Sitka Mountain Gear
Bear spray while elk hunting?
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
Inshart 07-Apr-18
LKH 07-Apr-18
Jaquomo 07-Apr-18
Beendare 07-Apr-18
del_binari 07-Apr-18
Inshart 07-Apr-18
Jaquomo 07-Apr-18
Ron Niziolek 07-Apr-18
oldgoat 07-Apr-18
splitlimb13 07-Apr-18
Ziek 07-Apr-18
Jaquomo 07-Apr-18
Grape 08-Apr-18
Franzen 08-Apr-18
SCmuddy 08-Apr-18
Ziek 08-Apr-18
Pete In Fairbanks 08-Apr-18
fawn 08-Apr-18
Jaquomo 08-Apr-18
LKH 08-Apr-18
Ziek 08-Apr-18
Dooner 08-Apr-18
Ziek 08-Apr-18
elkstabber 09-Apr-18
Big Fin 09-Apr-18
Ziek 09-Apr-18
elkstabber 09-Apr-18
Riplip 09-Apr-18
Inshart 09-Apr-18
Surfbow 11-Apr-18
MarkU 11-Apr-18
From: Inshart
07-Apr-18
I've never carried bear spray while elk hunting, but with the confirmed sighting of Griz right where I hunt - thinking it prudent to begin carrying. (I carry handgun).

Looking on Amazon and there are a ton of different brands and sizes. I always have a shoulder pack on so I would think carabinering it to that would work?? Some spray 15' some spray 35' - I would think the further the spray the better?? For those of you that carry, what brand / size would you recommend?

From: LKH
07-Apr-18
If you are going to strap it to your pack you might as well leave it at home. If you are walking out through country you can't see far, especially at night, it should be in your hand.

You'd be surprised at how many guys with guns who have been attacked have never even got a shot off. go 35'

From: Jaquomo
07-Apr-18
Mine is in a quick-draw neoprene holster on my pack waist belt. Always there even when hiking, scouting, and fishing, because cow moose spool me more than bears. I practice drawing and flipping the safety off. Have never had to use it but my hunting partner did once, and it worked.

From: Beendare
07-Apr-18
My take; If you are going to carry spray....buy a few and use a couple for practice. Its silly to think you will be fluid with any defensive weapon without practice/training.

Next, the holster for this spry has to be rigid....the canister has to come out smoothly and quickly every time.

The one constant in these bear attacks is that they happen very fast. If it takes you 5 seconds to draw and shoot your spray...its worthless.

[If you couldn't tell I'm not a spray proponent]

From: del_binari
07-Apr-18
Started carrying bear spray last year in Idaho, and it took some of the worry out of being amongst the wolves and bears.

Last weekend I bought a two pack of 7.9 oz UDAP bear spray which came with two holsters for about $44.00 at the Costco in Roseville CA. I plan in taking it with on my local backpack trips here in CA, and then of course while hunting out of state (it weighs less than a loaded pistol). Here in CA we gotta be prepared for a forms of critters in our hills...

From: Inshart
07-Apr-18
LKH, obviously I wouldn't put it "out of reach" of quick draw. What I meant by attaching it to my pack, would be in the front, on one of the cross straps, so as not to interfere with drawing / shooting my bow, but still have immediate access.

Thanks for the responses.

From: Jaquomo
07-Apr-18
Mysterious delayed double-post

From: Ron Niziolek
07-Apr-18
Practice flipping the safety off and spraying from where it is. I carry mine on my pack belt and can either draw it and spray or just flick the safety off and spray from the hip if in a huge hurry. If ever in a bad predicament, don't forget to aim lower than where you want to hit.

From: oldgoat
07-Apr-18
Been elk hunting eleven seasons now, always had Bear Spray, only time I unholstered it was for a rutty bull moose I could hear but not see on a pitch black walk back to camp one night! Never saw the moose or needed the spray, but better safe than sorry!

From: splitlimb13
07-Apr-18
Spray that sucker with some lead! In grizzly country I'd be walking with a pistol unholstered ! Those are some nasty guys!

From: Ziek
07-Apr-18

Ziek's embedded Photo
Ziek's embedded Photo
Ziek's embedded Photo
Ziek's embedded Photo
Good idea to carry spray and know/practice how to use it in bear country. But the threat is over blown. Been spending the last few summers up north. Last year in particular, we had lots of encounters, both black and brown. Depending on what they're doing, and other circumstances, just give them some room. The worst case is obviously a surprise close encounter. I'd bet on the reaction time of the bear in that case, over any human. He'll either split, or be on you before you're done shit'n your pants. Best case then is a partner close enough to spray him and you or have a substantial gun and enough wits to shoot the bear and not you. Bottom line, in a real attack, plan on getting hurt no matter what you carry. Realized after she came across, I had left my spray in the truck.

From: Jaquomo
07-Apr-18
You walk around for a week with a .454 or .500 unholstered in your free hand with your bow in the other hand and let us know how that works out, ok? LOL!

From: Grape
08-Apr-18
If a bear, Black or Brown, decides he's going to attack; you're in big trouble.....period!

From: Franzen
08-Apr-18
Jaq, I typically walk around with a sawed-off in my right and my bow in my left. I have a special bit where I can carry my binos in my mouth and glass hands-free at any time too! And I don't just stay at my truck like a lot of guys either; I get at least 200 yards from it. ;^)

From: SCmuddy
08-Apr-18
Due to the frequency of human-bear encounters, the B.C. Fish and Wildlife Branch is advising hikers, hunters, fishermen and any persons that use the out of doors in a recreational or work related function to take extra precautions while in the field.

We advise the outdoorsman to wear little noisy bells on clothing so as to give advanced warning to any bears that might be close by so you don’t take them by surprise.

We also advise anyone using the out-f-doors to carry “Pepper Spray” with him is case of an encounter with a bear.

Outdoorsmen should also be on the watch for fresh bear activity, and be able to tell the difference between black bear feces and grizzly bear feces. Black bear feces is smaller and contains lots of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear poop has bells in it and smells like pepper.

Related Images:

From: Ziek
08-Apr-18
If you have a bow in one hand and a gun in the other, how do you carry a selfie stick?

08-Apr-18
"Natural Selection. In a handy aerosol can."

Be sure and practice "reloading" your bear spray too!

From: fawn
08-Apr-18

fawn's Link
The best article I have seen on spray and its use.

https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/ap_news/montana/bear-spray-is-effective-but-takes-practice-forethought/article_afaa71d3-6352-5a2a-aa01-183d2daee49d.html

From: Jaquomo
08-Apr-18
Pete, when has anyone ever reloaded a handgun during a bear attack?

"Let's take a quick break, Ms Bear, while I pop open the cylinder, eject the empties, fish the speedloader out of my pocket with my chewed-up hand, and stick more cartridges in".

From: LKH
08-Apr-18
Jaquomo, you have it. Most bear attack victims who are armed don't even get one shot off. It's different if you are in the open. Also, there's a lot of belief that many Alaskan "In defense of life and property" bear kills are just over reaction by the shooter.

From: Ziek
08-Apr-18
The other problem with a handgun is if, like us, you drive up to AK. Crossing in and out of Canada several times just ain't worth it considering the actual threat. It's also not worth the hassle and inconvenience of carrying a long gun. Don't know the actual stats, but I wouldn't be surprised if more people are hit by lightning every year. I don't give that any more thought than bears. Keep your head out of your a$$, and take realistic precautions for the actual threat at the time. In both cases, avoidance is the first line of defense. If you get surprised anyway, well, $hit happens. Even most close encounters are more scary than actually life threatening. Plan B is usually more about not getting killed than about not getting hurt. Accept that.

Mentioning Canada reminds of their idiotic response to "protecting" people. While up on the Dempster Hwy., a bike rider camping under the stars in one of the few established camp grounds, was awakened by a griz lightly batting his legs. His screams evidently scared the bruin away. But the bear was spotted in the area the next day. They closed (gated) the only reasonable place to camp with a travel trailer for miles. Of course the bikers could still just pull off to the side anywhere and throw a sleeping bag on the ground. We love Canada, but their government is just bizarre.

From: Dooner
08-Apr-18
“Keep your head out of your a$$”

You mean like don’t leave your bear spray in the truck?

From: Ziek
08-Apr-18
Hah! No. Like I said, if you really need it, it's likely already too late to do any good. Besides, my wife was right behind me and she had hers.

From: elkstabber
09-Apr-18

elkstabber's Link
The OP asked two questions before the thread was derailed.

1. See the attached link for a very efficient holster that keeps the spray on your pack's help belt, assuming your pack has a hip belt. 2. As for which size/brand I always feel better with the longer range.

DO NOT USE A LESS SECURE method to carry the spray or you can spray yourself while pushing through thick brush. Been there, done that, it sucked bad.

From: Big Fin
09-Apr-18

Big Fin's embedded Photo
Todd at the trailhead, getting ready to head to the ER.
Big Fin's embedded Photo
Todd at the trailhead, getting ready to head to the ER.

Big Fin's Link
Many of you probably saw the video of a guy who got attacked by a grizzly in Montana, October of 2016. Todd Orr, an experienced backcounty guy who has taken 28 public land elk, most with a handgun.

I suspect Todd is more capable with a handgun than most. Surely more capable than I am.

I had Todd him on my podcast last week. The last half of the podcast is mostly about his attack, his thoughts on what more he could have done for defense, and how fast/intense the attack is when it happens. To summarize his comments, carry a sidearm if it makes you more comfortable, but don't go without your bear spray. In many cases, the attack happens too fast to deploy a handgun.

Podcast at the link, if you want to listen. Or, you can download from iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app.

From: Ziek
09-Apr-18
Good point elk stabber. But does it really matter what folks carry if virtually no one has ever actually used different ones to compare the effectiveness? For what it's worth, we use Counter Assault. It says it sprays to 32' and is one of the best rated, higher % capsaicin. Also comes with a usable holster.

There is no "magic bullet" (pun intended) here. Only reasonable precautions. If bear encounters are a significant concern for you, always having a partner nearby with both of you carrying spray/gun is the safest approach.

From: elkstabber
09-Apr-18
Hey Ziek, I was using the UDAP spray with the holster that came with it. I had the UDAP holder secured loosely around a shoulder strap of my pack. Five years later that pack still stinks no matter how I've tried to wash it. The OP said something about using a carabiner to secure the spray to his pack - my point is simply that you'd better not let the spray flop around.

Now I use the FHF holster because the top flap keeps brush from getting into the button/trigger of the spray. The holster secures easily to a hip belt.

No doubt that the safest approach is to have a partner nearby with spray/gun also.

From: Riplip
09-Apr-18
I will second the recommendation of a quality after market holster, as the ones that come with the canisters are too flimsy. I am partial to the Counter Assault and the FHF Holster as well. Keep on my pack belt and have practiced with it. I was "bluff" charged by a grizzly in Alaska 20 years ago and as many have mentioned it is very hard to convey just how fast those bears can move.

From: Inshart
09-Apr-18
I've seen the Todd Orr grizzly bear attack interview before and it is an eye opener (no pun intended).

Thanks everyone for the comments - especially about keeping a secure / tight holster.

Pretty sure I'm going to get the Counter Assault 10.2 oz, w/ belt holster.

From: Surfbow
11-Apr-18
If you think putting your spray holster on your pack is a good idea, listen to the MeatEater "Meat Tree #1" podcasts. The situation can rapidly go from good to bad, especially if you're tired and let your guard down. It's easy to wax poetic about how to handle bears from the comfort of your couch...

From: MarkU
11-Apr-18
I'm not a fan of any kind of holster, so I just carry the can in my right front pants pocket and can get it out in a flash. I also have a larger canister with a pistol grip that I carry in my hand while walking in the dark, then put it back in the pack during the day.

Looking at the contents, the smaller canister has two percent pepper, but the larger one has seventeen percent, along with a blue dye. The larger one is to be used on people, I guess. The label says "Hades Blue".

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