Commentary

That time

bear

An Anchorage neighborhood black bear/Craig Medred photo

The chilliest winter in some years has come to an end in Alaska’s largest city with April looking to be the first month since December to end with the monthly average temperature near or above normal.

The bears that have been absent for six months have emerged from their winter’s sleep – surprise, surprise, surprise.

And the cute and simplistic advice on how to deal with bruins has begun.

While we’re all steadfastly following COVID-19 protocols, getting out into the fresh air is allowed assuming physical-distancing guidelines are being adhered to. While you are out doing just that, should you happen to see a bear, DO NOT RUN. Are you going to want to run? Of course you are,” an Anchorage Police Department (APD) “Community Message” emailed to city residents on Saturday said. “Bears are big and smelly, have sharp teeth and claws, and have a super scary growl. Here’s the thing, though: you most definitely are NOT Usain Bolt. And even if you were, you would still get caught and chewed on. Usain was once clocked running at just under 28 mph. Bears can run over 30 mph. Do the math. Also, prey runs. The second you start to beat feet, the bear will believe you to be fast food (although not fast enough) and will chase you down.”

So many things are wrong there it’s hard to know where to begin in breaking this down. So let’s start with the issue in big, bold type: “DO NOT RUN.”

This is good advice if – and keep in mind the if – if you come face-to-face with a bear on a trail. If that happens, stand your ground.

And then what?

APD offered neither a clue nor a link to the website of “our partners at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game” where you might find some advice. Maybe you can just stand there contemplating the running speed of Usain Bolt until the bear either gets bored and leaves or attacks you.

Actually, the first thing you should do while standing there is make a quick determination of what kind of bear you are looking at because that could play a key role in dictating how you deal with it.

But before we get into that in detail (I have some experience here in that I’ve dealt with hundreds of bears and once shot one off my leg because I made a bad decision), let’s revisit that DO NOT RUN advice.

RUN!

The advice against running is premised on the idea you are in a situation with no refuge nearby. Often in urban and suburban settings – say in Alaska’s largest city – refuge is available.

If you some morning walk out on your deck on the Anchorage Hillside, or in any other neighborhood for that matter, and see a bear on the end of the deck, don’t stand there. Turn around, run your butt right back in the house, and slam the door.

If you’re still near your car or truck in the ever-popular Glen Alps parking lot of Chugach State Park below Flattop Mountain above Anchorage, and a bear sidles out of the woods 50 feet away, the advice is much the same.

Sprint back to that motor vehicle and jump inside.

Lastly – and pray you are never in this situation – if you stumble on a bear on a moose kill, and you are unarmed – run!

The bear might still come after you. It might even catch you and mess you up. But the animal’s main interest is in defending its food, and the farther you get from its food, the better the chances it will leave you alone – even if it catches you – to go back and defend its food.

If you’re half nuts and bold enough, you might be able to drive it off the kill. I’ve done this three times – once with the aid of a dog with truly bad judgment – and do not recommend it. I was also armed in all three cases, and in one of them had armed back up. And in the other, well, there was that dog who really did not like bears.

(Dogs are there own issue which we won’t get into here. The good ones are a great aide. The bad ones can bring trouble. Bear behavior expert Stephen Herrero, who has studied hundreds of bear attacks, believes the latter outnumber the former.)

I also knew one of the two Anchorage residents who were killed by a bear on a kill in 1995 one ridge over from my home in the foothills of the Chugach Mountains. Seventy-seven-year-old Marcie Trent was well known to everyone in the Anchorage running community. 

Her son-in-law – Larry Waldron, 45 – was a runner, too, but best known for his skill on the saxophone. By all accounts, neither he nor Trent had time to react when the bear came out of the brush, but the thing to do would be to run.

help blurb

Stand your ground!

OK, with that out of the way, let’s revisit you and the bear you’re staring down. Here’s the advice from Fish and Game:

“Stand your ground and talk to it calmly. Let the bear know you are human. Talk in a normal voice. Help the bear recognize you. Try to appear larger by standing close to others in your group or wave your arms slowly above your head. Try to back away slowly, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground.”

If you’re with others, bunch up. The last thing any bear wants to deal with is a pack of humans. Bear attacks on more than two people holding their ground are extremely rare. An attack on a group bigger than that is almost unheard of.

Four hikers in Glacier Bay National Monument (now a park) in the 1970s were able to drive off a lone grizzly that had already killed and largely eaten 25-year-old Alan Precup.

The group was “establishing camp when the animal approached,” the Associated Press reported at the time. “He came as close as 12 feet, but was driven off when the four banded together and ‘made lots of noise and threw rocks,'” according to a National Park Service spokeswoman.

The bear-repulsing power of the human mob is the best reason for hiking with a group in Alaska even in these days of COVID-19.

Floridian photographer Betty Snyder – a 2016 visitor to the Denali National Park and Preserve in Central – captured a series of pictures demonstrating exactly how a group of hikers can team up to drive off a bear, in this case a young grizzly.

The photo how-to and a detailed account of that bear encounter can be found by clicking here.

In the vast majority of bear encounters, a face-off will be the end of it. You see the bear; the bear figures out what you are; the bear flees; and you go on your way.

Dangerous bears

But let’s assume you’ve met the one in 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 bears that don’t behave in this way, and you lack a weapon to repulse an attack. That’s where it is important to know what kind of bear you are facing.

Here is an identification guide from Fish and Game which beats any explanation:

bear guide

If the bear in question is a grizzly sow with cubs at close range, she’s probably already attacked you. Mama grizzlies are aggressively protective, but they rarely kill.

Curl up in a ball, clasp your fingers behind your neck, cover your head with your forearms, and hope she quickly decides she’s rendered you a non-threat. Stay still until she and the cubs have left, and then go get help.

If it’s a black bear sow with cubs, don’t worry about it. Stand your ground. They’re invariably all bluff and no bite. They might stomp their feet and pop their teeth, but it’s a show.

If it’s a lone black bear that keeps approaching while trying to pretend as if its not, find a weapon – a stick, a club, rocks, stones, anything. That’s a bear looking at you as food, and you’re going to have to defend yourself.

It was a bear like this that killed a 16-year-old runner on Bird Ridge along the Seward Highway just east of Anchorage in the summer of 2017. 

If you are approached by such a bear, throw stones at it as those Glacier Bay campers did. Grab a tree limb or stick with which to hit it. Kick it. Do whatever you can.

If this bear gets you down and starts chewing on you – if in fact any bear does this – you’re in a fight for your life. Find a weapon – a rock, a knife anything.

The situation at this point is grim, but not hopeless. Sixty-eight-year-old resident Gene Moe killed a Kodiak brown bear – a grizzly – with a folding knife after it attacked him while deer hunting in 1999.

Bear defense

Now here’s more helpful advice from APD:

  • “When you’re out and about have a can of bear spray and know how to use it. When a bear is charging you that most definitely is NOT the time to be removing the spray from its store packaging or trying to figure out how to deploy it. The bear spray also needs to be readily available (attached to your belt for example) the moment you need it. The bear is not going to pause to give you time to dig it out of your backpack.
  • “Lose the earbuds. We all like to listen to music but bears are big and make noise. Seconds are precious when it comes to putting distance between you and the big fuzzy fish-eater. Having your ears plugged up can inhibit you from possibly hearing a bear prior to you stumbling upon it.”

Some bears are big, but even a 120-pounder can kill you. And they usually don’t make much noise. It’s amazing how quietly they can move through cover, even thick cover, if they want to do so.

The problem with listening to music whether with ear buds or headphones is that you lose situational awareness. You not only don’t hear things, you don’t see things because you’re tuned into the music and not paying attention.

Hearing is often the least of the problem given that the best way to avoid bear problems is to avoid bears. If you see them before they see you and can alter your route to avoid them, you’ve already won.

You don’t want to end up in the situation where you are trying to put “distance between you and the big fuzzy fish-eater” because that would be running. See above: DO NOT RUN.

Which brings this to an issue Alaskans can debate for hours: bear repellant pepper sprays and firearms. Both can be used for self-protection. Both have pros and cons.

Spray is cheap, light and easy to carry. It requires little skill to use. If you’ve used a fire extinguisher, you’re already half-trained. Still, it is best to get a can with which to practice how to take the safety off and fire.

If you have old cans of spray, they’re great for practice. Take them out somewhere where others are unlikely to get into the residual spray left from your practice and spray some targets.

Spray has generally proven successful, but there is some debate as to whether it will stop a truly determined bear, say one trying to defend a kill. Spray is a problem if you have to shoot into the wind. Some black bears have demonstrated unusual persistence after being sprayed.

If you accidentally shoot yourself with spray, it will be painful (the stuff burns like crazy), but there is no long-term damage. Spray isn’t quite a one-shot deal, but you’re not going to get many shots out of a can.

Firearms are deadly and can be reloaded (if you have extra ammunition). They will kill the bear and that permanently resolves the situation. They can also punch holes in your body if you’re inattentive, careless or accident-prone.

They require more skill to use than spray, but in the hands of a skilled shooter there’s no debate about their ability to stop bears. In remote areas, a firearm doubles as a survival tool if necessary. There is no problem shooting into the wind.

Firearms are also far more expensive and heavier than spray. In general, the better the firearm’s use as a bear stopper the heavier its weight. A short-barreled, tactical shotgun loaded with slugs weighs more than 8 pounds; a can of bear spray weighs 11 ounces.

As with bear spray, a firearm is useless if you don’t have it handy when you need it. Handguns are easier to carry with you at all times than rifles or shotguns, but require more skill to shoot and lack the stopping power of long guns.

Whatever you decide to carry, it should not be “attached” to anything no matter what APD tells you. In the case where a weapon of self-defense is needed, the situation invariably develops rapidly.

Ideally, you have the weapon in hand when things start to come undone. If not in hand, in an easily accessible holster that allows quick and easy removal.

Spray is easier to carry in hand. With practice, a handgun is easier to draw quickly, aim and shoot.

If you ever have to stop a grizzly bear, a short-barreled shotgun stuffed with slugs or a .375 H&H-caliber rifle or even something larger offers a lot more comfort than either a handgun or spray.

There are a lot of choices. There is no perfect choice.

Cue the debate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28 replies »

  1. I’m out in the woods every day here in Funny River. I don’t carry a gun or spray. I carry my 56V cordless chainsaw with a 14” bar because I’m always thinning spruce. I can pull the trigger and turn into a buzzing crocodile in less time than it took you to read and comprehend the word ‘crocodile’. Also 2 large dogs always on patrol. So the real question is, gun, spray, or chainsaw?

  2. We’ve all heard, never run from a bear, so I’m glad Medred points out that it’s a good idea to run to your house, vehicle, hard sided shelter if you have time. Just don’t underestimate a bear’s speed, or overestimate your own. For active outdoors people, THE issue is, do I have enough time to stop a charging grizzly after a surprise encounter at close range? People who choose to rely on bear spray should carry the spray in hand whenever practical while they’re on the move in grizzly country. If a bear is close enough to spray, spray it! Use 2 hands when spraying. There’s no study that shows bear spray is more effective than a firearm. Bear spray advocates who make this indefensible claim are actually saying if you compare the results of Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska to the results of a disparate study on Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska, bear spray wins. You’ve got be be wildly unprincipled to compare the results of these studies.

    • funny to find us in agreement, Dave. the big advantage to spray is that it’s a.) light; and b.) you can’t shoot yourself. that said, i’ll confess that in situations where i think the odds are high i’ll run into a bear – say checking a moose kill on a neighborhood trail – i’m packing a firearm. but then rifles and shotguns have been little more than an extension of my body for a long time. shooting is now as natural to me as wiping my nose. i’m doubt that’s the norm.

  3. These kinds of articles garner responses from every pencil dick within reading distance… and I thought it was your hunting partner that actually dispatched the bear after your handloads sh*t the bed, no?

  4. As many rabbit hunters can affirm, one of the most difficult shots to make is a rabbit running towards you. Often the bb’s hit behind the rabbit. Granted, a bear is massive compared to said rabbit, but it reminds me of an old guide I once met. He said when given enough time, he would kneel on one knee to shoot straight into the bear. His closest shot was both barrels of a 16 gauge double into the nose of a grizzly chasing his bird dog. He said, “When it skidded to a stop, both ears were touching”. The bb’s had taken out the center of the skull. Experience and confidence in the power of “bird shot” at close range enabled him to wait until the last moment.

    • Marlin, you bring up an interesting debate. I have heard guys say load “buckshot, slug, buckshot, slug”, etc.. I prefer slugs as I know what is coming next and to expect in the “heat of battle” per say. Birdshot wouldn’t be my load of choice, but it seemed to have worked.

      • “Bird shot was all he had and he knew how to “make do”. As an aside, when a new town kid would ride the school bus out to our dairy farm to go plinking or hunting, one of the first thing I would do if we were hunting with shotguns was shoot a young poplar tree 2 to three inches in diameter at close range. It would completely sever the trunk. This amazed the kids as they had seen cowboy movies where birdshot or rock salt just made the crook run faster. Needless to say, they respected the lethality of the shotgun and kept the barrel pointed in a safe direction.

      • i know that trick. we used it with 7 1/2 shot to cut down trees when the old Chevy got stuck in mudholes on the forest roads we grouse hunted when i was a kid. there’s no doubt that if you have the courage to wait until the last minute it will drill a nice hole right through a bear’s head.

      • # 4 Buck has 27 quarter inch pellets(more or less). My thought has always been that caught off guard, I can hit the bear in the face(eyes, nose) and discombobulate it enough that I can finish it off with slugs. If it appears at super close range, the wad of buckshot is a defacto slug. For bears, the 500+ grain steel slugs may be worth patterning in Your bear gun. Home defense is birdshot in the chamber followed by all #4 buck. Just my thoughts, never had to use them…………..

  5. I’ve shot enough hand cannons to know that if I really needed to I don’t want to shoot a hand cannon. I would much rather get off two or three shots from a Buffalo bore 45 or 10mm, if one shot is what matters I’d rather hit the target with something than nothing. We don’t see most of the bears that are around us, as Zip said use your senses. I’ve been in thick brush and timber and just knew that I was being watched, having a long rifle in hand and an 45 holstered at the ready is little comfort when you can’t see 5 feet.

    I’ve had a life’s long reoccurring dream with bears, if a month goes by without a bear dream I can’t remember it. Some are good and some aren’t so good, sometimes I’m surrounded by them sometimes it’s a lone bear. I grew up around bears and respect them, I hope I never get eaten by one and if I do I hope I only get partially eaten before I kill it. I don’t want a story that I killed a Kodiak bear with a pocket knife…that’s crazy.

  6. Superb coverage, Craig. Also a lot of solid commentary from you experienced readers. I’ll throw in a few random bits. First, the advantages of a dependably “good” dog. Were it not for my daughter Laura’s rot-golden “Fuzzner” turning a full-on charge at a later measured 8 feet, we would not have our son Levi. At least not in his unmaimed version. Going on 4,000 “dog miles” between us, my brother Alan and I may well have more combined experience packing dogs than anyone else, anywhere left actively engaging in the practice. Huskies will outwork the rest pound for pound, but I value guard breeds, pure or mixes, for their superior awareness and defensive traits that greatly distance those of huskies The early bear warning they contribute is superb. And bruins shun growling canines. Of course, they are kept under close constraints.

    Back during my time selling guns at Sportsman’s Warehouse, not being a big handgun nut, I was surrounded with salesmen who knew handguns better. However, only one other had my experience with ballistics and bears, him being a long-time guide. The others sold all kinds of what they deemed good bear medicine. The other guide and I sold the supply out of short barreled .454s as fast as the store got them in. I would then take my buyer over to the holster section, showing him a certain holster and how to re-rig it into a safe, chest-mount fast-draw system that comfortably fit above waders or could be handily slung between pack straps and open like a door to let him don or shuck the pack.

    Of course, if it can be accessed in time and a good shot got off, about any long gun, say above a .30-30 (about equal in effect to a .44 mag.) beats almost any hand gun. A big rifle’s best. But for me personally, growing up getting off thousands of rounds jump shooting at the likes of snipe, I have more confidence in near instinctual shooting with a shotgun over my much more carefully measured rifle shooting.

    For those worried about a slug bouncing off a bear skull – – – if he were still around and could offer testimony, the bear I shot two yards distant as a 16 year-old with my single-shot 16 gauge would say different. Slug in one side, out the other.

    While running Rabbit Creek Rifle Range, I entertained a large number of well-qualified bear safety instructors and their classes. One of the instructors timed numerous students getting rifles unslinged, a round jacked in, and a shot off–13 seconds. When I showed him a fast draw “African carry” (muzzle down) sling I devised where I was timed in 1.6 seconds, he opined I should go into commercial production.

    Having stood a few bear rushes, IMO most shots at bears coming on the high boil will not involve careful sighting. It’s happening too fast, usually bounding over, around and through rough ground and maybe brushy cover. Plus it’s later-change-your-drawers scary. If you haven’t experienced it, I will counsel that your shot, while it won’t be shoot-from-the-hip instinctive, will be shotgun instinctive, where quickly bringing the arm up, you’re aware of your barrel as you look down it, but it’s out of focus as your eyes are fully following the bear.

    For me in this day of declining capacity to pack as much as I used to, when not hunting my MO is spray along with–under considered control–my trusty pit-rot-golden packer.

    • Rod,
      I agree on a good trail dog, also remember that you are part of a team, dogs are constantly throwing off body clues.Learn to read them, and eventually trust them.Somehow dogs seem to pick up on this, and it makes them even more alert.Least thats been my experience.
      We used to have a border collie from the pound,(among several others).
      She was really a chicken sh*t dog, but something about bears clicked a switch in her head.
      More than a handful of times she would charge completely unafraid(or just stupid, theres that too) into the brush, generally without the backup of her brother and sister.
      My ex is a Veterinarian,so our trail first aid kit had a suture kit or skin super glue, because we new eventually we’d have to close gaping holes, but it never came to pass.
      Unfortunately she was just as fearless with porcupines as well.
      Being dogless now certainly makes me feel exposed when Im out and about.
      Something I never really felt when I had a canine

      • reading them is key as you note, Dave. if the hair on Lars’ back stands up, i know he’s smelling a bear somewhere. that doesn’t happen with any other animals. and if he starts barking, that’s the signal to stop what i’m doing and pay attention because there’s a bear very close.

        to date, all i’ve generally heard or seen is the sound or sight as a bear beat it out of there.

        but we have had a couple situations – one with a young grizzly, two with black bears – where the bears just weren’t about to do what we wanted them to do. we danced with the young grizzly for quite a while. he was clearly just ignorant and testing. every time i’d rush him, he’d back off. he finally gave up on us and wandered off.

        the black bears were simply Anchorage habituated. they didn’t seem at all threatened by humans. not aggressive, but clearly of the opinion they could pretty much do as they wished with no consequences. made me wish i’d had the shotgun along with a couple rubber slugs. there were training opportunities that would have been good for all parties.

    • Rod..
      Good thoughts, I always like to hear others experiences and thoughts. I think I would prefer using a shotgun but I have always carried the 44 revolver for thoughts of getting around and quickness. I have been meaning to look into holster/carrying ideas for a short shotgun though, and yes taking Pups is the best, at least for me. It’s nice to fish and such and have them be on the look out for you, to spend more time watching the water and such than your back.

    • Rod,
      I agree with you completely on the dogs.
      Huskies are great for playing in the hills or running out on the trails, but they do not make the best decisions around bears or moose.
      My old dog “Oatie” is half rottweiler and half lab…
      He is a great bear dog and offers that deep bark with an attitude of “I will bite you if I have to…don’t come any closer.”
      When he was younger, I would take him into the bush and leave him free while I worked around camp. Like a security guard on patrol he would get up from by the campfire and make his rounds around the perimeter to be clear that there was no threats for us to worry about.
      I will surely miss him when he is gone.

  7. Let’s keep in mind there was more to the story about both that particular bear and Asian girl bitten in Denali.
    “Floridian photographer Betty Snyder – a 2016 visitor to the Denali National Park and Preserve in Central – captured a series of pictures demonstrating exactly how a group of hikers can team up to drive off a bear, in this case a young grizzly.”
    In the series of pics and video did this particular bear move on because 3 people stood their ground or because there were no backpacks full of candy bars to be had?

  8. Marksmanship saves lives…
    Traveling in the woods of Alaska without a firearm is a lot more dangerous than not social distancing during this “plannedemic”.
    The one thing we see with bear attacks is there are no constants just a slough of inconsistencies.
    I remember when around 10 years ago a group of NOLS hikers were attacked in the Talkeetnas.
    They were traveling in a small group (although it was at night during the summer) and their bear spray was buried deep in their packs.
    I would also say you cannot forget to make noise…the more the better.
    When I visit my property in the bush, the first thing that I like to do before getting off the jon boat is to toss a packet of firecrackers on the sandbar.
    This echoes loudly through the area and gives the griz a head’s up to my arrival.
    As for choice of sidearm, well everyone has a preference but I will say that a Glock G20 can carry up to 15 rounds of 10mm…Buffalo Bore makes a round of solid lead cast in 220 grains.

  9. Good article, Craig. I agree on your assessments of defensive “tools”, with a caveat: Virtually everyone I’ve worked with who carries a LARGE caliber handgun (.44 Magnum or bigger) THINKS they can shoot the thing far better than they actually can. I conducted bear safety training for years, which involved shooting at a moving bear sized target. To pass, you had to accomplish one solid “hit” in the center of the target, as it “charged” you. I had one and only one person accomplish that with a large caliber handgun, whereas virtually everyone, including people who’d never fired a gun, was able to qualify with a pump shotgun after a bit of training. For years, I carried a .40 caliber handgun. I can shoot it well, with multiple hits. A .454? Maybe.

  10. An old timer told me once, always go with your god given senses. If something doesn’t smell right, or if your hackles go up out of the blue, don’t ignore it, be aware, there’s usually a reason, even if you can’t see it. I’ve only had my senses be really up a few times. My most memorable time was deep in the woods around the Chitina area one time. I don’t know where he was, but you could smell him, and feel his presence. I tried going a few different directions, but couldn’t shake his smell, so I decided to back it on out, and made the call not to go any further.

    I carry both, spray and a 44 double action revolver, all quickly accessible. I’m really not sure of which one I would grab first, especially knowing I might only get one choice, and no time for a second choice before game over. It would probably depend on the Bears actions. Curious and and easy probably the spray at first, dead at me coming fast probably the revolver.

    Hopefully I stay lucky like I have been through the years and my sightings stay rare distant ones, so I do not have to find out which one I would choose. I am quite certain of one thing though, more of them have seen me than me seeing them, and I am fine with that, so long as they admire me at a far.

  11. Call me a sissy, but my good buddy Brenneke Black Magic says never run. His friend the breakdown 45-70 Guide Gun has no issues standing his ground either. Add a Blackhawk holster with a pistol you can shoot well. Not going to get into all the “.500, .460, you only get one shot” debate.
    Spray I am sure serves it’s purpose for some. I am not trusting it with my life, but I have given it to family members to use as back-up. There is no way I would or could have counted on them to have been the primary responder during a bear charge. So, revert to paragraph one. Plus wind direction, rain, duration of trip, in a tent, 30 seconds of spray, etc.. Say I am going out a week and I used my only can of spray on day 2? Also, do not fall for the “a bear will run off when it sees you or knows you are human”. You are in the food chain people.. Be safe and don’t give the bears Covid-19. Remain 6 feet away and maintain SOCIAL DISTANCING.

    • This reminds me of a guy whose videos I ran across on YouTube called “My Own Frontier”. Not to plug the guy here Craig, but he brought up an interesting situation in one of his videos at Yellowstone. He does an excellent job in narration and videoing (to include Alaska’s Parks backpacking) though. In one of his Yellowstone videos he was alone and said when alone he carries 2 cans of bear spray. He also carries around 3 16oz cans of beer, (equal weight to a gun or close). He was camped by a river and a lone grizzly was across the river. A juvie I assume. Well, he is setup, the bear crosses the river and comes into his camp knowing he is there, it is getting dark, he throws rocks at it to scare it off. It keeps coming back, so much so he can’t sleep and has to abandon camp and travel a few miles to a ranger camp spray in each hand, headlamp on. He makes it to the ranger camp with bear in tow. Gets in the outhouse, sits on the toilet and braces the door with his feet, spray at the ready, he can see the bear come right by the door through the cracks. He stays in there all night. Walks back to camp and leaves the park. I consider him an experienced backpacker and he will tell you straight up the limitations of spray. Now, I think we all, well, most here recognize this as a serious situation. Was the bear habituated? Was the bear used to handouts or was the bear predatory? Does it matter? In this case I’d been glad to have a gun and at that range 10-20′ yards, I’d shot him right in the head. And no, the slug wouldn’t have ricochet off. It would have crushed him like a tin can. Does anybody want to shoot a bear, no, but this bear needed to be put down and spray just isn’t up to the task in this case.

      • Bryan… Had a friend out Slana way who had to put an aggressive black bear down once. He came around her house, circling and circling trying to figure a way in. She made noises from inside her house to spook him off, which only made him more determined to find a way in there somehow. She finally went out onto her deck to see if he would balk with her going out there. As soon as he spotted her, he ran straight her way, then proceeded to scratch and claw trying to climb up the side of her deck to get at her. She didn’t want to but she took the shotgun to him.

        I told her it’s far better he decided to work on your house with you having a chance to defend yourself from an advantage point, then him finding some unsuspecting hiker with a bottle of spray. Too many good bears out there, that mind their own, to let a bad one be a danger.

        I know most people around here say they would rather contend with an upfront grizzly than a circling around male black bear waiting for an opportunity to get you. I always wondered if you were to spray the bad ones right off the bat when they first showed any aggressive behavior, would they learn to not be that way, or is it a certain gene some of them are born with that makes some of them that way. I think it’s a gene, when you have some aggressive male blacks in the middle of nowhere Brooks Range, or other remote places where they more than likely have had no opportunity to be habituated.. Funny how the female blacks, at least that I’m aware of, don’t show this aggressiveness, even with cubs, unless cornered into it.

      • Zip, add me to this group – “I know most people around here say they would rather contend with an upfront grizzly than a circling around male black bear waiting for an opportunity to get you.”
        If I remember correctly last year there was a juvie Brown that was put down near Bird Ridge for harrassing fisherman. I believe his face was full of spray when they shot him.

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