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Backpacker Bible: See More Wildlife

Get closer to the mystery of life: Put yourself spine-tingling distance from the fanged and clawed and horned.
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Thou Shalt Not: Surprise a grizzly.
If you encounter a bear that hasn’t noticed you, stand tall and talk in a loud, calm voice. Reach for your pepper spray, not your camera.

» Stop at vantage points overlooking (and downwind of) meadows, watering holes, and travel corridors, like game trails.

» Keep a safe distance. If the animal pays more attention to you than anything else, you’re too close.

» Target overcast days, when many animals are most active, and windless weather, since your scent won’t travel.

» Keep binoculars and camera handy. Rooting for them in your pack will scare animals off.

» Practice “scatter vision.” Keep your eyes moving without letting them settle on one focal point. This improves your ability to spot motion—or just a part of an animal, like a tail or antler—over a wide area.

» Observe prey animals for signs.
If all the elk in a herd suddenly look in one direction, be on alert for a glimpse of their predator.

» Sit quietly and watch at dawn and dusk, when many animals are most active. Station yourself near water holes and in transition zones, like the edges of forests and meadows.

» Ask local land managers where wildlife is congregating. Learn which plants animals are foraging for, and where they grow.

» Sneak up ridges. Before cresting a hill, slow down, get quiet, and peek over the edge.

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