Well, regardless of this being discuss ad nauseam throughout the entirety of the entarwebs I find it necessary to bring up another thread... Actually, just figured I'd hear some thoughts.
Taking the wifey and kid (and loud dogs) car camping in bear county end of this week. Black bear county, that is. Other than normal common sense measures like storing food properly (should not be an issue car camping) I don't find myself worrying much about bears or the like and normally just carry my 9mm shield as an EDC CCW. Well, the wife is freaking out. TO be fair, she tends to get excited about many things; the sky might fall at any time (I didn't say that, of course!).
So we got her some bear bells for the dog collars and I plan to swing by the outfitter and pick up some bear spray to make her happy. Just wondering what people think about switching my CCW from the usual Shield (3.1in 9mm) to my Glock 23 gen 4... Probably will anyways, but the shield is just sooo much nicer to carry when driving or hiking. Will the .40 really cheat the odds much my way *if* it happened to be needed against a large predator? I will not be changing from my carry loads which are 165gr PDX1 (I use 115gr critical defense in the 9mm). I'm thinking the drawbacks are minor so might just as well switch out. Plus I'll end up with more rounds in the weapon and more in the spare mag to boot...
What kind of bears would these be? We had a black bear a few counties over come down from Michigan a while back.. Got into trash cans and chewed things up for people. That's about it. No issues whatsoever.
Since 50%+ of the OP is about guns and ammo, you're better off practicing standard bear encounter protocol than shooting it.. Yell at it if it's curious and back away slowly and try to calm it if it's mad. Not trying to be a greenie, but this isn't some wild dog that will drop with a precisely placed rib shot. You better be an excellent shot if you make that decision.
I'd stick with the common sense measures. No food, no soap and no shampoo in the tent. No garbage at the campsite. Clothes you've cooked in should be left outside the tent.
We used to have a clean cooking pot and a large spoon to make loud noises in the middle of the night if we heard something snuffling outside. And yes we used it on occasion - though I suspect the noise from my wife's teeth chattering might also have had some effect. I don't know if that's a current recommendation.
Some people think bear bells are like a dinner bell - there's food here!
Dogs on the loose can provoke an attack. They'll attack a bear and when it comes after them, they'll come running back and stand behind you.
Never mess with a bear with cubs. And especially never get between a bear and her cubs.
Then there are the standard suggestions to set down your pack and slowly back away from a bear and if all else fails curl up and play dead (while protecting your head).
Bear spray may be worthwhile - though I've never carried it. If you get some be sure to read up on how to use it. I believe the recommended approach is to use it all up in a single massive counter-attack. On second thought if you decide to get some, get two.
I wouldn't even consider carrying a firearm. If you shoot a bear and don't kill it immediately, it'll probably kill you before it dies.
If you mean Michigan black bears, you have it covered. Keep your camp clean and no worries . In the days before I carried guns I hunted black bears in Michigan with just a recurve bow. They are more scared of you than you are of them. Do not get between a sow and cubs, that would be about the only time you could be in some danger. If you were to be attacked(one in a bazillion chance) fight , don't run and do not play dead, a black bear will eat you so its best to try and defend yourself instead of playing dead. Have your wife google bear attacks in Michigan and she will feel better.
I think beyond putting the bells on the dogs, having your family be loud will also let the bears know you are there so they can get away...they really don't want to be around you! Let the kids scream to their hearts' content and talk to your wife often at an elevated volume.
At least you are smarter than the guy we saw while heading to a softball tournament up in the White Mountains...about half a mile from the field, we saw a black bear sauntering down the road. It turned into someone's driveway before we passed it, then we saw a guy from a nearby house tearing down the road TOWARDS the bear setting up his phone to take a pic!! We didn't hear about any tourist fatalities that weekend, so I'd guess the bear didn't teach the guy a lesson... Bears show up at our ski condo fairly often...those who have been there for a while don't freak and just try to stay out of their way, new people either totally freak out or rush over to get a better look at it.
Last edited by Virtus_Probi; 07/11/1812:59 PM.
2014 Forester XT, 86000 miles Last Change; M1 5W30 d1G2 Tokyo Roki 15208AA170 filter
Several years back there was a picture of a bear standing at someone's door trying to get away from animal control, in the newspaper. It's front paws were scratching the front door. They are not stupid!
Follow aforementioned advise. Just avoid a bear with cubs. Most of all avoid the cubs. They like to play and run up trees.
Have a safe trip!
Always remember "Planned obsolescence."
1994 Montero SR 3.5 DOHC, 133,xxx Fram Ultra/ Snorkel with Pre-filter K-9-Co-pilot
my overnight tent camping days are done but if i were to do so with family in tow i would take all precautions noted already, pick my venue carefully and take the most powerful firearm with which i am proficient. if my proficient firearm is a 9mm or less handgun, then i would bring along a 12 or 20ga shotgun loaded with slugs or buckshot. regardless, i never go unarmed into the neighborhood of either two or four legged predators. wild dogs, rabid mammals and feral homo sapiens can easily be encountered in the woods before ever seeing a bear, and they wont be stopped by bells, spray or wishful thinking.
Bear Spray is effective against Black Bears. It does work for Brown / Grizzly / Kodiaks but only for a limited time, and your bottle had better be full when you start spraying.
Be sure to position yourself upwind before you spray or you might incapacitate yourself as well as the bear.
Bear Spray is a very potent capsaicin formula, it is many times stronger than that allowed for Law Enforcement / Security / Prison use.
Broadly speaking I have never had much problem with Black Bears, and I worked in the wilderness for 26 years and lived there recreationally as well. I've never carried a firearm unless hunting. Generally I just charge them yelling loudly and they run away. However Black Bears will return after you chase them, usually trying to sneak from a different path than the first approach. They can be chased away multiple times though.
If you chase a bear, you MUST be very aggressive, run as fast as you think prudent but at least start chasing immediately when spotted as fast as you can before you slow to match their retreating speed. Generally they will not run as fast as they can* but just enough to avoid you, so you must be the aggressor. Continue yelling the entire time. If you have a noisemaker or tool (frying pan, axe) you can bang it against trees as you chase.
If the bear turns sideways to you, or you notice it's hackles are up, it may be reluctant to leave, possibly due to previous human contact and a reduction in it's natural fear of humans. In that case you should probably prepare to leave. You can decide to simply get up and move, or you can pack up camp. If you simply leave, the Bear will probably just eat whatever food is available, maybe have a nap, then leave, so you can return later to pack camp or stay as you see fit.
Black Bears are habitual creatures to a massive extent; if a bear has found food somewhere it will return there periodically in it's rounds forever until it dies, even if it never finds food there again. Choose your campsite accordingly.
I have confronted Black Bears maybe hundreds of times, unarmed every time, never had a problem chasing them. I carried but never used Bear Spray. But animals are individuals, and it's possible to encounter one who doesn't react the way most do. Mostly you want to be prepared for that bear.
Use of a firearm is quite effective, putting rounds in the dirt nearby is almost always all you need to do. There is no need to actually fire at the bear unless there is less than a few feet between you and the animal and you are in present danger.
Even if a Black Bear mauls you you are almost certainly going to survive as they do not persist. (I have a friend who was a hunting guide, we call him "Blackie". Guess why).
However, if you are attacked, the proper response is (and I quote) "... fight aggressively with any available weapon. ..."
Note that the above is only pertinent to Black Bears. Other large species of Bear in North America are very different beasts and are much more dangerous.
* Human athletes can do 4+ second 40 yards, a Black Bear can do a 4+ second football field. I have only seen Black Bears run at full speed a handful of times, usually older cubs who are still with siblings but moma has kicked them out, playing. No Black Bear has ever charged me. Be the first to do the charging.