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Grizzly Bear safety precautions?
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Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Grizzly Bear safety precautions? on 03/24/2010 09:16:50 MDT Print View

Hey Ya'll,

Heading up for my first real backpacking in Grizzly country this year. A few hundred miles in Montana. I'm committed to traveling safe amongst those beasts. I won't have "cooking clothes", but will cook away from where I camp. I'm planning on carrying Counter Assault, the bigger can. I'll also try to talk/sing a lot while I walk, but I'll be solo so that'll take work. Any pointers on bear safety? I heard a long time ago that bear bells don't work, but I'm still tempted to bring them. Anyone know if they help?


Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Footwear on 03/24/2010 09:21:36 MDT Print View

Running shoes? ;~)

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
Grizzly safety.... on 03/24/2010 09:32:32 MDT Print View

Running shoes?.........Yes, and hike with someone who runs slower than you!

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Montana bears on 03/24/2010 09:51:19 MDT Print View

Jack, I grew up near Glacier, and I have spend a good amount of time hiking in GNP and the Bob over the years. I now carry both a Counter Assault and a small air horn, and I also sing a lot when I'm hiking solo through the huckleberries. The air horn is good for warning the critters that you're coming through the brush, and also for use as a distress signal in case you blow out an ACL off trail. I usually try to join a small and noisy group when I come to a stretch of thick brush and berry bushes. I don't think bear bells are worth a hoot--I've come across scads of folks that wore them, and I never heard a thing. Stream noise and wind will negate the bell tinkles. I wouldn't worry too much about griz (with your prudent precautions), it's the moose that will likely give you problems. Nobody seems to know if pepper spray will do much for a p*issed off mother moose. When I was stalked by one a few years ago, I didn't want to chance using it, as it might have made her even more goofy. If you do come across a mama moose, start looking for trees to climb, in case she gets an attitude. Where will you be hiking? The area around Many Glacier, and over Swiftcurrent Pass to Granite Park, is considered the fairway of the griz in GNP. But they usually close the trails in a specific area if there is significant griz activity. I other areas of the state, like the Bitterroots, bears are less habituated, so there likely won't be much to worry about.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Grizzly precautions on 03/24/2010 09:51:57 MDT Print View

Grizzlies are by nature people-shy, and most of the few dangerous encounters are the result of a lack of very ordinary precautions and a lack of common sense (on the part of the human, not the bear). Hang your pack, don't hike at night, cook downwind of camp, check local reports on griz sightings, keep food out of your shelter, and be alert (singing and bells can help) in the obvious places where you might surprise a sow and her cubs, and you'll probably see a griz only from a distance. If you're backpacking in one of the National Parks watch the Park Service's video (and if you're in Yellowstone you have to when you pick up your permit. The Service can also alert you to areas that bears frequent, which is especially helpful in Glacier Park. All that said, keep the pepper spray ready to hand!

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Take some friends on 03/24/2010 09:55:06 MDT Print View

Find six friends to hike with?---Animals respect total mass. "The bigger the man"

Good bear hang.

Drab clothes and shelter.

Scandium and Titanium 44 mag?

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
groups on 03/24/2010 10:47:38 MDT Print View

True. I've said this many times- I read a study that concluded there has never been a documented attack by a healthy grizzly against a group of four or more people, and that all the attacks on groups of three were unusual. For unstance, one was an attack on three small high-pitched tweens, and another was a guy dragged out of his solo tent while his two buddies were sleeping in the 2P tent a hundred feet away.

So, you're probably safe with two buddies. Grizzlies are smart enough to recognize a pack of vicious apex predators when they see it. :o)

If that isn't possible for you then, heck, pick your poison. Do the usual anti-bear stuff, as above. But if you think a handgun will protect you, well, you'd better file the front sight off. That way it won't hurt so much when the bear shoves it up your @$$. Not to mention, the bear will catch you even easier when you're blind and have a concussion from touching off that .44 mag in a 29oz frame... :o)

(The only time I ever carried a firearm for bear protection it was a .45-70, Brother. And the locals were glad to see me around. That was a very unusual area with a freakishly high population of brown bears, though. But, of course, I nonetheless never even saw one. I guess I was doing something right.)

Edited by acrosome on 03/24/2010 10:59:43 MDT.

Steofan The Apostate
(simaulius) - F

Locale: Bohemian Alps
Bear Safety on 03/24/2010 10:49:39 MDT Print View

If you can get to this pdf (HTML MAN... where are you?), it has good basic bear info:
Don't waste money on bear bells, use a can with some rocks inside. +1 on the bear spray. Stay current on sightings and be sure to share your sightings to the local folks before you leave.
Have a good trip!
Steve M.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Timothy Treadwells Advice on 03/24/2010 12:14:24 MDT Print View

"I'm much more likely to be killed by an angry sport hunter than a bear," he said decisively. "I'm in more danger here in San Francisco."

Timothy Treadwell's' website where he gives this advice:

People should stay 100 yards away from bears at all times.
A fed bear is a dead bear.
Once a bear gets human food, it becomes dangerous to humans.
Never run from a bear.
When camping in bear country, people should use bear proof barrels and boxes, or hang food safely out of reach of bears.



"But if you think a handgun will protect you, well, you'd better file the front sight off. That way it won't hurt so much when the bear shoves it up your @$$. Not to mention, the bear will catch you even easier when you're blind and have a concussion from touching off that .44 mag in a 29oz frame... :o)"

Old joke.

You won't notice the recoil a bit when the bear charges.

Oh, and the handgun used by the park service ranger to kill
Tim's man-eating bear? A 40cal glock.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
Re: Timothy Treadwells Advice on 03/24/2010 13:23:50 MDT Print View

wait for real? they stopped a bear with a 40. caliber pistol round??? Was it some kind of magical bullet a la JFK? where it entered the bear's Ass and exited its eye? I've heard horror stories of .223's doing nothing but Piss them off more.

Edited by Konrad1013 on 03/24/2010 13:25:22 MDT.

Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
RE: bear precautions on 03/24/2010 16:38:26 MDT Print View

We always feel better if there are four of us in brown bear country, especially on Admiralty Island, which has the largest concentration in the world. We don’t let loose and drip fat over ourselves and camp on salmon streams, but it does feel a lot better with more than just the two of us.

Tlingit elders tell me they always have a conversation with the bears upon entering the forest; to let them know they are visiting and not there to cause any harm. We do this too, frequently and very loudly, when entering or walking in the forest.

I carry a shotgun loaded with slugs and everyone has bear spray when we are hiking on Admiralty. On the few occasions we have seen bears, they respond well to our plea that they go their way and we go ours. I’ve only chambered a slug once, and that bear finally realized that we were not lunch in time to make a fast turn into the forest from the beach. I’ve never taken a shot, nor have we sprayed a bear.

Outside of Admiralty we typically just go with bear spray, especially if we are traveling on foot and not in our kayaks. We use OPsaks and Ursaks and either hang them halfheartedly or stuff them in rocks away from camp. We will eat, then camp farther along the beach if we have seen a lot of bear sign.

All that being said, the hunters and others who live in rural or remote Alaska don’t take the precautions we do, and seem to have done quite well over the past few thousand years.

This from a surf and turf trip last summer ( paddle a few days then bushwhack for a couple of more)

Brown Bear track on Endicott River

Edited by Umnak on 03/25/2010 11:55:39 MDT.

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Grizzly Bear safety precautions on 03/24/2010 17:28:32 MDT Print View

Anyone seen or handled those new 410 shotgun shell pistols?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Timothy Treadwells Advice on 03/24/2010 17:39:26 MDT Print View

"People should stay 100 yards away from bears at all times."

Now if young Timothy had just followed his own advice....

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
back to the subject on 03/24/2010 22:14:52 MDT Print View

Jack, I think you'll be fine. GRIZ demand reasonable precaution, and the admission that there's a remote chance you might die.

Cook, eat, and hang food away and downwind from camp.
Don't roast bacon over the fire.
Avoid very well used campsites.
Yell and sing when hiking through brush, along loud streams, etc.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Montana Grizzly Habitat on 03/25/2010 09:38:59 MDT Print View

I'm also contemplating a Montana trip this year. Does anyone know if griz are common in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness? I'm thinking of doing a five or six day tour through that huge lakes basin area that lies roughly between Cooke City and Roscoe. Is there a map online anywhere that shows where grizzzly habitat is located in North America?



Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: Absarokas on 03/25/2010 09:48:38 MDT Print View

Hi Gordon, I can't speak for the entire area, but I have had a griz wander around my camp in that area. I was just E-NE of the park boundary somewhere between Cooke City and Red Lodge.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Grizzly Bear safety precautions? on 03/25/2010 11:09:25 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the excellent advice ya'll. I can't wait to get out there. Hiking in a group would be ideal, but there is a good chance that I'll be solo. Now I just need to figure out how to actually get the bear spray over the borders. I hear that I'm not allowed to cross into Canada with my spray, but I'm going directly to a Canadian trail head without passing by outfitters. Don't think that Canadian bear spray is allowed in the US either. Not that that'd stop me, as long as border guards are ok with it when I was back into the US. hmmmm...

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Absaroka-Beartooth on 03/25/2010 11:13:56 MDT Print View


There are griz in the A-B, especially in the Slough Creek drainage in the southern Absaroka, adjacent to Yellowstone Park, and I've seen them in several other areas (including within sight of the Boulder River Road). An educated guess, though, is that they are not as prevalent as in the Park, and definitely there are fewer tourist traps that generate the food and trash that can cause a bear to become attracted to people. Take the usual precautions (definitely including pepper spray) and your chances of an encounter are slight.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
US bear spray crossing the border on 03/25/2010 11:35:01 MDT Print View

Jack, I was able to take Counter Assault from MT into Alberta 3 years ago. The day before I was actually doing my hike out of Waterton, I asked the Canadian customs guy at the border if it was OK, he said yes. Then, when I did the U-turn to go back into MT, the US border dudes did a complete strip search of my heavily packed truck, figuring I must be somehow deviant. I think they thought Canada refused my entry or something. Anyway, that brand of spray was fine to take into Canada in '06. You might want to check for any updates since then.

Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
re: bear spray crossing the border on 03/25/2010 11:58:43 MDT Print View

We don't have a problem crossing from Alaska into BC out of Skagway and Haines. And certainly not when crossing along the Chilkoot Trail. Still, the whole border thing is getting a bit weird of late. Wrap it in a sock.