I thought this would be a fun story to recall. I was on a hike in the St. Paul area, Birds Landing, and I had a very interesting event. I used Google Earth to map out a trail through this impossible terrain and took off on my hike. I started into the woods and got about 1/2 a mile when I thought I would stop and input my GPS coordinates and take a look at my map. After I had finished I stood up to continue on my path when I just felt like something was amiss. The woods were quiet and unnaturally still. I looked around and saw a spot in the woods. I peered around and saw what I thought was a cow. I thought, "What is a cow doing in these woods?" Then, to my horror, the cow looked up at me. It was a black bear!! This thing was probably around 300 lbs. and it was about 15 to 20 feet in front of me. I stood motionless for a moment wondering what to do, then I remembered what I had heard on survival shows. "I have to look big and intimidating", I thought and began to wave my hands above my head and grunt. "Maybe grunting is the wrong message to send! GET OUT OF HERE BEAR!!" The bear started walking TOWARD me for about 2 feet and then just turned and walked away. SCARED ME TO DEATH!! I finally just turned and headed back. I left that day and went home to do a lot of research on black bears so I would know what to expect from them. I now have an extensive knowledge on these beautiful creatures and have even encountered more. Now when I hike, I take bear spray and have an alarm system I set up around my camp site. This experience changed my life really and am grateful to have had it.
Good story. I had a close encounter with a bear in colorado once, and a person surely doesnt forget that! Thinking back on it later, I was never in any immediate danger but it sure didnt stop my heartrate from jumping up.
On two other occasions while hiking out there i came to a spot where things didnt feel right...felt like i was being watched, that sort of thing. On one of them, the feeling was strong enough to turn me around on the trail and head out. Never actually saw anything though.
it is certainly wise to be aware while hiking.
The danger of it....
They say that black bears are extremely shy creatures that usually run away from humans the moment they detect their presence. However, these are wild creatures that can become predacious (rogue). The statistics are very low though. A rough statistic is 2 bear attack fatalities a year and with the population in the U.S. being 304,059,724 in 2008, you have a 152,029,862 to 1 chance of being killed by a bear. In other words, you are more likely to be struck by lightning( around 500,000 to 1). Saying all this, it is factual that black bears are more aggressive the farther north you travel. I am not sure why this is, but the majority of attacks and attack fatalities are from northern areas. The problem with my first encounter was that the bear did not react in a predictable manner. The bear actually neared me instead of running at the site of me. I was close to a recreational camping area, so this may have been due to habituation but it is unnerving none-the-less. I do have a healthy respect for these creatures, but what a magnificent experience to encounter one.............from a distance :wink:
My only bear encounter while hiking was when I was about 21 years old. I was doing a day hike on the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. I had moving quietly, hoping to see some deer or other wildlife. I heard something a little ahead of me, so I stopped and looked to see what made the noise. To my surprise, all I saw was a large black furry back, the rest of the animal concealed by some bushes off to one side of the trail, maybe 20 feet away. "BEAR!", I realized. He had not seen or heard me, and was evidently eating some berries or something. I thought for a few seconds about what I should do. Go back from where I came and choose another route? Or continue forward, quietly, since the trail got no closer to the bear. I chose the latter. I had only taken about 2 steps when the bear either heard or smelled me. He raised his head and looked straight at me! GULP! But then, the unexpected happened. In less than a second, the bear jumped up, rotated, and ran off in the opposite direction from me. I was really relieved and continued my hike, shaken but not stopped, and sure that would be my only bear encounter of the day.
A couple of hours later, on the same hike, I came into a small clearing and saw a large metal cylinder with an open gate at one end and a closed gate at the other. At first, I didn't know what I was looking at. Then it hit me! A bear trap, set out by the park rangers! Then I realized, where there was a trap, there was likely another bear. I wasted no time getting out of there, my confidence about not seeing another bear shaken. (But I finished my hike maybe an hour later and didn't see another one.)
Maybe I was lucky that day. But it is a memory that will stick with me forever.
Regarding using an airhorn to frighten off the bears, have you considered instead getting some bells (like Christmas jingle bells) and attaching them to your boots? When I visited Denali National Park several years ago, that's what the rangers recommended if you were going to hike in the backcountry there. The bells would be much lighter and would alert the bears to your presence long before you get close, thereby avoiding an encounter.
With bells on?
Hello OldRiverRunner!! I actually have spoken to one of the black bear researchers with NABC (North American Bear Center), where they research black bears, and he told me their study on bears showed they regard bells little more than song birds. I do have one, but since my conversation with the researcher, I no longer wear it. I am not near as afraid of them now that I have done so much research on them myself, but I do carry spray and some extra things :wink: . I also keep the alarm around my camp at night, that way I will be awaken by Smokey if he becomes too curious. Keep the stories coming folks!! I love it!! I think I am going to try to change the title if I can.
By the Way....
My name is Dallas and I live in Huntsville. I am a U.S. Marine who served from 2001 - 2005. I played in the sand box 2 tours for about 16 months total. I am now 27 and absolutely love the outdoors. My dream is one day to take my chances at Alaskan survival. I would love to earn the title, "Survival Expert". I go a little overboard with it really. I have PTSD and don't like crowds much. Don't get me wrong, I am not mean spirited, just like the woods is all. I hike all the time and geocache quit a bit now-a-days :D . I would love to hear all your "Bear Adventures" and will answer any questions yall might have about myself or "black" bears (didn't do any research on grizzlies yet).
I wrote this little post to explain a little about me because I would like to develop a relationship with all of you. That way, if I show up around these events, I won't feel like a stranger.
By my way of thinking, the last thing a bear would want to encounter is a
US Marine with PTSD! 8O
Thank you for your service to our country.
I know it is a old joke, but I couldn't help myself. Thank goodness we don't have any Grizzly Bears here.
HikerRon, I am getting to out of shape (although round is a shape) to be much of a threat. Thank you, and your welcome. It was my privilege to serve! AR-Hick, An atheist was hiking in the woods when he came upon a grizzly bear. The atheist thought to himself, "Please don't notice me". About that time, the grizzly turned, looked at the atheist, and began approaching him. As the bear got closer, licking its chops, the atheist began to pray; "God, if you are there, please help me". God replied, "You are an atheist, why should I help you?" The atheist prayed, "I know it would be hypocritical of me to ask your help now, so maybe you can make this bear a Christian?" All of a sudden the grizzly stopped in its tracks, put its paws together, and prayed; "God, bless this food for which I am about to partake."
There is an old joke in Alaska that goes: This man walks into a bar and orders a drink. As he takes his first sip, he tells an Alaskan native; "I got me a 357 magnum today for bear protection". The native looks at the greenhorn and states; "You better file down the front site post". The greenhorn curiously questions the native's statement. The native smiles and says; "That way it doesn't hurt so bad when the bear shoves the barrel up your a**".
Hey great stories and even better sign AR. My wife has some of bears around girl scout camps and she was one of the only ones that would "patrol" the area at night to make sure it stayed away. She said they smell pretty bad and you'll know one is near you.
I'm sending you a PM Dallas.