Well, the bears are out now and will be until late fall, so maybe a bear tip might be in order. As a guide and outfitter emeritus — and emeritus is Latin for “I’m too danged old to pack moose meat out on my back” I’ll talk a bit about ol’ ursus.
If you’re in dangerous bear country, some people tell you to wear a little bell that tinkles, and the bear hears this and says, “Oh, that must be a person, and I’ll bet it’s a nice person, too, so I’ll just amble off this way.”
Well, when I’m in thick cover that bears might inhabit, and I’m not looking for one, I make a lot more noise than that!
One time Jim Kershner and I were going through some willow thickets along a creek at the base of Mt. McKinley … which is a large frozen rock that is now called Denali, and the salmon were running. I was in the lead, and Jim was behind me, beating on a gold pan with a rock. I looked down and saw a four-pound salmon flopping in the trail in front of me. It had toothmarks about four inches apart. And, it was on top of a bear track that measured 10 inches across. I measured it later. Much later. A little guide translation here: A 10-inch-wide bear track means a nine-foot long bear. Well, Jim and I went up one side of that creek and two big sows and a yearling went up the other side. Then we sat there snorting at each other.
So is that bell a good idea? Sure, if you don’t have anything as loud as the London Philharmonic with you.
But the bottom line is: if you’re out messing around in the same country with grizzlies, or with black bears during small cub season or a salmon run, you always ALWAYS carry a rifle. A .30-06 is a good minimum caliber.
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