Don’t Mess With Brother Bear

I have written about how to deal with bears in the backcountry for over a decade. We don’t claim to be experts in the matter, however our advice comes from experts. What would you do if you accidentally ran into a bear?

This is the time of year when bears coming out of hibernation are more aggressive because they are very hungry.

First of all, the chances of running into a bear in the backcountry are slim and none. Bears are not notoriously aggressive. If you run into one in the wild, more than likely the bear is going to be just as surprised as you are. But fear not! Here are some signs to look for to determine if the bear is scared or is looking to attack.

If a bear drops his head and you can see his nose twitching and sniffing with its mouth slightly open and ears pinned back-that is a bear to be afraid of but don’t run. Make yourself seem bigger and more threatening by extending your arms over your head.

Last August we published a ‘Guide To Bear Attack Prevention.’ In it were 17
Bear Encounter Safety Tips and a section on how to use bear spray. First and foremost of the tips was “never go into the backcountry, hiking, camping, fishing or hunting without an effective EPA approved bear deterrent spray.” When getting one, only get a bear spray that is EPA approved. The EPA prescribes the minimum amounts of spray in a can-a little over 9 ounces. Look for a spray that empties the canister in five or six seconds. Get a bear spray with the longest range possible. This Frontiersman brand Bear Spray has a range of 35 feet.

Frontiersman Bear Spray
Frontiersman Bear Spray

In the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico, an adult black bear attacked a 55-year-old man who just happened to be hunting for elk antlers. The man spooked the bear causing the attack. He was lucky and only got one bite and several lacerations that were non-life threatening.

Earlier this year (June, 2015) in the great Smoky Mountain National Park a boy and his father were camping when a bear grabbed the boy from their campsite. The boy was pulled from his hammock when he was sleeping. There was no apparent cause for the attack which Park Rangers called “very rare and unusual.” The boy’s father drove the bear away. Historically May and June are very difficult times for bears in the Smokies because their natural summer foods of berries have not ripened yet making bears much more aggressive. Several trails in the Smokies have been closed because of other bear attacks.

In Durango, Colorado recently Campsite Garbage was undoubtedly the cause of a bear attack on a man. The man got 16 staples in his head from the attack but is expected to recover. Wildlife officials suspect that it was the same bear that previously attacked two other victims outside of Durango where people have been camping illegally and dumping their garbage. That bear was put down. Those same wildlife officials said that bears are attracted to piles of garbage anywhere. Once they have fed on food from one campsite they are likely to return to get more. Bears have an enormously powerful sense of smell.

Hey there, we know you are busy but take a minute and chime in! What has been your experience with bears in the back country? Please share any secrets you may have with us especially with bear spray!