Guns and Bears

SayUncle noted that someone dispatched a bear in self-defense with a .41 Magnum. I think Chris, who is located in Alaska, and I’m guessing has a bit more local knowledge about grizzly encounters than most, has some sage advice:

This is why we always carry bear spray and usually carry a gun too. The spray is Plan A, but if something decides to gnaw on me I want a plan B.

He notes that you’re much more likely to have a dangerous bear encounter in a National Park than anywhere else, and notes, “In any event, if you’re in AK doing lots of stuff outdoors, and you don’t carry at least bear spray, you’re stupid. Heck, we keep a can in each car because bears hang out around town too.”

I tend to agree with his approach, much the same way I advocate for people who carry guns to also carry a defensive spray. In a lot of cases, the spray is going to be the easiest and least problematic way out of a situation. The problem with gun control folks is that they want to sell you on the notion that one tool is really best for all situations. This is nonsense. Having both expands your capabilities and options, and there’s nothing wrong with either.

6 thoughts on “Guns and Bears”

  1. While single I had thought about carrying some pepper spray, even with the maximum of 2% concentration we proles are allowed in Michigan it’s usually enough to persuade someone to back off. That and the requirements to use it against someone legally are much lower than with a firearm.

    However now that I’m engaged I don’t plan on owning the stuff being that my fiance has asthma and getting a whiff of it could well kill her. Hopefully I don’t ever have to explain that to a judge and jury.

  2. Carrying concealed pepper spray is illegal in my state, regardless of having a CHL. I could carry it openly, so one could identify what it was from a distance, but not concealed in any fashion.

  3. The good thing about the bear spray is that I can carry it so it is easily accessible while backpacking. The shotgun lashed to my pack isn’t going to do me much good for a sudden charge! I am still trying to figure out a good way to carry a handgun too though, since I am (hopefully) going to be wandering around the woods with a butchered caribou on my back and in that situation I would like a second or third line of defense…

  4. The spray is also nice because if you kill a bear up here it becomes property of the state… But you get to salvage the carcass (out of your own time and money). That can be a considerable cost! Plus the spray supposedly works pretty well on moose, which we get all the time. Usually they aren’t aggressive but if one is having a bad day then it can ruin yours… We actually get more injuries due to moose up here than bears.

    Its only like $40 for a heavy-duty canister with belt clip. It isn’t a perfect solution but it is a heck of a lot better than nothing. I don’t understand why some people are so cheap.

    On the flip side, I am less convinced of the efficacy on people. I’ve been hit with the stuff at work and was able to operate just fine (with the benefit of adrenaline). Which also squares with animals — the stuff works great on curious or hungry bears (the usual problem) and not so good on scared or angry bears. Probably about the same deal as with people. Still, a quart of 10% OC would probably be about as good as you can get in non-lethal sprays…

  5. Of course, there’s the old joke about how to differentiate black bear scat from grizzly scat: “The grizzly scat contains small bells, and smells faintly of pepper”.

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