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Backpacker's Health & Safety The Backpacker's Health & Safety forum is for the discussion of health and safety/survival issues that directly relate to backpackers.


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  #21  
Old 11-12-2010, 03:16 PM
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marcheurapied marcheurapied is offline
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Bear Spray and Firearms Laws

I used to carry bear spray until firearms laws started to make the whole thing problematical. The border guards do not want me to have bear spray when I enter Canada. Should I buy it after I get there?

And in Massachusetts I understand that I must have a Firearms I. D. in order legally to carry bear spray.

That leaves me in doubt about the laws for carrying bear spray in New York in the Adirondacks, for example.

Do any of our readers have experience with these kinds of complexities?
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  #22  
Old 11-19-2010, 06:31 PM
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Grandpa Grandpa is offline
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A couple years ago, we rented a 4WD truck for camping in Alaska. The man we rented it from asked me if I wanted a shotgun. I told him I didn't need it since I had bear spray. He replied, "I have bear spray too... twelve gauge, double ought."

Bear spray can't be taken on a flight, and evidently not across the border. I try to find an REI type store in the area, buy the spray, and take it back at the end of the hike.

Nogods mentioned charging a charging dog. Some years back, I was doing construction work on a house, walked around the side and got charged by a neighbor's unleashed pit bull. I knew I couldn't beat it back to the door and had nothing to defend myself with, so I did the "crazy man" routine--yelled and charged the dog. He'd retreat a ways, allowing me to back up toward the door and then he'd attack again. I repeated my bluff charge, and we went back and forth like this a half dozen times or so until I got close enough to dive back into the house. The dog then attacked the mail carrier and I called 911. The mail carrier climbed up onto a parked car until the police and animal control arrived.

I don't know if charging a hungry bear would work--he might just be thankful his lunch arrived more quickly!
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  #23  
Old 11-21-2010, 04:59 PM
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nogods nogods is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandpa
Nogods mentioned charging a charging dog. Some years back, I was doing construction work on a house, walked around the side and got charged by a neighbor's unleashed pit bull. I knew I couldn't beat it back to the door and had nothing to defend myself with, so I did the "crazy man" routine--yelled and charged the dog. He'd retreat a ways, allowing me to back up toward the door and then he'd attack again. I repeated my bluff charge, and we went back and forth like this a half dozen times or so until I got close enough to dive back into the house. The dog then attacked the mail carrier and I called 911. The mail carrier climbed up onto a parked car until the police and animal control arrived.

I don't know if charging a hungry bear would work--he might just be thankful his lunch arrived more quickly!

I don't think it work with a charging bear. Well, at least I don't think i'm willing to test it out.

Dogs are different. They usually weigh half or less than what I weigh, they have been disciplined by humans, they depend on humans for food, and they are much shorter than I. Thus, I believe I can stare and scare a dog away. I don't think the same is true of bears.

My defense against a charging bear is: 1. bear spray, and 2. firearm.

If the bear spray doesn't work either because it misses the mark or I can't effectuate it, then I'm relying on my sub-compact 9mm. I'll fire it under the chin of the beast or in its ear. I'm assuming that if I have to resort to the firearm I'm going to be in its clutches.
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  #24  
Old 04-29-2011, 08:17 PM
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Grandpa Grandpa is offline
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A friend of mine in Jackson Hole managed to bear spray himself a few years ago. He left the canister on the dash as he was fishing on a hot summer day. When he got back in his vehicle, the can exploded, coating him and the interior of his Suburban with noxious goo. He can't even get a bear to hitch a ride with him any more.
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  #25  
Old 04-30-2011, 01:33 PM
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GGervin GGervin is offline
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A few notes on bear spray and defense:

1) Pepper will give 3rd degree burns to exposed skin, but most animals you need to defend yourself from have dense enough coats that the burn issue will be marginal. Pepper spray works primarily on mucous membranes, and will work on any animal that has mucous membranes (including dogs and cougars) - as long as you spray the mucous membranes. That means mouth, nose, and eyes. That's why it worked on the moose mentioned above. It's also why spraying it on tents and clothing doesn't work.

2) It's rarely mentioned, but pepper spray does have a shelf life. It affects can pressure (and therefore range), not capsaicin potency. That said, I've seen a can of bear spray that was outdated by 5 years or more, and it could still reach 20 feet.

3) Stephen Herrero's book "Bear Attacks - Their Causes and Avoidance" makes reference to using dog-type pepper sprays on some bears effectively. He particularly mentions Halt (common with bicyclists and mail carriers). I have some experience with both Halt and bear pepper. Halt's main disadvantage is a 7 foot reach rather than 25 to 30 feet. It also shoots in a stream, and must be aimed to work. It's a less-attractive option than bear spray - maybe notably so, but Halt and other dog-strength sprays are often legal where bear sprays may not be. Halt should not be underestimated. I do carry Halt when I can't carry bear spray.

Perhaps I should mention one other issue with Halt on deployment. It uses a spray-paint like spray head. And like some spray-paint cans, the button can fall off. It's quite an adrenaline rush to see that little red button lying on the ground half-way between you and a troublesome beast when you really want to be using it. I'm not the only one that's happened to. On the other hand, bear spray has its issues too, mostly with removing or losing the safety wedge. You do need to pay attention and think when you're deploying any pepper. Which isn't easy in the adrenaline rush of an "interesting" moment.

4) I personally am sold on carrying some kind of pepper where it's permitted, but the point has been made that you really need to be bear-smart to be bear-safe. If you haven't heard of Stephen Herrero before, he was a co-researcher with the Craigheads during their Yellowstone grizzly research. He was the first bear behaviorist to realize bear attacks differ according to species, and that good bear defense means knowing how grizzlies and black bears differ. He pretty much dedicated his life to making people like us safer around bears. "Bear Attacks" was his public presentation of his original research on the subject. Of all the books I've read on bears, Herrero is the only source who says it all in one book. So buy "Bear Attacks - Their Causes and Avoidance" along with the spray. They go together.
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  #26  
Old 05-07-2011, 09:05 PM
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Hanr3 Hanr3 is offline
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I dont carry bear spray in the lower 48. In Alaska, .45cal or 12 gauge. Not trusting my life to a can of pepper to see if it works or just pisses him off more.
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  #27  
Old 03-31-2014, 10:44 AM
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syntaxerrorsix syntaxerrorsix is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GGervin
A few notes on bear spray and defense:

1) Pepper will give 3rd degree burns to exposed skin, ...

Peppers nor any sprays will cause third degree burns.
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  #28  
Old 04-01-2014, 05:19 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syntaxerrorsix
Peppers nor any sprays will cause third degree burns.

actually, in certain sensitive individuals, some pepper sprays do in fact cause chemical burns. i've seen a couple. while they're not extremely serious, they do sting quite a bit more than simple exposure. sort of like having a gnarly sunburn and then getting THAT sprayed.

the source of the burns is suspected to be from the additives and stabilizers in the oils. there's a NIH study or two on it.

while it's not a high frequency of occurrence, the population percentage is actually on the significant size.
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  #29  
Old 05-22-2014, 10:28 AM
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syntaxerrorsix syntaxerrorsix is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsuursoo
actually, in certain sensitive individuals, some pepper sprays do in fact cause chemical burns. i've seen a couple. while they're not extremely serious, they do sting quite a bit more than simple exposure. sort of like having a gnarly sunburn and then getting THAT sprayed.

the source of the burns is suspected to be from the additives and stabilizers in the oils. there's a NIH study or two on it.

while it's not a high frequency of occurrence, the population percentage is actually on the significant size.

Sunburn is considered a first degree burn, Third degree burns are when the flesh is charred and the nerves and tissue are completely destroyed.
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  #30  
Old 05-22-2014, 08:35 PM
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GGervin GGervin is offline
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You are entirely correct, thanks for the correction. I got the burn scale backwards. I should have said first degree burn.
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