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Carrying a gun

4:31 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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In my opinion I would feel safer carrying a firearm with me especially on extended trips. I know a lot of people disagree whole heartedly with this idea... but if you carry a gun safely and responsively I don't see a problem at all. By that i mean only discharging it when there is an Extreme danger, not just if you see a bear 50 feet away, or target shooting on the trail, or anything like that, using it only as a "last resort" method. I know there are a lot of people that aren't nearly as safe or responsible as others and those people shouldn't be allowed to carry firearms out packing, but there is no way to really sort through those people. I just feel like 90% of people in this sport have qualities that show they are responsible enough to carry. I don't mean to offend anyone with my views, so please don't attack me on my beliefs, because I feel strongly about my right to bear arms, even though my girlfriend is sooooo against it. So i just would like some feed back on the Pro's and Con's of what you believe... I like to take in every possible view on subjects before I make decisions. Later

5:28 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Unless you're hunting there's no good reason to carry a gun in the backcountry whatsoever. If you're afraid of bears get informed and buy some bear spray. It's lighter, easier to carry, faster to draw and more effective than a gun. It's the best piece of protection you can have. Works on bears, moose and (very unlikely) people. Unless you carry a 12 gage with 3-4 slugs in it you're not going to stop a bear charging at full speed, you'll just make it mad!

I don't deny the fact that you might feel safer carrying a gun, but if going out for a hike scares you that much and you feel the need to carry one, please do us all a favor and stay home before you shoot someone hiking at night or you get it stolen somewhere. It's not going to save you from anything.

You're more likely to die from a falling tree or hypothermia than an attack anyway, check the statistics. Guns are also prohibited in national parks, so you won't be able to see some of the best scenery.

It's all a matter of getting informed. The wilderness is not a dangerous, unforgiving place. It's where most of us go to relax, have a good time, connect with nature and GET AWAY FROM GUNS!! Unless you're hunting...

5:32 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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If you respond to most situations encountered when hiking with a gun exactly as you would respond in your own neighborhood, no problem. For example, if a dog barks at you as you walk down the street, you don't shoot it, do you? Then if a dog barks at you in the backcountry, don't shoot it. The same goes for someone who looks "sinister" or encountering a group of teenagers partying in the woods. Keep your hand off your gun.

Visibly carrying a gun may cause, or escalate, volatile confrontations. Therefore, the person who carries one must be very tolerant of verbal abuse and slow to anger. "Look at the big man with the gun..." Concealed carry might help in some cases.

A cool head will be much more effective than a fast draw. A lot of fine police officers have been killed by their own gun in the hands of another.

JMO, YMMV

5:43 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm a hunter, gun owner, all of it, and see absolutely no need for a weapon in the backcountry. The vast majority of people you run into are great, friendly and helpful. I agree with Franc, if you are that scared, just don't go backpacking. Also, he is dead on with the bear spray comment, add in some easy precautions and you should never have a serious problem with bears.

7:09 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Well, I'm gonna side with overmywaders on this one.

I also must add that my experience has only been with Black bears, and I have only had one confrontation that made me nervous in 20 years. In the areas I backpack in we have an average of two Blackies per sq. mile, many of these are relocated or habituated bears who do not always run away because you yell at them.

There have already been two lethal attacks in the area, so the notion that blackies are not dangerous is not one I subscribe to. I do feel the woods are much safer than going downtown late at night though. I feel I do have a balanced view of the risks.

Carrying a gun does not necessarily indicate fear, nor does it indicate a falsely perceived fear of the back country for most people who carry responsibly. Not everyone carries responsibly, and some people do carry thinking it will solve all their problems.

It is strange to say, don't carry a gun because the back country is safe, but you should carry bear spray to protect your self from bear attacks, that is not a balanced view of the risks involved.

Some people who do not carry, or who have gun phobias, sometimes have a false fear of those who do carry, and would rather no one carry.

There is some truth to both sides.

I personally do carry in remote areas, I am not scared, I am well educated and experienced in back country travel.

I do not think my gun is a danger to anyone, nor do I think it is my ace in the hole. I do not carry just for protection from bears, I have several reasons, one is for survival purposes.

I will say this, I think most people who carry for personal defense have woefully inadequate handgun skills. It takes time and serious practice to gain the kind of skills that let you present your handgun to a moving target, under stress, making split second decisions, and still shoot effectively. Most people will not put that kind of effort into it.

There are many good courses you can take to improve your skills, but I see the average Joe thinking that a couple hours at the range (even with an instructor) every once in a while is all that's needed...WRONG.

As far as bear spray, it is probably more effective for most people than a gun, but many people have accidentally sprayed them self, or sprayed into the wind, or sprayed while running and ran through it. Or can not present the spray very fast because they are not ready / prepared / practiced, same as with a gun.

Bear spray is more forgiving to mistakes by the person using it, and the learning curve is not bad.

Bear spray is not lethal, but may not work well, or as expected, into the wind. You need to buy two cans and practice with one so you understand how it works and behaves. There have also been accidental discharges with bear spray by hikers who got careless. So bear spray is not benign either, and does require a degree of responsibility on the part of the user.

Just because you carry, does not mean you have to shoot a charging bear, two shots into the ground close to the bear are also an effective deterrent, firecrackers also work, but you need time to find your lighter, etc.

Following the prescribed procedures & rules for your area, being bear aware, and paying attention to your surroundings is the best way to stay safe, and the best way to avoid a confrontation to begin with.

Same with first aid, safety & prevention is paramount, but the wise hiker is prepared for the eventuality of an accident / injury.

Being prepared does not mean being scared.

7:44 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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trouthunter,

I think your point of view is well thought out, and I have much less objection to your post than gtg23x's, but being prepared and carrying is a different thing. In most backcountry situations, carrying is simply unnecessary. We can all list thousands of things that "might be needed" on the trail, but in my opinion a handgun is not one of those things. It is fittingly, overkill, and unless you are on an extended, remote backcountry trip I see no need to carry.

8:07 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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ADKer,

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, nothing wrong with that.

I only carry on multi day backpacking trips while in remote areas of the Southern Appalachians, usually with some bush whacking. I love to fish the many mountain streams in these areas that other fishermen do not usually travel to. These areas are wild, and I have changed my opinion of just how "safe" they are over the years. We have pot growers, moonshiners, and meth labs all throughout the area. It's probably still safer than a trip to the mall, but I prefer to be self reliant. The law enforcement response time in these areas is not acceptable (non - existent).

I feel no need to carry on day hikes / trail systems in parks, etc. I am not advocating personal carry, just offering my perspective. I also know people who work in wildlife management who hold similar views, then again, they have a lot of training.

I do carry bear spray.

8:10 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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If I were in a permanent or semi-permanent camp in bear country I would probably want to have something that would stop bears. Bear spray has not been proven to stop a charging bear, most of the instances of its use were for bluff charges, and to scare bears away from food (even though pepper spray residue attracts bears for the next hiker to deal with). In actual sow-with-cub charges, the speed of attack withers the possibility of a cloud of pepper to stop it. In rain, mist, adverse winds, etc., bear spray is ineffective. Most real attacks by brown/grizzlies are by startled bears, which means you are too close; perhaps because a headwind or violent rain have muffled your approach and scent. Again, bear spray won't help. But neither will the average carry gun. A sufficiently powerful handgun to stop 400+ pounds of bear moving at 25mph in 30' or less is a lot of weight to carry.

I would probably want to have a short-barrel pump 12 gauge with slugs and large shot alternating. However, here is the rub... when I really needed it, I probably wouldn't be carrying it. Murphy's Law. And I would never carry such a fearsome weapon on a hike, only when working in bear country from a base camp, which, alas, is past me now. :)

8:26 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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I would like to offer this link to a bear study discussing bear threat behavior, it is a great read. It is in PDF format.

http://www.bearbiology.com/fileadmin/tpl/Downloads/URSUS/Vol_3/Jordan_Vol_3.pdf

8:56 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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trout,

It is a good read, but frightening in its simplicity. Some people who read it might begin to believe that the record of a behavioral theorist working with half a dozen animals, some captive, has significant observations. Bears, like humans, have individual responses to external stimulae. They also have good days and bad days...even toothaches.

Tell the woman who kept a black bear for fifteen years and cleaned his cage daily about charges... oh, wait, the bear killed her.

9:14 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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...the wilderness is not a dangerous unforgiving place..., this type of attitude is WHAT causes so many of the fatalities and injuries that we have in Canadian wilderness areas every year and it is beyond foolish to consider wilderness areas as benign, safe or merely relaxation zones.

I sometimes carry a specificly built bear gun, of which I have several and sometimes I do not; I base my decision on doing so on over 50 years of pretty intense bush experience and I am a VERY capable and skilled firerarms user.

My impression is that more and more people are carrying here in B.C. due to the increase in bear attacks and certain other risks; a few carry handguns in employment situations, all one can legally do here and some novices still buy into the shotgun for bears mantra. Those of us who have decades of bush experience carry purpose-built short and very powerful rifles with the power to STOP an on-coming bear.....spray is the biggest "con-job" since Brad Angier starting telling hippies all about how to live in B.C. wilderness ...on pennies a day...

Spray CAN be effective, but, my .375H&H is a LOT more certain in stopping an attack and I firmly believe in using what works best to save my elderly azz from being chomped.

Those who simply don't "like" guns are free to do as they wish and should realize that others may simply WANT to carry and have that right. I seldom do, but, will always choose a gun over spray and especially when running large projects with scores of young people working in BC wilderness, as I did for years and never had one of my crew members attacked.

For anyone interested, get James Gary Shelton's three books on bear attacks and READ them; this is THE MOST realistic info. currently available and is what BC Forest Service and BC Workman's Compensation Board employees are taught and Gary's methods WORK.

I wonder how many here have actually dealt with a Grizzly up close and personal; I have, several times and I think that there are often GOOD reasons to carry a gun while backpacking.

10:04 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Grizzleys are a completely different thing, none of us have mentioned, or justified a carry based on grizzleys. They are a completely different animal that deserves completely different precautions. Let me also remind that bears were not the most important reason for carrying in the initial post.

10:18 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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What concerns me here is the attitude that wilderness is not dangerous, which it most emphatically IS and also that anyone who considers wilderness to be innately dangerous is somehow afraid and should stay home.

I was BORN in rural, mountain B.C., spent decades working, often alone for extended periods in some of Canada's most remote wilderness and, honestly, I sometimes AM somewhat afraid and I do not consider this abnormal.

I have to carry or not depending on the conditions in MY region and here we had two Grizzly attacks within one week last month, both in places where I have been and often go. So, while the concerns of suburban USA hikers over "bad guys" on the trails are not really relevant TO ME, the Grizzly issue IS a major concern HERE and thus TO ME.

Anyway, everyone has to base their actions on what they deem appropriate and what is legal where they hike; I simply gently object to sweeping generalizations about wilderness, bears, guns and safety as well as personal courage as my life experience has taught me that such are usually invalid.

10:19 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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In the back-country areas I visit no bear has ever stood his ground for a second once he saw or smelled me. I think it's my breath, but it could be simple B.O.

Many years ago, walking in new snow, I happened on a sow with twin cubs. One cub ran off, the other scooted 5 feet up a lodgepole pine. Mother apparently viewed this as UNACCEPTABLE behavior around humans, and she swatted the cub out of the tree and they both took off.

Socially unacceptable to bears. It's a real blow to my self-image, let me tell you.

I surprised a cougar feeding on a kill last summer. It was in a huckleberry shrubbery and neither of us knew the other was there until we got pretty close. It took off too, and didn't even stop to look over its shoulder and snarl. Maybe I'm just ugly? Momma always said...

But seriously, in my part of Oregon there is no reason to pack heat to deal with animals. That says nothing about other areas; just about what I'm familiar with.

Dealing with people...a study done recently by the University of Pennsylvania estimated that "people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun." (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090930121512.htm) No study, and especially no sociological study, is ever the last word. But I have no doubt that in America the topic of guns is more steeped in myth, wishful thinking, and misinformation than any other topic except, perhaps, sex.

Every armed person I've met in the woods has been benign. Usually I get asked if I've seen any elk sign, we commiserate about the dry, noisy conditions, and we go about our business. Again, I have never been given any reason to want to pack heat.

But I speak only of what I know. Other people in other places certainly know other things. If I lived in a Cormac McCarthy novel I sure as HELL would want weapons, and the bigger the better.

10:30 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Dewey,
if your argument for carrying doesn't apply to the situation that we are all discussing, then it really isn't that relevant. Terrific, I have no doubt that there is a need to carry north of the border, but let me tell you this, you really make illegitimate your points when you resort to this pathetic capitalizing and attempts to scrutinize your American neighbors by calling us suburban hikers. I take offense to that.

10:45 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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What I was looking for are any and all reasons to carry or not carry a firearm. So far so good

10:56 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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That was my impression of your intitial post and what motivated my comments. I will simply say that I agree with your feelings as you expressed them in many respects and I think you should carry ( with constant practice) as YOU see fit.

I could post many actual experiences here where having a gun and the skill to use it were of major benefit to me and to colleagues, but, I reiterate, be guided by YOUR OWN "gut level" on this and then get the best appropriate gun you can and practice with it.

Good topic, but, it always involves controversy.

11:13 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Always carry when I'm out... rarely don't.

 

Bottom line: Bear spray doesn't always work, firearms don't always work.

 

I carry both because I want every chance I can have.

3:21 a.m. on October 13, 2009 (EDT)
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The debate about carrying guns, whether in a city or in the woods, will go on forever, but I feel that it is like priests and murders. In other words there is no middle ground, it is appalling or righteous. I'll wade in here, and to let you know, although I used to shoot all the time, I no longer do. I have shot every conceivable handgun, had a conceal carry permit, and hunted.

I have recently started backpacking again, and I do understand the fear or apprehension that people have when wanting to carry a gun, or the need for it. I have a different take on it. In Arizona, I used to carry a pistol all the time, and there was not one time when I even saw a bear. I did not carry bear spray, because I had a friend that sprayed a bear in the face and it did not faze it one bit. But here is something else.

To carry a pistol for the protection of bears, demands a high power gun...a 357 is the smallest. That is, if you are going to drop a charging bear. I carried a 44magnum, and the proper ammo. But man...that thing was heavy, and it was a short barrel too! Then, how do you carry it? It is a pain in the ass. Why...because of the weight, but also because it is hard to carry. What I mean is that you cannot put it in a hip holster, as that interferes with the backpack waist belt. So the only real solution is a tactical holster, which ties to your belt, and then hangs down on your thigh. Now somebody mentioned all the nice folks they meet on the trail. Well people, they will freak if they see you with a gun tied to your thigh. So what then...well...you put it in your pack. Hell of a lot of good it will do you there.

In Arizona, I always hiked and backpacked with my son, who was very young back then. I know that some of you will gasp for air, knowing that I carried while with my son. Well hold your breath. I was hiking up a trail south of Tucson on sunny afternoon, and we were on the way back. My son was in front of me, although only a few steps, when suddenly five big guys literally jumped out from all sides. Behind us, in front of us, and from above...jumping down from big boulders. It startled me, it was so quick. It scared the hell out of my boy. They were not there for a tea party, and were in my face quicker than hell. I don't know why, robbery maybe, as they were not dressed like hikers. I was carrying that 44 mag, and since I had no pack on, it was on my hip. I grabbed my son, and put him against the rocks, to my side and dropped my hand to the gun. It is scary, because you had better damn well be prepared to use it, and I'll tell you right now...I was. I stopped short of drawing the gun, and braced the guy close to me and asked him what the hell he and his friends were doing. He said nothing, and they slowly backed away and left after seeing the gun. I fear what would have happened if I would not have had it.

On another note, my brother-in-law was sleeping in his tent on a hunting trip, when he was awoke to the sounds of his tent being ripped apart. It was a brown bear, and it was not curious! He shot it in the head at point blank range.

I am sorry to go on and on...but the point is that you cannot be prepared for everything. Nowadays, I still carry but I carry a smaller gun, a 38 special, that I have loaded with "hot" personal defense loads. It is a last resort, but not the only one, as I carry pepper spray. Oh...if you worry about a gun in a camp with a child, know this. Pepper spray...bear spray...will make a human blind if sprayed in the eyes. So proper education is paramount no matter what you do. I also carry a "STORM" whistle, of which I would explain at another time, suffice it to say that at 95db's I am sure a bear would not like that noise. (It really bothers dogs I know)

So instead of being pro or no gun...be educated.

8:44 a.m. on October 13, 2009 (EDT)
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... it is beyond foolish to consider wilderness areas as benign, safe or merely relaxation zones.

As compared to what? Walking dowtown, crossing the street, driving your car, cooking at home.....somebody got his head cut off in the Greyhound last year, who would have tought of that?

My point is: is not more dangerous than the 1000s of other things out there that can kill you. Of course if you have no idea what you're doing the risk is increasing, same goes for driving and most things in life. I feel much safer in the bush than in my car. I don't carry a gun but then again i don't wear a crash helmet in my car even though it is more likely to save my life some day. The safety gained is not worth the trouble.

I still believe that with all the options out there, the small margin of safety gained by carying a gun big enough to stop a bear is not worth the trouble. Think about it: What are the chances in your life as a backpacker that you will be able to draw fast enough, aim, shoot and stop a charging bear that had the intention to kill you?

You're more likely to get killed by something else in your own backyard.

10:07 a.m. on October 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Franc, you are posting ONE example of an incident that happened here in Canada, that has never happened before; I really do not think that is a valid comparison.

My point, is simply that wild country contains potential dangers and these should be taken into account by anyone who goes backpacking or works there, as in silvicultural workers, prospectors, guides and so forth. We experience deaths by various accidents AND BY wild animals here in B.C. every year, often dozens of them and some of those involved are highly trained, very experienced professional outdoors people.

You, like everyone, are entitled to your beliefs, about guns or anything else; however, I happen to think that carrying as I sometimes choose to do actually enhances my margin of safety and I DO have the training and skill level to use my chosen gun(s) effectively.

No, MY backyard, in one of Canada's highest crime areas, is NOT a dangerous place, a high chainlink fence, two purebred Rottweilers and certain other considerations actually keep it quiet, safe and a pleasant refuge. My "yards" in quite a number of my working wilderness camps were visited by Grizzlies and Black Bears, which are more dangerous than those with limited experience realize and were more dangerous, as a result, than my home.

I am not saying that you or anyone should or must or even should want to carry a gun, knife, axe, club or banana as protection while backpacking; I am merely saying that carrying a gun CAN be a genuine protection from some wilderness dangers and is NOT an indication that the person concerned is somehow afraid and should just stay home.

12:37 p.m. on October 13, 2009 (EDT)
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FYI to everyone, we've considered banning the entire "guns in the backcountry" topic on Trailspace, simply because it virtually always becomes contentous due to its controversial nature.

I really don't want to ban any specific backcountry topic because it might be controversial, and I've held off on banning this one because I think it is a valid topic. It's obviously a reality and if someone is set on or considering carrying, I'd rather they hear some pros and cons from others before making a decision.

I think a lot of the responders to this thread, on both sides of the issue, have given well reasoned, informative responses about their personal views (thank you).

However, I think much of this topic has been exhausted already and I doubt it changes very many minds.

I'm not closing the thread (at this point), but please keep the personal out of it and be respectful of others. Thank you.

http://www.trailspace.com/about/community-rules.html

12:40 a.m. on October 14, 2009 (EDT)
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If I need to carry a gun to be safe, I'm not going. Call me a suburban hiker.. whatever. I pursue the outdoors for relaxation, challenge, and personal accomplishment. I would not put my hiking buddy (my wife) or myself in a situation where I felt it necessary to carry a gun to be "safe".

This lends itself to the point, and I am about to misquote here, "if you feel the need to carry a gun to be safe, don't go".

Some of our Trailspace friends who have contributed to this post are in serious wilderness situations, with serious predators. It is understandable that they would carry a firearm. they grew up with them I imagine.

For the average Joe like me, suburban hiker... carrying a gun is not something that needs to be considered. I don't take offense to suburban hiker. It is what I am. I live in the city and seek my escape and refuge in the "wilderness" In my case, more often than not "wilderness" is a 100 mile long by 30 mile wide stretch of a National Park called Shenandoah. Sure we have bear, we have a xxxxload of them as a matter of fact. On a good day I will see 7 bear. They are the timid Northeastern variety, you say "boo" and they are gone.

Dewey's wilderness may be a couple hundred thousand acres? I don't know but the point being made is that you, the OP and everyone else reading this needs to consider your own situation. For the average suburban hiker, 100 miles by 30 miles of wilderness is... wilderness. For a guy in BC, or Texas, its the back 40. For trouthunter, who's stomping ground is the southern part of the Appalachia, trekking off trail looking for a trout stream that has never seen a Black Wing Long-Horned Sedge and running into a grow operation could be a life ending experience. (although, trout, I have to say, it might be a better move to tell them how nice their bud is and "could I cop a couple of buds", might extend your life longer than pulling a weapon. I hear those guys are pretty well armed.) I digress, and trout... that was a bit in jest as I know the weapon in your case would be a last resort...

At any rate, the moral of the story. Getting advice in a forum like this is not going to give you your answer. It will give you 100 different points of view from 100 different perspectives. The average Joe will take the one that fits what they want and say. "see, I was right, I should carry/not carry" depending on what they knew they wanted to hear before they even made the post.

Though I have to admit, it is an entertaining read.

1:33 a.m. on October 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Interesting discussion. There have been some good points made here by folks who really know what they are talking about. There are poor points made by folks who don't.

How do I tell them apart?

1.) The ones who say "do this" or "don't do that", "you need this" or "you don't need that" are automatically disqualified. It's too complex a topic for simple answers. "Guns Bad" or "Guns Good" just doesn't satisfy.

2.) The ones who say "I think" are automatically wrong. It is not a conceptual topic. You can't just think it out. It is an empirical issue, demanding an ability for multi-variate analysis.

3.) The ones who describe their experience, and the limits of that experience, are worth listening to. They get the complexity, and the fact that it is not a conceptual issue.

4.) Anyone who thinks they shouldn't carry, shouldn't.

5.) Anyone who wonders if they should, needs a lot more experience, talking to other experienced people, training, hunting experience, etc.

6.) Generally speaking, talking about what you'd carry is a sign of over-active imagination. There are a couple of exceptions to this in the above comments, especially when humor is involved -- humor is generally a sign of sound thinking. (Not sarcasm, snark, etc. -- real humor -- think Mark Twain.) Seemingly practical considerations, like what's too heavy, are red herrings. A lot of folks would think my long-trip first aid kit was too heavy. You would be glad to have me with you when you needed it. The weight would be insignificant at that point.

7.) At which point it must be said, any talk about what might be useful is automatically disqualified. There is some worth to imagining what might go south, but you don't know if your imagination is right or wrong. The only real basis is what worked, what didn't, what you needed and had, what you had but never needed, what you didn't have but needed, what you couldn't do without even if you only needed once in 40 years. What I "might need" is a good way to raise my base weight to ludicrous levels. Hence my first aid kit: everything in it has been absolutely essential at some time. I either was glad I had it, or swore I'd never get caught without it again. Experiential verification.

8.) Anyone who thinks that pepper spray is good but guns aren't, doesn't understand why pepper spray works (when it does) or why guns don't (when they don't.)

9.) Being prepared, as someone said, is not the same as being scared.

10.) There are reasons to carry besides personal defense, critter control, or survival. You have to have carried a lot to know what they are. If you know, you don't need me to tell you. If you don't, I doubt I could explain it.

11.) None of which has anything to do with how macho you are. Although I know people who carry because they hope it will make them macho. Tee hee, is all I can say to that.

9:28 a.m. on October 14, 2009 (EDT)
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After that wise and entertaining post, I will add a couple of thoughts.

I did not and do not consider all Americans to be ...suburban hikers... in any negative sense, my point was simply that, as "Snakey" gave an example of, there ARE a number of potentially dangerous scumbags prowling the hiking trails near major American urban areas, and thus those hiking there are suburban hikers who may very well NEED protection.

Here, where I live and recreate, this is not a concern, however, aggressive bears are a major concern and thus there are a number of circumstances where an appropriate firearm is a very useful tool to pack along. The circumstances are simply much different in the thousands of miles of untouched wilderness of northern B.C. and the contiguous territories than they are in much of the US, hence, my comments.

We have a large wilderness park, actually 3 or 4 of them right beside metropolitan Vancouver, B.C., I am about a 20 minute drive from the major trailhead and can see the area from where I am sitting. This extends many miles north and is almost all totally wild and has only a few trails within it. People get lost and die of hypothermia in this area every year and often these are those who tend to scoff at it's inherent dangers, yet, this is the most "developed" part of B.C. and has, by our standards, a high level of usage, many of whom ARE Canadian suburban hikers.

The level of courtesy and friendliness among users on these trails is impressive and we get a lot of tourists from all over the world using these parks. I would never even consider carrying a gun there, yet, the area is crawling with Black Bears, there have been aggressive encounters and there are a few Grizzlies still living there.

Last month, on this date, I was packing up a trail in NW-BC and near a stream full of spawning, dying and dead Salmon. The weather was vile, the stench foul and many shaggy characters were about, gobbling decomposing fish...gag.... My buddy and I WERE hunting, but, I would hesitate to just backpack there without a bear gun and I have lived north of there, among Grizzlies, alone, for extensive periods and witnessed just what these bears can do to a bull Moose, nevermind some old geezer like me!

So, I feel that it's kinda "horses for courses" and commonsense should prevail. I agree that anyone unsure of his/her position on this should investigate further before actually carrying and if you are not able/willing to practice, then, a gun is just extra weight.

3:30 p.m. on October 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Bottom line is simple,wether you agree or dont,who is to chose those who are perceived to be responseable enough to carry a weapon?There is never going to be total agreement on this one.Those who were raised in a hunting family have a total different outlook on the subject as those who were not.In the pacific nw there is no reason to carry a gun because of the wildlife in the back country.The least safe areas are at the trail heads near metro areas but if we all carry guns seems like more mistakes are bound to happen.So bottom line is that people are the largest hazard regarless.If i lived in the great north in grizzly country i would have a different out look but i dont so for now i have no need to carry a weapon on my hiking trips.

6:28 p.m. on October 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Skinmanjohn asked,

"Bottom line is simple,wether you agree or dont,who is to chose those who are perceived to be responseable enough to carry a weapon?"

The people who choose are the SLED agents who issue the carry permits, in my case. I have a CCP and the test is not easy, it is both class room instruction and performance fire, under pressure.

But I do understand your point.

Here's a simple test anyone can do on some private property:

Grab two buddies with paintball guns, and pick up your mother in law. Have your buddies stand behind you at the 8:00 & 4:00 positions, and your mother in law directly behind you at the 6:00 position, after setting up a moving target.

Now run around your car as fast as you can until you almost pass out, do 25 push ups.

Take up your position and try to shoot a moving target, (teddy bear or pillow swinging on a rope) while the two buddies shoot you with paintballs, and you mother in law tells you why you aren't good enough for her daughter.

This is called a stress test. If you can not hit the teddy bear / pillow at 20 yrds. leave the gun at home.

This is meant to be both serious and humorous guys. Always take a gun safety course!

*also if you can, try to do this in the rain or WPS (worst possible scenario)

7:30 p.m. on October 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Almost missed it!!

Hey Big Smoke, yes you make a good point. I would gladly try some bud before being confrontational. HaHa! Then I would walk in circles for days probably.

Again, I do not necessarily promote carrying a gun, nor will they solve all your problems for you.

I grew up shooting / hunting and feel just as comfortable with a firearm as with my Chapstick, but there is a monumental difference in the amount of responsibility needed between one and the other.

It's fine with me if others disagree on this topic, I do understand the reasoning behind both sides.

At least we should all agree that we are fortunate to live in a free society where we can debate openly and not be imprisoned or shot for speaking our mind.

8:53 p.m. on October 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Absolutely, here here trouthunter, I feel fortunate that I'm still even allowed to hunt, seems the way things are going that could be constricted even further. Let me add, I'm not one of the many wasteful hunters out there, I eat everything I take, and take only what I would eat.

12:15 a.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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"2.) The ones who say "I think" are automatically wrong." That's what you "think". HeHeHe

3:57 a.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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TroutHunter....you crack me up. LOL

Hey how about this...squirt guns filled with Bear Spray.

I think the subject has been whipped to death, and nothing more will come of this when emotional certainty prevails. Alicia...close the thread.

 

Thanks for the exciting debate...

11:12 a.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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In all seriousness, I have considered a squirt gun filled with "anhydrous ammonia" as a bear defence tool and may yet experiment wiht this. Lots of pro Grizzly researchers in the western US DO use this potent liquid to deter bears from entering their spike camps at night; this is not as "doable" here in B.C. where it rains almost constantly, but, seems to really work in the relatively arid western US.

It may sound odd, but, since I detest killing ANYTHING without a good reason, although I love hunting, fishing, organic gardening and gathering-cutting my own firewood, so, using this might well BE a valid alternative to a gun. It's an intriguing option, IMHO.

I gotta disagree, I hope this thread is kept open, no offence intended.

11:14 a.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Snakey,

I think Alicia's previous comment was enough to bring us all back in line, I doubt all of us think it is necessary to close the thread

11:32 a.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I would rather carry a wristrocket!

3:11 p.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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It all depends on the area, and if your carrying for bear protection or for testosterone valve. I don’t want to offend anyone with my statement or opinion. You say an extended trip, that means a heavy pack to began with. A hand gun capable of downing a dangerous game animal (Brown Bear/grizzly) will weigh about 3.5 to 4.5 pounds (S&W 500/454 Casull) something to consider for something that might never be needed. Also consideration should be taken in to account on what type of bear is in the area, and I’m not talking black or brown. Type; is it a bears that are hunted during hunting season (these type are normally afraid of man); is it a bear area where the bear are never hunted (these bears are dangerous, they do not normally fear man); what is the food source for the bear area berries, salmon etc…, and is it plentiful (be aware in the berry patches or by the salmon stream); do you normally see a lot of bear sign in the area you’re going to; etc… I guess I could go on and on with situations, sometimes I might have a gun sometimes I don’t (I hate a heavy pack), and I don’t believe bear spray would work on a sow who thinks her cubs are in trouble and charges. Spray will work on maybe a curious bear. I am also a person who stood 24 feet away from a Kodiak bear (big big big) and I get a eerie feeling every time I think and recall the moment, I am a lucky man! I also think there are alternatives – back packing bear fence (600 volts), just remember when you go to the restroom at nite time. I also think everyone on this subject should watch the Tredwell video, I do believe his girl friend was having her woman time of month (again I don’t mean to offend anyone) and this is what sparked the bear to their tent. Good luck in your decision and I have respect for people who carry and for people who do not carry this is why we’re a free country.

8:16 p.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Taken from the North American Bear Center webpage[br][/br]

Despite doubts among hikers and campers, you're better off with an eight-ounce can of bear spray than a gun, according to 20 years of data

Apparently, it takes on average 4 shots to stop a charging grizzly. So, according to 71 cases studied, guns were effective 67% of the time compared to 92% for bear spray in repelling an attack. Keep in mind this focused mainly on Alaskan grizzlies. Wind didn't seem to be a major factor either.

I know this seems to contradict a lot of previous posts, but i'd rather trust a scientific study than a gut feeling or random advice. The goal is to be as safe as possible anyway, and i would be very interested in knowing if any study about the effectiveness of bear spray in real cases was done in Canada.

8:53 p.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I would have a bit of difficulty trusting a "scientific study" in which a prominent manufacturer of bear spray is cited as an objective source.......

9:49 p.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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That study was done by Tom Smith & colleagues in an effort to show that bear spray was effective.

T. Smith said:

"Working in the bear safety arena, I even found a lot of resistance to bear spray among professionals," Smith said of the product, which retails for $30-$40. "There was no good, clean data set that demonstrated definitively that it worked, so that's why we did this research."

I have no doubt that bear spray is effective when used properly, at least to a point. You must however get the spray IN the bears face!

Although I like to read studies and often link to them, much of this study was based on studies done by Stephen Herrero and Higgins. I can't recall Higgins first name, sorry.

Actually what Herrero said in his study was that Pepper spray did not make the bears more aggressive, and went on to state that in 3 out of 16 cases the bear attacked the user anyway. So the spray did not make the bear any madder than it already was I guess, but it did not stop the bear. In 6 out of 16 cases the bear continued to act aggressively. He also states that Black bears are more resistant to bear spray than Grizzlies, especially the ones that are habituated to people & human garbage.

Tom Smith seems to have left out a lot of data.

Herrero's studies also contradict the notion that wind plays no major role in the performance of bear spray, and goes on to state that in dense folliage bear spay dispersal is hampered to the point of being questionably effective.

But don't take my word for it, go spray some in a fan. HaHa.

11:19 p.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Taken from the North American Bear Center webpage[br][/br]

Despite doubts among hikers and campers, you're better off with an eight-ounce can of bear spray than a gun, according to 20 years of data

Apparently, it takes on average 4 shots to stop a charging grizzly. So, according to 71 cases studied, guns were effective 67% of the time compared to 92% for bear spray in repelling an attack. Keep in mind this focused mainly on Alaskan grizzlies. Wind didn't seem to be a major factor either.

I know this seems to contradict a lot of previous posts, but i'd rather trust a scientific study than a gut feeling or random advice. The goal is to be as safe as possible anyway, and i would be very interested in knowing if any study about the effectiveness of bear spray in real cases was done in Canada.

If you believe a sample of 71 incidents is enough to deem one method more effective than the other, then I believe any posts you make on the subject should be taken with a grain of salt. 71 incidents is an insignificant sample to say the least, and there are so many variables that can skew the data that it would take hundreds of trials performed under very similar conditions before any meaningful data could be obtained.

With that said, I feel this discussion is futile as most folks just aren't capable of making optimal decisions -- that is, if they were born in a hunting/shooting family, they will defend the decision to carry regardless of whether it is optimal or not, and vice versa for the non-hunting/non-shooting crowd. Frankly, I see no reason to carry a firearm in most cases. The only time I ever carry is when I'm hunting.

1:37 a.m. on October 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I don't know if this is relevant to the thread, but I bought a whistle lately, a form of an emergency signal. I also bought it because I have heard that making noise can potentially scare the bear away.

I had a buddy that was relaxing in camp and when a black bear walked in the camp, and it scared him so much that he climbed up a tree. Then an hour later, his two camping partners, girls, came into camp and banged pans together and the bear took off like a bat out of hell. It really made him feel foolish, but I didn't give him too much grief because after all...he had TWO girls camping with him.

I had seen these whistles on the web, and they looked really cool. I ended up finding one in a local army surplus store and bought it. Less than eight bucks, and they are called "The Storm Whistle" and actually work under water! So if you fell in a river, the whistle would work when wet. They have videos on their web site. But hey...I got home I gave it a short blast and man the thing is LOUD!!! I went outside, and since I live next to a park, I hauled down on the thing and gave it a hard blast. OH MY GOD! That thing is ridiculous! (Scared the hell out of some dude and his dog) The point is...does anyone know how a 95Db blast would affect a bear? It would have to bother him somewhat, I would think. Now I am not going to run around the forest to try and find a bear to try it out, but hey, you are supposed to carry bear bells.

Just saying...

6:24 a.m. on October 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I was NOT born into a hunting-shooting family and had to join cadets at age 12 in order to shoot; my parents could not afford to give me a gun and did not own any, I bought my first one with money I saved from lugging 5 gal. pails of concrete all day in the sun for a contractor building his own retirement home.

So, I did not hunt or own a gun until less than a year before I began working in the Kootenays for the Forest Service and I soon learned when carrying was appropriate as we were not allowed to except when authorized by HQ for certain specific situations....as it still should be, IMHO.

The metallic noises using "at hand" objects is the FIRST technique of bear defence I used to teach new crew persons in silviculture and suppression work and I still do this, with the desired results. However, given that we have had three Grizzly attacks causing injuries and the death of a beloved doggie here in B.C. in ONE month, I still advocate carrying in the bush at this time of year.

I know one of the participants in the study above and all I have to say is that the "partner" he refers to in his book on bear attacks was among the members of the very first BCFS crew I ever supervised and trained, in basic bear techniques, in 1969. I won't comment further on what I REALLY think of him, this type of "science" or anything else connected with it, as it is pointless to engage in such potentially acrimonious debate here.

9:16 a.m. on October 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I agree with Alicia: no one who has an already-formed opinion is going to change their mind as a result of an internet discussion.

If anyone is genuinely uncertain about carrying a gun in a particular area, however, the rationalist approach would be to Google accident and wildlife incident reports for that area. Then decide whether a firearm would have been of any use in preventing those kinds of problems.

I did that for Oregon.

There are no reported fatalities due to bear or cougar attack in Oregon.

I found three records of non-fatal bear attacks in 2008 and 2009:

1. A woman was clawed when she tried to chase a bear away from sunflower seeds she had stored on her porch.

2. A wildlife handler was mauled while feeding a caged black bear at Wildlife Safari near Winston, Oregon.

3. Hunters wounded a bear in the shoulder with a .338 but could not track it; when one of their party later stumbled on it the bear attacked.

None of these were unprovoked attacks on back-country travelers.

The cougar information I found specifically for Oregon did not list any attacks; the incidents quoted were all of cougars watching people or of people seeing cougars.

Documented back-country fatalities in Oregon came from:

* Exposure after becoming lost

* Falls while mountaineering

* Hunting accidents

* Heat stroke

* Being caught in an avalanche

Hazards which might be considered, as there have historically been deaths in Oregon from them:

* Being struck by lightning

* Bee stings (a person dies in Oregon from bee sting roughly every other year)

* Rattlesnake bite (about 50 people per year are bitten by rattlesnakes; fatalities, however are considered "rare")

Highway fatalities run from 400 to 700 per year. Workplace fatalities are around 30 to 50 per year. Violent deaths in 2007 were 789, with 592 of those being suicides. (We are a gloomy people, and the rain soaks into our brains...)

The vast majority of injuries and deaths in Oregon occur on the roads, in the workplace, and in cities. Here, bees are more likely to kill you than bears, and you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than of being killed by a cougar. Certainly you can get hurt or die in the Oregon wilderness. But with respect to the actual dangers -- being lost, getting caught in an avalanche or falling off a cliff, succumbing to heat stroke -- a gun is nothing but dead weight.

I don't carry a gun in the Oregon wilderness. I see no rational reason to start.

A similar accident / wildlife incident analysis for British Columbia would very likely reveal a much different picture. If an analysis suggests bears may be a real-world danger in a particular location, then the traveler should probably take an equally rational look at what measures have succeeded and what measures have failed to protect against bears in that environment.

But nobody who already wants to pack a gun is going to be dissuaded, and no one who is already anti-gun is going to be persuaded to start carrying. Alicia is right: this topic is mostly for airing pre-formed opinions. Nobody reading it is likely to change their mind.

10:35 a.m. on October 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Great post and there are MANY situations here in BC, probably MOST where a gun IS ...dead weight... and I seldom pack for that reason. BUT, having "been there", there is NOTHING like a serious bear stopping rifle at certain times!

The other "reason" is simply because one WANTS to carry and that is important to preserve our rapidly vanishing traditional freedoms in North America, thus, to my aged and probably infirm mind, it is a rational decision.

4:36 p.m. on October 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I'll put my vote in the pro-carry column. Protection is one reason, the 2nd Amendment is another. Public land should be open to public rights.

4:59 p.m. on October 16, 2009 (EDT)
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There are many problems with the study cited, as has been pointed out very well by some other posters. I won't repeat.

Let me point out one fallacy that has not been mentioned yet. The study (actually it was more of a "survey" of anecdotal data, not a "study") said it takes an average of 4 shots to kill the bear.

The object is not to kill the bear; the object is to stop the assault.

I am sticking to my earlier resolution not to talk about "what gun I'd carry" or any of that. If I explain the above statement any further, it will only offer opportunities for red herrings, straw man arguments, and a bunch of nitpicking that I won't respond to anyway, so I won't go any farther. If you don't understand that statement in its fullness (which includes bear anatomy and psychology, terminal ballistics, etc.), then your opinion is about as useful as my opinion of Manolo Blahnik shoes. If you do understand it, I don't need to explain.

I say again: those who say spray is better than a gun, do not understand why spray works (when it does) or why guns don't (when they don't.) Authors of that "study" included.

I intend no denigration against anyone who has sufficient knowledge and has made any particular choice, because I am not trying to say what anyone should or shouldn't do.

I am hoping, by making these assertions, to get folks to understand their own thought processes and the limits of opinion, however appealing or strongly held. I am not trying to instruct anyone in how to handle bears.

I personally am not against spray, nor do I think a gun is superior. Just as in dealing with violent crime, a continuum of response is called for. For instance, I would likely try metal-on-metal noise, given the opportunity, as my first response, no matter what else I had available.

11:56 p.m. on October 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I'll put my vote in the pro-carry column. Protection is one reason, the 2nd Amendment is another. Public land should be open to public rights.

Iron Mike,

This thread is not really about 2nd amendment rights, it is about whether or not it is needed from a standpoint of safety from animals, specifically bears.

12:13 a.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Ok...here is something I found in another post...very appropriate for this forum....and FUNNY!!!

http://imgur.com/RjIZC.jpg

12:39 a.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Nice find Snakey!

9:06 a.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Re whistles: I've often wondered if those air horns they use at high school basketball games would be effective. They certainly give off a hellacious blast and they couldn't weigh much.

Might also be interesting to know which smells bears find offensive (if any). Given their olfactory senses are 100 times stronger than ours, hitting them in the nose would seem to be a fruitful area for research (though I suppose it's already been tried).

9:33 a.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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In the coastal lowcountryand in many parts of the southeast wild hogs are breeding like crazy. There is a good black bear population in the eastern counties of the Carolinas, but the hogs would be my bigger concern. Also some of the people would give me reason to feel more comfortable carrying concealed.

2:16 p.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Re whistles: I've often wondered if those air horns they use at high school basketball games would be effective. They certainly give off a hellacious blast and they couldn't weigh much.

Might also be interesting to know which smells bears find offensive (if any). Given their olfactory senses are 100 times stronger than ours, hitting them in the nose would seem to be a fruitful area for research (though I suppose it's already been tried).

Yes...this is my thought too. I recently got a "STORM WHISTLE", which is one loud whistle. The thing is really cool, as when you bow it really hard...it produces a 95db blast of sound. That is LOUD...which means if you blow that next a person, you could blow out their eardrum....so be careful. Even works when wet. I think that if a person was lost and a search party was out...blowing that would be a great thing. I know dogs hate the damn thing, so bears more than likely would shy away from it too. http://stormwhistles.com

9:18 p.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Pub Spears is correct on the boars and bears, we have both in the Francis Marion Forest in SC close to where I live, and I'm 30 minutes from the beach!

We have discussed horns and whistles here before, just can't seem to get anyone to go with me to try them out! And I'm not going by myself, I will need someone slower or bigger than me to go.

Any volunteers?

2:13 p.m. on October 18, 2009 (EDT)
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IMO, pepper spray just gives a whole new meaning to "seasoned outdoorsman."

"Lies, damn lies, and statistics." The bear spray studies must be read very carefully.

I would wager that most of the instances in which bear spray was noted in studies as being effective were also times at which the bear did not indicate aggression but the hiker, in fear (fully understandable) panicked and sprayed. For example,

Regarding brown/grizzly bear incidents associated with curiosity of searching for human foods and garbage, in 100% (20/20) of the cases the spray had the effect of stopping the behavior that the bear was displaying immediately prior to being sprayed. The bear left the area in 90% of the cases.

So 20 of the cases where bear spray was used was simply to drive bears away from food, not in self defense. Unfortunately, while those hikers were able to save their food, they littered the ground with a cone of bear attractant up to 40 feet long. Hikers using the site for as much as the next five days would not know that someone had spread bear bait around, enticing bears from a distance. (See the study for the attractive power of bear spray residue.) A single gunshot would probably have scared the bear away as well, without placing bait.

"Of these 15 incidents where person(s) chose to use bear pepper spray to defend themselves, 13 were decided successes (87% success rate), and 2 were judged ‘failures’. In the one failure the bear charged through the spray cloud, swatted a woman to the ground, bit her in the face and left. In the other failure the bear did not leave the immediate vicinity of the hiker (it was only 15 feet away) when sprayed directly into its face. Consequently this well-armed hiker fired a bullet over the bear’s head, apparently providing enough reasons then for the bear to turn and leave."

That second person was smart enough to carry a backup deterrent.

Some of the merits of carrying handguns in bear country:

1/ They provide a confidence factor that "gives people a reason not to run." ..."in 83% of these instances (35) desired results were not obtained.... bears chased after the fleeing persons, and in some cases, attacked and mauled them. So, running from an aggressive bear should not be high on your list of options for dealing with them in a close encounter. "..."Not running and holding your ground conveys a message that bears recognize, that of a co-dominant unwilling to yield. That gives them pause and buys you time."

2/ The loud noise of the shot scares them (shoot to miss). In speaking of bear spray it is noted that "The sudden, loud hissing of the spray and billowing cloud startles bears. This effect I have observed several times in person and on video-tape. You could be spraying sugar water for all it matters initially because this sound and sight is surprising. As a result, approaching bears are surprised, they halt, and very often run away before the spray even reaches them. Again, this startle effect has been shown time and again to give bears a reason to go somewhere else and, as our records show, they most often do."

How much more startling is the in-your-face report of a .357?

3/ The government study I have been citing suggests that you "Always carry at least 2 deterrents at all times in bear country, one being pepper spray. Bear spray has such a well-proven track record that you would be remiss in not carrying it. The other deterrent might be a flare pistol, signal flares, an airhorn or a firearm".

[Note: That "well-proven track record" consists of 15 instances of which 2 were failures. Hardly enough points to graph and statistically insignificant.]

The study may be found at http://www.absc.usgs.gov/research/brownbears/pepperspray/pepperspray.htm

3:15 a.m. on October 19, 2009 (EDT)
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interesting....

1:08 a.m. on October 21, 2009 (EDT)
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Pub Spears is correct on the boars and bears, we have both in the Francis Marion Forest in SC close to where I live, and I'm 30 minutes from the beach!

We have discussed horns and whistles here before, just can't seem to get anyone to go with me to try them out! And I'm not going by myself, I will need someone slower or bigger than me to go.

Any volunteers?

I'll go, but I'm bringing my Judge just in case lol.... Last time I hiked FMNF I didn't run into any hogs, but they're out there. I did have a run in with some boars in the ACE basin earlier this year.

5:10 p.m. on October 21, 2009 (EDT)
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OGBO's solution -


Recommended only for those with skill and experience. And yes, that is the OGBO.

5:45 p.m. on October 21, 2009 (EDT)
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I like that! I pick up a bow from time to time, but alas, I'm no expert.

12:26 a.m. on October 22, 2009 (EDT)
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An educational thread, thank you. I wear a .357 in pot-infested Northern California where locals have started telling hikers on public lands and roads that it is private and trouble awaits tresspassers. A holster extending below the shirt helps keep those conversations short. Mostly BLM lands but some intermngled USFS and even national and state parks have problems. Think King Range Wilderness (ground zero), North Fork Wilderness (no official trails), Redwood National Park (dense backcountry), Humboldt Redwoods State Park (use speedloaders). Even where gardens are only indoors, growers monitor the roads and trails. One locale turns big dogs out when someone gets out of a car. Foreign cartels have moved in and have guards. Forget the bears, boars, and lions. You are walking off trail and suddenly the plants look peculiar, or there is stubble where recently harvested. The padded hoster fits comfortably under the pack belt, but not too discretely, and is still accessible. The 38 oz plus ammo is basic gear especially in fall. It can be left home only if you are carrying an 8-lb hunting rifle instead - loaded only when mama bear sends the cubs up a tree next to you as you back away. Have a driver drop you off because parked cars are inspected by upset locals. Not kidding, sorry.

5:23 a.m. on October 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Bolly,

Sadly, you are not kidding. It is beautiful country up there, but so overtaken by the sins emilla growers for so long -- a friend of mine was run off land he owned, at gunpoint, back in the early 80s, by a couple of growers who wanted to expand. I don't know the whole story, but I remember the fear in his voice when he told me about it. They were a couple of completely conscience-less psychopaths and would have snuffed him as thoughtlessly as they would snuff a candle. And such beautiful country for folks who love the outdoors like we do! Be careful and don't let 'em whipsaw you. (one guy on either side so you cannot keep an eye on both at the same time.)

12:13 a.m. on October 23, 2009 (EDT)
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There are those who are for guns and those who are against them, just like there are those who believe in God and those who don't, good vs. evil and so on and so forth. One side can't (or will rarely) change the view of the other. There have been a lot of good posts here and if you are deciding whether to carry maybe you have gotten enough info to make a decision. If you want to carry, do so (LEGALLY and with the knowledge and practice/skills necessary) if you don't want to carry....then don't. I think the horse has had enough here on this one (no disrespect to anyone intended).

D

10:49 p.m. on November 12, 2009 (EST)
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Hanguns and Trail Interactions.

My wife and I hiked for 15 years throughout the Northern California Wilderness and Southern Oregon Wilderness areas. Our logs show over 10,000 miles of hikes, mostly 10-15 mile day hikes and perhaps 10% overnight hikes at cirque lakes. We often encountered bears and even cougars up close. I carried a Beretta .22 M21 because it wore well in my pocket without notice and very little weight. I practice with this flawless little handgun and I feel very safe with it. I use CCI Minimags. In all of our confrontations, simple common sense stopped the 6 risky encounters.

I hiked 15 years prior to marriage. Those years were unarmed. One bluff charge by a 300 lb bear was all that I endured. Cougars are curious and need you full attention but the common black/cinnamon bear here on the West Coast runs away. They always run away.

Frankly, it doesn't matter what you carry if the cougar gets you from ambush. They are good at this but the chances are extremely rare. The bears always run - always run.

So, why do I carry the M-21? The one in a million weird encounter!! Besides, it is so light you forget you have it in your pocket. It is so excellent that it is reliable, pocket lint and all. I love the walnut grips on my classic and I hate the newer plastic handgrips. One .22 CCI minimag is all it takes to drop your basic trail moron and it is a great noise maker to scare local fauna. Should you actually have to shoot an animal, the .22 in the eye will drop it instantly. Of course you will be hard pressed to survive the savage mauling you will take before you finally shoot it in the eye but then, you deserve a mauling for having SNAFU'd the situation from the gitgo.

WillyT

11:11 p.m. on November 12, 2009 (EST)
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Re: Hanguns and Trail Interactions.

Hi Willy, welcome to Trailspace... there's plenty to chat about here besides issues of lethal force that tend to get folks exercised (though our discussions along these lines have been quite civilized).

More guns-in-the-woods threads here and here.

10:02 p.m. on November 14, 2009 (EST)
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Didn't want to wade in to what usually becomes an ideological firestorm, but... did ya'll read the post in "articles and comments" about the canadian singer killed by the coyotes. As the mtn goat said

"be prepared, be prepared

this lesson must be shared

you've got one life, so handle it with care"

Had that been trouthunter, cleric, or myself, everyone would be reading about a nasty massacre of coyotes. But, instead, we're reading about a talented young lady, Taylor Mitchell (19 yrs old), dying a horrible death that could have been avoided.

For me, a firearm is about the "what ifs".

8:31 p.m. on November 18, 2009 (EST)
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45/70 anyone? It's only a 10 pound gun, lighter if you leave the ammo at home. .44 mag? For most people that is a one shot revolver because they can't get back on target to launch the second shot anyway and that just ain't gonna' work against a bear no matter how you cut it.

Dunno. I can see a weapon in dangerous country. A rifle or a shotgun. It makes sense to me to carry big medicine in Canada where man is not top of the food chain, but not typically anywhere else, except maybe in meth lab country or the Land of Deliverance or...

Look, if a person is wanting to pack a weapon because his irrational insecurity is beyond control I think that is a bad idea. If a person is actually packing a serious weapon because there lurks serious danger I think that is a good idea.

There is no one-size-fits-all here. But you had better have a real good reason to pack a gun. The operational term here is reason.

gt, don't take the gun.

Gun threads are always like this aren't they? Bummer. There is no solution here.

Shut it down, Alicia.

Drake

1:18 a.m. on November 19, 2009 (EST)
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yeah Alicia, i agree - as long as people are sticking to "here's why I carry a gun" or "here's why I don't carry a gun" (I being the operative term) it's all good and rather innocuous. But when it morphs to imperatives like "you had better have a real good reason to pack a gun".... that's where it can become a contentious thread. IMHO, a person doesn't NEED to have any reason to carry or not to carry - it's a matter of choice, sans qualifying criteria.

9:45 a.m. on November 19, 2009 (EST)
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"morphs into imperatives..." ???????

"contentious"????

Ok, let me clear it up.

The law actually obtains here. It is against the law to carry a gun in very many places, most wilderness areas in particular. In the case of a person deciding to carry a weapon into an area in which it is unlawful to do so, there had better be a "a real good reason...." In the case of an unstable person deciding to carry a weapon into any area, whether it be legal to do so or not, there had better be a "real good reason...". That justifying "reason" might be defensible in court, maybe not, but there had better be one, given the risks associated with breaking the law and/or misusing a firearm.

So, no, I don't think it is just a matter of choice. I think it is first a matter law, second a matter of "reason" and lastly it is a matter of choice. In that order. And I think that the justifying "reason" had better be a good one for all the obvious "reasons". This is not the frontier and our obligations under the law are not trivial. It is poor counsel to suggest that packing a firearm is merely a matter of personal choice.

Because it is not.

Drake

5:24 p.m. on November 19, 2009 (EST)
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Well, hello, if it's against the law, it's against the law and any reason one conjures up is totally irrelevant. I assumed not breaking the law was a given and went without saying. Yes, it is first and foremost a matter of law - beyond that, however, is is a matter of choice. If you know of any statutes or codes for wilderness areas - that allow firearms - but have qualifying reasons, that would be interesting. All regulations that I've ever read either allow or ban firearms. GT, no one is advocating breaking the law; should you decide to carry where it is lawful, here are guidelines from the Northwest Regional Area Wilderness Directory, which covers about 50-60 wilderness areas in the WA/OR area - these are typical guidelines for all wilderness areas that DO allow firearms.

http://www.naturenw.org/regulations.htm

"Firearms may be carried in national forests and fired where safe in compliance with state and federal laws. Forest Service regulations prohibit the discharge of a firearm or any other implement capable of taking a human life, causing injury, or damaging property: (1) in or within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite or developed recreation site, or (2) across or on a forest road or body of water."

12:52 a.m. on November 24, 2009 (EST)
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"October 18 [1867]
Florida

In a lonely, swampy place in the woods, I met a large, muscular, brawny young negro, who eyed me with glaring, wistful curiosity. I was very thirsty at the time, and inquired of the man if there were any houses or springs near by where I could get a drink.

"Oh, yes," he replied, still eagerly searching me with his wild eyes. Then he inquired where I came from, where I was going, and what brought me to such a wild country, where I was liable to be robbed, and perhaps killed.

"Oh, I am not afraid of any one robbing me," I said, "for I don't carry anything worth stealing."

"Yes," said he, "but you can't travel without money."

I started to walk on, but he blocked my way. Then I noticed that he was trembling, and it flashed upon me all at once that he was thinking of knocking me down in order to rob me. After glaring at my pockets as if searching for weapons, he stammered in a quavering voice, "Do you carry shooting-irons?"

His motives, which I ought to have noted sooner, now were apparent to me. Though I had no pistol, I instinctively threw my hand back to my pistol pocket and, with my eyes fled on his, I marched up close to him and said, "I allow people to find out if I am armed or not." Then he quailed, stepped aside, and allowed me to pass, for fear of being shot. This was evidently a narrow escape."

John Muir

8:51 a.m. on November 24, 2009 (EST)
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I'll see that Muir story and raise with a true story of my own which tells of the unarmed side.

It was summer of 1970. I'd hitchhiked into Chicago the night before and thought to get a quick $10 by selling some blood. That would buy me food for a few days while I looked for a job.

The nearest blood bank buying blood was deep on the South Side, about thirty blocks away. I did notice that the complexion of the neighborhood, and neighbors, got darker the farther south I walked. It was noon when I finally reached the blood bank. Doubtless I was the first perceptibly white person ever to enter their halls. Unfortunately, at 5'9" and 112lbs I was also likely the skinniest specimen they had seen and they turned me away as unfit.

I had only covered a block on my long trek back North when four very large young black men stepped out of a doorway and blocked the sidewalk. The biggest looked down at me and said, basso profundo, "You got a quarter for some Ripple?" I looked waaay up and cheerfully replied "You know, I was going to ask you the very same thing!"

They all looked amazed for a second before breaking into hearty laughter. The leader gave me a friendly slap on my shoulder to send me on my way. As I walked on I called back "Be sure and let me know when you get that quarter." They laughed again.

1:26 p.m. on November 24, 2009 (EST)
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For some reason this story just came back to me. A few years ago, hiking on one of those "wide well-maintained trails" we hear so much about, I heard shots up ahead. Yes, it was hunting season and yes, I was wearing hunter orange as a precaution. But there is nothing like someone having some idea of where you are at. I had a Ruger Single-Six with me (.22 single action revolver -- "cowboy gun" for the uninitiated). I raised it overhead and fired three quick shots at the sky.

Every Boy Scout knows that three of anything means "in distress", "come running", "watch out", or something of the sort. What it is for sure, Boy Scout or not, is not just happenstance. As I was moving toward the shots, every so often I repeated the signal.

The odds of my having been perforated were very low; something on the order of getting hit by lightning. However, when thinking of probability, you have to consider two features. Not just the odds of something happening, but how disastrous it would be if it happened at all. Safe sex comes to mind. You might have great odds of getting away with unprotected sex while picking up strangers in bars, but it only takes getting the HIV virus once to kind of screw things up. Same with getting shot. No matter what the odds against it, you only have to get shot once to regret it -- fatal or not.

Would a whistle have worked as well? I can't honestly say. Perhaps yes, perhaps not. But for those who see "no rational reason" to carry a firearm, maybe you could give this some thought.

10:10 p.m. on November 24, 2009 (EST)
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Most of my hiking is here in East TN; Smokies, Big South Fork, Cumberland Gap; and always with my son. We camp, hike, backpack, and canoe; and I carry a gun. Why do I carry a gun? The same reason I carry a cell phone, a whistle, a signal mirror, a map, a compass, a strobe light, and more rope and cord than I need. If I need it, and don't have it, I'm screwed. I wear a life vest when I paddle. I can swim and I have never fallen out of the canoe, but, theres always that chance. Guys are cooking meth almost anywhere and that includes state and national parks. Some equipment you can leave at home and it is terribly inconvienant to not have it. But leave other equipment behind and a sudden snow storm, flash flood, etc and you are in a dangerous situation. I view my gun as that kind of equipment. I hope I never need it, but if I do, it's with me and I know how to use it.

Great forum and wonderful website. Thanks to all that post and review products. You have helped me a lot in recent purchases.

God bless and stay safe.

4:33 p.m. on November 29, 2009 (EST)
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Now that everyone has had more than ample time to discuss this topic, I'm declaring an indefinite moratorium on any forum posts or threads concerning carrying a gun or other weapon.

Thanks to everyone who has been patient and civil during this lengthy discussion. I appreciate it.

Now, let's move on to talk about other backcountry topics.

April 20, 2014
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