This article is taken from one of my recent survival columns at Outside Magazine. To read additional articles, visit http://www.outsideonline.com -Many thanks to colleague and friend David Cronenwett for sharing his wealth of backcountry know-how and insight into bears.
|This is the right, front foot of an adult black bear.
David recommends, that if you run into a Griz at close range and they are not aware of your presence, then it’s generally best to quietly leave the area. He says that “if you bump into one that knows you are there, turn sideways slightly and avert your stare, since bears recognize a full-frontal gaze as a threat (predatory stare). Talk to the animal in an unthreatening voice and pull your pepper spray from its holster….do not arm the can unless a charge is in progress.”
|The top plaster cast is from an adult black bear. The bottom is from a black bear cub. Both are front feet.
His advice from many years on the trail: “Keep a clean camp, make noise around blind corners and in brushy spots, hang/bear box your food, be alert (hugely important), understand how to recognize bear sign (rub trees, scat, tracks) avoid camping near carcasses, camp away from trails (since critters use them for the same reasons we do) and carry pepper spray. The effectiveness of pepper spray is undisputed; practice “drawing” and arming it regularly. This device isn’t perfect but far more effective and easier to use than firearms. Taking a snoutful of pepper spray is a powerful deterrant to a charge.”