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torey221
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torey221
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PostWed Feb 28, 2024 11:23 pm 
Is it okay to blow a whistle occasionally on a trail when hiking alone to ward off animals (mountain lions, bears, etc.)? I know three blows signal distress. ***I forgot to add that I will be with a small dog. My fear is mountain lion attack while being alone. I have bear spray and my dog stays near me. Just working up the courage to solo backpack with mountain lions and a Shiba Inu.

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contour5
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 1:49 am 
Well, you might miss out on spotting wildlife. Bears often seem nearly oblivious to their surroundings while foraging. Cats, of course, do not care. They are always watching...Depending on the wind, many animals will detect your scent long before visual or aural contact. Slapping on a big splash of AXE or Febreeze may be more effective at deterring lethal predators than bells, whistles or bright colors. That said, I frequently make up stupid songs to sing on the trail and randomly shout "hey bear" on sharp corners, when entering dark forest or stepping out into blinding sunshine. I've nearly tripped over bears on several occasions. Always succeeded in backing away slowly as the bear leveled their eyes on me, blinked, and then did that tire-spinning 180 degree burnout maneuver. They always run away, because we (humans) kill them for sport bi-annually. To be honest I find whistles to be somewhat annoying but I suppose a lot of people would feel the same way about my singing.

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Pyrites
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 4:13 am 
When alone I’ve worried more about not getting hypothermia, I’m extra careful crossing creeks, and can’t really figure out why I crossed snow bridges when young. Oh, and two flashlights.

Keep Calm and Carry On? Heck No. Stay Excited and Get Outside!

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Mountainfisherman
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 5:30 am 
I doubt that many bears have been shot at to associate humans with that 'loud noise,' or process the idea of a now annual hunting season. They fear humans because upright we appear bigger to them and anything bigger than themselves poses a threat. Fortunately, they're more afraid of us than we are of them.

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timberghost
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 6:20 am 
They fear humans because they are hunted and know to associate humans with danger. Probably better to carry a aerosol air horn can and dispatch it when or if trouble happens. Learning firearm safety and or bear spray is another option but comes with proficiency.

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treeswarper
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 7:03 am 
I blew my whistle that was pinned to my vest when a bear kept ambling my way. The whistle was so loud that when blown, it made my ears ring. The bear seemed to be deaf and kept walking towards me. I began waving my arms and yelling, he seemed to be deaf and blind. Then finally, when I was going to go to my last resort--my paint gun, he stopped, looked a bit surprised and changed direction. I'm just not sure about how bears think. Another bear took off at a run when a metal hardhat was beaten on to make noise. Maybe you should carry a hardhat?

What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities
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texasbb
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 8:29 am 
torey221 wrote:
Is it okay to blow a whistle occasionally on a trail when hiking alone to ward off animals (mountain lions, bears, etc.)?
No!! Quiet, solitude, forest sounds, etc., are a big part of the hiking experience. Please don't wreck it for everyone within a mile of you.

Roly Poly, Now I Fly, kiliki, Walkin' Fool, Cyclopath
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texasbb
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 8:38 am 
treeswarper wrote:
The whistle was so loud that when blown, it made my ears ring. The bear seemed to be deaf and kept walking towards me.
I heard comments by bear biologist Tom Smith suggesting that the best bear avoidance noises to make while hiking are noises that could possibly be made by another bear: clearing your throat, grunting, even simply snapping a small stick. Bears are way up at the top of the food chain, so only another bear really gets their attention. Smith said in his experience high-pitched sounds (like whistles or those infuriating bear bells) get interpreted as birds or squirrels or other innocuous beasts. IIRC, it was this video:

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treeswarper
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 10:57 am 
And this will be controversial, but I've found a dog to be an excellent bear deterrent. Many encounters. Grew up with a Beagle who would tree bears that came into the camp. He once had two bears in two trees to keep track of. My Golden chased bears out of the neighborhood in a very bearrry place. And my Used Dog did his share of galoomping after bears, while I figured out how much danger we were in. One time I high tailed it back up the road we were hiking on as there were two cubs treed, whilst mama bear took off with the slow Used Dog chasing. He came back quickly and we waited a bit, then walked on down to see that all bears were gone. I pay attention to my dog. A couple of times on a trail in the Randle suburbs, he spooked and we turned back. There were cougars that had been seen in that area at that time.

What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities

ChinookPass
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solohiker
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 11:49 am 
You could have a point that certain dogs might deter bears, but they could also attract cougars. When I had my dog I was more concerned about cougar presence than bears. We saw bear several times (my dog didn’t chase or anything, she always stuck very close to me), but never saw a single cougar. Not unhappy about that.

I have never been lost, but I'll admit to being confused for several weeks. - Daniel Boone
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Cyclopath
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 11:55 am 
My panther gets aggressive when she sees dogs. It's how she responds to being afraid. Not an uncommon response among cats.

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treeswarper
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 1:30 pm 
solohiker wrote:
You could have a point that certain dogs might deter bears, but they could also attract cougars. When I had my dog I was more concerned about cougar presence than bears. We saw bear several times (my dog didn’t chase or anything, she always stuck very close to me), but never saw a single cougar. Not unhappy about that.
Did you not see the bit about being in an area where cougars were seen? We were walking along and The Used Dog's hair went up, he growled and was hesitant to go ahead. I thought of recent reports of the big kitties in the area and trusted his "feeling" and we turned back. There were also sightings of big cats in my neighborhood. A mama cougar and two babies had been seen by folks. No action was taken other than neighbors telling other neighbors that the cats were in the area and to keep an eye out whilst walking.

What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities

Waterman
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idoru
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 2:00 pm 
contour5 wrote:
That said, I frequently make up stupid songs to sing on the trail and randomly shout "hey bear" on sharp corners, when entering dark forest or stepping out into blinding sunshine.
I'm almost exclusively solo when I'm out and about, and this is akin to my typical approach. Sharp corners or sudden changes in environment (eg, entering/exiting forest like you mentioned) get some noise from me by default, and I'll also do it at random whenever I'm in a thick-forested area or get "a vibe". Usually it's a combo of tapping my poles together pretty loudly and grunting/whooping/singing for a brief moment.

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Nancyann
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 2:03 pm 
I don’t blame the OP for being concerned, especially if they are going to have a small dog with them. I doubt that blowing a loud whistle would make much difference, but the dog might very well be a good bear deterrent, especially at night while camped. I have had good results with bear encounters by barking loudly like a Jack Russell terrier, several times while riding my horse and a couple of times while hiking. Three years ago, while rounding a bend in a remote area of the Glacier Peak Wilderness, I literally came face to face with a big black bear. As soon as I started barking loudly like a crazed terrier, the bear turned and ran down the hill. I have not tried this with cougars though and would not recommend it. I always bring a small can of pepper spray and at least one trekking pole when hiking solo, especially in the Wallace Falls and Sultan Basin because recently I have seen a large cougar there which seems to be habituated to humans, completely unconcerned by target shooting noise. It was about 1/8th of a mile away and walking towards me, so I started slowly walking backwards until I rounded a bend, then picked up my pace and just kept looking over my shoulder the rest of the way to my car. For me, bear spray canisters are too heavy and not as easily deployable as a small pepper spray can. If you do bring bear spray, practice using it at home first. Make sure the wind is blowing it away from you and your dog as well. Another thing you might like to bring on your backpacking trips is a small collapsible solar lantern for use after dark in camp. (Only if no one is camped nearby.) I love using mine on long trips because it saves my headlamp batteries and only weighs five ounces. I don’t know if this would help deter cougars or bears, but I have never had them visit while I am using it.

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Vertec
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PostThu Feb 29, 2024 4:45 pm 
torey221 wrote:
Is it okay to blow a whistle occasionally on a trail when hiking alone to ward off animals (mountain lions, bears, etc.)? I know three blows signal distress. ***I forgot to add that I will be with a small dog. My fear is mountain lion attack while being alone. I have bear spray and my dog stays near me. Just working up the courage to solo backpack with mountain lions and a Shiba Inu.
See my post on Page 8 of the .. personal safety .. / other.. topic. I attached a video titled "Mental Conditioning...", which sounds "heavy" because it deals with "heavy" safety equipment, but it contains proven points related to awareness that are beneficial, even absent carrying "heavy" equipment. It's an old video, and while the topic remains the same the subject has evolved into being described as "mindset" training. One common opinion/theme regarding animal attacks suggests there is little to no time to respond. I'm somewhat surprised by this opinion because reporting on all the recent attacks/encounters state the animal was observed stalking before acting. This implies there would have been ample time to take action. There are also many videos floating around supporting such interaction. And even if time is limited, the "Mental Conditioning..." video describes how maintaining an effective mindset is proven to "make up" time when needed. I've recommended the video to pro photographers who've told me the awareness conditioning is also useful for discovering subjects to photograph. Of course carry bear spray - not because it makes you "feel better" but because if used properly it can be an effective tool in deterring a threat. The video applies to bear spray just as much as it applies to "other" tools. Edit: Probably best to reply on the "Outdoor related personal safety.." topic.

Out There, carrying the self-evident truth I am endowed by my Creator with unalienable rights of self-defended Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. "Don't believe everything you read on the internet" -Winston Churchill
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