Bear Spray or Bullets on Your Backcountry Hunt?

One of the first things that people invariably ask me when I tell them I’m going on a backcountry elk hunt is, “Aren’t you afraid of being eaten by bears?!”. Short answer… yes. Bears scare the crap out of me and I’m not sure exactly how I’d realistically react if I encountered one unexpectedly. Longer answer… not really. I plan on being as prepared as possible for any such encounters in the woods, and hope that I’ll be able to react in a safe and intelligent fashion, using both my wits and the tools I have at hand… namely, my bear spray and my pistol. Now, for me, weight be damned… I’m going to be carrying both. There may be a day where I feel comfortable enough to drop one or the other, but that day isn’t today. However, for the ounce-counters among us, check out the article below from RMEF’s Elk Network on the efficacy of bear spray versus firearms.

RMEF Elk Network: Bear Spray or Bullets?

by PJ DelHomme

The best available science on the effectiveness of bear spray has one conclusion: bear spray crushes bullets. In the April 2008 edition of the Journal of Wildlife Management, BYU associate professor Tom Smith and colleagues found that in 72 cases where people used bear spray to defend themselves from brown, black and polar bears, the spray stopped bears more than 90 percent of the time, and 98 percent of the people involved were uninjured.