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#107661 - 12/07/08 08:11 PM Bear Safety
TBBolts Offline


Registered: 12/07/08
Posts: 2
Hello,

I currently live in Florida and am new to backpacking. I have spent several years camping, but me and my sons are looking at taking it to the next level. Does anyone know of some good sources on bear safety. Florida is known for black bears and I want to be sure that we do it correctly our first time out. Thanks in advance.

SF
Ken

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#107662 - 12/07/08 08:33 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: TBBolts]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Lots of places to find the basics.

The usual, courtesey parks canada

http://www.pc.gc.ca/docs/v-g/oursgest-bearmanag/sec7/og-bm7_E.asp

however you don't need to to worry about grizzlies, everything else applies.

you will probably be hanging food - for bears or other critters.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/bear_bag_hanging_technique.html

Having said that, one of your best sources of information is a ranger at a local park you intend on going to. - if there is a habituated bear problem locally or other issues they will give you the best advice for the local environment. while basic bear safety is the same everywhere, some bears are not the same, for example, the perennially habituated bears in yosemite are very different from black bears most anywhere else.
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#107663 - 12/07/08 08:44 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: phat]
northernbcr Offline
member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 125
Loc: bc/yukon border area
i believe the best info going is the bear encounter survival guide by james shelton he is the person that teaches bear saftey to the park employees in western canada as well as our dept of fisheries and our conservation. i would not get information from any other sourses there is no one out there as qualified as him.

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#107664 - 12/07/08 10:52 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: northernbcr]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
The Province of Ontario has some really good educational material on bears and bear safety. The teacher's guides available online targeted at different age groups might be something you could use with your boys to combine education with outdoors activity. I think getting to know as much about bears as possible is a good start. Florida Black Bears might behave a little different than Ontario Black Bears, so you want local information as well.

http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/Bearwise/index.html
http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/Bearwise/2ColumnSubPage/196968.html

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#107665 - 12/08/08 02:48 AM Re: Bear Safety [Re: phat]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2124
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Since Pooch passed away about five years ago, I have been able to visit Parks like Yosemite now. Still havn't seen a bear there since I was a kid in the mid '60's. I have been to a couple of the spots known for high bear activity. I must be doing something wrong!:) Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Plus, since he passed away, I have yet to see a bear when out bping.

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#107666 - 12/08/08 04:30 AM Re: Bear Safety [Re: hikerduane]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
I've never seen one either, except from a car back when we had public dumps everywhere. I suspect that they must smell me coming, because we are supposed to have one of them every 2 square miles. On the Fundy Footpath the distances are marked every kilometer, so every 2 kilometers I politely knock before I enter. Thus far no bear has answered, but I go right on in and make myself at home anyway. I bring my own oatmeal. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

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#107667 - 12/08/08 11:11 AM Re: Bear Safety [Re: TBBolts]
TBBolts Offline


Registered: 12/07/08
Posts: 2
Thank you all for your quick response. I will definitely check into the advice offered.

SF
Ken

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#107668 - 12/08/08 12:20 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: JAK]
kutenay Offline
member

Registered: 10/12/04
Posts: 102
Loc: B.C. Canada
I used to teach basic bear coping techniques as a part of my supervision/training of forestry crews and I started working in the BC bush in April, 1965. I am from a pioneer BC family and was raised in the Kootenays by genuine oldtime bushmen, so, I had some real knowledge of what I was about.

I have now had quite a few Grizzly encounters in my nearly 53 years of active bush activities and hundreds of Blacks and I have yet to be attacked, BUT, it COULD happen and frequently does and to very experienced bushmen. There is a lot of bear material out there and most of it is pure bullschitt, so, here is what I suggest.

You need simple, workable techniques that will save your azz if you encounter an aggressive bruin and they seem to be increasing in number. The BEST advice is found in the book I suggest you buy, read and practice and you do not need to buy dozens of books to learn what you need to know.

Title:

Bear Encounter Survival Guide

by James Gary Shelton

US Distributor: Partners Publishing Group
2325 Jarco Drive, Holt, Michigan, USA 48842
Ph. 1-800-336-3137// Fax. 517-694-0617

Gary is a couple years older than I am and is now retired, AFAIK, he lives in Hagensborg, BC and there are LOTS of bears there, I saw over a dozen on my last trip up there. He is an American who came to BC circa 1965 and was smart enough to LISTEN TO the same sort of oldtime BCers that I learned from. I do not agree with his attitudes concerning ...preservationist biologists... in many respects and we know quite a number of people in common, but, I have not met him.

He certainly is not the only real "expert" on bears, BUT, this book contains the most realistic advice on avoiding/surviving bear problems that I have ever seen and it is the best source for your needs.

Take your time and learn about bears slowly and cautiously and you will enjoy the experience. I love to watch bears, have been within a few yards of both Grizzlies and Blacks on several occasions, both armed and not and find these to be fabulous spiritual experiences. However, bears ARE dangerous and require and deserve our careful handling.

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#107669 - 12/08/08 07:49 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: TBBolts]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3939
Loc: Bend, Oregon
ken

I do not hike in Florida but I have spent a lot of time hiking in "Bear country" and I've only seen one true wild bear. The rest were park bears in national parks.

I wouldn't worry about "handling an ENCOUNTER", so much as I would learn to hang my food away from camp. The odds of a black bear in a populated area where he sees humans often, attacking someone is just not a common occurrence. For the most part bear are not aggressive, in fact they are rather shy and if you should see one count yourself lucky. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#107670 - 12/08/08 11:23 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: Jimshaw]
kutenay Offline
member

Registered: 10/12/04
Posts: 102
Loc: B.C. Canada
I would question your whole concept of "bear country", if you have only seen one single wild bear in your hiking; that, to me, is not really bear country as I understand the term. My idea of "bear country" is where bears are so numerous as to make seeing one or more while hiking a regular part of the day and where even Black Bear attacks are so frequent that they only are reported in the media when serious injuries happen, as is the case here in BC.

It is, IME, a commonplace attitude to discount the potential danger posed by these animals and taking the precautions that knowledable workers/recreationalists do in "bear country" is simply a wise and practical approach to this situation, it may well save your life.

Where I "train" hike, in the North Shore Mountains across the Indian Arm from Vancouver, BC, a major metropolitan area of over two million people, bears are commonly seen walking alone city streets in North Van. and hiking along the various trails. We usually have them here near my home in central Vancouver and we have several attacks per annum by Grizzlies and Blacks. These animals ARE dangerous and REQUIRE caution and respect, you never see a really experienced BC bush person take bears lightly.

Simply put, bears are dangerous and being cautious is not being a coward, it is the wise course of action. Get Gary Shelton's book and learn from it, the cost and time are well worth it.


Edited by kutenay (12/08/08 11:25 PM)

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#107671 - 12/09/08 10:05 AM Re: Bear Safety [Re: kutenay]
northernbcr Offline
member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 125
Loc: bc/yukon border area
there seems to be alot of resistance here to the ideas that bear encounters are changing especially in the last 15 years. when ever this subject is brought up there seems to be people that are not educated about this and feel the need to make jokes and minimize human bear conflict.

as we continue to overprotect our bears and they in turn loose there fear of man the encounters are showing a dramatic rise and in places where this did not happen before. eg new york, florida and other southern states these are documented . there is a real tendancy by many here to argue and joke using there old wrong beliefs.ie i treat them like a big racoon.

for instance let us talk of only black bears, they have become more dangerous than grizzly;s because of there loss of man fear, there increased numbers and they unlike grizzly' are much more prone to predacious human attacks . the area that i live in is full of both types of bears but the biggest danger is the predaciuos black bear.in fact this area is probally the most dangerous in the world for this reason alone. as populations expand this type of behaviour is showing up in more areas than ever.

here are some rules that should always be followed
.never expose your self to bear attack hazard without a defensive system spray or firearm.
.never play dead with any bear always defend yourself.
.if the bear is showing anger(defensive aggressive) ready your defense system and if possible back away slowly.
.if a bear is stalking you(predatory) ready your defense system,maintain eye contact,and quickly chase it off by yeling throwing rocks, banging pots etc.
.if you can not determine what type of encounter you are having ready your defense system stand your ground quietly and defend yourself.
.if your defence system fails or if you are foolish enough to believe it not nessessary to defend your self against bears then you have no choice but to play dead in a deffensive aggresive attack, and to fight back in a predatory attack. that is if you can clearly understand the differences.

and lastly this subject should not be taken lightly educate yourself properly read the bear encounter survival guide by james shelton. i am not a fearmonger but a realist.times are definattly changing . i have been personally been bluff charged twice by a grizzly as well as stalked by a black bear ,both times i was carrying a 12ga and spray at the time they offered only a small margin of comfort . i can only imagine what it would have felt like with no defences at all. yours truly lyall

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#107672 - 12/09/08 10:45 AM Re: Bear Safety [Re: TBBolts]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2964
Loc: Portland, OR
Because black bears are intelligent and have distinct personalities (at least as much as dogs), they are somewhat difficult to generalize about. One trait they all seem to share is they are always hungry and always interested in food. So, it is a good rule to always safeguard your food.

Another good rule I heard from a hiker who frequents the Sierras in CA, where the bears are not very afraid of humans, is that once a bear has successfully grabbed your food, it is not your food any more; it is his food and he will defend it on that basis.

Apart from food issues, the next most common incident between bears and people are accidental meetings, where neither the bear nor the hiker expected to see one another. Generally these end with the bear turning tail and scampering off - but not always.

When the bear doesn't leave quickly, it will commonly be because it is a mother with a cub nearby, or it has no good path of escape. In either case, you've got a testy bear who wants you gone. The best thing to do then is go away, slowly and deliberately, back the way you came and wait a while before proceeding again.

I am also an advocate of talking to the bear, explaining what you are doing in a calm, friendly voice. Experts may not think this is worthwhile, but I do. As I said, bears are intelligent creatures.

Good luck. And don't worry too much. 99.9% of bear encounters end safely.

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#107673 - 12/09/08 11:15 AM Re: Bear Safety [Re: aimless]
northernbcr Offline
member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 125
Loc: bc/yukon border area
that is an example of what i was talking about saying that generally they dont leave is because they are a mother with cubs. this is untrue and wrong ..... i emplore you all not to offer advice on this subject. just read the book....

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#107674 - 12/09/08 01:02 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: northernbcr]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2964
Loc: Portland, OR
northernbcer, I stand behind my statement that 99.9% of bear-human ancounters end safely. That would still leave one encounter in a thousand that did not end safely. If you have any reliable information that disputes this, I will retract it.

Even if there were a 500% increase in the base number of bear attacks, that increase would barely budge the ratio of safe encounters to attacks.

That much said, I would be happy to read the book. Any bear attack is serious business.

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#107675 - 12/09/08 01:25 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: aimless]
northernbcr Offline
member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 125
Loc: bc/yukon border area
it was not the ratio that i have trouble with it was the statement about black bear mothers and there cubs.that is the part that is not correct. and you are right it is serious stuff. there is so much wrong info out there that it makes me sad when info is given out by people meaning well and it is not correct

the point i want to get out is that the old ways of dealing with bears are not working well any more .the amount of attacks is increasing.and we all should have a proper strategy in place, proper being the operative word..

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#107676 - 12/10/08 03:33 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: northernbcr]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
Can you clarify what you're saying the myth is about mother black bears and their cubs?

Bear behavior is very different depending on where you are. Anchorage saw two significant Griz attacks within city limits this year. Two seperate bears (differentiated by DNA testing) caused significant injuries to two individuals 3 or 4 weeks apart in almost exactly the same place this summer.

For the most part, black bears here will stalk but rarely attack. There was a fatal mauling about a decade ago by a black bear, but other than that they tend to be more curious than anything. I've crossed paths with several black bears on local trails, all of whom were completely uninterested in me. We have between 200 and 300 black bears living within Anchorage, far fewer Griz, but they are there, mostly concentrated around Campbell Creek (good fishing for them). They all got a bit testy this year when we had a very late start to summer... even the grass was late, and that is their usual spring diet.

To the OP: the advice to contact the rangers in the area you're about to visit is good advice. They know the bears in their region and can advise you on how best to keep them wild.

MNS


Edited by midnightsun03 (12/10/08 03:34 PM)
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#107677 - 12/10/08 04:20 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: midnightsun03]
northernbcr Offline
member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 125
Loc: bc/yukon border area
what i was trying to say is that a black bear that sticks around is usually because it has cubs or no place to escape is not true at all there are many different reasons why they may be sticking around and it is wrong to lump them into a few catagories.

i know that i am a real pain about this but in my area black bear attacks now out number grizzly attacks this is because we have overprotected our bears, hunter numbers are down and bears have lost there fear of man this is now spreading to areas where it was never like that before.there is more bears than ther used to be and they are reasserting themselves at the top of the food chain.

you stated that usually black bears just stalk you this is a perfect example of people not realizing what is going on, this type of bear is probally the most dangerous out there.and as they continue to be able to do this with no repercussions the consequences may turn awfull especially in a low food year.

please do not take my word but please read the bear encounter survival guide by james shelton.isbn#0-9698099-0-5 .in your area there is no room for old beliefs you need to educate your self properly especially with the changes in blacks over the last few years.

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#107678 - 12/10/08 04:47 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: northernbcr]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
I do keep myself educated on the behaviors and activities of my local bear population. Black bear attacks just don't happen here yet, with the exception of the fatal attack in 1997. That doesn't mean black bears will never attack, but they aren't showing signs of changing, whereas the local griz are getting more aggressive in certain parts of the city. No one book is going to be accurate for every population... general behavior and how you should respond, yes, but not the specifics of an area. I don't know why the black bears in your area have become so dangerous, but I can tell you that the bears here are not that aggressive. There are isolated cases of witnessed black bear stalkings, but it is rare, and usually either involves food (like a nice smelly pack full of yummy bear treats) or curious juvenile bears.

I reiterate... find out about local bear behavior from those who know the local population. They are the best resources for information. Clearly in northern BC the black bear are to be given very wide berth. In most of the US black bears are not interested in humans, just the yummy picnic baskets they carry on their backs. IMHO, all bears are to be respected as the wild animals that they are - you just never know how any individual animal is going to react to human intrusion.

MNS
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#107679 - 12/10/08 05:33 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: midnightsun03]
northernbcr Offline
member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 125
Loc: bc/yukon border area
the major reason that there is a diffeence between our bears ,is that many of your hiker / outdoor backpackers etc carry pistols and we can not even if your bears are not out right killed the learned behaviour that is passed down from mother to cub is still happening there where it is not happening here ,,also those juvinile blacks that you speak of make up the bigger part of our problems it is a combination of being hungry as they are not big enough to establish territory with high food value and also they are having some of there first human encounters with people where mother bear is not present.

your area is part of the last frontier where regular outdoor pistol packing is the norm and there is stil large populations of both types of bears. there is also alot more informed people as to the true status of bears .here we are bombarded by many many false ..truths..ie the bears are endangered that it has made it diffucult to weed out the reality . our conservation branch has been under tremendous pressure to charge people when bears are killed in self defence that people are afraid to report this . the un reporting then makes the statistics not look as bad as it really is.
this book that i recommend does not just cover bears in one area it investigates attacks all over north america and really breaks down bear behaviour in response to different types of encounters. there is no golden rules but having the guidelines from one of the most in depth and realist views can do nothing but help ..most of the larger government enqiures are influenced by city based enviromental style groups and they still often attach the blame on the individual involved and not the bear.

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#107680 - 12/10/08 05:33 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: northernbcr]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1767
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
It appears to me as though you are extrapolating the behavior of the black bears in your area to the entire range of the black bear. Having had numerous experiences with black bears from Alaska to Mexico and many points between I can assure you that there are regional differences in their behavior. A simple example is that black bears in your area hibernate; those in southern Arizona don't always. There is a lot of genotypic variation among populations of black bears and I would expect that behavioral differences would be part of this variation.
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#107681 - 12/10/08 06:48 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: Pika]
northernbcr Offline
member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 125
Loc: bc/yukon border area
there are diferences but not necessarily behavioural differences , rather in different stages of evolving ,these areas you speak of had there populations greatly reduced by ranchers up to about 20 years ago then the preservanist movement movement kicked in. as the bear populatoins increase the changes are becoming more noticable for example
.1996 black bear attack mt lemmon arizona serious injuries bear had been relocated lawsuit followed ,20 years ago this bear would have been destroyed not relocated. what you ended up with is a relocated bear therefore he had no territory. he also learned that humans do not hurt him.
.1999 long lake wisconsin person dragged from tent very serious injury wardens were baffeled at the bears behaviour as the campers had no food near the tents and had not cooked in the area.
. 2000 black bear kills person in great smoky mountain nat park during the attack 1 dozen people threw rocks and tried to scare bear off it would not stop and despite there presence did not leave for several hours.

. 2000 glacier nat park serious injuries black bear he was stalked circled and charged as the bear charged he played dead but during the severe mauling he decided to fight back and in dong so saveed his life.

i have more examples but this is not needed the point i am trying to make is the widespread geographical presence of bear attacks. and these attacks were not the fault of the people they all had done nothing wrong except to venture into bear area with no self defence .

it does kind off make me sad as to the amount of resistance met with here by people with old ideas about bears for example had all of the 4 people above had taken the steps to protect themselves as i suggest the out come probally would have been different in 3 out of the 4 cases. eg bear spray sucess rate is about 70%

i am sorry to carry on as so but i dont believe we all see the bigger picture of what is happening and for everyone out there what would be the harm in reading a book and buying a can of bear spray i am not trying to be arguememtive only helpful

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#107682 - 12/10/08 07:09 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: northernbcr]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
There has been extensive discussion on bear safety here on this forum over the last several years. The concensus has always been that bears are not to be trifled with. I don't know where you're getting the idea that anybody here does not believe in carrying bear spray or being prepared when in bear country. The OP was asking for advice on how to avoid bear encounters. There is not a complacency amongst the general group on this forum, for the most part, on bears. AFAIK only one person has referred to them as giant racoons, and that person was pretty thoroughly chastised for making that assertion.
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#107683 - 12/10/08 07:27 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: midnightsun03]
northernbcr Offline
member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 125
Loc: bc/yukon border area
i just reread this whole thread and i can see the areas that got me going were that some of the web sites listed were giving out wrong information ( i had a look at them all),and the ones that were making jokes about it ...i probally need to lighten up some about this but working in the bush i am exposed to this every day and it is hard to let my guard down..

this person who started this thread did so because he wanted information i am trying to help him to the best of my abilities any thing else would be a disservice. and then from there we kind of got involved in all the rest we did cover.

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#107684 - 12/10/08 07:59 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: midnightsun03]
kutenay Offline
member

Registered: 10/12/04
Posts: 102
Loc: B.C. Canada
I have almost 53 years of direct experience with G-Bears and Blackies and I often hike/camp alone in BC with NO gun and I never carry bear spray. I would discuss this topic further, however, I feel that the original query has been answered and further commentary is likely to engender useless strife.

There are certain things very obvious to me here and I agree with "midnightsun" on her excellent posts. In all my years of living alone without a break for months in some of BC's most remote and "bear-dense" wilderness, I have never been attacked and attribute this to my behaviour as taught me by oldtimers whose real bush knowledge came from a lifetime of experience.

I might point out that Gary Shelton very clearly states in his books, all of which I have read and are a part of my considerable collection of bear-related literature, that HE learned much of what has formed HIS opinions from an oldtimer in the Bella Coola area. I worked and lived up there, nearly 40 years ago, and knew a few myself, including Stanley Edwards, son of the legendary Ralph Edwards, "Crusoe of Lonesome Lake". This type of person knows whereof they speak and wisdom does not lessen with the passage of time...........

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#107685 - 12/10/08 08:49 PM Re: Bear Safety [Re: kutenay]
northernbcr Offline
member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 125
Loc: bc/yukon border area
it is not your smarts our your knowledge that have gottenyou this far.just luck there are people out there with more experience than you and they have been chewed. also you advocate sheltons book then break his #1 rule by not having a bear defense system to say your knowledge is enough is bunk and that is it plain and simple ..you can have all the knowledge in the world and there are bear attacks that you can not avoid. do you think that your knowledge will help you if you wake up in the middle of the night in the jaws of a bear no maybe if you had some defence you might be lucky enough to use otherwise you will just be a knowledgeable meal. in some cases it has nothing to do with what you know if you are in the path of a bear intent on making you a meal he will unless you can defend yourself. if you dont believe me then ask and i will give you gary's phone number and maybe you can convince him that everything he teaches is wrong,for now when an inexperienced person asks why cant you be the bigger man and suggest that at least bear spray might not be a bad idea until they get all the ...knowledge...that you have.basically all you have said to this gentelman wanting info is that it is a spiritual experirnce to be yards away from bears and you dont need protection because your mind will keep you safe. you should give your head a shake

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