Grizzly and Black Bears are residents of Montana. Normally, they are good critters and stay out of trouble. Sadly, like humans, not all bears are friendly. If a bear invades your camper, cabin, camp, or gut pile, they may require more than a little persuasion to leave.
Hunters can carry a sidearm, loaded for bear, just in case a bear tries to make your day unbearable. Most hunters select a hot 357 Magnum handgun load. Revolvers won’t jam like an automatic. Others will argue a different caliber or load. Shotgun slugs will also be a good choice for a camp weapon.
Other outdoorsmen argue for non-lethal Bear deterrents. Bear Spray is one choice that nature protectors prefer. The spray is made from hot peppers and can stop a bear attack if you get the spray into their nose and eyes. If you have ever looked at a bear, these areas make for a small target, especially when the bear is on the move. The “Spray person” usually gets sprayed as well and loses their vision. People that but the expensive aerosol sprays rarely have ever fired one off. They are often hanging on or in the pack and not available for a quick draw. Practice with the spray away from your campsite, vehicle, or home. Bear Spray is also a Bear scent attractant.
Usually a dozen or so Montanans get assaulted by bears. Occasionally some are killed. Sometimes the bears get killed. Considering the number of sportsmen afield each year, these are pretty low odds.
One concern is that Problem or Nuisance Bears get trapped in more urban areas. Now that they are contained, the FWP relocates them. Sadly, many of these problem bears get relocated into prime hunting areas. Since these “City Bears” feed on trash and bird food, they may not do well in the real wild. When a nice chubby hunter, fisherman, or hiker comes along, the bears may view them as Fast Food.
There are some new choices for non-lethal bear deterrents. You can now shoot rubber slugs, buckshot, cracker shells and Dragon’s Breath pyrotechnic shells. The bullets will certainly bounce off and the flaming shells can start a forest fire. California did the study to promote these alternatives and said that sound, fire, and rubber slugs worked effectively for hazing bears. They were not tested on Grizzlies.
Another tool that has been tested is a Taser. The Alaska Fish and Game has been testing Tasers on bears sine 2009. “Over 500 trials have been completed. One bear died. The Taser hits were within a range of 17 feet, at night, using FLIR optics. All the other bears locked up and fled when the shock wore off.” Tasers are not currently approved to Deter Bears.
All these means are designed to persuade the bear to vamoose. Sportsmen have a choice as to which they prefer or want to save their lives with. Mr. Smith and Wesson make a fine and reliable Magnum pistol. I can access it quickly, and can shoot accurately, thanks to practice. Without practice at quick draw and moving target accuracy, the bear may win the match. You still need to aim at the head and face of the bear but…
What means do you want your life to rely on?
For more Montana Grant, find him packin at www.montanagrantfishing.com.