As the populations of grizzly bears and aggressive black bears continue to grow across the western part of the states, it is becoming increasingly important to be BEAR AWARE whenever recreating outdoors.
This is especially important if you are a fall hunter: bears are eating a lot of food and getting ready for hibernation and the smell of you, your food, or blood from a fresh kill could attract them for a quick and easy meal.
We all know the common practices when recreating in bear country - carry bear spray, a sidearm, make noise, and hang your food in a tree away from camp.
But here are some tips that aren't super "mainstream" that could help you stay even safer and prepared in bear country.
1. Call the local wildlife biologist in the area that you will be hunting and learn more about the population and predators. The biologists can tell you if there are any aggressive bears or if there have been recent encounters in the area as well.
2. Avoid hunting/hiking solo in high-density bear zones. This is especially the case if you are hunting because hunters are typically very quiet, and the chances of surprising a bear a much greater when you are sneaking around versus making noise or talking to other members of your group.
3. Consider packing a bear fence when sleeping in bear country. They don't weigh much, and they do an excellent job of keeping your camp and sleeping area safe.
4. If you're hunting, have a plan to pack your animal out quickly. Once a bear has claimed a fresh kill, you legally cannot do anything about it. The quicker you get your meat out, and the quicker you leave the area the better. Consider leaving your game bags a few hundred yards away from the blood, guts, and carcass while you make a trip out if you need to.
5. Practice using your safety equipment! They make practice bear spray cans if you use bear spray. It is also a good idea to spend ample time behind your firearm as well if you want to be able to draw, get on target, and shoot as quickly as possible. You don't even have to fire your gun. Try drawing your gun without shooting or dry firing as well.