Don’t forget to grab a bear spray if you are setting off to hike in bear territory. Even if you live in a bear country and think that you can survive the scenario of encountering a bear by waving away your hands, that is the wrong decision you are making.
Say you saw a bear, but it didn’t notice you, and you could flee away without a hitch; the case is different. But unfortunately, if the bear approaches you, it is worthwhile using bear spray to smoothly evacuate from that spot.
What Is A Bear Spray?
Bear sprays are like most other over-the-counter diffusers that are used to deter bears. It contains active ingredients, capsaicinoids, and capsaicin, the same as pepper spray, but with higher concentrations. In general words, bear spray is a fine mist deterrent. Its composition includes three main ingredients; a concentrated extract from the pepper plant, a chemical liquid to thin it out, and a propellant to release the mixture out of the canister.
When you push the trigger, it creates a periphery in the form of fog that incapacitates the bear by giving its whole body a burning sensation. In addition, the spray basically swells up the nasal passage of the bear, making it difficult to breathe. That way, you get some time to escape from that spot without difficulty. Hence, bear spray should be an indispensable item to pack when you are out in the bear territory.
How To Carry The Spray?
For instance, you encountered a bear, and before you could even retrieve the spray from your bag, the tragedy happened. Because you won’t get enough time to rummage your baggage around to find the spray bottle in such cases.
Hence, pack the spray in a way that is always readily accessible. The Counter Assult Trailrunner Holster and Griz Scat Belt are excellent options for having quick access to it. These holsters are made from durable and stretchy fabric to hold the canisters in place.
Whether hiking or running with the holster on, it will securely tuck in the spray bottle without falling off. People often forget, while mountain biking, to take the spray out of their water-bottle holder on the bike. In such cases, it is wise to carry the spray holster, so you can access it anytime you need.
Are Bear Sprays Effective?
Researchers have studied and found bear sprays to be quite effective in deterring bears. Based on the authorized paper, “Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska,” researchers found that this spray can put the unwanted behavior of brown bears to a halt 92 percent of the time in close-range encounters.
On the contrary, the bear spray was 90 percent effective on the black bear. The study of the paper shows that even if someone gets attacked by a bear after using the bear spray, the injuries are pretty minor.
Another research from Brigham Young University concludes that using bear spray is more effective in deterring bears than firearms. Because bring a bear down using firearms requires skilled hands, multiple shots, and powerful guns that you are most unlikely to carry as a hiker or an ordinary dweller in a bear country.
But in the case of bear spray, all you need to do is learn how to use it properly. If you find the bear spray wasn’t effective in your case, perhaps you sprayed it from too far, or you didn’t aim it right.
How To Use It?
All of a sudden, you encounter a black bear. You already have your bear spray packed inside your bag since you knew you would come across such a scenario. But how should you use the spray effectively? Where should you aim for an impactful result?
Or, for how long and at which distance should you be spraying? All these questions may pop up in your mind while taking out the spray if you do not know the proper usage. Hence, the steps that you should follow to use it;
- First, right after you see a bear approaching you, don’t run. Instead, retrieve the canister and swiftly slide off the safety valve with your thumb.
- Hold the ground, and notice the wind direction. Then, adjust your position in such a way that the spray does not blow back to you when discharged.
- Keep the nozzle in the direction of the bear. Hold the canister with one hand and the trigger area with the other.
- Aiming slightly downward, press down the trigger using your thumb and deploy the spray for a recoil when the bear is within 30 feet or ten yards. Then discharge it as long you think it is enough to put up a cloud of spray.
- To create a wall of mist, release the spray downward in a zigzag pattern. Even if the bear does not stop, aim directly at its face.
- Leave the area immediately as the bear halts its movement.
And, before you get dismembered by an attacking bear, you should know how to use it properly. However, bear sprays are only meant to be applied on ferocious bears. In short, there is no need to use bear spray if a bear does not approach you. Besides, if you are fond of bears and enjoy wildlife at the same time, it would be wise if you carry bear spray to deter a bear rather than killing them with firearms.
Other Things To Know
Apart from all the consultations above on bear sprays, you should also acknowledge a few other aspects. The most certain fact about bear sprays is that those canisters lose their pressure over the period. Hence, you will find most of the bear spray canisters have a retention life of 3 to 4 years printed on them.
So remember to use it before the expiry date or replace the long-time unused cans. Also, note that bear sprays can explode at high temperatures. So try to keep it far from direct sunlight. The preferable temperature to store bear sprays is between 32-120 Fahrenheit. Good to mention, bear sprays are not allowed inside the airplane.
Moreover, it is wise not to use bear spray in any confined places as it can make you feel uncomfortable. Besides, the active ingredient in the sprays can have a detrimental effect on your health. Hence, wash the spray off right away if mistakenly the spray gets on your skin or clothes.
Before using bear spray, train yourself with training canisters as it does not contain the active ingredient, which might be harmful to your body. You can also learn more about using the sprays and their effects through online tutorials from the National Park Service. All in all, carrying bear spray is a wise decision rather than using firearms if you plan to visit, camp, or hike in a bear country.
Diana Miller, is a dedicated nature enthusiast and an outdoor adventurer. She began leading groups for excursions in her teens and never stopped. Following her passion for nature, she gathers her friends for outdoor trips every now and then. And for the last 10 years, she has executed workshops on backpacking, snow kayaking and traveling that included her main motive of lightweight packing while outdoors. During leisure, she loves planning for her next adventure.