View topic - Bear Spray versus Guns - Not as clear as it seemed

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PostPosted: August 27th, 2019, 9:08 am 
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Here's an article from Outside magazine. There is some really good info here. In particular the author of the article talked directly with '...Tom Smith, who authored both reports, titled the “Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska” and “Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska.” '

Turns out those two reports had different objectives and aren't directly comparable to each other. There is a good discussion of what data was included and excluded from the 2 reports. The objective of the bear spray report was to look at the effectiveness of bear spray. In contrast the objective of the firearm report was to look at reasons why firearms were not effective in specific incidents. 'The point of “Efficacy of Firearms” wasn’t to arrive at a conclusion on whether or not firearms work but, rather, to analyze the reasons why they didn’t—“poor aim, no time to use them, jammed, etc.,” elaborates Smith. '

https://www.outsideonline.com/2401248/d ... spray-work

Once again a good lesson in properly reading and understanding the original source of statistics we see used regularly.

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PostPosted: August 27th, 2019, 10:41 am 
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Very informative and interesting read...Thanks.

I have mixed feelings about bear spray, having been sprayed through accidental deployments twice. Nevertheless I don't want to carry a firearm and don't feel competent enough to do so, so I will continue to use it I guess.

Kinguq.


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PostPosted: August 27th, 2019, 12:14 pm 
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Very good read, thank you for sharing.

I have only just started to carry (more like pack) a can of bear spray after 30 yrs of wilderness tripping and hiking. My wife has, after 20 yrs decided to join me on trips and has the worst night time phobia I have ever seen. I literally can watch her anxiety rise as the sun goes down. She will barely sleep all night and then sleep a few hours once the signs of dawn commence, hence the reason for carrying spray after so long.
In 30 yrs I have only encountered bears 4x. Only one of those times in Pukaskwa did I have some concern (2 encounters were while on this trip) It was a nuisance bear that was posted by the ministry and he just wanted to follow us around for 3 days. He/she kept their distance and we kept ours, but you were always aware that it was there and following/watching you for the entire 40K hike. No matter how much you tried to get it out of your head, it always played on your psyche. I suppose being in a group of 6 guys on a fishing trip was a good thing. Probably a little scary if you were solo. None of us had any deterrents.
In Canada, guns for protection are limited to private or Crown land (at least in Ontario, not sure about the other provinces) so you don't have much choice of deterrent, but if I had a choice I would carry the appropriate size caliber for the predators in the area. Blowing a hole in something is always going to hurt more than some pepper in the eyes. Of course if you are not familiar or practiced, this route may be you downfall. But In my opinion a proper sized caliber in the right hands is always going to be a deterrent. Dead is no threat!

Also liked the Wolfe attack article after the bear one. Glad to hear the family was OK

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PostPosted: August 27th, 2019, 4:50 pm 
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another statistic I've heard - 90% of Grizzly attacks are false charges - ergo, bear spray will work for that 90% which gives scewed results for a survey I think

but no guarantee for the 10%. have read of many encounters where bear spray worked - sort of, but not enough to chase the animal away completely - if others hadn't intervened, the bear would have eventually gotten the guy. also, attack that was so fast the bear blew right thru the spray without getting affected and mauled the guy - also, if bear is charging from upwind, spray will get you rather than the bear most likely


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PostPosted: August 27th, 2019, 5:33 pm 
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I now carry bear bangers instead of spray. I have had no encounters with either.

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PostPosted: August 27th, 2019, 8:30 pm 
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I use primarily bangers as well. They do actually work, well, they have worked for me. But I have only experience with black bears, who are pretty timid in the areas I trip in. I have been accidentally bear sprayed before in a blowback incident, and don't care to repeat it. I was incapacitated to the point that a bear could have easily snacked on me, lol. My wife prefers that I take a gun, so when she comes along, my short barrelled pump action 12 gauge with slugs comes along. I have yet to use it, on a bear that is.


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PostPosted: August 28th, 2019, 7:56 am 
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Bear spray works on grizzlies. Everyone who works in the bush here carries it. I have heard that it is less effective on black bears but black bears here --- south BC --- are timid.
Guns will work but you have to be very competent.
Two locals both big game guides bitten by grizzlies. Non-fatal.
Armed and well-trained conservation officer bitten by grizzly.
Two hunters attacked by grizzly. Bear dies but one hunter loses leg to gunshot.
This is all anecdotal but it does appear to be easier to get the spray off than to shoot accurately.
Just for the record Andy Russell very well respected wildlife cinematographer and writer claimed to have been charged numerous times by grizzlies and they always turned away at the last second. He was unarmed.
Laundry afterward might be an issue.


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PostPosted: August 28th, 2019, 9:52 am 
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Tom Smith does a presentation about bear safety and his research for NOLS that you can watch here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PExlT-5VU-Y

I thought it was pretty interesting and informative.


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PostPosted: August 29th, 2019, 7:52 am 
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NorseScotsman wrote:
Tom Smith does a presentation about bear safety and his research for NOLS that you can watch here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PExlT-5VU-Y

I thought it was pretty interesting and informative.


That was both informative and entertaining. That guy is a hoot!


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PostPosted: August 29th, 2019, 6:47 pm 
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Yeah that was a really good talk he gave.

Personally, I'd rather just carry both lethal and nonlethal deterrents. One too many encounters with aggressive wildlife I suppose. For all the talk about bears, we need to remember they are not the only dangerous animals you can encounter in the wild. Moose cows can be deadly in the spring breeding season (believe me, I know that one from experience), and bulls can be no less lethal in the fall mating season (or so I've heard... never tested that one). I can study bears my whole life and yet still get deadified by a protective mama moose.

Then again, I solo more often than not, and so take more precautions than when I am tripping with a group.

It would be nice to see studies of aggresive wildlife encounters with all wildlife, but sadly, bears tend to steal the spotlight.

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PostPosted: September 4th, 2019, 8:08 am 
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PacketFiend wrote:
Yeah that was a really good talk he gave.

Personally, I'd rather just carry both lethal and nonlethal deterrents. One too many encounters with aggressive wildlife I suppose. For all the talk about bears, we need to remember they are not the only dangerous animals you can encounter in the wild. Moose cows can be deadly in the spring breeding season (believe me, I know that one from experience), and bulls can be no less lethal in the fall mating season (or so I've heard... never tested that one). I can study bears my whole life and yet still get deadified by a protective mama moose.

Then again, I solo more often than not, and so take more precautions than when I am tripping with a group.

It would be nice to see studies of aggresive wildlife encounters with all wildlife, but sadly, bears tend to steal the spotlight.
Are wolves ever a concern? It seems to me that about 30 -40% of the backcountry trips I have made in the past decade (mostly in Killarney & Algonquin) had wolves within a couple of hundred metres of our camp at night. Makes for a lighter sleep in my case. Funny, it's as you say; never a bear but they seem to steal the spotlight.


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PostPosted: September 4th, 2019, 8:24 am 
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There was a wolf attack in a Banff campground this year. Autopsy results determined that the wolf was an old male in poor condition, probably approaching the natural end of his life.

There was another attack in northern Saskatchewan several years ago now. That was a pack attacking a single adult male human away from a work camp.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_ ... l_Carnegie

Overall I see far more reports of human-bear interactions than I do of human-wolf encounters.

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Last edited by Splake on September 5th, 2019, 8:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: September 4th, 2019, 7:42 pm 
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re Wolves,
Mining camp worker shot in rabid wolf mishap
https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/6 ... ng_injury/

I canoed the Lorillard River immediately after that incident.

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PostPosted: October 10th, 2019, 1:34 pm 
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Here's a story about a couple's encounter with a persistent grizzly on the tundra in NWT:

https://www.grandforksherald.com/sports/outdoors/4681398-Grand-Forks-native-and-his-wife-recall-grizzly-bear-ordeal-that-cut-short-canoe-trip-through-the-Canadian-tundra

Bear spray was the deterrent they carried but it did not seem to be effective in this case.


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PostPosted: October 13th, 2019, 5:48 pm 
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I back-country guided in the Knight Inlet area a few years ago, and can attest, bear spray (the big cans) are a good deterrent for grizzlies. Just holding the can up and waving it is often enough, especially with 'experienced' bears. Rifles should be big-bored, and scopeless - by the time you realize what's happening - bear will be on you. They're very fast, very powerful, and smart enough not to pick fights they can't win. I had to stop a charging 900lb. male with a stare-down, to protect my group. A few days later he 'accidently' walked past me so close I could touch him... he could have flattened me, but I suspect he wanted to give me fair-warning. A gun would have been useless in both circumstances.


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