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  1. #1
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    Default What to do if I see a bear?

    Not sure whether to post this here or in hiker safety. But I've never encountered a bear before (this will only be my 3rd section hike)...I'm doing part of the GSMNP....so my question is, what do I do if I see a bear? I've done some research, but any advice/tips? Both close up, and also not just if they are close...but what if for example I saw one 50 yds or so away...do I make noise to make it go away? Or just wait until it leaves before attempting to hike by? Also thoughts on bear bells...do they work?

  2. #2

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    Bear Bells no workie.
    Quietly take a photo. Black bears are shy and usually once they have a clue you are around, all you will see is a black furry blur running away.
    Assess the situation. If it is a mama, you got issues. Babies won't be 50 yards away from mom, but you don't want to get near them or her. Never run. Make yourself look "Big". Hold up your hiking poles. Yell "HEY BEAR!". Click the poles together. Remember, bears eye site is poor. They will smell you and hear you more than seeing you.
    Run a google search and find some more information.
    For a couple of bucks, get a weird haircut and waste your life away Bryan Adams....
    Hammock hangs are where you go into the woods to meet men you've only known on the internet so you can sit around a campfire to swap sewing tips and recipes. - sargevining on HF

  3. #3
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    I aways false charge bears. They run away every time. (So far)

  4. #4
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    read the back of the dollar map for tips....

    and dont wear bear bells....

    they are annoying AF....

  5. #5
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    I was on a section hike somewhere around Grayson Highlands area a few years ago and was taking a break right on trail hot as hell shirt off hanging in tree and i see something out of the corner of my eye about 30 yards away it looked like a big black dog no it was a bear cub walking down the mountain the cub met the trail and went the other way but I didn't see mamma. I was shaking as I put my shirt and pack on saying out loud where's momma luckily I was going the other way, never seen momma. Good advice above! You really only hear the occasional issues with black bears but it does happen and it's good to know what to do. Especially the smokies where there's something like 1 or 2 every square mile?

  6. #6
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    I have always wondered what to do if a bear is walking around outside your tent. Do you yell out? Sit quietly and hope it walks away?

  7. #7
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Woodward43 View Post
    I aways false charge bears. They run away every time. (So far)
    Black bears , i wouldn't try that with a grizzly lol....

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    Quote Originally Posted by TSWisla View Post
    I have always wondered what to do if a bear is walking around outside your tent. Do you yell out? Sit quietly and hope it walks away?


    make noise to get them to run off.....

    only the ones used to humans are the ones to be worried about....

    most bears will run away with the scent of you...............

    or if they see you....

    or if there's loud noise......

  9. #9
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TSWisla View Post
    I have always wondered what to do if a bear is walking around outside your tent. Do you yell out? Sit quietly and hope it walks away?
    funny you mentioned that on the exact same trip I just described i was camping by a stream and there was 2 other hikers camping not far away. Hiking all day I was warned about bears and there were signs but anyway sure enough i heard them out there moving rocks and logs over sometime in the night. Really scary feeling i sharteted my pants. I didn't make any noise and they went away i had my food hung good they didn't get it. Hiking the next day I came up to the folks that were in camp that night and they said it was 2 bear cubs about 160 lbs just a couple hundred yards from camp.

  10. #10
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    I encountered 12 bears along the length of the AT, with the highest concentration in New Jersey. As said above, they all ran away at top speed as soon as they detected my presence, except for a big mama and two cubs in NJ. She stood her ground and just stared at me. I slowly walked around her.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  11. #11

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    All along the trail in NJ & NY there are signs telling you what to do. There is plenty of online info on what to do

  12. #12
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    Bluff charge any cubs, ring your bells, blow your whistle, blast bear spray into your own eyes then turn and run like your hair is on fire. JUST KIDDING-DO NOT DO THIS!!

    I'm a believer in slow, steady movements to appear big while being verbal.

    Once, on Tahoe Rim Trail (AT shakedown) I was treating water under some brush. Stream was only a few steps off trail but really compromised my situational awareness. After getting all gear set and adjusted I stepped out to the trail. Face to face (10 feet) with a HUGE black bear. I'm guessing he/she was going down to stream and I was clearly downwind. We were both startled and had an interminable stare down. I slowly raised my poles to the sky and shakily said, "hey bear, hey bear, easy there". This went on for like 4 hours...or 3 seconds, hard to say. I swear if a bear could roll it's eyes this one did. Turned very slowly, as if put off, and sauntered up the trail.

    Never even occurred to me to go for a pic...

    Ive experienced many other black bears in my vicinity after that encounter and have never witnessed any innate aggression. YMMV-read up on human/bear encounters and be safe!!

  13. #13
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    Lightbulb Here's the horse's mouth

    I'm doing part of the GSMNP
    In that case, your best source of info is:
    https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/black-bears.htm

  14. #14
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    When I'm in tent for the night and hear a large anything moving around my site I make noise. My go-to is to shout "hello campers" in my best Marine NCO voice. This bellow would surely startle a bear but more importantly, I'm not just screaming nonsense to the forest if late hikers do arrive. Keeps the "cool" factor intact.

    So...if you're ever night hiking and hear "HELLO CAMPERS"-it's just old Durwood trying to remain cool as he shoo's away mice. Better than the old Howard Dean "YEEEAAAGH".

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhjanes View Post
    If it is a mama, you got issues. Babies won't be 50 yards away from mom, but you don't want to get near them or her.
    It's grizzly bears where you have to worry about mama...They are very protective of their cubs because a grizzly male will kill cubs just to make the mama go into heat. So mama doesn't want large animals even in the vicinity... even if the cubs are right by her side.

    But a black bear mama knows that at the first sign of danger, cubs will zip up a tree to get away from danger.
    So as long you're not doing something stupid like chasing after a cub, a mama with cubs shouldn't be any more dangerous than a lone black bear.


    Once got the privilege to watch a set of three cubs playing in a tree along the trail to Ramsey Cascades for about 5 minutes.
    From the trail, the tree was down a short-steep slope and perhaps 30 yard off the trial. Three cubs were about 20' to 30' up the tree playing and mama was wandering around near the base of the tree keeping an eye on things. The lay of the land was such that mama knew the cubs were not in any danger. Eventually she got tired of the cub's antics, started walking off and the cubs soon came down the tree and followed mama.

    The one time I can think I was startled by a bear was during an out-and-back over-night hike to Newton Bald.
    On the way up the trail, we saw a bear down the hillside below the trail.
    The next day, on the way back down, we stopped at that same spot and again saw the bear. After about 15 seconds, we were startled by the noise in a tree only 20' from us. A cub was scampering down the tree (that was the ruckus that startled us) and then hauled down the hill to get away from us and back to mama.

  16. #16
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    I started carrying some little fire crackers, only for an emergency of a problem bear in camp at night, not just to scare any off. Never used them but I'm sure they would work and are certainly light enough to justify carrying around.
    NoDoz
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  17. #17
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    Thumbs down Firecrackers not recommended

    There's no way you can throw a firecracker in the dark and be certain it doesn't land in an area with flammable material.

    "How much harm can one firecracker cause?"

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_Creek_Fire#Cause

    It was announced on September 8 that Oregon State Police had obtained cellphone video footage from one of the teenagers who had watched while a 15-year-old Vancouver boy threw a smoking firecracker, allegedly igniting the Eagle Creek Fire. Public Information Officer Capt. Bill Fugate says "the video will be released through the public records request process once the investigation is closed and the case is adjudicated, if charges are filed", reported Willamette Week.

    The teen was sentenced in February 2018 to five years of probation and 1,920 hours of community service with the U.S. Forest Service. He also was ordered to write apology letters to 152 people trapped on the Eagle Creek trail because of the spreading flames, the city of Cascade Locks, the Forest Service, Oregon State Parks, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission and many others.

    On May 21, 2018, a judge ordered the 15-year old to pay more than $36 million in restitution, which includes more than $21 million on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service, $12.5 million to the Oregon Department of Transportation, more than $1.6 million to the Oregon State Fire Marshal, more than $1 million to Union Pacific Railroad and varying amounts to Oregon State Parks, Allstate Insurance and a woman who lost her home in the fire.[4] In his sentencing, Judge John A Olsen stated that the terms of the repayment were for a payment plan lasting for ten years, provided that the offender completed five years of probation and did not commit any crimes in the ten-year period
    An air-horn will accomplish the exact same result, with no danger of starting a $36 million fire. It can also be used again, requires no time to use (you have to light a firecracker), and is quite legal (unlike firecrackers) in all parts of the A.T.

  18. #18
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    I'm also pretty sure that firecrackers (fireworks) are illegal in the National Park.

  19. #19
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    well it wouldn't be thrown far and i wouldn't do it or go back to sleep without making sure a fire didn't start but I didn't consider the legal factor either
    NoDoz
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  20. #20
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by LazyLightning View Post
    well it wouldn't be thrown far and i wouldn't do it or go back to sleep without making sure a fire didn't start but I didn't consider the legal factor either
    Yeah, you have to check park rules and regulations, and you have to do it for each park you visit.
    Example, GSMNP allows you to carry bear spray. But head out west to Yosemite National Park, bear spray is illegal.

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