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Bear spray usually has instant effect; a gunshot might not
Apr 1, 2012 - Lear Trovich, Lander
I agree to the utmost with the studies showing that a gun is not necessarily the best way for the average person to protect himself, or herself, in bear country.
This is not an anti-gun statement. I own firearms and know how to use them. But I know I would feel pretty stressed out if I had to unholster a pistol or pull a rifle off my shoulder, release the safety, set and fire at a charging bear on uneven ground, especially if the bear got the jump on me and I was feeling a little panicked.
What I worry about is people who buy a gun thinking they are safe and sound in bear country just because they have it. One of the first things you learn in firearm safety training is not become overconfident because you have a weapon.
I know of people who really have never fired a gun who carry it in the back country and behave in a way they wouldn't if they weren't armed. Very risky.
I would recommend having bear spray even if you do have a gun also. The effect on the bear with spray is instant almost every time, but that is not always true with a gun. That bear can keep coming even if it's been shot, and he'll be angry.
I just hope people will notice these studies and believe them. They do match up to my experience, which mostly was in Montana, but the bear doesn't know what state he's in. You just can never be too safe, and you should never assume you are. As they used to say on the old cop show on TV, "let's be careful out there."