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Steve Erickson
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PostFri May 01, 2020 8:30 am 
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I have hiked quite a bit in the Northern beginning part of the Gospel Hump Wilderness. Never seen a grizzly or a track of one. Even though they have been spotted within the last few weeks, I doubt that you would run into one. You are more apt to see wolves than a grizzly. But, be prepared with whatever makes you more comfortable.
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80skeys
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PostFri May 01, 2020 8:48 am 
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Eric Hansen wrote:
What I'd pass on is this ...

Good advice and interesting stories from someone who looks like they have a lot of experience. I've carried bear spray for many years but have never practiced with it, so I'll make a point to do that this summer. I wonder if I should practice in the foothills by where I live? Any tips on practice - should I go off-trail and spray the stuff where it's unlikely people will stumble on it?

Last year when I was backpacking near Big Creek, Idaho, I had a tense encounter with a mother black bear and her two cubs. As it happens on this afternoon, it was the only time I had put the bear spray in a pocket where I normally don't carry it. So I was fumbling around trying to find it. By that time I would have already been mauled if the bear had decided to charge, which fortunately it didn't.

But this encounter opened my eyes about the whole matter. I was right on top of them before either I or they knew it (they were foraging in huckleberry bushes on the side of the trail.) If the bear had charged it would have been on me in about 10 seconds. If it had been a grizzly I wouldn't have had a chance.

From this point forward I want to be more prepared, at least inasmuch as one can be for that sort of thing.
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80skeys
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PostFri May 01, 2020 8:58 am 
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longhair27 wrote:
You could always buy a 10mm Glock.  :>)  Just kidding.

Well.... apparently no handgun is going to be effective against a grizzly unless it has specially prepared bullets. This according to a longtime friend of mine who grew up in far northern Alaska. He says he packs a specific kind of bullet that he makes himself and I believe it's in a .357 or maybe a .44 revolver, I can't remember. He says anything less is totally ineffective. Even "regular" .357 or .44 rounds won't work.

I've read part of the Lewis and Clark journals, and it's very interesting, because they talk about shooting rifles multiple times at grizzly bears with seemingly no effect whatsoever.

Plus, I think you'd have to have a lot of firearms practice to be able to whip a pistol out and quickly use it with calm, under the pressure of a charging animal.

i'm not saying it's not a good option. It probably is, for certain people. I just don't know if it's the right option for me.


Question for you all: if one is bluff charged by the grizzly, what's the protocol? Stand your ground?
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Steve Erickson
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PostFri May 01, 2020 9:18 am 
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Two things, practice with bear spray is a good idea. Several years ago I decided to do that. Was with my son and shot out a spray. Suddenly I noticed something wrong and told my so to run. Learned paying attention to wind direction is very important. Regarding hand guns in Alaska, experienced people that hike in Brown Bear country like to file the front sight on their pistol down. That way if you run into a Brown Bear(a very big grizzly), it slides into your mouth easier.
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80skeys
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PostFri May 01, 2020 9:32 am 
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Steve Erickson wrote:
like to file the front sight on their pistol down. That way if you run into a Brown Bear(a very big grizzly), it slides into your mouth easier.

Lol, good one. Honestly I'm not real worried about running into the single grizzly that's been spotted in Gospel Hump. In two months time it might not even be in the area any more. But making effort to be more prepared is probably not a bad thing.
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Chief Joseph
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PostFri May 01, 2020 9:52 am 
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Steve Erickson wrote:
Regarding hand guns in Alaska, experienced people that hike in Brown Bear country like to file the front sight on their pistol down. That way if you run into a Brown Bear(a very big grizzly), it slides into your mouth easier.

I carry a compact 9 for that reason, since it's not too heavy.

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Go placidly amid the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
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HikerJohn
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PostFri May 01, 2020 10:42 am 
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Experienced canoeist and hiker in Northern BC Grizzly country.  Have seen a few in the wild, including on river banks and the male adults are HUGE and terrifying (or would be if we hadn't been in a boat and paddling briskly away!).   My thoughts?
1.  Bear Spray-- I carry a large can of Counter-Assault and it's ALWAYS on my belt unless I'm in my tent-- even just walking around camp.  Leave the firearms at home (can't carry in BC Parks anyway) and skip the "bear-bangers" (they sometimes go off on the OTHER side of the bear-- a bad thing).
2. Manage your smells aggressively.  I put everything that has a scent in a Doubled plastic bag when in my pack (toothpaste, food, drink mix) and it never goes in my tent.  Same with food-- it's always contained until opened up, then goes in sealed garbage bags.   All of this goes in bear containers and that goes in bear boxes (at many campgrounds they have steel metal boxes for food stuffs) or up on bear wires.
3.  Never cook near your tent.  The smells from cooking may waft onto your tent and that will cause issues.  Cook at least 100' from your tent if possible and if not, get as far away downwind as you can safely.
4.  Buddy system-- don't go away from camp as a single (even to do nature's call) and make noise....
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Brushbuffalo
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PostSat May 02, 2020 5:10 pm 
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80skeys wrote:
just wanted to ask people what your experiences are backpacking in grizzly country

As others have mentioned, learn about grizzly behavior and habitat. An excellent reference is Stephen Herrero's classic Bear Attacks.

I don't recommend ignorance, as exemplified by this.
In May 1989 I was in Banff NP and wanted to go running on some trails. Discouraged by signs placed by Parks Canada on several of my choices ("Trail closed due to bear activity"), I decided upon a trail leading into snowbound subalpine country, reasoning the bears wouldn't be up there.
After a few uneventful runs ( although I did see a woodland caribou up close), I returned home  and soon bought Herrero's book and only then read
"In the May mating season grizzlies tend to favor subalpine zones" [paraphrased].
Whoops....
(The only grizzly I saw on that trip was a young loner alongside a road near Maligne Lake.)

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80skeys
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PostSat May 02, 2020 5:34 pm 
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Brushbuffalo wrote:
An excellent reference is Stephen Herrero's classic Bear Attacks.

I ordered it yesterday.
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RichP
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PostSun May 03, 2020 7:43 am 
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Grizzlies are slowing increasing in numbers in north central Idaho.

https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2020/apr/25/grizzly-tracks-spotted-near-grangeville/
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jackchinook
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PostSun May 03, 2020 8:24 am 
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I have had a decent amount of work experience in Grizzly/brown bear county. Various gov agency fisheries work in Montana, Yellowstone NP, and SE Alaska, and spent a good amount of time recreating in those places as well. Aside from the good advice a number of other posters have shared, one thing that stuck with me was maintaining a party size of >3 in grizz country. The stats, while admittedly not set up to support a robust study, do indicate that solo/duo hikers are at far more risk than larger groups (provide you’re sticking together!). My recollection of the studies in YNP is that even in the large group incidents, the victim was separated and/our out-front of the group.

My anecdotal observations on Chichagof Island were that bears would steer far clear of a group of 4 but would approach closer if we were 2....never liked that.

We planned our last two trips to possible grizz destinations (Beartooths and Admiralty Island) both to be 4person trips.
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Joseph
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PostSun May 03, 2020 1:50 pm 
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longhair27 wrote:
Black Bears are actually very predatory on humans more than grizzlies in the lower 48.

I would like to know where  you came up with this - the conventional wisdom is that grizzlies are more agressive and dangerous than black bears, but black bears are not without danger.

I have only been in grizzly country (between Grand Teton and Yellowstone), once, on horseback. I wasn't really afraid.  That said, I think I'd have a hard time relaxing if hiking / backpacking in grizzly country.   No thanks.
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80skeys
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PostSun May 03, 2020 2:10 pm 
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Joseph wrote:
I think I'd have a hard time relaxing if hiking / backpacking in grizzly country.  No thanks.

I'm with you on this. If you've read the Lewis and Clark journals, or watched videos on youtube, you realize how damned ornery those freaking grizzlies are.
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Randito
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PostSun May 03, 2020 3:25 pm 
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Not that this will help you sleep at night, but statistically you are more likely to be killed during the drive to/from the trailhead or by bees.  Deer and moose kill more people per year than bears (via vehicle collisions with deer and moose)

Quote:
# OF DEATHS IN THE UNITED STATES PER YEAR (including Alaska)

Cause of death ………………… # dead
Cardiovascular disease …….. 856,030
Transportation accidents …. 48,441
Drowning ……………………….. 3,582
Hypothermia ……………………699
West Nile virus ……………….. 119
Hornet/bee/wasp stings ….. 48.5
Dog attacks ..............  30
Cow accidents .............  20
Snake bites …………………….. 5.2
Bear attacks …………….. 2
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texasbb
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PostSun May 03, 2020 7:20 pm 
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Joseph wrote:
longhair27 wrote:
Black Bears are actually very predatory on humans more than grizzlies in the lower 48.

I would like to know where  you came up with this - the conventional wisdom is that grizzlies are more agressive and dangerous than black bears, but black bears are not without danger.

The general wisdom is that grizzlies are more likely to attack, but their attacks are usually defensive.  Blackies attack less often, but when they do, it's usually a male looking for supper.  That's why playing dead can be a good idea with a grizzly--you convince her the threat is gone and she takes her cubs and goes home.  But playing dead with a blackie moves your odds of survival from very low to zero, because it just makes you an easy snack.  Fight back.

That black bears are "very predatory" is not the case, though, by any reasonable definition of "very."
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