The Best Bear Deterrent Products
For those heading into bear country, especially for activities that require multiple day, overnight stays in the wilderness, keeping a hungry or curious bruin out of one’s camp can be a big concern. In fact, bearanoia is a major issue for many outdoor enthusiasts when visiting places like Alaska, where there are healthy populations of bears around and the possibility of encountering one can be quite high in certain areas, at certain times of year.
Contrary to sensationalized books and movies, the vast majority of bears want nothing to do with people…including having them on the menu. Most bears are rather shy by nature and tend to mind their own business. As I always tell my guide and consultant clients, bears are a lot like people in some regard: don’t mess with their family, their food, their personal space, and don’t wake them up form a nap, and with rare exception, you’ll get along just fine. You actually have a much greater chance of getting harmed by a tiny tick or even struck by lightning than being hurt by a bear. If you’d like to learn more about why bears attack…on the rare occasions that they do…check out the video above on that topic.
Keep in mind though, while a bear may want nothing to do with you, it very well may want your food, or something else around your camp or in your backpack that smells or looks interesting. Bears live by their noses and they can smell 4-5 times better than a bloodhound. So, if you have something that smells attractive, they very well may come to investigate…often when you’re not around, or at night. Thus, the vital importance of staying out of a bear’s immediate living or feeding area, keeping a clean camp, and storing your food or other aromatic items in bear-proof containers.
Another effective option for keeping a secure camp is using a portable electric bear fence. These have truly revolutionized the way people live and work in places like Alaska, and they can certainly be used anywhere in the world. Believe it or not, a small, packable fence that operates on a few simple batteries, or even solar power, can generate enough shock to send a 1000-pound bear running for the hills!
An additional tool that works nicely in conjunction with an electric fence, or by itself, is a proximity alarm, which is essentially a small motion detecting device that emits ear-splitting shrieks when triggered. Set up one or two of these in strategic locations around your camp and you are good to go. They can also be used very effectively during your time in the field as an alarm for something that may be coming up behind you on the trail. They’re also great for securing a fish cooler or game meat cache if you’re on a hunting or fishing trip…as you should never keep your fish or meat in your immediate camping or sleeping area.
Along with bear-proof barriers for your food and camp, it’s also a very good idea to have some bear deterrent devices on your person while in bear country. There are both lethal and non-lethal deceives available. Firearms can be used as both…where legal, and if one is properly trained. A large caliber firearm can serve as an intimidating noise maker to deter bears, or, as a self-defense tool in a life and death situation, which again, are extremely rare.
In regard to firearms, there are many options as far as makes, models, calibers, ammunition, etc. While many pack large caliber handguns into bear country, another option is a short-barreled, pump-action, large capacity shotgun, which can be loaded with both lethal and nonlethal ammunition. This is a popular choice for professionals who spend a great deal of time around dangerous animals, as one can first fire a few rounds of nonlethal ammunition to hopefully ward off an aggressive encounter, and if necessary, reserve the last few rounds in the magazine for lethal ammunition in a worst-case scenario. No matter what one may choose as far as a specific weapon though, the most important points are to first make sure it’s legal where you’re going, that you’re properly trained and confident in using it, and that you practice gun safety at all times for the well-being of yourself and others.
Other popular, nonlethal forms of bear self-defense and deterrents, are those of bear-grade pepper spray (not the cheap stuff used on people), as well as fireworks, air horns, flare guns, etc. Basically, anything that makes a loud, scary noise, or causes a temporary, painful sensation for the animal can be effective. However, a word of caution about pepper spray; if it’s used in situations with improper wind direction it can come right back and incapacitate, or permanently injure the user. Not to mention, if a can of pepper spray goes off inside a vehicle or plane, it can have fatal consequences for the entire travel party. Make sure you tell your pilot, boat captain, or driver if you have any in your pack so it can be properly secured for travel.
Finally, the greatest bear deterrent device of all is in between your ears: your brain! Knowledge about bears and bear behavior, especially for the area you’ll be visiting, is the greatest tool of all. Along with that, simple things such as making noise when hiking through thick brush or areas where fresh bear sign is present is an important practice to get into the habit of. If you have to go through an area of wilderness where bears could possibly be, simply making plenty of noise and announcing your presence before you enter their domain is often the most effective means of all for avoiding an unwanted encounter.
Below are some of the best bear deterrent devices available…at least the ones that we can legally sell online. Click on the images below to find out more and order yours today through our Amazon affiliate service.