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Thread: bear repellent

  1. #1
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    bear repellent

    So I was at REI today and they had bear repellent for $35 bucks and I wondered what makes this any different from regular pepper spray. Somewhat related since I'll be camping in a place that's alleged to have bears (high plains of central Colorado).

  2. #2
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    As a bear expert I highly recommend the use of pepper spray to repell bears and the wearing of bright orange clothing so bears can see you coming and won't be startled. I can also identify different bear species by their droppings. Black bear droppings are damp and have lots of plant material in them and grizzly bear droppings contain lots of orange fibres and smell like pepper.

  3. #3
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    Just looks like pepper spray to me. Except that it's bear-size; says it has a distance of 12 to 30 feet. Ordinary cop pepper spray only reaches 8 to 12 feet.

    Also, it looks like the bear spray is designed to let loose with one humongous 7-second spray, whereas the regular purse spray is designed to let off a large number of smaller squirts.

    And also, the bear spray is a 230 gram container; the ordinary cop spray is only a 17 gram unit.

    Ergo, what you get for your 35 bucks is a pepper spray nuke.

  4. #4
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    Yeah. The size. If it's not bigger than human-spray, don't pay a premium.
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    Skepticism enables us to distinguish fancy from fact, to test our speculations. --Carl Sagan

  5. #5
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    I was just going to respond but it looks like Jigsaw beat me to it. As mentioned, the can will spray further.

    Another option are bear-bangers, basically a spring launched shotgun shell. This is more to scare away a bear in the area as they shoot at least 50 feet. We usually carry both in the bush.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronald Brak View Post
    As a bear expert I highly recommend the use of pepper spray to repell bears and the wearing of bright orange clothing so bears can see you coming and won't be startled. I can also identify different bear species by their droppings. Black bear droppings are damp and have lots of plant material in them and grizzly bear droppings contain lots of orange fibres and smell like pepper.

  7. #7
    If yiou are worried about bears attacking always take someone with you in the woods and be the faster runner.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidlpf View Post
    If yiou are worried about bears attacking always take someone with you in the woods and be the faster runner.
    I'm not worried about bears because I'm sure they're few and far between in that mystical arid land out in Park county. Mostly because I'm an idiot and partially because I like have positive thoughts like "That bear is more afraid of me" or "He'll let me pet him and say hello".

    Still it's always best to be prepared and I reckon I'll hit Walmart tomorrow for some pepper spray just in case.

    Thank you, all of you!

  9. #9
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    US Geological Survey has an article on bear sprays and other measures, and it might be expected to be fairly neutral:
    USGS -- Bear Pepper Spray: Research and Information
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    Skepticism enables us to distinguish fancy from fact, to test our speculations. --Carl Sagan

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jigsaw View Post
    Ergo, what you get for your 35 bucks is a pepper spray nuke.
    Sounds like cheap classroom control

  11. #11
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    Just don't do what a couple of tourists are purported to have done on a camping trip up here. They figured they could spray their tent with "bear repellent" to keep 'em away, as if it were bug dope. After a few hours, when most of nastier volatiles had evaporated, the tent was...shall we say...well seasoned. A bear was attracted to the serving of L'hommes au Poivre with predictable results.

    That's the story, anyway. Me, I carry a .44 when I'm fishin' with the bears.
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  12. #12
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    I carry a 325 g can of 0.75% capsicum spray when I'm in the woods. I used to be able to obtain a 400 g can, but haven't been able to find one in the last few years. I see that that product REI sells is 2% capsicum, so that ought to make up for the smaller quantity. But it also means that you have to release it only when you know it will hit the bear. Not much room for mistakes here. Know your defense system.

    I also carry a bear banger, as teddyv mentioned. Last month I fired one at a bear that was bothering me, and that was the last I saw of him. It's an interesting device. It uses a pen flare projector that shoots out a small charge that explodes about 30 m (guessing) from where it was launched. They are really loud. In this instance, it exploded right above the bear. A few years ago a colleague of mine bounced one off the side of a bear he'd encountered. I've also used them to run off moose during the rut.

    If you ever partially discharge a can, dispose of it and get a new one.

  13. #13
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    So does wearing sunglasses on the back of your head help deter bears? (I admit I'm not really a bear expert.) Sounds easier than carrying chemical weapons and fireworks, but it could be terribly embarrassing if it doesn't work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronald Brak View Post
    So does wearing sunglasses on the back of your head help deter bears? (I admit I'm not really a bear expert.) Sounds easier than carrying chemical weapons and fireworks, but it could be terribly embarrassing if it doesn't work.
    I always heard that was for Tigers, since they prefer to attack from behind. Most bear attacks follow a pattern of quiet hiker walk round corner and meets bear. Hiker is startled. Bear is startled. Bears dislike being startled and attack the thing that startled them. I don't think it would work well, but then, I was going to make the same joke you did in the second post.
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  15. #15
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    Re: bear repellent

    For campsite protection, prevention helps. Control anything that might attract bears. Especially don't leave food or food scraps around. They don't have those big noses for nothing.

    If all else fails, go camping with Stephen Colbert just after he breaks his leg.

  16. #16
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    Why wait for a broken leg? Just carry a .22 pistol. When confronted with a bear, shoot your companion in the leg, then calmly make your getaway.

    But first...

    File off the front sight of your pistol. That way...if the bear comes after you anyway...it doesn't hurt quite as much when the bear shoves that pistol up your...
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post

    File off the front sight of your pistol. That way...if the bear comes after you anyway...it doesn't hurt quite as much when the bear shoves that pistol up your...
    That is the punch line from my favorite "what type of pistol should I carry to fend off bears in the Alaskan bush?" parable.

    A shotgun with slugs or buckshot would be better. I wouldn't carry anything less than a .45 - and a .44 with a long barrel would be even better.

    I just wish the anti-gun lobby hadn't made it illegal to carry weapons in Yellowstone or Yosemite. The idiot 'live peacefully with nature' bear petters, and "take my photo while I feed the cute bear" dolts are reducing their natural avoidance response. I'm a firm believer in the "a fed bear is a dead bear" philosophy.

    I've not fished with them as PetersCreek has, but I have had some close encounters with brown and black bear in California, Canada and North Carolina - along the lines of "oh ____, what's that?!?". Thankfully the brown was on the far side of the pond and I was fairly close to my truck. I am not a big fan of meeting bears.

    If you're backpacking, make sure something bangs or rattles as you walk. Let the critters know you're coming, and let them avoid you. Don't leave food out. Don't keep food in your tent.

  18. #18
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    Agreed on the shotgun. It's the first choice of a lot of fishing guides doing business in bear country. But it just isn't practical for me in most fishing situations, so the .44 goes in a chest-mount tactical holster. As for using a .45, I assume you mean .45 Colt rather than ACP. I had a friend who had to take down a black bear with his .40 S&W but it still wouldn't be my caliber of choice...nor would .45 ACP, even though I favor that round for PD. But +P rounds in .45 Colt are definitely attentionj-getters...not too far off of .44 Mag performance IIRC.

    As much as I like to talk firearms, that's not really the point of this thread...nor is bear spray, IMO. Several folks have already touched on the most important thing to have in bear country...good bear sense. Helluva lot more important than good aim. Whether you choose pepper or lead, it's the last line of defense...not the first.
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  19. #19
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    Agreed. The best thing to do is be smart, manage your food properly, and make enough noise to let the bear know to skedaddle.

    I haven't spent much time in the Colorado plains, but IIRC there's mostly black bear there, so not much to worry about.

  20. #20
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    Do you really think so? Sure, browns are more powerful and more predacious but it's long been my philosophy that black bears are actually more dangerous from a behavioral standpoint.

    For instance, the conventional wisdom is, that when set upon by a brown bear, "playing dead" is the best first course of action because they frequently discontinue the attack. The same response, on the other hand, isn't recommended for a black bear attack.

    Then there's the bluff charge. It's a natural, territorial behavior in browns but to my knowledge, it's a learned tactic among black bears habituated to human-provided food sources. Much less predictable in my book and like you said...a fed bear is a dead bear.
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  21. #21
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    Kinda creepy timing wise, but the news this morning happened to mention a lot of campgrounds on Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Utah/Wyoming border were being closed down due to bear sightings.
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  22. #22
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    In Australia, to avoid bear attacks, it is vitally important not to smell like eycalyptus.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronald Brak View Post
    In Australia, to avoid bear attacks, it is vitally important not to smell like eycalyptus.

    Groan!

    I've always heard that you can shoo a black but not a brown. (I.e. play mean and it will amble off.) They're not supposed to be as aggressive. The browns are rumored to be willing to fight you just to prove who is bigger.

    The playing dead thing has never seemed like a good idea - but you're right; I've heard the browns will just mess with you, but the blacks will figure you're carrion and settle in for a meal.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronald Brak View Post
    In Australia, to avoid bear attacks, it is vitally important not to smell like eycalyptus.
    But what about the dreaded Drop Bears? AFAIK, they don't care for eucalyptis one way or the other...

  25. #25
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    Since this thread is getting silly, may I submit a sure-fire bear attractant? Insect traps. The more expensive they are, the more likely they will be found and destroyed by a bear. I had two malaise traps (~$500 each) destroyed by bears in the Sierra Nevadas of Northern California last year. Of course, bears also go for inexpensive traps (depends on what you use as bait) as I had two longhorn beetle traps (made from 2-liter pop bottles) destroyed last month. Incidentally, those were in my backyard!

    And for those of you erstwhile outdoors people reading this who are thinking to yourselves, wow, I'm glad I've never encountered a bear...have ever been out in the woods and suddenly smelled wet puppies but there were no puppies around? Guess what...

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by DyerWolf View Post
    Groan!

    I've always heard that you can shoo a black but not a brown. (I.e. play mean and it will amble off.) They're not supposed to be as aggressive. The browns are rumored to be willing to fight you just to prove who is bigger.

    The playing dead thing has never seemed like a good idea - but you're right; I've heard the browns will just mess with you, but the blacks will figure you're carrion and settle in for a meal.
    Yes. We only have black bears here & the accepted rule of thumb is that unless it's a mother defending young, a bear attacking you, in itself a very rare event, is likely a male that means to eat you.

    Unless, of course you've been stupid with food storage etc.

  27. #27
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    If you're backpacking, make sure something bangs or rattles as you walk. Let the critters know you're coming, and let them avoid you. Don't leave food out. Don't keep food in your tent.

    I spend long stretches of time working alone where there are bears, and have had numerous encounters with black bears. I'm usually making enough noise that most bears are long gone by the time I get to where they are, but often the work is quiet and intense, and next thing I know I'm staring at one them. When it's going to be one of those days, I often take along a horn that is powered by a refillable air cylinder, and just sound it every so often. The thing is really loud. It's particularly good near streams, where a bear is not as likely to hear you over the sound of running water.

    I've spent weeks in tent camps without having bear problems, even though they came into the camp while we were out. The kitchen area was kept a good distance from the tent, and there was never any food brought near the tent. Dishes were washed immediately upon finishing meals. We hoisted the food out of reach using rope and a block suspended from a branch on a big tree. The bears didn't seem to recognize that the tent was easily shredded.

    The same response, on the other hand, isn't recommended for a black bear attack.

    I agree, PetersCreek. I've heard that this tactic with black bears often changes the attack from defensive posturing to an opportunistic predatory one.

    When I meet black bears they are often curious, and snoop around. It makes me nervous, and I always assume I'm being sized up as a meal. I've been stalked by a mother and her yearling cub. The location was near town, and these were human habituated bears. The reaction of the mother to the bear banger I fired at them was nonchalant, like "Oh, he has a noise maker. How cute". I retreated without further incident. I prefer meeting the ones that are naive to humans. Other than being tense situations with a lot of adrenalin flowing, they've always ended with us quietly going our own way. But my knees are usually knocking after any encounter, and I feel drained. I figure the best response to a predatory black bear is to make yourself big - stand tall, talk quietly and - if the situation allows - make a very slow and cautious retreat. A predatory black bear usually gives you enough time to get your defense ready too. I've got my spray out and ready, and can usually fire off a bear banger.

    I've been lucky in that I haven't caught one totally by surprise, but perhaps that is also the result of being noisy. I know a number of people in my business that have been attacked, by both black bears and grizzlies. A close friend of mine, rolling up into a ball, submitted to a charging grizzly sow and her two cubs. The situation could easily have changed from the sow defending her young to a predatory attack, but after the sow cuffed one of the cubs that had followed her, they all walked away. Another individual was picked up and shaken by a grizzly he had surprised in an alder thicket. Furtunately the bear had him by the hips. He said he felt old and arthritic for more than a week after that. Yet another spent a half hour in a hollering match with a young grizzly as he retreated back to his pickup. The bear repeatedly came at him, bellowing, but didn't touch him. I later got pictures of that same grizzly at the side of the road (pic attached). That animal was completely unafraid of humans and vehicles. I don't think he lived much longer. . .

    The second attached picture is of three that I came upon while doing some low level aerial reconaissance work two weeks ago. That's the way I prefer to see them, running from me. And man, are they fast. You don't want to be in a race with them, and it underscores that whatever you use for protection, you have to be able to have it ready quickly in the event of a surprise encounter. Like about 2 seconds. (To be clear about that picture, we came over a ridge, and there they were. I barely had enough time to grab the camera and get a few blurry pictures before they got back into the timber).

    I've only had one encounter with a grizzly in which I wasn't in a vehicle, and that was when our party of 4 was returning to retrieve our moose kill and a grizzly had claimed it as his. But he ran off, which, apparently, is unusual in this situation. Perhaps the large size of our group prompted his departure. I once walked into a grizz's cache of a black bear, and that was one of the most frightening moments of my life.

    Oh well, I'll stop rambling now. Reminds me of a party of foresters: Once we've been drinking long enough, the bear stories start, and can go on for hours, probably in direct relationship to the total number of years of experience of the group.
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  28. #28
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    But what about the dreaded Drop Bears? AFAIK, they don't care for eucalyptis one way or the other...
    Something hit my hat the other day when I was walking under a tree. Luckily it turned out to be a swooping pee-wee rather than a drop bear. I've heard that in other countries nesting birds don't attack people. I guess other countries got lazy birds.

  29. #29
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    Yeah, I've heard the advice to keep running shoes in the backpack and make sure you always hiked with a slow-poke. I've also heard that you lead in the mornings and let the other person lead once it warms up. The idea being that any snake you step on in the morning hasn't had a chance to warm yet and will strike the second person. Once they've warmed up though, they're fast enough to bite the person stepping on them.


    Sorry for the hijack, but I have to relate these stories. My father was in the US Park Service for his entire career (sans being in the Army for an all expenses paid trip to Europe from 1942 to 1945).

    Anyways, he's on horseback patrol in one park and is going around a cliff when a bear cub comes barreling full tilt around the bend and into his horse's feet. Needless to say, the horse was a tad bit concerned to suddenly have a bear between its feet, cub or not. Once he got the horse back under control, my father looked up to see a group of sheepish-looking tourists standing there holding cameras. He proceeded to blister them good about the idiocy of chasing a bear cub and what mama bear could have done to them.

    He and horses had quite a few adventures while he was in the NPS. He fell off a cliff with one once. Both were bruised, but otherwise unharmed. Another one did its best to catch a service station on fire after getting stung. An then there was a way-too-smart, pack mule that thought it was a scouting dog that annoyed/entertained him for a few years.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by etlini View Post
    Look, I hope that helps. Good luck
    There are precious few scenarios wherein this could help the OP. All of them involve a tall, sturdy tree and an eleven year supply of food.

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