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What Do Northwesterners Use For Protection In The Wild?


howlingwind
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Dieseldan, try reading here for evidence of spray attracting bears. Go down to the "Grizzly-human relations" section. A bears primary food detecting sense is smell, and anything that smells will attract them. It's probably good to remember that just because you haven't heard of something doesn't mean it isn't true. A simple web search will turn up lots of evidence of spray attracting bears. Far safer to assume it isn't myth and just get rid of the can after use, and never spray it on your tent, sleeping bad, etc. as a deterent.

 

As a hunter, I know that the idea that black bears don't shy away from the sound of gunshots is just ridiculous. At a distance there is nothing as effective as a gun, and a distance is where I prefer to keep bears. That's the one major downfall to sprays, they are totally useless at a distance. You have to be up close and personal to even use them. I have personally seen bears turned at a distance with shots placed beneath them, and have seen the same on Grizzlys on videos, without ever harming the bear or placing the person in danger. Moose are totally different, and are the thing I worry about most in the woods. I have placed shots into trees ten feet from moose, and they just stand there and look at you. If you are charged by one I wouldn't bother trying to shoot it with anything, best to drop everything and find a tree to climb pronto. No myth about it, moose can't climb trees! A friend of mine saved his life that way once.

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Dieseldan, try reading here for evidence of spray attracting bears. Go down to the "Grizzly-human relations" section.

This is a poor information source without any other information or sources noted. This is not proof of any kind, and I still say it sounds false to me.

It's probably good to remember that just because you haven't heard of something doesn't mean it isn't true. A simple web search will turn up lots of evidence of spray attracting bears. Far safer to assume it isn't myth and just get rid of the can after use, and never spray it on your tent, sleeping bad, etc. as a deterrent.

OK, taking your advice, I did a web search. Everything I found refers to the improper use of oleoresin capsicum bear repellent spray, not the proper use of it.

 

As a hunter, I know that the idea that black bears don't shy away from the sound of gunshots is just ridiculous. You've had some different experiences than I've had, see you're above line about "It's probably good to remember that just because you haven't heard of something doesn't mean it isn't true."

I have personally seen bears turned at a distance with shots placed beneath them, and have seen the same on Grizzlies on videos, without ever harming the bear or placing the person in danger.

And I have seen bears and other predators that have not turned and ran when shots have been placed near them, though most have. Again, you and I have had different experiences.

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My husband and I have been discussing getting a small pistol to carry with us when we go out geocaching.

 

It's been my experience that I am usually the most dangerous thing in the woods. It also sounds like you would like to own a hand gun. If you want one, go buy one. I would recommend a good .40 S&W pistol. It's a good balance between your trail concerns, and the urban environment.(which is where you would have a better chance of needing it). Treat it like it's always loaded, and pray you never have to shoot anything besides a target.

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The snake is a rattlesnake, and he was actually a fairly small one. B) We get much bigger ones in our backyard.

 

If you look to the right of his head, you can see his rattle, they look like little pearls.

 

I can't help but wonder Ambrosia, just HOW BIG are the snakes you find in your backyard??? B)

 

Do you live in the drier part of Washington? What do you do when you find "big snakes" in your yard?

 

When I looked at that last picture you had, I wondered how you GOT that picture?? B)

 

Just curious.. :)

 

Howlingwind

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OK, taking your advice, I did a web search. Everything I found refers to the improper use of oleoresin capsicum bear repellent spray, not the proper use of it.

 

But you didn't take my advice, because if you had clicked on the link I posted you would have read this "Some travelers in bear country carry pepper spray or large caliber firearms to repel or kill an attacking bear. Once a pepper spray canister has been discharged, however, the odor of the pepper spray will actually attract bears." Better safe than sorry, after you use it just get rid of it and you never have to worry if there is any truth to it or not. Personally, I wouldn't risk getting eaten just to prove my point. Here is a site that says a bears sense of smell is 7 times keener than that of a bloodhound! I don't know how they can tell that, but even if it is exagerated a great deal I'm not putting one of those cans in my tent after it's been used! Like poor Richard says, experience keeps a dear school, but a fool will learn in no other.

 

And I have seen bears and other predators that have not turned and ran when shots have been placed near them, though most have. Again, you and I have had different experiences.

 

So what happens if it doesn't turn at a distance? You still might have to face the close encounter, though probably not, since most of the time, even by your words, they will run. At least you get to try to turn them before facing them up close and personal if you have spotted them in time, something you will never get to even try with just a can of spray.

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Wow, that's scary, Criminal! But I would still hike in Banff if I were there.

 

I'm a she-cacher and I cache/hike alone sometimes. I normally carry bear spray, but honestly, the only time I've even thought about using it was when creepy people made me feel uneasy.

The most menacing creature I've ever confronted was a mountain goat and I was able to protect myself with my trekking pole. I didn't have time to even think about the spray in the pack. Here's the log... Mt. Ellinor Cache

 

A one horned she-goat gave me the evil eye up there last summer. I stepped off the trail so she could get by.

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Allanon is right. The rattlesnakes up north here (Crotalus viridis) are called Western Rattlesnakes. Here is where they live in WA State: Distribution Map. I used to think they were Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, but they are another species (Crotalus atrox) that reside in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern California.

Thanks for the link to the distribution map, and nice picture, Ambrosia!

 

I'm still remembering the five, yes, FIVE, sightings of rattlers in the space of about 3 hours that lucyandrickie and I had on a warm afternoon over in the Ancient Lakes / Potholes area last month. It was payback for comments earlier in the day to Patudles that none of us had ever seen rattlesnakes in our years of hiking in Eastern WA.

 

Three of them snakes wuz very angry, very loud, and one was in strike mode when I encountered him. Rickie, who was bringing up the rear at that point, said he was really impressed with the synchronized sideways jump that lucy and I did off the trail. :P

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OK, taking your advice, I did a web search. Everything I found refers to the improper use of oleoresin capsicum bear repellent spray, not the proper use of it.

 

But you didn't take my advice, because if you had clicked on the link I posted you would have read this "Some travelers in bear country carry pepper spray or large caliber firearms to repel or kill an attacking bear. Once a pepper spray canister has been discharged, however, the odor of the pepper spray will actually attract bears."

 

If you just want me to tell you that you are right, than fine, you are right. The link and reference to some information at wikipedia.org was just one sentence, and keep in mind that wikipedia will let anyone add, remove, or edit information, which doesn't make the information credible without any sources of the information. This is how some urban legends get started. After doing a Google search of both web pages and news stories, I could not find one single story of a bear being attracted to a used pepper spray can. If you have a link to credible story, please post it, for our safety.

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The snake is a rattlesnake, and he was actually a fairly small one. :) We get much bigger ones in our backyard.

 

If you look to the right of his head, you can see his rattle, they look like little pearls.

 

I can't help but wonder Ambrosia, just HOW BIG are the snakes you find in your backyard??? :(

 

Do you live in the drier part of Washington? What do you do when you find "big snakes" in your yard?

 

When I looked at that last picture you had, I wondered how you GOT that picture?? :unsure:

 

Just curious.. B)

 

Howlingwind

Oh, goodness. I'm not good at judging size. My husband's better at that. I just know that the one that I took a picture of there was somewhat on the small side.

 

If you read a post I made towards the top of the first page, I mention how close that I've gotten to them in the past. On the whole, you can can get quite close to them without worries. The ones that don't want you to will let you know right away. The others will just lay there quietly and watch you. This one was feeling safe in his little hole, so I felt fine getting close for the picture.

 

We live in the center of WA, which is on the dry side. We live up a canyon, so we get lots of snakes every year. We have children, so whenever we find them we kill them. We also have outdoor kitties to try and keep down on the mice, hopefully to keep snakes away. But we have a creek run through our property, so they are attracted to that. I'd say on average we kill around 5 rattlesnakes or so a year. But we hear or see maybe that many again that we don't get to.

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OK, taking your advice, I did a web search. Everything I found refers to the improper use of oleoresin capsicum bear repellent spray, not the proper use of it.

 

But you didn't take my advice, because if you had clicked on the link I posted you would have read this "Some travelers in bear country carry pepper spray or large caliber firearms to repel or kill an attacking bear. Once a pepper spray canister has been discharged, however, the odor of the pepper spray will actually attract bears."

 

If you just want me to tell you that you are right, than fine, you are right. The link and reference to some information at wikipedia.org was just one sentence, and keep in mind that wikipedia will let anyone add, remove, or edit information, which doesn't make the information credible without any sources of the information. This is how some urban legends get started. After doing a Google search of both web pages and news stories, I could not find one single story of a bear being attracted to a used pepper spray can. If you have a link to credible story, please post it, for our safety.

Two seconds on a Google Search gave these results.

 

The USGS website has this to say about it in their FAQ about pepper spray.

 

It's a given the pepper spray shouldn't be used as a bear repellant the same way bug spray is used. It's a last ditch effort to save your skin when sprayed directly into the nose and eyes of the bear from 25' feet away, which is the minimum distance required for bear spray.

 

Can we move on?

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OK, taking your advice, I did a web search. Everything I found refers to the improper use of oleoresin capsicum bear repellent spray, not the proper use of it.

 

But you didn't take my advice, because if you had clicked on the link I posted you would have read this "Some travelers in bear country carry pepper spray or large caliber firearms to repel or kill an attacking bear. Once a pepper spray canister has been discharged, however, the odor of the pepper spray will actually attract bears."

 

If you just want me to tell you that you are right, than fine, you are right. The link and reference to some The USGS website has this to say about it in their FAQ about pepper spray.

 

It's a given the pepper spray shouldn't be used as a bear repellant the same way bug spray is used. It's a last ditch effort to save your skin when sprayed directly into the nose and eyes of the bear from 25' feet away, which is the minimum distance required for bear spray.

 

Can we move on?

 

TotemLake...I appreciated your website on bear spray..and I went to it, and read it throughly.

I think it is the best one that we have had on here yet.

 

Thank you.. Howlingwind

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I don't want for you to tell me I'm right Dieseldan, what I want is to warn people about a potentially dangerous situation, one that could cost them their lives. I get the feeling that many people think these sprays are complete protection, and that is a dangerous attitude. Here is another website with examples of actual encounters and the effectivness of sprays. Here is another. The sprays can be effective, but they aren't every time. Don't you think it's a good idea to know all the pros and cons and potential problems before you trust your life with a product? Your argument that you can't find any proof on the web of bears being attracted to the smell of a used spray can reminds me of when I used to install residential phone lines for the phone company. People would tell me that their dog had never bitten anybody before, and I would reply that I had no intention of being the first one, so you either put your dog away or you don't get your phone today. Do you want someone here to risk being the first one for the small price of a new can?

 

Sorry if you think we are beating a dead horse here TotemLake, but of all the dead horses around this one seems the most worthy. I at least hope some people here reconsider how safe that little can actually makes them and they stay smart when they are in bear country. A false sense of security can be worse than no security at all.

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I don't want for you to tell me I'm right Dieseldan, what I want is to warn people about a potentially dangerous situation, one that could cost them their lives. I get the feeling that many people think these sprays are complete protection, and that is a dangerous attitude. Here is another website with examples of actual encounters and the effectivness of sprays. Here is another. The sprays can be effective, but they aren't every time. Don't you think it's a good idea to know all the pros and cons and potential problems before you trust your life with a product? Your argument that you can't find any proof on the web of bears being attracted to the smell of a used spray can reminds me of when I used to install residential phone lines for the phone company. People would tell me that their dog had never bitten anybody before, and I would reply that I had no intention of being the first one, so you either put your dog away or you don't get your phone today. Do you want someone here to risk being the first one for the small price of a new can?

 

Sorry if you think we are beating a dead horse here TotemLake, but of all the dead horses around this one seems the most worthy. I at least hope some people here reconsider how safe that little can actually makes them and they stay smart when they are in bear country. A false sense of security can be worse than no security at all.

Your point is well taken. My point was it is too easy for the information to be looked up to deny that it is there. Like I said... it was a 2 second Google. It's all about user education. However when the user refuses to be educated, agree to disagree. :unsure: Somebody will eventually get yanked out of the deep end of the gene pool like a salmon. <_<

Edited by TotemLake
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Everybody hiking in bear country knows they should wear bear bells to announce your presence and scare off the bears before you can even see them. Wear bright colors. Carry Bear Pepper Spray to defend against an attack and then get the heck out of the woods and report it. That's the old-school axiom.

 

I say old-school because there seems to be a new study out that holds these axioms suspect.

 

We already know how the bears are attracted to the scent of the pepper spray to the point of destruction of the property it is sprayed on based on the articles posted in the above posts. That's why you need to get out of the backcountry. Any evidence of the spray that misted back at you makes you a spicey meat target for the hungry bruin.

 

Backpacker.com has an article citing new evidence that not only do the bruins see color and will investigate a brightly colored tent, they have become accustomed to the sound of bells and do not run away from them.

 

So what can a hiker do? Hike in numbers. Human chatter tends to spook bears away. If hiking solo, clap your hands and yell every now and then. The sound of clappng hands is close to the sound of a breaking twig or branch which the bears will alert on and will sometimes run away from.

 

Bears' intelligence is well documented with anecdotes and studies when it comes to gaining human food in the backcountry, even when that backcountry is a high tourist area such as Yellowstone Park. REI.com has an excellent article regarding a study on bears and how they (the bruins) are beginning to view bear canisters as a useless food source.

 

The point of this post? Enjoy your hikes but be aware of your surroundings. Hibernation season is over or ending in most bear country locations.

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I agree with the ranger guy - I'd just add a few words to it.

 

If you run into a large cat don't run. It kicks in that natural insinct that cats have to chase. Stand up tall, if your with someone get closer to them (you look bigger) and walk away backwards from it.

 

My hubby and I ran into one in our backyard. We had thought it a coyote at first - went in closer and saw it was a cougar. I called our pup (who found her facinating) and got close to hubby to create the illusion that we were bigger. She rolled over on her back in what looked like a submissive position. Then we backed away slowly and she fled.

 

Couple of other suggestions; if your collecting deer antlers don't carry them in your hand or tie them to your pack (put them away in your pack) and if your hiking alone carry a large stick (walking stick.) So if they do get close you can raise it over your head to look bigger. Open your coat, fan it out and make yourself as big as you can. Don't turn your back and walk slowly backwards.

 

If you decide to carry a pistol. I recommend getting a hunters safety course before you take it into the woods. You can usually find a local one being done in your local sportsman. I'm not anti-gun. After all - fighting a cougar is a little like taking a knife to a gun fight. There is no way I can win that fight.

 

As for bears... After living in the country for years and years.. I'd be happy to see one. However, I've heard that only a bear that is wasted away will actually attack a human. That or you getting between mama and baby. Bear attacks are extreamly rare. From what I've heard it's something like 19 people since the 1900's. Pretty darn good odds. :sad: Ranger Rick is right talk to the bear softly. From what I hear they don't have great eyesight so may confuse you for something nummy. Talking to them usually makes them get your human and they take off. (The only exception to this is the grizzley bear but they are so rare - that would only be a problem if your in the northern tip of washington and idaho - by metaline falls and there about)

 

My suggestion for the person who hikes alone - get a really well trained dog. Bears and Cats don't like them much and they love the walk.

 

Hopefully that answers your question. In my opinion a pup is the best protection for anyone in the woods. Even if he is on a leash - you can let him off in the woods if you get those goosebumps that says something is watching you.

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My suggestion for the person who hikes alone - get a really well trained dog. Bears and Cats don't like them much and they love the walk.

I've heard that you really need two dogs, when the bear turns towards one it will run, but the other can then 'distract' the bear. They will alternate their attacks and allow you the chance to get out of there. The only times I've seen bears in the wild, they were more scared of me (even the "tame" ones in the Olympics. "Tame" meaning "used to humans".).

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After the work on the Alaska Pipeline, my son Tom and his wife lived on Takahula Lake in the Brooks Range. They had a Malmute that they took with them when hiking. Tom said they always knew when a bear was near as the Malmute would crowd very close to them. He said the problem with having an "ankle biter" was that they would go after the bear and bring it right back to you. I don't know if that is true or not, but when it came time to return to the cabin, the dog always knew the way. Dick

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My suggestion for the person who hikes alone - get a really well trained dog. Bears and Cats don't like them much and they love the walk.

I've heard that you really need two dogs, when the bear turns towards one it will run, but the other can then 'distract' the bear. They will alternate their attacks and allow you the chance to get out of there. The only times I've seen bears in the wild, they were more scared of me (even the "tame" ones in the Olympics. "Tame" meaning "used to humans".).

 

 

Yes, but dogs are tick magnets, so pick your poison I guess.

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I've never carried anything for protection. Most animals will not bother you unless provoked, cornered, or snuck up on. If the animal hears you coming, he will stay away. Hold a coversation with the person you are hiking with or, if alone, whistle or sing while your hiking. Then the animals will hear you long before you arrive, and they will avoid you. B)

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My suggestion for the person who hikes alone - get a really well trained dog. Bears and Cats don't like them much and they love the walk.

I've heard that you really need two dogs, when the bear turns towards one it will run, but the other can then 'distract' the bear. They will alternate their attacks and allow you the chance to get out of there. The only times I've seen bears in the wild, they were more scared of me (even the "tame" ones in the Olympics. "Tame" meaning "used to humans".).

 

 

Yes, but dogs are tick magnets, so pick your poison I guess.

No more and no less than a human. Protect your dog with the appropriate medication that can be dripped on at the nape of the neck. The name of it escapes me but we protect our dog this way and she is never bothered by any of the pests.

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I've never carried anything for protection. Most animals will not bother you unless provoked, cornered, or snuck up on. If the animal hears you coming, he will stay away. Hold a coversation with the person you are hiking with or, if alone, whistle or sing while your hiking. Then the animals will hear you long before you arrive, and they will avoid you. :wub:

Any animal, four legged or two, has historically run like the wind when they hear me singing. :) If that fails, four legged or two, the .44 should persuade them to hunt their prey elsewhere.

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I got muggled by a dog yesterday while I was signing a log. I guess he scent trailed me. I'm glad he was surprised to see me and turned around when I said Hello!

Before reaching in a hole to grab a cache, put a stick in first. You don't want to pull your hand out with a rattlesnake attached.

I rarely cache/hike in the woods with anything more than a stick/hiking staff.

If you're doing a night cache in the desert and the firetacks blink do not approach, it's most likely a cougar.

The worst "attacks" I've endured in over 40 years in the woods have involved Yellow Jackets, hornets, ground bees and other stinging bugs. Not a whole lot you can do to defend yourself from those.

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My suggestion for the person who hikes alone - get a really well trained dog. Bears and Cats don't like them much and they love the walk.

I've heard that you really need two dogs, when the bear turns towards one it will run, but the other can then 'distract' the bear. They will alternate their attacks and allow you the chance to get out of there. The only times I've seen bears in the wild, they were more scared of me (even the "tame" ones in the Olympics. "Tame" meaning "used to humans".).

Yes, but dogs are tick magnets, so pick your poison I guess.

No more and no less than a human. Protect your dog with the appropriate medication that can be dripped on at the nape of the neck. The name of it escapes me but we protect our dog this way and she is never bothered by any of the pests.

Revolution, maybe? I use Advantage on my cats, but I think it's just for fleas, and Revolution is supposed to handle ticks as well.

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I've lived in western MT for almost 49 yrs now.Most of my days in the woods have been unarmed.I have encountered just about every animal native to this area.The really heart-pumping meetings were while bow hunting and being all camoed up.Nothing like calling in an elk only to have a hungry cougar or bear sneak in on you! Esp when using one of those cow calls.....its like ringing a dinner bell.

But after the kidnapping of Dylan and Shasta Groene,I always carry a pistol now,even if I am picking huckleberries next to a road. Finding out that Dylan was killed just a few miles from my house made me think about who the scariest creature in the woods is......its a perverted human.So don't fear the animals...fear the freaks!

 

P.S. A couple near here had thier dog attacked by wolves while picking huckleberries last fall.They used thier pistols to scare the wolves off.

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Here is my response to the original poster.

 

It is a myth that Cougars and Bears are more afraid of you than you are of them. I have a friend 2 years ago stalked by 2 Cougars up in okanagan county in Washington. He was 2 or 3 days hike into the forest, he ended up killing one of the cats causing the other to flee. Rangers will tell you that Cougars are solitary animals that never hunt together. :P

 

My own personal experience also tells me different. Last August (2006) I was charged by a Black Bear in the Mt. Margaret area of Mt. St. Helens National Monument, I was only about a 1.5 miles from the trailhead. I had crested a ridgeline, were we both kinda of came up startled to see each other. He charged to about 40 feet in front of me stopped, stood up on his hind legs.... I started swinging my walking staff in a large arc over my head and yelling in as deep a growl/tone I could muster. He finally turned and bounded off in another direction. All the berries were ripe at the time; huckleberries and rasberries, he probably decided there were easier meals to be had. I got lucky.

 

However, if I was to carry a pistol I'd be more worried about the 2 legged critters than the 4 legged ones. While National Parks are patroled by Rangers, they still tend to have a high crime rate as people tend to think they can get away with more in a national park. It is a long disproved myth that having a gun you are more likely to be injured by it than the threat against you. I would choose a nice hammerless air weight .357 Magnum by Smith and Wesson. However, a firearm will not do it alone, regular training/practice and being constantly observant of your surroundings will go a long way to keeping you and those you are with safe.

 

I'd also recommend to always carry 3 days of food with basic survival equipment.

 

Difranco

Search and Rescue

NRA Certified Range Saftey Officer

 

For Outdoor Survival and Safety

Gene Ward

 

For Firearms training:

Firearms Academy of Seattle

Edited by Difranco
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