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bear protection

willi

Paddler
Joined
Sep 16, 2021
Messages
11
Location
PacNW
BC regulars, curious what you guys carry in terms of bear protection on long trips? gun, spray, canisters? Thanks
 
BC regulars, curious what you guys carry in terms of bear protection on long trips? gun, spray, canisters? Thanks
I have been hiking, climbing and now paddling in BC for 45 years (OMG!) and most of my encounters have been with BB and only a few GB. So far I have been OK with letting them know I am there- talking and making a bit of noise. Trying to understand bear behaviour and making sure I am not getting between the big one and their food or cubs is the best defence. Only a few times I have gone to looking intimidating (waving paddle etc) and having the spray ready. Never had to use the spray or bear bangers so far. The people I know who have had issues mostly have ended up between bear and food/cubs or had their dog chase and run back to master with the bear on their heels. Bears close to town or certain parks are a bit different, having lost some fear of people and sometimes associating them with food.
 
I agree with everything @eriktheviking said above.

Polar bears might be a different story. I know one very experienced kayak guide who packs a shotgun in polar bear territory.

Cheers,
Andrew
 
When I spent a summer/winter in Stanley ID, a "friend" reminded me, "There are only two critters that will stalk a man; polar bear and cougar. And there ain't no polar bear in Idaho."

There was an article in some outdoor magazine about a guy to was tracking a cougar with his dogs. I think they got the cat treed, but it was getting late so the guy went back to his cabin. The next day, the cat was gone of course. But the guy saw the tracks went back to his cabin. Sort of an "I know where you live." gesture.

I saw one black bear in the wild while on the Oregon PCT. I had a whistle in my hand but I think I was inhaling so much I wouldn't have enough exhale to blow it. I figure the point of carrying the whistle was to have something to throw. But the bear, about 50 meters away, went his way and I went mine.

The problem with "devices" is the assumption that you can get to them in time. The friend mentioned about carries a pistol in the woods but he has it in his backpack. It seems you have to be constantly "on the ready" - which is not the relaxing paddle adventure I seek out.

If I were in bear territory, I'd adopt the technique of eating meals in mid-travel rather than at camp. I don't mean on the water. I mean pulling over to the shore, having breakfast/lunch/dinner, then continuing to paddle to the campsite.
 
On my Arctic kayak trips, I did carry a shotgun. (WCP regulars will have heard the Polar bear attack story a ton of times, so I won't repeat it.) On the BC coast, I don't carry a gun, just spray and bear bangers. I've been glad a few times to have had the spray, but in years of tripping, never used it. I did once have to fire the bear bangers. Deets here: https://philiptorrens.com/2017/11/0...broughton-archipelago-to-powell-river-part-2/
 
The problem with "devices" is the assumption that you can get to them in time. The friend mentioned about carries a pistol in the woods but he has it in his backpack. It seems you have to be constantly "on the ready" - which is not the relaxing paddle adventure I seek out.

Old Alaskan story: Noob hiker is in a bar somewhere in Alaska, drinking and boasting about his .45 Magnum pistol bear protection. (At the time of this story, the .45 Magnum was the "most powerful handgun in the world." See the Dirty Harry movies.)
Grizzled old timer in the corner listens to this bloviating for a while, then asks to see the noob's gun. Once it's handed over, gramps squints at it for a bit, then returns it with the suggestion the owner should file the front sight off. "File off the front sight? Why the hell would I want to do that?" the tyro demands. "So it'll hurt less when the bear shoves it up your rear compartment hatch opening." (kayak appropriate euphuism deployed).
 
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The problem with "devices" is the assumption that you can get to them in time. The friend mentioned about carries a pistol in the woods but he has it in his backpack. It seems you have to be constantly "on the ready" - which is not the relaxing paddle adventure I seek out.
Frankly I was more scared the time I was backpacking in the Stein Valley having a dude with a shotgun held across his chest come out of the brush right in front of me. He was in the lead of a small group coming out when we were heading up. I think the probability of a gun accident is higher than a bad bear interaction so I will take the risks I am comfortable with.
 
Ah, the memories ... Hiking into a lake and past a fellow and his gal as they were coming out. He held a rifle at his side, parallel to the ground; she was walking a few feet behind him. Maybe I saw a fishing pole case; maybe I was just nervous - ya know, because of the rifle. So in an attempt to pass a neutral remark, I asked him, as he went by and I was looking right at his girl, "Did ya get any?" And she turned scarlet. I was sure I was going to feel the bullet between my shoulder blades as I continued on.

For youth of today, that question was a phrase often passed between "Bros" when discussing a previous night's date.
 
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As mentioned by Kayak Writer it really depends where you are in BC. In the North East, bangers, spray and shotgun. Most importantly only camp in high food season to avoid issues and always store your food properly.
 
Most importantly only camp in high food season to avoid issues and always store your food properly.

Just to clarify: by "high food season" do you mean times of year when the bears have fish, berries, and other food sources so they'll hopefully be less tempted to expropriate your food?
 
Yes, when there's lots of other food around for them to eat they're less likely to take the risk of approaching humans. Where I'm at that means a much shorter camping season compared to the south. Early June to the end of August and even it August it can start getting cool at night. Last night while out on the motorbikes with a friend I finally saw a healthy looking (plump) black bear. The ones I usually see are smaller and scrawny. My friends from here tell the black bears are different from the ones on the coast. Lots of grizzly around and pressure for food with our shorter season so they get pushed off.
 
I too have heard it said that black bears in the more remote areas of Northern BC are more aggressive to people usually resulting in a quick death to the bear . Sadly a schoolmate of my cousin was killed by a black bear east of Stewart many years ago , he was alone at a job site when the attack happened.
 
Best to stay on the water. 2 days ago as we were paddling along the shore south east of Owen Point (West Coast Trail area) we saw a mother bear with 2 cubs and they didn't seem bothered at all by our presence on the water. They kept on going in the same direction as we were going and that went on for about 20 minutes until they couldn't go around a headland. Cubs were sliding and climbing all over the driftwood logs while mother bear was foraging along the shore. Quite a show, as good as the Netflix "Island of the sea wolves".
 

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I've been hiking and exploring in BC for over 40 years. I've never had a dangerous situation with bears. I almost invariably experienced that bears will avoid people unless you startle or threaten them or their young. They can hear and smell us miles away. The only times I've been closer than a few hundred yards has been when I've been quiet and walking upwind. As soon as they've spotted me or I've given a low whistle they take off. If I do see a bear I immediately stop to look for cubs though to make sure that i don't get between them and mama. I have been carrying a bear spray for the last 15 or so years and have switched to bear canisters a few years ago instead of hanging food. For many years I didn't even hang my food. I just put it away from camp but I don't recommend that anymore. I like canisters because they double as a seat and are easy to put away or get in the dark and work great for mice too.
 
I second the canister idea. I've used it on my last few outings. It isn't waterproof So it has a dry bag that also holds the stove inside the cookpot - food/cooking gear in one bag. I place the bear barrel away from camp - as I would if I were hanging food - and I put a plastic bag over the top of the barrel to cover the lid in case of rain.

Later this year I'll buy a URSack because sometimes the barrel isn't large enough for all the food. But that discussion is more suited for the Gear forum.
 
OK- I met this fellow this spring at a local hiking area. What kind of bear is this? (I showed various people this picture to see- normally I hope to make an identification pretty quickly when I spot a bear nearby).
IMG_1132.jpeg


Spoiler: It's a black bear that has brown coloration- probably 1 year old. That it's a BB is only clear seeing his face in profile where his nose line is straight up to his forehead, GB have a dished face
 
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My vote is grizz. Scooped face, shoulder hump. Hard to tell for sure face on, but that would be my guess.

Cheers,
Andrew
 
A cute cinnamon black bear!

Since we're sharing bear pictures some I took. It's not as tricky to tell what this is.
Grizzpic2.jpg

Grizzpic.jpg
 
Living in coastal brown bear country, I'm a big fan of bear spray. We all carry it. In certain circumstances, an electric fence is also a useful tool. If you are camping in problem bear areas, or you are around non-habituated wild bears but happen to have an incredibly attractive item in your possession, a well-set up e-fence is like magic. You can get small and light versions of a fence energizer that run on 2 AA batteries, and making fence posts from carbon arrows results in a very modest package to take along for peace of mind.

For instance, this video is of our recent Roosevelt elk hunt on Afognak Island. We ran into some bears. And because we had a meat cache, the big fuzzies took particular interest in us. There isn't much gore in the video, but it does depict hunting if that's not your thing.

 
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