Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Does your kit include a gun?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Does your kit include a gun? on 12/18/2007 12:43:45 MST Print View

In Canada, carrying a hand gun is illegal. Would I carry one if I could... No. Do I carry bear spray, yes but I only started carrying it when my kids started hiking with me (my wife asked me to carry it... it made her feel better). I've never used the spray although I have had it out a few times ready to fire. I mention this because I know from experience, that unless a bear is very close to me and aggressive (close is subjective... I estimate I have a 10-15 ft comfort zone), I won't waste the spray by firing it off when I'm too far away. This brings up what I see as the biggest gun issue... when would you shoot a bear if you were carrying a gun? Would you shoot him if he stole your pack? Would you shoot him for a bluff charge? Thirty feet? Forty? Grizzly bears are an endangered species and need protecting... that said, I hate seeing them on the trail (sorry, one of nature's experiences that I just can't appreciate) but I certainly respect their right to be there and don't want them shot!

The thought that guns are carried on trails to protect you against two legged animals scares the hell out of me! Now I'm the target based on your interpretation of my behaviour! Yikes!!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Does your kit include a gun? on 12/18/2007 13:02:14 MST Print View

Mike, I would hedge you don't have a lot of experience with firearms or with concealed carry. Simply put: a person who has gone through the process of getting a CPL in their state is someone who respects guns and the use of them. Yes, if you carry you fully know that using one will do what it is designed to do. You also know how much of a right it is to be able to arm yourself. You have let the government look at you, you are fingerprinted.

A good example was a homeless man in Seattle this past year. He had a nut job attack him for no reason in the middle of downtown at lunchtime and nearly killed him in a brutal attack of being kicked and punched. The homeless man had a CPL and was carrying. He shot and killed the nut job attacking him. That is justified use of force.

Deadly force is something to be used when you feel your life is in dire danger. That is not something that is taken lightly by law abiding citizens. In most cases of justifiable use of deadly force you rarely read or hear about it. It simply isn't news to the media.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Does your kit include a gun? on 12/18/2007 13:48:39 MST Print View

Sorry Sarah, I don't buy it.

I would be willing to bet that if the concealed weapon was replaced with concealed pepper spray in all of the self defence cases you can think of, the situation would have been defused without the killing. The same also applies for the safety in the woods scenario as well, although I think our fear of being "eaten" creates the passion in this argument. We are at much greater risk in many of our other (daily) activities than we are in the woods but the thought of being devoured makes bear encounters seem more serious. By the way, no experience with concealed weapons but I used to hunt but gave it up... I still kill fish though :)

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Does your kit include a gun? on 12/18/2007 15:07:59 MST Print View

That is fine, I'll accept your views if you accept I have my own view of the big picture.
I carry pepper spray as well and consider it my first line of defense against both animals and humans. But I do not consider pepper spray to be a sub for firearms. There are cases where it is the only thing that will stop what is happening.
In NP's though I carry pepper spray as that is all I am allowed to have.

Btw, I do find it odd that you cannot bring personal pepper spray with yourself when you go into Canada. Why is that I have wondered. Not only can I not have a firearm, I cannot bring my trusted pepper spray. Hence, I have not been back to Canada in about 7 years.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Does your kit include a gun? on 12/18/2007 16:17:56 MST Print View

Sarah - Sorry to here you haven't been to Canada for a long time, you are missing out on some incredible hiking!

As for Canadian gun laws, I'm no expert but I do know that we have a very mixed up system. To say that you can't bring a gun into Canada for protection isn't exactly true. Hand guns are definitely prohibited but if you are going to a remote area and want to take a rifle or shotgun for protection (against wild animals) then my understanding is that you could obtain a permit for that. That said, you can't take a gun into our National Parks and the wildlife there has more rights than you do.

The pepper spray thing in Canada is really weird... if the pepper spray says that it's for personal protection it's illegal. If it's labelled as bear spray it's OK (maybe not at the border...) but you could certainly buy it at a sporting good or hunting store without any trouble.

I certainly respect your right to do whatever you have to do to feel safe in your backcountry travels (as long as it's legal and doesn't harm the wilderness). I am curious though... where do you keep your gun when you are carrying a pack? How can you keep it available, concealed and out of the way (or do you not worry about concealing it?)?

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Does your kit include a gun on 12/18/2007 16:32:20 MST Print View

The perceived threat from various wild animals is the usual reason given for these discussions. However, I strongly suspect that the true (and politically incorrect) reason is fear of other people. After all, we can reasonably expect to see far more humans than bears and cougar on any trail that most of the folks on this forum will ever hike.

Bad past experiences notwithstanding, I find it regrettable and alarming that some folks have such a high anxiety level regarding their fellow man that they feel the need to arm themselves everywhere they go.

With the possible exception of some near-road shelters along the AT, the bad guys don't generally go into the woods. It has been my experience that those I have met on the trail are at the far end of the curve on the opposite side - helpful and sympathetic to the extreme.

It has been said before, but firearms - concealed or otherwise - are illegal in the National Parks (yes, there are exceptions for private and commercial packers travelling with livestock), and elsewhere if your concealed carry permit is not issued by the local governmental jurisdiction. Just what are you going to do with the gun LEGALLY when you enter one of these areas? If you think the rangers are death on bear canisters, see what happens when they find a firearm.


Wandering Bob

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
National Parks and Firearms on 12/18/2007 17:12:11 MST Print View

Some Alaskan National Parks allow firearms for self defense
from bears.

A percentage of people and animals are unaffected by
pepper spray.

Canada charges (US citizens) a hefty fee to bring your own gun to the party.

The Forest Service in parts of Alaska requires and issues
pepper spray and firearms to their employees.

Most people I have met on the trail carrying weapons, unless
hunting, appeared to be less prepared with other gear and
clothing than the average hiker. I remember one young fellow
who had a rifle, a large hunting knife, a pit bull, and
looked scared out of his wits, hiking near Sonora pass in the
Sierra.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Bob & Mike on 12/18/2007 17:45:07 MST Print View

Bob: If you are carrying a firearm and have to cross in and out of a NP it is easy. All you need to do is disassemble your firearm, taking the slide off. It needs to be stored separately from your ammo. Better is to also have a gun lock through it (the cable kind). When we are driving through NP's but on to elsewhere we break our handguns down, store the ammo separately and keep the handgun parts in our portable safe we have in our vehicles. And that is perfectly fine. The firearm needs to be rendered unusable. It is not illegal to have a firearm with you in a NP in this case - but it had better be unusable and always have the ammo stored separately no matter what. If in a car, the trunk is your best bet for storing it.

Mike: for carrying? That is easy to do. You can buy items such as The Safepacker that goes on your pack. It looks like a map case or a man-purse. It has an efficient draw time as it sports a velcro closure on one side. It also serves to protect the firearm as well. If you didn't know what it was (and the majority don't) you would not know the person is carrying. And that is the point of course - proper concealed carrying means no one knows you are carrying. For those who might think that no one is carrying, then they really don't know how to look at clothing and packs ;-)

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Does your kit include a gun? on 12/18/2007 20:17:17 MST Print View

Nope. And I'm still kicking after 34 years of rambling around in the mountains. Plus, the fact that so many people apparently do makes me feel even better about hiking off trail a lot of the time. Like Mike W., I am uneasy at the prospect of being targeted based upon someone else's interpretation of my behavior. Especially if they're having a bad day.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
brain on 12/18/2007 22:03:41 MST Print View

A young prospector and an old prospector are flying in to a remote camp. The young prospector takes out a .357 handgun and starts loading it. The old prospector says "What's that for?"

"Bears"

"Well as soon as you can, you should file down the front sight. It's an old timer's trick."

"Really?" Replies the young man. "Why should I do that?"

"Because it will hurt less when the bear shoves that thing up your @ss."



... I don't want to write an editorial, so here are a couple of comments on the discussion point-form:

-I'm from Canada, where we have a) no handguns allowed anywhere except shooting ranges and on the hips of police officers, and b) large predatory bears. We can't carry rifles in our parks, which is where most of the hiking is.

-Having a gun and believing that you could kill any attacking animal if necessary *will* change *your* attitude. It's inevitable. Having *no gun* and believing that only your wits will keep you alive is more likely to keep you out of harm's way than traipsing around the woods thinking you're Dirty Harry, able to kill anything that threatens you at your discretion. Shooting a charging bear is hard; killing one before it gets to you happens mostly in movies.

-If you're observant and calm enough to see an animal early, anticipate an attack, draw your gun, make it ready to fire, aim it, fire accurately, aim again, fire again, and have 2+ rounds on target before the attack gets to you, you are observant enough to avoid the attack anyway.

-Conversely, if you're inattentive enough that you surprise an animal and cause it to attack you, you do not have the time or the reflexes necessary to use your gun. You are a piece of walking bear fodder, and what's worse is that the gun will boost your confidence artificially making you even more vulnerable. You are safer not to delude yourself into thinking that there will be some kind of Hollywood-style standoff between you and the bear. You are not Anthony Hopkins; you are Timothy Treadwell!

Scenario 1)
Approaching a thicket, at dusk, haven't been making noise. Recognize the possibility that you might surprise a bear, draw and arm pepper spray, cough loudly, lift your head up, use your ears, and above all use your eyes, and walk around the corner slowly. Bear is 20 feet away, you stop and speak calmly and then back away or else stop a bluff-charge with pepper spray and then move away. No gun, no problem.

Scenario 2)
Watching your feet, tired from the day, trying to get to camp before rainstorm, charge cluelessly around a corner into an unexpected thicket. Bear is as surprised as you are, and by the time you see it it's in full charge. An adult Grizzly can outrun a quarter horse. EPIC FAIL, gun or no gun.

In scenario 1), having a gun isn't necessary or useful. Pepper spray is more likely to avert a possible charge since it doesn't have to be accurate. For the gun to have been useful, you would have had to have drawn it and taken the safety off when you first saw the thicket anyway -- which you didn't and wouldn't do unless you want to get shot by a hiker coming the other way!!

In scenario 2), the inattentiveness that caused a bear attack is the same inattentiveness that prevents you from being able to stop the charge with your gun. Bears don't charge from 500 yards away, after all: you would need time to realize there's danger, produce the gun, and make enough holes in the bear that you're out of danger. Likelihood of that is 0, unless you're paying enough attention *anyway* that you didn't cause the bear to attack in the first place.

It's a catch-22.

Brian

Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Guns in the Backcountry on 12/18/2007 22:41:03 MST Print View

Here is a video of a group of bowhunters who are charged by bear. One quick warning shot w/ a revolver turns the bear back.

Edited by HechoEnDetroit on 12/18/2007 22:41:41 MST.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: Guns in the Backcountry on 12/18/2007 23:25:01 MST Print View

A perfect example: he didn't shoot the bear, he just made a loud noise. A bear banger would have done the same thing, but been even closer to the bear and with a bigger visual flash to add to the effect.

The only thing that saved those hunters was alertness; their wits.

They were ready for the possibility of a bear encounter, and were able to respond. No shooting of a bear required, and no shooting of a bear with a handgun would have worked. And that was a charge from a long way off.

If they had needed to kill that bear to stop the charge, they couldn't have: not in the time they had, and not with the gun they had. They would have been dead meat had it not been for their wits.

Here's a hunter who shot a charging bear with a _big-bore Alaskan bear hunting rifle._ Note the speed of the charge and how long *both* bears lived after *huge* energy was delivered to centre mass. (Especially the first one!)

Now imagine this charge coming from 20 feet instead of 200 and ask yourself if you could save yourself from it using the tiny energy of a handgun. The answer is no.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZnsL7-UdGc

Brains, and only brains, will protect you from bears.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Bear Video... on 12/18/2007 23:36:55 MST Print View

I've seen the video before and here are my thoughts...

These guys saw the bears well in advance but still approached very close to them (makes great video and... we've got guns)... as Brian pointed out, if you want to avoid trouble with bears, keep away from them!

I personally think the guy tried to shoot the bear but missed. He said he fired a shot into the water but also said the bear was 8 feet away which would indicate either he is a very brave gambler or a bad shot in a panic situation... I'm betting on the latter and he got lucky. At the speed that bear was moving I think the warning shot would have been his last shot if the bear had held it's course.

I also think that a blast of bear spray may have been just as effective but that we will never know since they chose to use a gun. I'm glad the bear wasn't killed because of their stupidity.

Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
Guns in the Backcountry on 12/18/2007 23:51:08 MST Print View

"A bear banger would have done the same thing, but been even closer to the bear and with a bigger visual flash to add to the effect."
---I don't know how I feel about bear bangers. There doesn't seem to be any range control, so you might end up putting the "bang" behind the bear. Would that send the bear towards the shooter? They also seem pretty slow to shoot. In addition, they could cause a fire in drought struck areas.

"The only thing that saved those hunters was alertness; their wits."
---and....... their noise making/flashing device (gun)

"These guys saw the bears well in advance but still approached very close to them "
---Maybe they should have paddled back up the river? I doubt they were hoping for an encouter here.

Maybe bear spray would have worked here, but what if the bear was upwind?
ALL forms of bear protection have advantages/disadvantages. No one is trying to convince anyone to use a gun (esp for bear protection), so lets try to be objective here.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: brain on 12/19/2007 00:35:48 MST Print View

Scenario 3, you been hiking for two days on the edge of the
arctic ocean with a polar bear following you. The first night
you spent in a cabin. The second night you will have only a tent.

Scenario 4, dropped off by plane on the tundra in Alaska, day 3 a brown bear spots you from 2 miles away and starts running toward you to see what you are.


Both of these happened to friends. They had neither
spray or arms.

In S3 they decided to hike
back to the cabin and had to wait there several days till the polar bear got tired of waiting and left. Without that
cabin, they didn't know what might have happened.

In S4 the bear
came into camp, but lost interest after checking things out.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Bear story National Geo on 12/19/2007 00:43:09 MST Print View

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/0510/whats_new/anwr_grizzly_attacks.html

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Bear story National Geo on 12/19/2007 07:37:14 MST Print View

"Thompson, the river guide who found the Huffmans' campsite, believes that a floorless tent, an electric fence, and a loaded pistol (that doesn't need to be cocked) might help future campers."

Alan Seegert
(zemmo) - MLife

Locale: AK/NM
Re: Bear Spray on 12/19/2007 08:01:43 MST Print View

I winter in Glenwood, NM, and summer in Denali Park, AK. I have put in many miles hiking in Alaska, and most of the time I have not carried a gun, while backpacking, and of course it's not legal in the NP.

On the other hand, I was awoken in the middle of the night about 5 years ago in the Chiricahuas, while sleeping on the ground with no tent, by a rabid fox. Short version, I killed it with my hands (it bit holes in my thermarest), but had to shell out $3k for rabies shots. It may be that I have weird karma with rabies or foxes, but two weeks ago two friends and I were out walking near Glenwood when we encountered ANOTHER rabid fox, which a promptly shot. From my experience, it is MUCH better to have a gun in this situation than not.

Disclosure: I like guns and have used them my entire life. I often carry a custom .45 ACP while doing casual walking, but I have a very light-weight .380 I take when doing serious trips. I wouldn't be w/o it down here, but to each his own. The .380 wouldn't do much for bears (though still better than nothing, IMO), but works great for anything up to human size.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Bear Spray on 12/19/2007 08:13:42 MST Print View

Alan, what is the make/model and weight of your fav .380?

Alan Seegert
(zemmo) - MLife

Locale: AK/NM
Re: Re: Bear story National Geo on 12/19/2007 08:18:08 MST Print View

Yeah, the female half of this couple owned land a quarter mile from me in AK. They had a shotgun with them, never had the time to pop a cap. If a predatory bear decides to take you out when you're asleep, it will...BUT! this happens very very rarely. We've never had a single person killed by a bear in Denali Park. A few chewed up, though...