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Study: Guns not fool-proof against bear attack
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David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Study: Guns not fool-proof against bear attack on 03/09/2012 14:42:46 MST Print View

"Smith's study may not be news in the sense that being bear-safe is a full-time job, not just a matter of packing a rootin'-tootin' hogleg or a spray can, but it does seem to shed a bit of light on one persistent debate among backcountry travelers in Alaska: Handgun or long gun?

Smith says the data indicate a distinct difference between outcomes depending on what kind of firearm was present. Handguns held an edge in successful outcomes against long guns, 84 percent to 74 percent."

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: Study: Guns not fool-proof against bear attack on 03/09/2012 15:25:13 MST Print View

Nothing is fool-proof.

To quote from the article:

"'Whatever technique you use is going to be only as good as you are. The best protection is to be prepared mentally, be prepared to deal with a situation,' said Larry Van Daele, a biologist and acting regional supervisor with Alaska Department of Fish and Game."

Even a cannon would be useless if you can't hit the bear with it.

Edited by wandering_bob on 03/09/2012 15:28:32 MST.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
Comments on 03/14/2012 07:01:38 MDT Print View

I think the first comment to the article is dead on, a rifle is typically held in the hand, a pistol is typically in a holster so if you are attacked the rifle is on the ground, the pistol is at least on the holster to where you can get it.

One main reason why I believe pepper spray is more effective than firearms is pepper spray requires less training/familiarity to use effectively. I think a firearm in the right hands may be more effective then pepper spray but most people are not 'the right hands' and a lot of people THINK they have the right hands but really don't.

I think a lot of people think pepper spray is the end all be all of bear defense but I have also read/heard a lot of stories where bears were sprayed and repeatedly came back. So what if you run out of spray and the bear comes back ticked off from being sprayed the first time?

Basically I agree, nothing is foolproof if a bear decides it wants to beat you up, kill or eat you. If that happens you are in a struggle for life and the dice are rolled.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Comments on 03/14/2012 07:57:33 MDT Print View

Good points. I believe the issue of bear spray running out was addressed in one of the old print versions of BPL. Ryan Jordan mentioned using the spray (I think it was Counter Assault) that lasted the longest (if I recall UDAP spray blasts out at a faster rate). Of course UDAP is going to hurt the bear more the first time... I know its sounds extreme but I might carry two cans if I was in really serious bear country. I've heard a number of stories of people emptying their can in a bear's face than hiking home nerviously homing nothing happens before they get back.

(Duracellh) - F

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Re: Re Comments on 04/05/2012 21:19:13 MDT Print View

I can only relate with my own experience with being hit with UDAP in the face; it takes a very long time to wear off. Even with a water source (garden hose, full blast in my face for instance) can take twenty minutes for it to subside to the point where I could function again. My encounters with black bears tell me that at that point, the last thing they are going to do is want another encounter.

I also got this from the article

" attack with a shotgun blast directed over a bear’s head may very well never get reported, he said."

It should be noted this happens at least a dozen times a day every day in the summer here. All the float plane pilots I know exclusively use 12 gauges with rifled slugs, and while they fire them often, I only know one that ever shot directly at a bear (he missed, bear ran away anyway!)

If it was more specific I'd guess that the vast majority of handgun uses were similar in that they were scaring bears. If a Brown or Grizzly bear are setting on stealing your picnic basket a 9mm is joke, you are much better off with bear spray imo.

As for the carrying multiple cans....perhaps on a long hike without any resupply points or communities nearby I suppose, but emptying a can of spray on a single bear is INSANE. The stuff doesn't compound like that anyway, and there is defiantly a delay in it kicking in to disable your eyes/throat/nose, so as bad as it sounds when you are in that kind of situation, it is really important that your first shot is good. Also, on most brands, you can't just tap it, once you hit the release it continues for several seconds no matter what you do as a design feature.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Study: Guns not fool-proof against bear attack on 04/05/2012 22:08:40 MDT Print View

preface: this is not to downplay the severity of a bear attack, but ...

I'm puzzled by the focus here on BPL on bear attacks (well OK, cougars also) and defense/avoidance thereof. Last time I was in Alaska I was told that more Alaskans are injured annually by moose than bears. Here is an article that seems to support that (includes a citation for the source of that info)

edit: but it also seems that moose are still a distant second in the killing game (source)

Edited by jcolten on 04/05/2012 22:15:26 MDT.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Re: Re: Re: Comments on 04/06/2012 11:22:27 MDT Print View

Hey Zak what brands of bear spray do you know of that keeps spraying for several seconds after you release the lever/trigger as you have stated above? Just asking cause none of mine do and I would like to know what brands not to buy in the future. Mine quit spraying as quick as you release the trigger. Also I have gotten some spray in my eyes and breathed it on several occations mine seems instant to me. I could not imagine a direct hit to the face and dont ever want to experience it.

Edited by mtmnmark on 04/06/2012 11:34:33 MDT.

(Duracellh) - F

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Re: Re Comments on 04/08/2012 02:19:38 MDT Print View

I've been bluff charged by more moose than anything else, so that is a very fair point; they are also all over the roads in the interior of AK much like deer in the midwest.

As for brands, UDAP or Counter-Assault seem fine, just don't buy "Guard Alaska" I'm not even sure if they make it anymore but it's an inferior product, mostly from what I could tell the shooting mechanism and the actual spray.

As for the instantaneous bit, I more mean the incapacitating features (the pain is DEFIANTLY instantaneous as I'm sure you know!), because a charging bear doesn't usually seem to just stop in its tracks right away, but if it was really intent will give them something else to think about and stop them from eating your tender bits. Also if conditions are right I don't see the harm in letting a bit off to let the bear know that even curiously lingering really close is a painful habit.

Edited by Duracellh on 04/08/2012 02:22:32 MDT.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Re: Re: Re: Comments on 04/08/2012 15:48:35 MDT Print View

What I was wondering more than anythings Zak was which of the "most brands" keep spraying for several seconds after you let up I know that counter assult and frontier do not, so Im interested in which brands do so I can stay away from them. Which if the majority do thats the ones I would like to know about