Pack The Heat So You Can Pack it Out

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Pack the heat so you can pack it out. Photo By: Louis Cahill

No trees here to climb and I can barely see the truck with my naked eyes far off in the distance.

The recent run-in with the local WYDNR officer, who just gave me the run down about heavy bear activity in the area, has got me the heebie-jeebies. I’m trying to let loose and be one with the rod, but I can’t stop from thinking I’m smelling wet dog in the air, and I’m terrified of what could be lurking behind the thick moose brush out of sight. If you’re in the process of planning a trip into the deep wilderness where bear, moose, and other dangerous predators thrive, you just might consider purchasing a canister of pepper spray, and keep it holstered on your side. Hell it could save your life.

Two years ago, I stumbled right on top of a Boon & Crockett moose bedded down during a short hike-in to a secluded stretch of the Snake River. Luckily, we both decided to flight in opposite directions, and I only had to change my britches before wetting a line. Guiding in Alaska one season, I somehow managed to stay under the radar, as two giant brown bears went toe to toe battling over a spawning bed within inches of my outpost tent. And I’ll never forget the feeling of total panic, when I walked up on a fresh bloody mule deer kill on the Upper Hoback River this past July. With my heart pounding out my chest,  and the realization of no one knowing my whereabouts, I quickly said the hell with fishing, and high-tailed it back to the truck before I became desert.

We often drop a thousand dollars or more for our out of town fly fishing trips without giving it a second thought. That’s why I find it ironic, that when we get there, we gawk at the $50 price tag of a can of pepper spray. I’m not sure if it’s my life experiences that’s making me wiser, or if I’m just getting softer in my old age, but I’m damn sure of one thing. I’ve already used up all my get out of jail free-cards with dangerous wildlife, and I’m going to be packing the jabenaro heat from here on out, when I’m not riding down the river in a drift boat. Oh, and one more thing, don’t think your pepper spray is only good for deterring wildlife. You never know what crazy backwoods lunatic you may run into on the river that thinks you’ve got pretty eyes and a nice smile. It’s better to be safe than sorry my fellow trout bums, and you’re family will thank you when you return home safely. Being that we’re getting close to prime tourist season, I thought it couldn’t hurt to bring back up this important piece of recreational gear.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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16 thoughts on “Pack The Heat So You Can Pack it Out

  1. Not a bad idea Kent, I just booked a month in Bitterroot Valley Montana for the family and will be surrounded by fly fishing for a month. All I keep thinking about is the fishing not the risk, maybe I should pack a little protection. I always tell the story of your run in on the Snake all those years ago. I still remember all your crap floating down the river, followed by you and your bear story. lol… good times.

    • You Florida guys…. And Capt. Dickey, you might not recall but you were there for my very first tarpon on my very first saltwater fly fishing trip (You and Capt. Pete). It was about 18+ years ago. That tarpon was estimated at 125#. Hell of an introduction. I haven’t stopped since. Thanks to you both.

      And, I think I understand how limited pepper spray might be with “crazy backwoods lunatics.”

    • Well Dustin having the good fortune of guiding in Alaska and coming into relative contact with these majestic and very intimidating animals on a regular basis I can tell you from what park rangers IN ALASkA told me that either way it’s 50/50.. Best practice is just stay out of their way.. With that being said I asked one of those rangers what he carried when he went into the wilderness for what ever reason and it was Always a gun lol… That answered my question as far as i was concerned and never left the lodge without one..The bear spray is to make those who go into national parks where guns are not allowed to feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.. In that instance yes definitely carry bear spray.. Something is always better than nothing.. but given the choice I assure you I will carry a gun every time however Kent makes a good point it’s difficult to carry a gun through airports etc so take his advice for sure. Especially if you don’t want to be subjected to everything short of a cavity search and DNA testing going in and out of airports..

      • Thanks to being friends with Joel and him fishing with me when he’s not on the flats guiding, we’ll be packing both heats between the two of us. If I’m going to carry a gun though my choice would be a 12 gauge pump shotgun with a shoulder sling.


        • When neither forms of “Heat” work, which one of you 2 can run faster? My moneys on Joel. Or just make sure Louis is around cause I”m pretty sure he can take a bear down with his bare hands.

        • I carry a Marlin Guide Gun in .45/70 stoked with hot loads. It is a gun one can end a fight with no doubt. It’s short and rides on my shoulder very well. I’m more comfortable with it than a .44 and way more confident than pepper spray which just seems like a condiment to me.

      • Not easy to carry pepper spray either. I think you have to buy it at your destination. Pepper spray in a small plane in Alaska can stop a trip short, too. Remember to put it in the float.

  2. hows that joke go about being in alaska? all you really need is a .22…shoot the person your with in the leg then run like hell

  3. In addition to pepper spray, I always carry a whistle around my neck. It isn’t going to halt a bear that’s coming for you, but it has startled a couple and caused them to turn and go in the other direction. It can’t hurt, unless they mistake it for a dinner bell.

  4. Thanks for the post. I fished today in Grand Teton National Park. I passed a few grizz on the road side about a half mile from where I planned to park. I walked north about a quarter of a mile before going into the creek. I fished for 3-4 hours, bear spray in my pocket, seeing NUMEROUS bear tracks. They looked a day old, but when I got out and started to return home I only had to drive about a quarter mile before I saw the Grizz and her 3 cubs. I never travel without bear spray — the large can and my Spot GPS.

  5. Is there any recommendation for a specific brand or manufacturer for the most effective pepper spray?

    Regarding a firearm, Model 29 S&W .44 or shortened 12-gauge with ,00 slugs.

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