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Backpacker Magazine – January 2012

True Tales: Charged by a 500-Pound Grizzly

A charging grizzly comes too close for this reader's comfort.

by: Kristy Holland




Survivor Adam Shinn, 31, Boulder, Colorado
Predicament Close-range encounter in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Lesson learned “In bruin country, everyone should pack—and know how to use—a canister of bear spray.”

Escape Plan:
Use Bear Spray Safely


"Three of us hiked eight miles into the Lamar Valley for a springtime fishing extravaganza on Pebble Creek. When it was time to hike home, we spoke loudly as we traversed bear country—open meadows and thick forests. Three miles from camp, we cruised into a field of tall grass and flowers—and spotted a full-grown grizzly.

"We froze. Speaking directly to the bear in calm voices, we backed away slowly. But he charged anyway, huffing and grunting as he ran, closing the 100-foot gap between us in seconds. I was ready with bear spray, and I squeezed the trigger, emptying my canister, as my companions dropped to the ground.

"The spray stopped him, but only briefly. He made another run toward us from just 30 feet away. A cloud of deterrent hung in the air; when he hit it, he turned, and sprinted into the forest. Thankfully we didn’t encounter another bear—without more spray we would have been easy targets for an attack.

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molo
Nov 16, 2012

hit it in da head
it will pass owt and u and ur friends can run awey
or... it will get pissed and eat u

m&m
Nov 16, 2012

good 4 u...
u didnt get your head eaten off by a grizzly

JWall
Aug 25, 2012

To Scott
a 20 mph wind in your face won't stop a .44 mag but is not great for bear spray. I carry both. From your post it sounds like you have never had a bear encounter where you need to react, until you do, maybe you should keep your advice to yourself. It's not possible to always hike upwind.

JWall
Aug 25, 2012

To Scott
a 20 mph wind in your face won't stop a .44 mag but is not great for bear spray. I carry both. From your post it sounds like you have never had a bear encounter where you need to react, until you do, maybe you should keep your advice to yourself. It's not possible to always hike upwind.

Scott
Aug 24, 2012

First, to Always Prepared--You pack the gun, I'll pack the bear spray. With a gun you get one shot to find the right mark. On a bear that mark is very small and the hide is thick. Miss your mark and you have an angry bear looking to do more than charge...an angry bear becomes a hungry bear and you suddenly look like food.

Second---never, never empty your canister in one shot, always,always, always, leave some for your retreat.

Third--it sounds to me like the bear was making a first false charge as he stopped about thirty feet way. It was not the best idea to spray at that point. At the beginning of the second charge is the best time to spray. That said, if a bear was charging me I would probably spray early too.

UDAP sells inert training units and it is not a bad idea to buy a can or two and work out some false scenarios at home with inert spray before the real thing comes along in the wild. Less to think about should the real thing come along.

beloved07
Aug 24, 2012

i always have my UDAP spray on me..i hike alot in norvin green state forest in jersey and its black bear heaven...i always feel alot better cause i have my spray...i never used it yet but seen many bears but none have charged me thank god...also when you get the spray opt for a 10oz+ size they are only 5 or 10 bucks more when you add oz's to the can...good luck

beloved07
Aug 24, 2012

i always have my UDAP spray on me..i hike alot in norvin green state forest in jersey and its black bear heaven...i always feel alot better cause i have my spray...i never used it yet but seen many bears but none have charged me thank god...also when you get the spray opt for a 10oz+ size they are only 5 or 10 bucks more when you add oz's to the can...good luck

Debra S
Mar 16, 2012

you know, my hubby and I visited Yellowstone and we did a bunch of short hikes. We foolishly did NOT bring bear spray... I think we were pretty dumb. Just because we don't do back country, doesn't mean you won't encounter one on such trails like to Hell Roaring or some of the others you don't see many people on! wow! I will never ever go there again without spray.

Sean
Feb 14, 2012

I used The Force.

Sean
Feb 14, 2012

I used The Force.

Always prepared
Feb 11, 2012

Pack a gun and not seasoning.

Always prepared
Feb 11, 2012

Pack a gun and not seasoning.

Anonymous
Feb 10, 2012

Stephen Ulicny. Fairfield ,IA
Feb 10, 2012

I was charged by a bear while living in the Amarkantak Jungle of Central India in 1991.It was a moonlit night in the hottest and driest time of year, before the monsoons flood the jungles.

I was warned that the bears- black bear size- were restless this time of year but I could not resist the lure of a moonlit jungle in one of the most sacred areas of India where ancient Vedic Sages had kept their ashrams from time immemorial.

Sure enough as predicted a bear jumped up and charged from 40 meters and my natural reaction is all that saved me, as my awareness immediately went into a state of intense silence that seemed to stop the charging bear in his tracks- I practiced Transcendental Meditation for 20 years. The bear held perfectly still and stared at me for some time- then shook his head gentle accepting me in the jungle, and turned and walked off.

Stephen Ulicny. Fairfield ,IA
Feb 10, 2012

I was charged by a bear while living in the Amarkantak Jungle of Central India in 1991.It was a moonlit night in the hottest and driest time of year, before the monsoons flood the jungles.

I was warned that the bears- black bear size- were restless this time of year but I could not resist the lure of a moonlit jungle in one of the most sacred areas of India where ancient Vedic Sages had kept their ashrams from time immemorial.

Sure enough as predicted a bear jumped up and charged from 40 meters and my natural reaction is all that saved me, as my awareness immediately went into a state of intense silence that seemed to stop the charging bear in his tracks- I practiced Transcendental Meditation for 20 years. The bear held perfectly still and stared at me for some time- then shook his head gentle accepting me in the jungle, and turned and walked off.

billy
Feb 10, 2012

seems a friend also uses fire crackers, he stated they run away very quickly. just didn't work on a skunk, the skunk still came through the cloud of smoke after him

Campologist
Feb 10, 2012

I've had many bear encounters...however never has one charged me. Despite my good fortune, I'm always prepared with spray...check out my research at my BLOG POST http://www.campology.ca/campologist_talk/carry-bear-spray-when-on-the-trail/

Greg
Feb 10, 2012

Glad you had time to weigh him!

Anonymous
Feb 10, 2012

You weighed him?--gb

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