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)