Anyone encounter Bears while on the trail?
I am going to ride on some new trails this spring and it is in bear country! Yikes! lol I am a little worried about running into one and not sure what to do if i see one? I heard that if you put a bell on your horse it will deter bears? Anyone know if this is true? Please tell me about your experiences with bears on the trail!
I used to live in far north Alberta and we had bears wandering through our backyard and street! I had trails behind my house and would run my dogs in them, but I did put a bell on them and made a pile of noise.....it's better for a bear to hear you coming from a long ways away and take heed and run away, rather then to have you sneak up on it and startle it, that is when they usually attack or get angry!
I've never encountered a bear on my horse, but I'm sure plenty of others here have some useful advice:)
Outdoors stores/camping store usually carry Bear bells:-)
I live in bear country - the MI Black Bear is 'relatively' shy, which means noise and 'bear bells' on a trail would most likely deter it as they typically don't want to encounter humans. They climb on the deck looking to see if I've un-wittingly left the bird feeder out, (I bring it in every night), and roam about at will, but not usually at a time when we are out and about around the house or on our property. Both of my mares have lived up here for most of their entire lives, so even if one roamed around outside the pasture fence, they'd unlikely feel threatened. I'm a Naturalist, and it's part of my job to do a huge amount of hiking, so I carry bear spray with a whistle attached - if I see a bear on the trail, it would be 'whistle first', and they'd likely scoot in the opposite direction. If it's a sow with a cub nearby, I'd likely face agression, so that's where the spray comes in. In all these years of carrying it, I've only used the whistle thus far :)
I use to ride in the smokeys a lot. Supposedly, there are a lot of bears (black) in there. You were then required to sleep in bear protection shelters when camping, and had to "map out" your trip for the forest people before you went in. I never saw one whilst riding there - which is reported to have many. Friends/family I rode w there said that a horse can smell a bear and will get spooky. Now, I do not know if that is true or not. I know a lady here that in fact now puts a bell on her horses as a measure to alert bears (she does this after the fact). She lost her horse (had to go to the hospital) for a day during a camping trip. The horse spooked pretty badly, she was thrown, and the horse stepped on and broke her leg - the bear did not attack her (or her horse) when it clearly easily could have. Her horse ran off and they were unable to retrieve it immediatley and care for and get her to a vehicle. I think it is highly unlikely that a bear would attack you...I think the more likely scenario as the one described - it will spook your horse. Supposedly, the bell annoys them and they will essentially stay out of hearing distance - which is all you really need to prevent coming right up on one and having your horse spook. I have ridden w people that used them (bells), I find them highly annoying, myself. :)
Bells and I have a headphone in one ear and sing really loud....that would scare away just about anything.:D
The bells don't annoy them! It is strictly a matter of the letting the bears KNOW where you are. They can hear the bells and know that you are coming down the trail.
Black bears for the most part are shy and will usually run away if you give them a chance. Especially if you are riding in an area that allows hunting. Grizzlies are another matter and don't spook as much. And almost all Grizzlies in the lower 48 are protected from hunting. So they don't have the same fear of humans that the black bears have developed.
First of all you need to know how to tell Grizzly scat from Black Bear Scat.
Grizzly scat has bells in it. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All joking aside, we've ridden in bear country in the Rocky Mtn every year since 1998. Encounter many bear, both too close to be comfy and at a distance. Yes, the bells will help. Last thing you want to do is surprise a Momma griz with cubs. That's dangerous. But, remember they don't want to be close to you anymore than you want to encounter them.
If you should happen to have a close (less than 25 ft from you) and it is not a sow with cubs, you have to be the aggressor, YES AGGRESSOR. In the bear kingdom size is dominant. You and your horse are much larger then they are, normally, not always but 95% of the time. There are some larger.
What does aggressor mean? It means you chase if off. Get your bear maze out and take the safety off of it. Be sure you know how to use it. Directions are on the can. Stop your horse, don't wait more than a few seconds, then turn your horse so it faces the bear. Then ask your horse to take a couple very slow steps toward the bear. Mace ready. If the bear does not move, a couple more slow steps. Never been any closer than this, so I don't know the next step. I've been within 10 feet of them and the first 2 steps usually does it, they leave.
Now if it's a sow with cubs, that is totally different. Only had this happen a couple of times. The sow will protect those cub(s). Very, very slowly, back you horse, DO NOT TURN AROUND, until she stops having a canary, then just stand there, DO NOT MOVE. She'll want to get out of there worse than you do.
Most of the time this will never happen, if they hear you coming, they leave the area.
And DO NOT TRY AND OUT RUN THEM, they can reach speeds over 40 mph for short distances in bad terrain. You don't have a prayer if you run.
I've spent my life out in the woods fishing, 4 wheeling, riding motorcycles, horse back riding, hunting, etc. Only bears that I didn't see the backside of hightailing it the away was those off in the distance. They are more afraid of you than you are of them.
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