Re: Bears - Quetico/BWCA

I carry a gun in the BWCAW because I can, There are no firearm laws that say I can't. The BWCA is a very safe place to be, however there are alway's bad apple's of the bunch, and I belive one need's to take precaution's. Black bears in the BWCA are mostly passive, and only want your food pack and thats fine, I will make every attempt to scare the bear away, and if the bear does not leave camp, I will try to secure my food pack into the canoe and move my camp. The main diet of BWCAW bears are blueberrys, if it has been very hot combinded with a lack of rain, then the bears will starve. 3-5 people are killed every year in Noth America, by black bears alone, mostly in Canada and Alaska, but there was one incident in Tennesee last year, a women hiking alone on the appalachion trail was killed and partial consumed by a fury cute starving black bear. The following 2 incidents I read about in Cliff Jacobson 3rd edition "A Guide To Canoeing Wild Rivers In North America, In 1987 two canoeist were mauled by a black bear in BWCAW, a father and son watched the bear peer at them from the edge of the forest, they thought the bear was only curious, so the father sent his son to gather firewood, as soon as the son was out of sight, the bear charged, the father jumped into the lake and the bear followed. The son was able to beat the bear of with his paddle. In 1992 2 hiker's in Algonquin Provincial Park, a man and a women were killed and eaten by a black bear, authorities found a clean camp, and said that the hiker's had done nothing wrong. I also watched on T.V. this guy was dropped off by his buddie on a point in a wildnerness area in the Ontario Territory, his buddie then left and went fishing and would return in a hour to pick him up, well this guy who was now alone video taped for about 45 mintute's a classic black bear predatory stalking, The bear was always about 10 to 15 feet away, this guy did all the right things to keep the bear away, he would stop and yell a the bear to back off, and then move back very slowly, but the bear kept on moving in and the guy kept moving away, then the guy went into the water and the bear followed, his friend in the boat on his return to pick him up heard the man yelling for him, and scared the bear away on his approch to the point. If that bear had not been scared away, good chance this guy would no longer be around to talk about it. In 1996 or 1997 I read in the Ely Echo about a man who was bitten in the hand while tring to wrestle his food pack away from a black bear in the Knife Lake area. I would never try to take back a food pack from a bear nor would I shoot a black bear to recover my food pack, If I was dumb enough to let the bear have my food pack in the first place, then I will have to suffer the consequence, of cutting the trip short. In 1998 I was on Cass Lake in Minnestota, and was dropped off on a Island, The only Island "from what I was told" with a lake within the Island, I had asked owners of the lodge, before departing to this Island If there were any bears that lived on the Island, I was told there Probally were, so now I am hiking on this trail about a foot wide, it is very dark, the old growth of jackpine and birch tree's blocked out much of the sun. After about 45 minutes on the trail I heard a growl, I could not see around the bend in the trial in front of me, I froze and looked around for a rock or a stick to defend myself with, I heard sticks breaking about 50 feet in front of me around the bend, I had to go forward to see what it was, and I told my self maybe it was just a deer, and maybe that was just a grunting sound I heard and not a growl, so I moved forward and again hear a growl, now my knee's are shaking and my heart is Pounding, I moved forward expecting to see a four legged fury bear and what I see is a two legged, young man about 23 years old, with long blond dirty scaggled hair. I said to him I am sure glad you not a bear, he did not respond, I said to him again why were growling like a bear? he did not respond to that either he just laughed. My insticts told me that there is not somthing right going on here I felt very uncomfortable. He then said to me, that sure is a nice camera, and lens you have there, that must have cost you a lot of money. "I had about $7,500 dollors worth of camera and video equipment on me but was not about to tell him that". His eyes were focus not on me, he never looked me in the eye when talking to him, he was focus on my camera, his eye's were of greed, and reminded me of a black jack player who just won a big hand of cash and couldn't wait for the dealer to hand it over to him. I then said to him in a Marine Corp Drill Instructer tone, Sir you have your self a nice day, I have Picture's to take, I then advise him that he not walk around the woods acting like a bear, that sombody might mistake him for a bear and could have accidently shot him. I wanted him to think I might be armed. He justed laughed in nonchalant manner. I was unarmed and moved away quickly keeping a eye on him untill I he was out of sight, then I said to myself, If this guy had a gun, well he could have killed me, taken my gear and I would have ended up as a static, with grieving love one's to I.D. my body and then bury me. I went to the woods that day to take pictures, not in a million years did it occur to me, how easily this guy could have ended my life if so he choosed to. I will always take a firearm into the woods were it is legal to do so, and hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. I am curious if my life experience's have given you somthing to think about next time you go on a BWCAW trip? Does it not make sence to hope for the best and prepare for the worst? Some people might "not necessary yourself" but I don't know for sure because I don't know you, think that it is evil and wrong to bring a firearm into the BWCAW. There is nothing evil or wrong about takeing a firearm in to BWCAW as long as your not avertising to people that you are armed, no reason to scare anybody if you don't have to, 98% of People who go to the BWCAW are Probally Like You and me, good people enjoying the wilderness, but there are always a bad apple in the bunch and there always will be any where you go, I feel that you are taking a unnessary risk by leaving the firearm at home, you need to have a firearm to equalize any sitiutaion that may develope, no matter how little of a chance of a bad situation ever developing. Humen being's are thin skined, and are no match for a heavy skin furry black bear with sharp 1" claws and teeth that can bite down on you with over 2,500 pounds per square inch, twice that of a german shepard. There are some people well armed who squat on Federal and State lands who are caught every year trying to live off the land. When they are caught by authorities, there guns, camping gear, are confiscated, they are fined, maybe some jail time, but you don't here about to often because, that would be bad publicity for the U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Park Service and other goverment agencies who need our money in order to operate. What would you do if you ran into one of these survivalist type's on portage trail and they wanted all you gear, give it to them and hope for the best? I hope your packing heat and prepared for the worst, I would not want to see you or anybody else needlessly become a statistic. You have to look out for #1, because nobody else will, but yourself. I look forward to you comments.

Tim O'Brien
Keep Your Paddle Wet, Hope For The Best And Prepare For The Worse

Posted by Tim O'Brien on March 17, 2001 at 17:28

In reply to: Re: Bears - Quetico/BWCA posted by Ed Stevens on March 17, 2001 at 11:01
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