By: randosteve|Posted on: May 6, 2008|Posted in: Gear, Trip Planning | 12 comments

bear tracks may 5 08
Bear tracks from May 2, 2008. Click picture for largest image.

Saw some day old bear tracks around the Bradley/Taggart area last week. Running into one of these guys (moose too!) in the dark, early morning hours is one of my biggest nightmares. Here are some things to think about if you have and encounter.

  • Watch out for cubs…often found in trees. Sows will defend their cubs
  • Be extra cautious around a kill sight, as bears become extremely aggressive when defending their dinner.
  • Younger bears have more of a tendency to bluff charge. Not something you want to test though.

Some scenarios:

Bear is more than 100M away…and sees you.
Talk calmly and let the bear know you are a human…they will often give you more space once they figure it out. If you decide navigate around the bear, travel upwind…so the bear can get your scent.

Bear sees you and is acting aggressively.
Access the situation. Do not run…you won’t win. Avoid direct eye contact and retreat slowly while talking calmly. Climb a tall tree if you can (might be tough in ski bots?), at least 10M…and hope the bear will feel less threatened.

Bear charges you.
Often bears will bluff charge on the first go…to avoid having to actually attack an enemy. As a last resort, use your pepper spray once the bear is within 15′. Discard the canister after using it…even if it’s not empty. In lower concentrations, it may act as an attractant.

Bear has been stalking you…and makes contact.
If it’s a black bear you are in a predatory situation and your only hope is to fight back. Blackies are more likely to back down than the grizzlies. Your unlikely to deter a grizzly attack, so rolling up in a tight ball and lie on your side…burying you head between your legs. Wait until the last minute to play dead…you might first be able to dodge a deadly blow. Lying on your stomach with your backpack protecting your back, with your hands over the back of your neck is another option.

After an attack.
Stay calm and be patient. If you have determined the bear have left the area, bail for help…pronto!