BEST SPRAY by Montana Grant
By angelamontana

Posted: May 28, 2024

Big Sky Country is home to Grizzly and Black Bears. Both are dangerous predators that can easily injure or kill humans. Like it or not, when you are outdoors, in our wild places, you are in the Bear’s living room and on their menu. 

Bear Sprays are one way to protect you from an aggressive Bear. Not all Bear Sprays are created equally. An aggressive bear incident happens fast and close. Bear sprays, or a gun, are considered the last line of defense. There are several things to consider when buying bear spray. 

Volume of spray    7-10 oz. Of spray are available

Time of spray   Most sprays only lasts 7-9 seconds.

Accuracy/ease of use    Is the spray a wide or narrow cone. They come as fog or dye for visual accuracy.

Carry options.    Having a holster helps for quick access.

Range    20 -40 feet is good.

There are a few good Bear Spray options available. Since they can’t be transported on commercial airlines, you may need to buy the spray at your destination. There are also vendors that rent Bear Sprays.

UDAP Grizz Guard   This pepper spray base has a high volume and produces fog. The smaller droplets create a narrower spray. Depending on the wind, the user could get impacted as well.

Counter Assault     This is the best known and most widely used bear spray. The duration, distance, and ease of use are its best features. The 2% Capsaicin, red pepper base, is effective. The red pepper impacts the bear’s nose, eyes, and lungs, if you hit them in the face with the spray. The range of this spray is 40 feet and can be delivered for 8 seconds. This spray comes in 2 sizes. Holsters are available separately. 

MACE UDAP    This pepper spray comes as a 2 pack and includes a holster. It is strong enough to remove paint off a car. The range is 20 feet but lasts for 9 seconds. 

SABRE Frontiersman     This unit has a range of 35 feet and a 3-year shelf life. It also makes a hissing sound as a deterrent. This 2% capsaicin is strong enough to deter a bear. 

Bear with these thoughts.

Check to see if the Bear Spray is out of date. Older sprays will not perform as labeled. They can also freeze below -7 degrees and explode over 120 degrees.  Capsaicin helps to prevent freezing. If the can is out of date, it needs to be recycled at a recycle center since it is labeled as a Toxic Waste.

Bear Sprays are not the same as insect spray. They are not designed to be sprayed ahead of time to keep bears away. In fact, deployed bear spray will attract bears since the organic pepper flavor is a food source. 

Most spray incidents will also impact the user. Use water to rinse your eyes and nose. Do not touch your face and eyes after spraying. 

It is unlawful to use Bear Spray on humans. This animal spray will work on other mammals such as cougars, coyotes, wolves, and aggressive mammals. Despite the law, people have been sprayed with Pepper sprays and no deaths have been reported. 

Keep in mind that Bear Spray is a last resort. If you spray the unit in a rent, camper, or closed space, everyone will get sprayed. The bear needs to be sprayed in the face. An aggressive bear will be a moving target. The running bear will not be impacted by running through a cloud of spray or having the spray on their fur. You need to hit the bear in the face for the pepper spray to impact the bear’s eyes, nose, and lungs. 

Proper safety is important to prevent accidental discharge. Practice spraying before carrying it. You need to know how to draw, take off the safety, and accurately hitting the bear within close ranges and moments. Local FWP agencies and other Park venues offer training and education.

The odds of an aggressive bear encounter are slim but higher now than in over 150 years. Grizzly bears are protected, and their populations have increased dramatically. 

The worst bear encounter usually involves a sow protecting her cubs. Your first, best reaction, is to back away slowly, while facing the threat.  Talk at the bear and make yourself look big, while preparing to deploy the Bear Spray or ready another weapon. Stay calm and prepare. This will give you extra time and distance if the bear refuses to back away. Keep in mind that climbing a tree or finding cover are also options. Look for an escape route.

Bears are best observed from a safe distance. Attacks have occurred from hundreds of yards away. Back off when you see any bear at any distance. 

Don’t be a victim. 

Montana Grant

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