Mathews Inc.
What is SAFER in Grizzly Country?
Bears
Contributors to this thread:
OFFHNTN 08-Jul-19
wildwilderness 08-Jul-19
Mark Watkins 08-Jul-19
Brotsky 08-Jul-19
Ron Niziolek 08-Jul-19
Franklin 08-Jul-19
Owl 08-Jul-19
Rut Nut 08-Jul-19
nvgoat 08-Jul-19
Kurt 08-Jul-19
Nick Muche 08-Jul-19
Trax 08-Jul-19
Trax 08-Jul-19
APauls 08-Jul-19
Kevin Dill 08-Jul-19
OFFHNTN 08-Jul-19
scentman 08-Jul-19
altitude sick 08-Jul-19
IdyllwildArcher 08-Jul-19
altitude sick 08-Jul-19
BTM 08-Jul-19
Scar Finga 08-Jul-19
0hndycp 08-Jul-19
Irishman 08-Jul-19
Matt 08-Jul-19
Royboy 09-Jul-19
IdyllwildArcher 09-Jul-19
BIGERN 09-Jul-19
Treeline 09-Jul-19
Scar Finga 09-Jul-19
Feedjake 09-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 09-Jul-19
Treeline 09-Jul-19
Ambush 09-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 09-Jul-19
OFFHNTN 09-Jul-19
Ambush 09-Jul-19
Treeline 09-Jul-19
Ambush 09-Jul-19
DEMO-Bowhunter 09-Jul-19
Treeline 09-Jul-19
Ambush 09-Jul-19
Lone Bugle 09-Jul-19
skinner creek 09-Jul-19
Nick Muche 09-Jul-19
Kevin Dill 09-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 09-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 09-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 09-Jul-19
Kurt 09-Jul-19
Deflatem 09-Jul-19
Nick Muche 09-Jul-19
IdyllwildArcher 09-Jul-19
Ambush 09-Jul-19
IdyllwildArcher 09-Jul-19
Ron Niziolek 09-Jul-19
Kurt 09-Jul-19
Tradmike 09-Jul-19
OFFHNTN 10-Jul-19
Ron Niziolek 10-Jul-19
OFFHNTN 10-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 10-Jul-19
LBshooter 10-Jul-19
IdyllwildArcher 10-Jul-19
primitve 10-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 10-Jul-19
Owl 10-Jul-19
Kurt 10-Jul-19
TrapperKayak 11-Jul-19
OFFHNTN 11-Jul-19
From: OFFHNTN
08-Jul-19
Sleeping at a sturdy TRUCK camp requires you to walk 2-3 miles through grizzly country every morning and evening. Spiking out means you sleep in a flimsy one man tent with your food nearby. You will sleep much better at your truck, but you aren't walking as much and have less potential of "startling" a bear with a spike camp.

What would you do?

08-Jul-19
Spike camp, and store your food suspended in a tree. If you hunt all day you should sleep fine.

From: Mark Watkins
08-Jul-19
Nick has more experience with this than any of us.

Nick, you out there?

Mark

From: Brotsky
08-Jul-19
Realistically it's probably six of one, half dozen of the other as you could stumble on a bear 100 yards from your spike camp too. Carrying a gun and spray and being practiced in their use while being aware of your surroundings is probably the best bet along with keeping a clean camp no matter which you choose.

From: Ron Niziolek
08-Jul-19
Spike out and use ear plugs so you aren't waking up all night with the slightest noises.

From: Franklin
08-Jul-19
I would think walking the 2-3 miles during those times will put you at greater exposure of an encounter. The surprise encounters are the ones that will get you.

From: Owl
08-Jul-19
"You will sleep much better at your truck"... I'm not willing to accept that on face value so, imo, the question may not present such a disparity in sleep quality. But, assuming that variable true, I'd still rather spike camp just to forego the daily bookend miles navigating in the dark.

From: Rut Nut
08-Jul-19

Rut Nut's embedded Photo
Rut Nut's embedded Photo

From: nvgoat
08-Jul-19
I can't imagine wearing ear plugs in that situation.

From: Kurt
08-Jul-19
I sleep fine in my backpack tent and hunt more effectively. With meat around I become a whole lot more cautious. Good luck.

From: Nick Muche
08-Jul-19
2-3 miles there and back every morning/evening OR stay in a tent in the area you plan to hunt? I'd certainly be opting for the latter. If you are worried, just hang your food away from your tent, don't eat in your tent, etc. Or, do neither and just sleep with a handgun nearby. I think after a few days of an extra 2-3 miles hiking in and out you'll be wishing you were just staying on the mountain each night.

To answer your question about what is safer, staying on the mountain is likely much safer than wandering around in the dark for 2-3 miles twice a day in grizzly country.

From: Trax
08-Jul-19
Without a doubt spike it. Keep smelly stuff high and your camp well off any trail. The likelihood you will have trouble at camp or out on the hunt is slim, but expect it. Carry whatever you feel most comfortable with, spray or weapon. Or both. I opt for weapon, and sometimes multiple weapon these days. Glock 29 Gen 4 at my hip (10mm and conceal carry size) and a sawed off 12 with pistol grip also with easy access. My bow is light, and so are the weapons. In my work life my load was much heavier.

There also is an electric fence you can buy and use around camp, made specifically for this. No idea what the thought on that is or success rate, just know it is out there.

From: Trax
08-Jul-19
I have a buddy who sleeps 20 plus feet in a big Doug Fir. He has a good hammock and bag, weather permitting. He's locked and loaded too of course. I never have felt the urge to go to that extreme though.

From: APauls
08-Jul-19
Nice thing about having food close to the tent is it should be the first place hit, and you should hear it allowing you to "deal" with the situation.

From: Kevin Dill
08-Jul-19
You've got a greater chance of poking your eye out by walking 4-6 miles in the dark every day....versus having even so much as a bear woof your camp at night.

I keep 100% of my food in the tent. Same with food-related trash. I cook and eat in my tent. Keep the sidearm where you'll find it instinctively in the dark.

From: OFFHNTN
08-Jul-19
Good thoughts and info guys. My food shouldn't be a huge problem as it's light and doesn't smell much (Mt House, TrailMix, Tuna Packets, Ramen, Honey Stinger), but will still probably put it up high and a ways away, especially the garbage.

Nick, agreed on the additional 4-6 miles a day being a drag.

From: scentman
08-Jul-19
I don't usually hunt in Grizzly country... but when i do, I hire a Sasquatch as a guide... hunt safe my friends.

08-Jul-19

altitude sick's embedded Photo
altitude sick's embedded Photo
Food is in grey tote. Stove on top. Big bore rifle laying close by.

08-Jul-19
I've done both. Let me tell you, the more uncomfortable thing to do is to walk through grizz country in the dark. I don't know if one is specifically safer than the other, but will feel less safe walking around in Grizz country in the dark...

08-Jul-19
Very strange. That picture above is not mine. I posted one of my AK camp site

From: BTM
08-Jul-19
Spike.

From: Scar Finga
08-Jul-19
UMMM Tuna Packs? You just called every Bear within 5 miles! JMO, but, No Tuna! If it touches your hand, you smell like tuna!

I don't really worry very much over bears, brown or black. Be smart with camp smells, and sleep well!

I always carry a heavy hitting sidearm, but I worry way more about the two legged critters than the four legged ones!

A sow with cubs is completely different, unless you are talking about a kill sight!!

99.9% of bears want nothing to do with you, especially in the wilderness, unless you are messy, sloppy, smelly and don't pay attention to what you are doing!

Crap far from your tent!!!

I would pack in, store my food and trash very far from camp and have a great time!

God Bless!

From: 0hndycp
08-Jul-19
Ron I thought that I was only one to sleep with earplugs in in grizzly country! If I don’t, the slightest noise I spring awake and get zero sleep.

From: Irishman
08-Jul-19
If you sleep better in the truck, sleep in the truck. What's 2-3 miles to walk - nothing. Better to get a good nights sleep.

From: Matt
08-Jul-19
I don't worry so much about black or brown bears. Grizzlies however are a different critter.

From: Royboy
09-Jul-19
We used electric fence and had a little more peace of mind

09-Jul-19
It's true. The electric fence does give you more peace of mind - when you're out hunting too.

From: BIGERN
09-Jul-19
I go as far as putting my food and opened packets of rations in an odor proof bag,then into the hanging bag. Keeps stuff dry as well if it pours out. Clean camp for me, fence, and NO earplugs! Love to hear the wolves, elk and others at night.

From: Treeline
09-Jul-19
Never had trouble with bears when camping or hunting, but then again I usually have a license and black bears will leave the country when they know I’m after them!

Griz are a bit different though.

Planning a hunt in Wyoming this fall in grizzly country. Got a battery powered electric fence for around the camp, a .44 Magnum, and will have bear spray. Might have to pick up a short heavy caliber lever gun for camp or even for packing.

From: Scar Finga
09-Jul-19

Scar Finga's Link
Treeline,

You may also want to consider a high capacity 12 Gauge, semi auto or pump shotgun for camp and packing. The one in the link would be my choice, and it looks really cool! Loaded with 00 buck and slug every other round would be some serious firepower!!

Unless you just want a lever gun:)

From: Feedjake
09-Jul-19
A grizzly is a brown bear...

From: TrapperKayak
09-Jul-19
I always thought an AK brown bear and an interior grizzley were two different beasts. A grizzley from the interior of AK, the Rockies in CA and Lower 48 is not the same as a 'brown bear' from AK IMO, esp. a coastal brownie, and esp. one from Kodiak and Afognak. But what do I know, I'm just an old school fish and wildlife bio. into a probably different classification mode than most people nowdays.

From: Treeline
09-Jul-19
Kinda futuristic looking, Scar! But interesting and definitely not without merit! I have always been pretty handy with a rifle and haven’t had much use for pistols or shotguns but for close in work (would expect less than 20’ in a bear scenario) that shotgun would certainly provide significant external braking influence.

From: Ambush
09-Jul-19
"A grizzly is a brown bear..."

But an interior grizzly has a whole different attitude than coastal bears. Grizzlies jealously guard their territory and food supply. I believe lower 48 grizzlies are even crankier than BC interior grizzlies due to generational conditioning.

My Udap electric bear fence weighs four pounds with batteries. I've never back packed it but always have it at main camp for around the tent, food and meat pole. They work.

For meat retrieval, if I carry anything, it's a twelve inch barreled 12 gauge with six hard cast slugs, Brenekes if you can find them. Forget that alternating stuff. A pump gun is easier and faster for most people to cycle and stay on target. And at the ranges you should be shooting, 100 yard accuracy doesn't matter. The shotgun kinda naturally cradles across your body when carrying a pack, ready for fast action. Whereas a handgun is more likely to be holstered. But I do wish I was allowed to pack a Glock 10mm!! I have slammed a few black bears with slugs.

From: TrapperKayak
09-Jul-19
Interior Grizzly and brown bear incl. Kodiak, are considered 'subspecies' of the same bear. I'd go with the shotgun myself...but where I am from, a shotgun with a 12 inch barrel is considered a sawed off shotgun. Anything shorter than an 18" barrel on one is not legal here. The electric fence idea sounds intriguing but carrying that battery may not be fun, in a backpack anyway. How much do they weigh?

From: OFFHNTN
09-Jul-19
Currently thinking of this electric fence. $270 and 3.7 lbs. https://www.udap.com/mm5/product/BEF

From: Ambush
09-Jul-19
Trapper, same one as in the link above. 3.7 pounds with the two D-cell batteries to power it. Also get a tester so you don't have to wonder if it's working. You only get to test it once per buddy by casually asking "wonder if that thing is on?".

From: Treeline
09-Jul-19

Treeline's embedded Photo
Treeline's embedded Photo
This one?

From: Ambush
09-Jul-19
Can’t tell by the pic, but mine is the UDap. Probably ten years old now, so packing may have changed.

09-Jul-19
Interesting the difference in the perception and treatment of browns and grizzly's. On Kodiak this spring, my guide cooked everything in his tent and kept all food right next to the tents. He did this for an entire month and not one bear sighting around camp.

Haven't been around Grizzly's much, but it seems they are a totally different animal and then add in the areas where they aren't hunted and they are worse.

From: Treeline
09-Jul-19
Yep, UDAP. Will have to remember to get the tester as well.

From: Ambush
09-Jul-19
The tester you can by at any farm supply too.

From: Lone Bugle
09-Jul-19
2x on the electric fence. It is a little unnerving hearing a zap in the middle of the night though....

09-Jul-19
My experience is that the majority of hunters are not comfortable on their own in the wilderness. If you are uncomfortable with sleeping in a tent in bear country then don't. Being close to where where you hunt is much better then walking back to the truck each day, but not if you can't get a good nights sleep in a tent.

I like the idea if you hunt hard all day sleeping in a tent won't be as difficult as one may think.

From: Nick Muche
09-Jul-19
Grizzly bears are born hungry and die hungry... the same cannot be said about Brown Bears of costal Alaska and I've found them to be much less of a nuisance than an ornery interior grizzly bear.

UDAP bear fence works well, have used it quite a bit and while we've had bears make contact with it, nothing has been ruined in our camps. If it'll work for 15 days on Karluk Lake in the fall, just 30 feet from the bear trail on shore, with food and deer meat in camp, it'll work anywhere (until it doesn't).

From: Kevin Dill
09-Jul-19
Not to get in anyone's head; but it's best to understand a portable electric fence is not bear-proof, and it's only a helpful tool to dissuade a bear. Don't go bed thinking you're safe behind the voltage supplied by a couple D cells. Helpful...hopefully yes.

Personally I think nothing beats the smell of humans, as basically all bears (in the wild) are hard-wired to avoid it. To that end I collect 100% of my urine (while in camp) in a bottle and then disperse it around the perimeter of camp. Fling it into bushes, onto trees and anywhere it looks like a bear might approach from. If a bear of any kind comes into the area, this is your best first line of defense. After that is the fence....the tent...and then the sidearm.

From: TrapperKayak
09-Jul-19
I'd be more worried about the bush plane ride back into the wilderness. Last time I took one, the pilot pointed out 5 crashes in various sports along the way. On the way back out, we dropped 100 feet in freefall with a very abrupt halt from it, and if I hadn't been strapped in, I would have been part of the ceiling of the fuselage. The wings bounced like a couple of bow limbs shot when a string broke, and the pilot yelled back (from the Otter cockpit), Ya all still with me? Barely. Bears, I'd wager, will pose a threat mainly when sows with cubs feel threatened. Usually some surprise approach or sighting. I am thinking a night in a tent, are low threat situations, where no young are threatened, or no food supply is encountered with a bear feeding on it, or no surprise encounter is made. I have been in a wall tent up into Specimen creek in the outfitters camp with the griz right outside, and it made no attempt to enter. It did however, chase all the mules out of camp. Fresh griz tracks in the snow all around the tents and in the corral, but it did not try to get in the mess tent either. I would risk sleeping in the tent, with the proper precautions made. Hiking back to truck each night, I'd be more apt to sleep in and miss the best part of the morning hunt.

From: TrapperKayak
09-Jul-19
I'd be more worried about the bush plane ride back into the wilderness. Last time I took one, the pilot pointed out 5 crashes in various sports along the way. On the way back out, we dropped 100 feet in freefall with a very abrupt halt from it, and if I hadn't been strapped in, I would have been part of the ceiling of the fuselage. The wings bounced like a couple of bow limbs shot when a string broke, and the pilot yelled back (from the Otter cockpit), Ya all still with me? Barely. Bears, I'd wager, will pose a threat mainly when sows with cubs feel threatened. Usually some surprise approach or sighting. I am thinking a night in a tent, are low threat situations, where no young are threatened, or no food supply is encountered with a bear feeding on it, or no surprise encounter is made. I have been in a wall tent up into Specimen creek in the outfitters camp with the griz right outside, and it made no attempt to enter. It did however, chase all the mules out of camp. Fresh griz tracks in the snow all around the tents and in the corral, but it did not try to get in the mess tent either. I would risk sleeping in the tent, with the proper precautions made. Hiking back to truck each night, I'd be more apt to sleep in and miss the best part of the morning hunt.

From: TrapperKayak
09-Jul-19
Not sure why that happened - sorry.

From: Kurt
09-Jul-19
Twice grizzlies have sniffed the small tent I was sleeping in, both times were in the Brooks Range in N Alaska. So far never had it happen in BC, NWT or Nunavut despite a lot more nights camped out here in Canada. You do feel small and vulnerable when it happens despite a 12 ga pump or .44 magnum up in the Brooks.

From: Deflatem
09-Jul-19
In 1988 I had a camp in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and just before dark I saw a Sow Grizzly and sub adult cub cross to my side of the creek 100 yards upstream. It wasn't a welcome sight after riding 24 miles and dropping the camp off the horses. All went OK until an hour after dark and the horses started freaking out. One broke his rope and ran off into the darkness. Later we heard bears fighting less than 50 yards from camp. (LOUDLY!!!) I can tell you we did NOT sleep that night and luckily could see our escaped horse on the hill above camp the next morning. We packed up and scooted to another spot a few miles further away. As it turned out we had camped within about 100 yards of a dead horse. (Belonged to an outfitter) It was awesome to hear a bear fight, but you "AIN"T gonna sleep through it.

From: Nick Muche
09-Jul-19
Absolutely agree with Kevin, the fence is just one more measure to possibly keep them out.

09-Jul-19
I fried bacon and steak everyday on Kodiak in the vestibule of my tent. We never had a bear within a mile of us. They were all down on the salmon streams and we were above 1500 ft. You always have to take into consideration local conditions/bears/timing.

On Kodiak at elevation and the Brooks in sheep country, I don't even worry about it all. In elk country in Wyoming, I think you need to take every precaution possible.

From: Ambush
09-Jul-19
The tester you can by at any farm supply too.

09-Jul-19
Or just give your hunting partner a little shove and ask him if it works.

From: Ron Niziolek
09-Jul-19
Brown bears of Kodiak and grizzly bears of Wyoming and I'd suspect, interior Alaska, have very different attitudes. Brown bears have a rather abundant food supply, where the grizzlies have to scrap for it.

I'd much rather sleep in grizzly country than walk several miles through it in the dark. And yes, I am a very light sleeper so I do use ear plugs. Sometimes, there is no choice and I walk those dark miles. It's bad enough stumbling on a sow with cubs or a bear guarding a carcass during daylight hours, never mind in the dark. Sometimes it's just the chance you take.

In a recent conversation with a warden in northwest Wyoming, he agreed with my guess that 50% of grizzlies are "good", where they will leave at the sight or smell of humans. They may not leave quickly but they leave. 25% are ambivalent. They do not care whatsoever and hold their ground, making you detour. The last 25% are just assholes and are aggressive. Many of these bears are juveniles recently kicked off from mom or forced into new habitat.

From: Kurt
09-Jul-19
Ron, That is an interesting breakdown of grizzly attitudes. A former Conservation Officer up here in BC indicated the stats for local black bears were about 95% "good" and the other 5% were aggressive, predatory and wanted to kill you. And he said size did not make a difference with this breakdown. Kurt

From: Tradmike
09-Jul-19
Stay in your hunting area, surround your camp at night with electric fence.

From: OFFHNTN
10-Jul-19
Ron....great. I won't be too terribly far from NW Wyoming.

From: Ron Niziolek
10-Jul-19
John, just watch out for those 25% and you'll be fine:) lol

From: OFFHNTN
10-Jul-19
LOL......got it. Can you go paint a big orange X on those 25%er's?!

From: TrapperKayak
10-Jul-19
Ron, That sounds more like the description of humans. My wife has cousins in Kodiak and we visited for 11 days once. They are church-goers and a couple of guys and their sons who go to their church went elk hunting on Afognak. The two younger men were walking along the shoreline when they encountered two brown bear cubs at close range. The cubs spooked and suddenly there was the sow, running full tilt toward them. One of the older men behind the boys emptied his rifle into the big sow and it literally dropped at their feet. They were unhurt but had it not been for the rifle toting father, they probably would be dead. As it was, both cubs ended up dead too, not having the mother. Not sure what transpired there. But bear encounters more often end up worse for the bear than for the people.

From: LBshooter
10-Jul-19
One more tool for you to consider, fifth ops, they have pepper spray shells too Looks like a good perimeter alarm.

10-Jul-19
Depredation kills were actually way up on Kodiak during a recent year due to an off-year when the Sockeye didn't run in large numbers which caused the bears to get more aggressive towards deer hunters. Something like 20 bears were killed in self-defense in just one year. That's a lot of bears for an island that size. Who knows how many of them needed to die, but that's how many died.

But it just goes to show, local circumstances are huge. If the bears are eating salmon, you just need to not get in between the bear and her cubs or her fish.

From: primitve
10-Jul-19
In BC we've had way more close calls with black bears than Grizzly. One of my guides was mauled terribly by a black bear at night (predatory black bear, 360 pounds). I find the best deterrant is a dog. Bears hate dogs, and avoid camp when they smell them. If a Grizz or black wants to do damage there is no way you will likely stop it (at night). But a dog will smell/hear it WAY before you have a clue its there. My lab has a pack and goes everywhere I do...and I sleep well at night with him there. Nothing better than a trained dog in the field, but an untrained one would suck!

From: TrapperKayak
10-Jul-19
My lab I had and I encountered a big boar blackie near Jardine once. It stood up at 30 yds instead of running. Dog saw it and bolted after it. I screamed "NO" but he kept going, and the bear took off. I thought we were both going to be dead if he brought the bear back with him, but he came back alone after a couple minutes and no bear was seen again. That bear was not afraid at first though. I did have other 'backup' ready at the time too.

From: Owl
10-Jul-19
"But a dog will smell/hear it WAY before you have a clue its there. My lab has a pack and goes everywhere I do...and I sleep well at night with him there. "

-I don't know how you sleep with a dog in camp, primitive. I've tried it before and my dog growled at every cricket, twig snap and mouse fart he heard. It would have been more peaceful to have Freddy Krueger in the tent.

From: Kurt
10-Jul-19
We had "something" grab a couple game bags of my buddy's Stone sheep meat set 30 yards from the tent last August, unfortunately 4 hrs away from the trailhead after we'd packed it for 2-days. Happened on a windy night and his Pudlepointer slept through it....dead tired from a long day with a pack on and having to point the ptarmigan and ground squirrels along the way. I heard the critter but wasn't about to go out of the pack tent with my can of bear spray in 20 mph winds and try to chase it off. Ultimately we believe it was a wolverine but never confirmed the culprit.

From: TrapperKayak
11-Jul-19
I think I'd rather mess with a bear than a wolverine.

From: OFFHNTN
11-Jul-19
Owl.............lmao!

  • Sitka Gear