Bear Protection, Spray or Pistol? Or Both?

James Pulfer |
brown bear lying on grass field during daytime
A full-grown grizzly surveying the situation carefully. Unsplash

A Missouri man was shot in the leg this past Sunday in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO. Interestingly enough, the man reportedly shot himself accidentally, when he set his backpack down. You can read the full article about it here. My question is; “what would one be carrying a gun for, on a day hike in RMNP?” If your answer is as bear protection, here are a few things to think about.

I sure have been writing a lot of articles about bear attacks lately. Well, it’s not just a coincidence. Bear attacks, in general, are up in numbers as of late. Especially in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, off to a record start this year! Read this article I wrote about that record number or another article I wrote recently about a man being attacked in his own kitchen! For whatever reason attack numbers are climbing, the real question is what can you do about it? To protect yourself, and the ones you care about.

black grizzly bear in close-up photography
A large black bear checking you out. Unsplash

The two most feasible, short-range, quick draw protection plans follow. You have a trusty large-caliber handgun on one side, which man has used for many years as protection. You also have the newer option of aerosol bear spray cans, on the other side. So which is more effective, if that dreaded moment were ever to come?

A can of bear spray. UDAP Bear Spray FB Page

If I had to choose one option, I would definitely go with bear spray. The spray has been designed to be incredibly effective for deterring bear attacks. While at the same time is humane and does no long term damage to the bears. Pulling out a can of spray can be just as quick as drawing a pistol. If you utilize some of the great holsters that are available on the market today. Spray cans have a bigger target area, fanning/misting the product outward. Thus making it easier to get an attack stopping dose in the bears’ sensory area.

black and silver revolver pistol
A revolving pistol, used for years as protection from bears. Unsplash

Pistols have been a tried and true method of protection for a long time. My only issue with it is, giving them a life sentence for just being a bear. Pistols are effective. Yet if a product like the bear spray is just as effective and humane enough to cause no harm, then obviously my choice is to go with the more humane option. My opinion personally is; that both options can’t hurt! Double up if you can handle the weight. That being said, I will always pull my bear spray can first. As my pistol is only a backup plan in my eyes.

gray bear on grass field during daytine
Another grizzly bear, aware of his surroundings. Unsplash

In my time living in Big Sky, MT I was forced to become more “bear aware”. As this comes with the territory living in grizzly country. Although I used to solely carry a large pistol as protection, I have become more confident in the effectiveness of bear sprays. I have heard success stories as well as horror stories, from both ends of this topic. So the choice is yours, just make sure you have practiced beforehand with whatever method you choose.

Photo Credit
UDAP Bear Spray FB Page

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2 thoughts on “Bear Protection, Spray or Pistol? Or Both?

  1. I have had at least a dozen encounters with bears , black bears , grizzly bears and brown bears.
    The most important thing is to give them space , don’t get out your phone and start filming, get off the trail and get out of the way . The Instagram world has eliminated common sense and people are putting their own safety at risk for a stupid picture. Encroaching on their space will get you in trouble, backup get out of the way and let them be wild animals and you won’t need a gun or bear spray.

  2. I have no choice but to carry some spray (and only when I remember put it into my pocket). I met bears dozens of times but still have no incidents. But I know a guy, who was beaten by a bear. That animal only showed that guy who is in charge here. Knocked him down twice and when that guy accepted animal’s superiority let him creep away.

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