Pack The Heat So You Can Pack it Out

10 comments / Posted on / by

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
Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!

Follow Gink & Gasoline on Facebook:

10 thoughts on “Pack The Heat So You Can Pack it Out

  1. Very true about carrying bear spray, but also an informational session (highly recommend video Staying Safe in Bear Country) about handling bear encounters could save your life just as much as the bear spray. Most ranger stations and visitor centers will show videos free to the public. I am a WY resident, and have seen 8 bears (6 grizzly, 2 black) so far this season. They are foraging heavily now, and will be again in Aug-Sept once our berries start popping.

  2. I have a can with me every time I fish in bear country ( which is everywhere I fish). I have bear bangers with me too for long distance encounters.

  3. When I fished in bear country last year I rented bear spray in fact I paid for 2 extra cans for my cheap ass friends they thanked me latter as they were glad they had it after seeing so much sign of BEAR, it was about half the price of buying something which has to be given away because it can’t be taken back on a flight. While waiting for my rental car I talked w/the agent about bears and spray, he said oh man I have cans that get left in cars I could of given you some! FYI check there before a purchase you could get lucky, great kid he also upgraded me too a 4×4 ford at no extra charge!!

  4. While fishing Bristol Bay last year we all carried spray but two guides told us that often time that just pisses them off. We had bears all around us and although the guides carried rifles they never felt the need to uncase them. I’ll continue to carry spray on this years trip but it is kind of confusing as to what to do in case of an encounter. Also, what are bangers?

  5. I’ve just have a couple more thoughts on the use of bear spray. First the comment on bear spray not working is debatable for some people in Alaska, but I really think it just comes down to feeling more manly for some to carry a weapon. I personally have have done both, packed a side arm or carried bear spray. Let me tell you the reason why I think bear spray is the better tool while fishing in AK. I’m not trying to slam any guide up in AK, a lot of these guides see a lot of bears. They have a pretty good idea what to look out for in the case of problem bears (sow’s with cubs and juvenile bears). Remember this is just my opinion based on what I’ve experienced in AK. Usually in AK you are fishing with a group of people, and if a bear attack does happen, heaven forbid, you or your buddy isn’t even going to know what hit them! When this horrible mess is happening the person involved might get a shot off of either there bear spray or a gun, but the real deciding factor here is the observer. I’d rather be going into this fight with a non-leathel dose of bear spray than firing rounds from a gun into this situation.

    Secondly for those of us that are gun owners, we all have had the question from non gun owners about what’s the best gun for home or self defense. For most people they go out and buy a gun, but never take the time to learn to use it. For this reason I tell people to look into bear spray. It will defuse the situation fast, and encase of a accicedent it is non-leathal.

  6. Great advice and think about packing a second can in your pack in case you use up the first one and have a long walk out! My wife has published an article in a couple of places (Bugle Magazine 2012 I think) and upcoming in the Montana Outdoors (July). She talked to many folks, researchers, guides, biologists, etc. and pulled together the literature. If you want a copy of the pdf, send me an email and I will forward it on.

  7. And don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t mail it home. As long as it’s marked for ground only the post office will ship it. Send it to the local post office and pick it up when you arrive. We’ve got a can that’s been to Jackson and back three years in a row. Well with the 50 bucks.

  8. I also carry a small pocket size boat horn. That thing is LOUD. It was all that was needed to scare off several bears on an Alaska wilderness float two years ago. Our guides carried shotguns and we all had spray, but they said the horns worked best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...