When do you carry bear spray?

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#61
Agree. I like Todd's writing, but he's not a native Montanan, either, though he's lived there a long time. Ironic. But he lives in Bozeman, which a lot of people call Little Boulder (I lasted six weeks in Boze once then fled), so he probably bases a lot of his observations on its uncontrolled growth and many newcomers. I have no idea why a nature writer would live in Bozeman instead of one of Montana's other nicer towns, but I'm sure he has his reasons.

But I like his point about irrational fears.
 
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#62
Back to @GarrettM's original question, yes, black bears can be aggressive, but typically for much different reasons than a griz. Without going too deep into the weeds, griz defend cubs, personal space, some food sources. Black bears with cubs may defend them but will almost always send the cubs up a tree and then follow them or run off with them. Single black bears, if given the chance, will run off before defending a food source or personal space. If a black bear is harassing/stalking you, it may be seeing you as dinner. Carry bear spray in bear country, it's really cheap insurance.

Now @Rockskipper and @LarryBoy, continue the discussion, I am enjoying it. I will add that several of the people I have met along the way that are most afraid and ignorant of grizzlies, blackies and other carnivores are the "born and raised here" ones.
 
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#63
I will add that several of the people I have met along the way that are most afraid and ignorant of grizzlies, blackies and other carnivores are the "born and raised here" ones.
Yup, and I think it has to do with how much a person really gets out in the woods, no matter if they're native or an urbanite. And curiosity plays a part - if one wants to learn about wildlife, your respect for such will increase. I mean, how many predator haters know about tropic cascades and the part predators play in a healthy ecosystem?
 
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#64
Read the article, thanks @Rockskipper!

So in the paragraph that he says the GYE has all this cool stuff because GYE'ers want them is wrong, especially as he says it is in spite of the politicians. He could not be more wrong, of course, as it was the politicians of the day (responding to the public's desire) that brought us Yellowstone NP, the National Park Service, the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Without these acts, we would not have wolves in MT/WY/ID and all the other places they have spread to. And without all the congressionally-protected wilderness, grizzlies may be on the short-timer list also. Elk and bison still exist there and elsewhere because Congress sent the military in to protect Yellowstone's resources.

Sure some politicians despise all these protected areas/species but many of them don't. And it wasn't a native-born GYE'er that pushed the creation of Yellowstone, the NPS, the Forest Service, the Wilderness Act, etc.
 

Dr Nebz

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#65
I carry bear spray where I know there are large concentrations of bears, Black or Grizzly. I have seen one bear in the Uintas in all my time I have been backpacking out there. I've had encounters in the PNW and Alaska. The Black Bears on Mt Hood are huge! The Grizzly Bears in Denali were intimidating to say the least. Even at a distance. I have seen several on Boulder Mountain. I probably carry it down there more than in the Uintas. I would carry it on the NE side of the Uintas by Flaming Gorge, that is where they are more concentrated. Its not just a great idea to carry it, but its also a a good idea to know how to use it if you have to. In Grizzly country everyone should have that as mandatory gear. Keeping a clean camp, keeping scents out of your tent, and properly hanging or storing your food and items with scent, as well spacing cook area from sleep area goes a long way towards not having an encounter/conflict with a bear.
 

LarryBoy

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Thread starter #67
Its not just a great idea to carry it, but its also a a good idea to know how to use it if you have to.
THIS. A dozen times over. Bear spray, like an ice axe, map and compass, or a firearm, is not only useless if you're not skilled in using it, but dangerous to yourself and others. If you're going to carry bear spray, keep it in a convenient place and practice arming the can. The griz is not going to wait for you to read the instructions before she charges you. I can go from hiking to standing with an armed can (safety off) in 1-2 seconds. I anticipate that if the worst happens and I am attacked, I'm not going to have much more time than that to prepare. So best to be skilled using it.
 
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#68
Garrett - Where in Western Montana? In most places around here, I'd play it safe and carry spray. I mentioned earlier, it seems the Grizzlies' range is rapidly expanding, so even a place that people claim has no Grizzlies, you just never know.

Although not nearly as aggressive as a Grizzly, even black bears can get defensive, especially if startled or if you come upon a sow with cubs.
I'm doing the same exact hike you did, El Capitan. But I'm going to spend 4 or 5 days in the area. Probably camp out for a couple days at Kerlee lake. I found Kerlee Lake by randomly exploring on Google Earth and thought it was a sweet looking spot to camp. When researching the lake via Google, I came across your TR and then decided to join the blog a couple weeks back. Any suggestions for this hike? Did you see anyone while on the trail?
 
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#70
I'm doing the same exact hike you did, El Capitan. But I'm going to spend 4 or 5 days in the area. Probably camp out for a couple days at Kerlee lake. I found Kerlee Lake by randomly exploring on Google Earth and thought it was a sweet looking spot to camp. When researching the lake via Google, I came across your TR and then decided to join the blog a couple weeks back. Any suggestions for this hike? Did you see anyone while on the trail?
There are reports of wolves there, and some think there may be grizz in the Bitteroots.
 

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#71
Read the article, thanks @Rockskipper!

So in the paragraph that he says the GYE has all this cool stuff because GYE'ers want them is wrong, especially as he says it is in spite of the politicians. He could not be more wrong, of course, as it was the politicians of the day (responding to the public's desire) that brought us Yellowstone NP, the National Park Service, the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Without these acts, we would not have wolves in MT/WY/ID and all the other places they have spread to. And without all the congressionally-protected wilderness, grizzlies may be on the short-timer list also. Elk and bison still exist there and elsewhere because Congress sent the military in to protect Yellowstone's resources.

Sure some politicians despise all these protected areas/species but many of them don't. And it wasn't a native-born GYE'er that pushed the creation of Yellowstone, the NPS, the Forest Service, the Wilderness Act, etc.
Most excellent post! Worthy of a comment on the article, if it accepts such.
 
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#72
I've never carried bear spray outside of grizzly and potential grizzly areas. Can black bears and will they attack? Yes. They are typically much more timid however. I make noises when I come upon curves, especially at or around dusk. If I'm in the dark, I'll make near constant noises. And I try my damndest not to wear my huckleberry deodorant when I'm out in the wild.

And what everyone says about knowing how to use your bear spray. Taking the safety off should be second nature. You'll be surprised how fast a bear can be on you, and if you're panicked and unsure about how to get the safety off, you may not get it off in time.
 

MikeM

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#74
I'm doing the same exact hike you did, El Capitan. But I'm going to spend 4 or 5 days in the area. Probably camp out for a couple days at Kerlee lake. I found Kerlee Lake by randomly exploring on Google Earth and thought it was a sweet looking spot to camp. When researching the lake via Google, I came across your TR and then decided to join the blog a couple weeks back. Any suggestions for this hike? Did you see anyone while on the trail?
My suggestion? Don't do it as a dayhike! LOL

I'll send you a PM, but will say I hope you are good at route-finding. The "trail" from the main trail up to Kerlee Lake would have been almost impossible to find had I not been there with someone else that knew where to find it. And steep!

Overall, though, it is a beautiful area and we didn't see anyone after we broke off the Tin Cup trail. If you're going to be there a couple of days, you could also try climbing the Como Peaks and the Lonesome Bach, they are actually right above Kerlee Lake.
 
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#75
Yes, I too am a bear spray survivor. :) I actually sprayed myself with bear spray back in 2013 near the pass between Thorofare Mountain and Younts Peak in the Teton Wilderness. After encountering a Grizzly climbing up to the pass, I was holding my can in my right hand just in case there was another bear - the bears were feeding on Army Cutworm moths on the slopes of Younts Peak. When I got to the pass, I went to place the bear spray back in my holster without remembering to reinsert the safety clip. As I pushed the can into the holster it discharged between my fingers on my right hand and the small cloud it created blew back onto the right side of my face. Alright everybody, you can stop laughing now. :roflmao: Needless to say, it took a couple of minutes for my eye to stop watering and a few more for the burning sensation to go away, and maybe twenty minutes to get the burning sensation out of my throat. The worst of it by far though was the burning along the webbing and skin between my fingers since they took the brunt of the spray. I even had trouble sleeping that night because of the irritation still on my fingers, this even after numerous rinses. So even the best of us (or in my case, worst of us :sneaky:) make mistakes on occasion. So @LarryBoy's advice on knowing how to deploy, fire, and safely put away your spray is spot on. It becomes easy to forget small things (safety clip in my case) when your heart is racing and adrenaline is running through your veins. :frantic:

Moral of the story: Be extremely careful when backpacking with Scatman for he is a menace (though most likely to himself). ;) :scatman:

Bear_Spray_03.jpg

Before the self spray.

Bear_Spray_02.jpg

No, I'm not winking at you. Taken maybe five minutes after I sprayed myself. And no, I am not smiling! :(

Bear_Spray_01.jpg

Orange color is bear spray residue.
 
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#79
As well you should be. Hopefully you are crying because you are laughing so hard. :)
Could be worse (easy for me to say). Remember the woman who accidentally sprayed hers on a full bus going up to the Maroon Bells last summer?
 

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