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3/11/14 1:34 P

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I suspect a lot of animals have a much better sense of smell than we do. Compared to animals I'd say we were lacking.

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3/11/14 1:23 P

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M@L, no worries: we are a strictly gun-free family!!! emoticon

And thanks to everyone for all the emoticon advice on this thread!

So much to learn about keeping safe in bear country! emoticon emoticon

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MOTIVATED@LAST's Photo MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,486
3/10/14 10:48 P

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Quote: Also, I am *totally* the type to spray myself or one of my kids instead of the BEAR!

In which case, you are totally better off with the spray. Yeah, it is pretty uncomfortable for a couple of hours, but the only lasting damage is the humiliation you will feel as your kids dine out for years on the story "When mom sprayed us with pepper spay." Not the same case if you accidently spray them with a firearm.

Also, bears have a sense of smell far more acute than ours. You don't need to hit the bear directly with spray for them to decide they don't like it.

M@L

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.


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3/7/14 9:21 P

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Wow, and thank you for all this information! Obviously I don't know anything about bears. I was concerned that I'd hurt a mother bear who would be unable to care for her babies properly as a result of a bullet wound. I see that there's far more to it. I see now that I could shoot a bear (assuming I had a gun, which I don't) and things would only be worse for me.

Bear spray it is.

I do know that if I'm out in the woods and I want to sit down on a handy log, don't. Stop and check first to see that there isn't a snake snoozing under/alongside that log.

I'm still a beginner hiker (even though at age 71 I was the oldest old lady to complete the Hyner Challenge here in Pennsylvania in 2013, and how a beginner like me did it I don't know, having only started hiking some eight months earlier) and I have so much to learn. Snake gaiters? Someone else got the same idea I have? I thought there must be something, like the shin guards I had to wear when playing hockey in high school, that someone could wear if there was a real danger from snakes. Now I hear from you that there is something called "snake gaiters" which I gather covers legs and tops of feet.

And what are these neoprene socks? Yes, I wear sandals, and once I hiked up a mountain (such as we have around here) barefoot. When I wear shoes, they are these minimalist shoes. Regular shoes cause me too much pain and I can't wear them. I'm notorious around here for my barefooting.

I fear I will be picking your brains, wanting to learn all I can.

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CHRISTINA48's Photo CHRISTINA48 Posts: 125
3/7/14 4:04 P

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The one time I ended up on a trail behind someone with a bear bell, it nearly drove me crazy. Quickly passed her and hightailed it away (which is what I guess the bears are supposed to do!)

"Yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision, but today well spent makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope."  from the Sanskrit, "Salutation to the Dawn"


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HELMTGRL's Photo HELMTGRL Posts: 1,260
3/6/14 9:49 P

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Bear spray is not that hard to learn to use. And it is useful against other animals, too. One of my crew members was charged 4 times by a young mountain lion last year, and repelled it each time with a shot of spray. It is possible to spray yourself or a family member, but that generally happens when you have your spray in your pack when you encounter the bear, and are panicking. The other time it happens is when you are downwind of the bear, and spray into the wind, which sends some of the spray back to you. If you ever get a dose of bear spray, you understand immediately why it works so well!

It's a pepper-based compound with aerosol pressure. The can has about 10 seconds worth of spray. There is a red or orange safety latch on top. When you need it, you pull back on that safety latch with your thumb --it takes some deliberate pressure, but it is easy-- point it towards the bear, and when the bear is within 20 feet or less of you, you release a 1- or 2-second blast toward the bear's feet. This is because the spray will rise; if you aim at the bear's face, there is the risk the spray will rise harmlessly. If the bear continues to advance, you give another short blast.

There are two main reasons that guns are ineffective against bears; first, if a bear is coming towards you (rather than standing on its hind legs threatening you), you don't have that much target. A bear's skull is way thicker than a human's, and a handgun, which is heavy, is difficult to aim, especially when you are in the midst of an adrenaline rush. Second, a wounded bear is less likely to run off than it is to get really really mad and attack. Every year we have one or two incidents where a hunter who relied on his gun is mauled by a bear that he either missed, or simply wounded.

That is very interesting about needing a permit in some states. It makes sense, given that it is essentially a mace product. Many of the women I know carry it in the backcountry even when they are not in occupied bear territory.

As for rattlesnakes, keep in mind that they want to be warm when it's cold out, and cool when it's hot. You'll find them under bushes and rocks on a hot day, especially near rivers, and sunning themselves on top of rocks or near a place that reflects heat on a cool day. Wear boots, or neoprene socks if you like to hike in sandals, or, in really truly snaky places, spring for snake gaiters. Don't put your hand or foot on a boulder without taking a good look first. But remember, most of the time rattlesnakes don't strike; when they do, they don't always evenomate; and even when they evenomate, if you don't panic, you have a good couple of hours to get to a hospital. Montana is also rattlesnake country, and while we see them all the time, it's dogs rather than people who are most often bit.

Linda
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3/6/14 9:10 P

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It didn't occur to me that bear spray might be illegal without a permit. I am going to find out, though. And If I end up getting bear spray I will learn how to use it correctly.

I don't want to carry a gun into the woods, unlike my son-in-law. Shucks, I'd probably shoot my toe off. And I saw a bear and started shooting, either I'd miss the bear, or I'd injure the bear and send her running off with a painful wound that could become infected and cause excruciating misery for the poor animal. And if she's a mother bear, her babies would suffer with their mother disabled.

Bear spray for me, and practice in using it in the right way.

Bears do sometimes come roaming in town. We don't always have to go out in the woods to see them.

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3/6/14 6:31 P

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Cindy, I like that the authorities take bears seriously where you live.
Of course I'm against animal cruelty, but where we live, they take animal rights to a whole new level. I can't *imagine* the bears here "getting in trouble" for rooting through garbage cans. A few neighborhoods over, the bears have even ransacked neighbors' CARS-- it's pretty crazy!

Also, I am *totally* the type to spray myself or one of my kids instead of the BEAR! emoticon
Maybe a spray isn't such a good idea for me, now that you've explained it!

I think I just need to arm myself with common sense and PRAYER, haha! emoticon

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DFOLKARD's Photo DFOLKARD SparkPoints: (334,564)
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3/6/14 6:05 P

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Here in MA you need a permit to carry bear spray. But in NH you can buy it anywhere. I did get me a permit which covers bear spray and pepper spray in MA.

Debs, Deb or Debbie
Marshfield, Massachusetts




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3/6/14 5:27 P

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(Rattlesnakes-- another species who likes to show up in our driveway!!!) emoticon

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3/6/14 4:31 P

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Although I'm nowhere near Montana this is still nice to know. We don't have grizzlies here, but we do have black bears. I'm wondering now if this might be a good idea here in Pennsylvania if we're going to hike in the woods or mountains (such as they are around here).

My son-in-law takes a gun along when he goes out in the woods. I would not take a gun. I'm more liable to shoot myself in the toe or some dumb thing. And I most likely wouldn't hit the bear anyway. Or worse yet, I'd maybe hit the poor bear and hurt her and send her hobbling off with a nasty wound that gets infected and causes great suffering and vulnerability.

No, I do not want to injure or kill a bear! I don't hate animals. We're intruding in their homes, after all. I think I am going to find out more about bear spray, and when and where bears are liable to be. I'd much rather spray the bear and send her running off uncomfortable for a while but otherwise uninjured.

Now I need to learn about snakes. I'm a snake lover (have two dear pet snakes), but I don't want to get into a head-butting contest with a rattlesnake.

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CINDYAST's Photo CINDYAST Posts: 668
3/6/14 2:54 P

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Bear bells, some love them others think they're a waste of money and annoying. I fall into the latter camp. I'm in Colorado and like the person from Montana, the only people using bells are the tourists. If you're hiking, you're making noise, especially if you're in a group, and it sounds like you'll be with your family when hiking. You're going to be talking, laughing, crunching leaves and sticks, etc. Just be alert and make a little noise (sing, whistle, grunt, whatever lol) and most likely you'll never see a bear and if you do they'll be more afraid of you than you are of them. Having said that, REI makes one that has a magnet in a small storage bag that stops the ringing so you don't have to hear it all the time. That would be a much better option that having to listen to it constantly-like in the car on the way to a trail! lol!

Bear spray. Be warned, you MUST practice with bear spray before trying it out on a live bear. You need to know how the canister operates and know how to AIM the canister before you truly need it. Think how awful it would be to spray yourself in the face with a blast of pepper spray. You really don't want to do that! And the bear must be close to be effective. You need to ask yourself: are you going to be able to stand your ground? And then be steady before firing? And not hit a family member?

From the sounds of your posts, you need the spray more at your home than in the woods. You've got bears that are used to people and that's never good. Here if a bear is going through garbage cans, it's tagged, removed and relocated, if it comes back, it's destroyed. Sad, but true.
Good luck, whatever you decide!

Cindy

Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care... John Maxwell.

Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway....Earl Nightingale


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LINDAKAY228's Photo LINDAKAY228 Posts: 19,570
3/6/14 1:42 P

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I have heard more good things about the bear spray so you might try that. I think most sporting goods stores carry it.

Linda

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3/6/14 1:24 P

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Wow, Linda, thank you for this information! emoticon

I have never even *heard* of bear spray, but I'm definitely going to look into getting some.

And yes, you are not kidding black bears are less wary-- they amble right into our driveway at night and try to get into our garbage cans. My husband bungee cords them, and sometimes the bears snap right through the heavy cords as if they are rubber bands. I am SO scared of bears-- you'd think I woulda heard of bear spray by now, ha! So emoticon for the heads up!

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HELMTGRL's Photo HELMTGRL Posts: 1,260
3/6/14 12:19 P

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Here in Montana, where we have both black and grizzly bears, the only people who wear bear bells or carry guns are tourists. If you are downwind of the bear, if the leaves are rustling, if the wind is blowing, if the bear is near a stream, or if you are more than 75 yards away, the only creature who hears and will be annoyed by the bells is you (or me!)

Those of us who actually encounter bears on a regular basis carry bear spray. A $40 can of bear spray on your belt --not in your pack-- is an effective antidote to a bear charge should one occur. A recent study of guns vs spray found that spray was effective in over 95% of the cases in which it was used (as opposed to guns, which were effective less than half the time). I work in the backcountry with field crews, and each person is always assigned, and expected to carry, bear spray. And don't kid yourself about black bears: they are less wary around humans than are grizzlies, and so your chances of running into one on a trail are pretty good. In most cases, it will turn tail and run, but if it has cubs, or if you really took it by surprise, it could make an aggressive move on you.

Linda
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Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.

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3/5/14 8:27 P

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Ooooh, now a memory: I was working on a farm in the farm store. It was fall a few years ago, and I looked out and there was a black bear eating the pears that had fallen to the ground. I was concerned that if customers were to arrive, what might happen. But the bear went away so there was no threat.

But I was concerned about after the store closed and I'd be going out the back way in the dark. I got a bell and flashlight, and made lots of noise as I left.

In the end nothing happened. Never saw the bear again.

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MOTIVATED@LAST's Photo MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,486
3/5/14 7:07 P

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My understanding is that brown and black bears are not fundamentally aggressive, and are unlikely to attack unless threatened. If approaching quietly from downwind of the bear, you may surprise them from quite close, and they may feel threatened. Using bells will let them know you are there from much further away.

I don't know whether they may or may not attract a curious bear, but I do know that a bear that moves closer out of curiousity is not one that feels threatened.

M@L

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.


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LINDAKAY228's Photo LINDAKAY228 Posts: 19,570
3/5/14 5:58 P

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I really am not sure as I have never had any. But I have had the deer whistlers on the front bumper of my car for several years as I lived in a rural area with lots of deer, especially at dusk and dark and early in the morning. They are sold a lot of places with sporting goods and supposed to scare the deer into running away from your car/truck. In my experience it always scared them into running. The problem was sometimes they ran away from the road and sometimes they were scared and ran across the road in front of me and I almost wrecked a few times because of those whistles. I stopped using them. They may still work enough to make them worth it but I just don't know. The same thing with the bear bells. I don't know if there are those few times that the bears actually cross your path because of those bells. I hope someone that has more experience can help cause I would like to know too.

Linda

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3/5/14 4:52 P

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HAHAHA!!! emoticon Ohmigosh!

{{{YIKES!!!}}} emoticon

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3/5/14 4:42 P

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I was in Eastern Mountain Sports awhile back and was told by a hiker/empolyee that the only thing they are good for is to help the bears find you.

Debs, Deb or Debbie
Marshfield, Massachusetts




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3/5/14 4:35 P

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My family has recently taken up hiking, and we are loving it. Hiking is something we can all do together, even our youngest, and gets us outdoors and gets our hearts pumping, too!

We do have California Black Bears around here (which I am terrified of-- especially when they wander around our DRIVEWAY!).. emoticon Now *that* is not the kind of "heart pumping" activity I enjoy, hahaha!

I am wondering if anyone has heard of, or has had success with "Bear Bells"..? They are really just jingle bells that you attach to yourself or your pack, and they are supposed to alert any bears that you are coming, so that they creep back into the woods.

I've read some reviews on Amazon, and some say they work like a charm, while others feel they actually serve to *attract* curious bears!!!

Any info/advice/opinions greatly apprecited!

Thank you!!! emoticon


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