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Bear Encounter
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Tom Roberts
Bear Encounter on 06/05/2013 08:26:35 MDT Print View

Hi – I was hiking with a friend from Springer to preaching rock (about a mile north of Woody Gap) in the GA section of the AT. This was day one of a three day trip. Got to camp around 7:00 PM, put up a bear bag 100 ft. or so from my tarp and cooked dinner downwind from my tent. While I was cooking, I a large black bear walked into our camp and proceed to growl. We ran him off but he came back on the opposite of the camp but not as close. This repeated several times before we decided to night hike a few miles further down the trail and setup camp in a new spot.

Question: Is moving to a new spot to a good idea when dealing with a possibly aggressive black bear?

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Bear Encounter on 06/05/2013 08:47:14 MDT Print View

In your situation, I'd be strongly inclined to use some bear spray - in order to convince said bear that people aren't fun to be around. Think skunk!

Tom Roberts
Black Bear on 06/05/2013 08:52:01 MDT Print View

Thanks, I have never carried any before but am not opposed to it. However, my question is about if it is a good idea to move camp or not? This was the first time I have moved before but it worked and the bear never returned.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Bear Encounter on 06/05/2013 09:02:12 MDT Print View

Seems like reasonable idea to me, Tom. I would think he's not likely to follow you a couple miles out. I'm sorry to hear about such aggressive bears in our areas.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Same Question on 06/05/2013 10:39:18 MDT Print View

I would love if someone had more than anecdotal insight for this, it's a really interesting question.

Tom Roberts
Same Question on 06/05/2013 10:44:08 MDT Print View

I agree... It was late and I had already hiked 25 miles that day so breaking down my camp, hiking another mile or two, hanging my bear bag again, etc... was not something I wanted to do. However, this has been the only solution that I have found to work in the past as the bear will wait and come back again later.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Bear Encounter on 06/05/2013 11:08:17 MDT Print View

If a tired hiker can night hike a couple of miles to move camp, there's no reason a hungry bear couldn't follow his nose and the food bag the hikers are carrying.

But lacking bear spray, I'd probably do the same!

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Same Question on 06/05/2013 12:37:13 MDT Print View

"I would love if someone had more than anecdotal insight for this, it's a really interesting question."

Unfortunately that is all you are going to get. There are guidelines and suggestions available but bears are very adaptable to their surroundings which will have an impact on how they react to humans.

Run into Bear A in Rainier NP and he might not look at you twice as you walk by. Bear B in Maine stalked my friend for a couple miles. Bear C was shot yesterday in an Orchard (surrounded by desert mind you) after he got aggressive with a deputy.

If it was me, I'd try bear spray first (as previously suggested) and hopefully that would teach the bear to stay away from humans. If none was available, I'd probably move camp and hope for the best.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Same Question on 06/05/2013 12:43:26 MDT Print View

"I would love if someone had more than anecdotal insight for this, it's a really interesting question."

"Bear Attacks" by Herrero - documents bear encounters - my take-away was that based on statistics, you don't have to worry about bears. Maybe in Grizzly bear country you should carry bear spray. Canister in Sierra bear country so it doesn't eat your food.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Same Question on 06/05/2013 13:02:51 MDT Print View

Or look at

Interesting to read the descriptions. Many bear fatalities were people that were feeding bears or similar. And in almost every case, the bear was then killed maybe with a number of other bears for good measure.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Just not Killed on 06/05/2013 13:16:30 MDT Print View

Many folks hang their hat on the facts that few people are killed by bears. However, being mauled may not appeal to some. One summer in the Sierra, I knew of two bear attacks not reported. People were doing illegal things (food storage procedure etc.) and didn't want a ticket. A concussion or lots of stitches is not fun. I can only imagine how many other bear attacks go un-reported.

Aggressive bears should be peppered, in the end it might save their lives and the lives of other area bears. In the Tahoe area, paint ball guns are being employed on bears.

Christopher *

Locale: US East Coast
Re: Bear Encounter on 06/05/2013 13:28:14 MDT Print View

I had a similar encounter last year in the Sierra. I was with a friend and was surprised by the lack of flight response. We regretfully and wearily packed up and moved, just as you had done. I have since changed my ways to a more conservative preventative tact ... I try to avoid obvious "campsites" and I cook and eat a few miles before making camp. I eat and use the calorie injection to put in a few last miles.

Ian Kyle
(Ieo) - F
Re: Bear Encounter on 06/05/2013 17:30:48 MDT Print View

My one and only bear encounter involved a black bear in the Ouachitas. Luckily, mine scared off pretty easy...but he was brave enough to come back within an hour. This repeated about 6-8 times throughout the night, roughly whenever I started drifting off to sleep and stopped making noise. He would come crashing through the brush to my camp, I would yell and shake the tent, he would go bounding down the hillside, rinse and repeat.

After nearly every bear story I hear, I always think about carrying bear spray not for protection, but to put a little fear of humans into the bear so he thinks twice next time.

I'm talking black bears here. I tend to agree with Stephen Colbert when it comes to grizzlies.

Edited by Ieo on 06/05/2013 17:40:36 MDT.

bear on 06/05/2013 20:28:05 MDT Print View

There has NEVER been a documented attack on a human by a bear in Georgia, dating back to the 1700's.

Gear, and food, is different however.

Bears will be bears, but rest assured they dont want anything to do with YOU.

Nothing to freak out about. Nothing wrong with moving down the trail a ways either if it makes you feel better.

Jason Johnson
(etex9799) - F
Bears...Beets...Battle Star Galactica. on 06/18/2013 15:45:49 MDT Print View

Dwight Schrute would say to stay put and defend your workspace.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Re: bear on 06/19/2013 09:47:52 MDT Print View

It would be my guess then that Georgia has an open season to hunt bears. Is there?

John Taylor
(jtaylor) - F - M

Locale: Shenandoah
3 for 3 on 06/19/2013 20:01:04 MDT Print View

I went nearly 30 years in the woods with no bear encounters. None. I have had 3 in the last 10 years. Once while hunting...we both wanted the same squirrel apparently. The only winner that day was the squirrel. The bear and I went our separate ways.

The other two encounters happened on backpacking trips, both in SNP. the first one was a problem bear (we learned the next day). Our camp was at the base of the summit about a 100 yards off trail. It was a clean camp since my wife and I don't cook where we sleep. The bear came within about 30 yards of our sleeping area during the night making lots of noise. I stood up and shined a light and he moved off. We learned the next day how the same bear trashed the camp of 2 fathers and 4 boys camped on the ridge. They cooked and were very sloppy with their food which I believe is what drew the bear into the area.

The other encounter happened after my wife and I had finished cooking dinner, packed up, and were hiking down the trail. It was dusk and the bear was out foraging. I think we surprised the bear just a little and he ran off.

These were all black bear encounters. Before and since we only ever see bears crossing the road.

matt n
peace of mind on 06/19/2013 21:57:38 MDT Print View

I've been backpacking ever since I was 18 so, about 7 years now, mostly in the Sierras. Bears have been getting progressively more common and less fearful. In the past all I had to do was bang some metal and shout a little but last summer I tried that and it didn't quite work. The bear casually strolled into camp, closer and closer to me ignoring everything I did. He was about 20yds away from me, stands up on his hind legs and RAWWWWRRR. Scared the shit out of me. I was frozen for what seemed like forever until i decided to slowly make myself smaller and back away slowly. I abandoned my camp and walked far enough away to where I felt safe but where I could still see the bear going through all of my stuff . He was able to retrieve my canister but couldn't get into it. So, after 15 minutes or so he peaced out and I quickly got back to my camp to pack everything up and go 30mins up the trail. It was an interesting night trying to get to sleep.

I'm not sure if leaving was the right thing to do because he had gone through all of my stuff already but just for my peace of mind I decided to leave. Whether that does anything at all, I have no idea.

I'll be going to glacier national park in a few weeks with my cousins. Bring on them grizzly bears! Ha!