hunters must grow to protect themselves as they share the woods with the bears just as their ancestors did before.

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Cavan Williams
October 25, 2016
I’ve been told bear spray is better used as seasoning salt and you should use it on yourself if being charged or attacked. Hard not to hunt with the Grizz these days with all the Yellowstone problem children getting dropped in my core area. I carry a .44mag and in all seriousness I carry bear spray. Good stuff.
 
I was out familiarizing myself with my new G20 10mm today. mtmuley
The Ameriglow sights are a really good upgrade for the Glocks. Don’t forget to put a little oil on the cruciform as the trigger breaks in.
 
The Ameriglow sights are a really good upgrade for the Glocks. Don’t forget to put a little oil on the cruciform as the trigger breaks in.
Going to experiment with the grip inserts. Tends to smack my thumb a little. Good thing Newsoms ammo company is right down the road. mtmuley
 
Recently a grizzly bear expert explained that on average there is less than one fatality per year from the bears, yet seven people are killed annually by vending machines ... and there is no spray available for vending machine protection.
Citation? I want to know if the expert lives in the upper Rockies or Florida.

Florida has vending machines......

What are the vending machine stats using the population of WY,MT, ID?
 
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