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NM bear encounter

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Offline mule ears

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Re: NM bear encounter
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2018, 08:45:02 PM »
ME - would this be one thats too use to humans ? (Smoky MT. NP)

Yeah, when they know how to open the doors it's a bad sign, when they learn to turn on the ignition it's time to leave the area!   :icon_eek:
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
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Offline mule ears

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Re: NM bear encounter
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2018, 08:51:23 PM »
Mule Ears, your stories and trip reports have always impressed me.  To casually write that you had a relaxed evening after encountering a bear like you did, that takes the cake! 

I think I could stand my ground and shout and wave and all that.  After the bear left though, I'm not sure I could stay in the area!!!

I guess one of the reasons I was not freaked out was the bear did not seem after me or my food, more just trying to get down the trail.  My other really close encounter was in the Smokies when we had taken refuge from the rain on the porch of an old house in the backcountry one night and heard a noise below and thought it was a raccoon or something.  We looked over the rail and there was bear 5 feet below us who looked at us and wandered off.  We had already hung our food and spent the night without any trouble.  Turns out the bear had taken up residence under the house and was known to be there.  I think both experiences are examples of being habituated to people but not human food.
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no shade, no water
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Offline alan in shreveport

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Re: NM bear encounter
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2018, 09:48:59 PM »
ME - would this be one thats too use to humans ? (Smoky MT. NP)

Yeah, when they know how to open the doors it's a bad sign, when they learn to turn on the ignition it's time to leave the area!   :icon_eek:


He didn't have the keys so I was safe for that but he did know what to do with the 2 Hostess pies in the front . When he finally left I was surprised to find no scratches, upholstery pulls or even crumbs !

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Offline Quatro

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Re: NM bear encounter
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2018, 10:08:33 PM »
Thank you, ME.  That was really informative.  Over the last say 4 years, there have been several stories in Colorado of bears both habituated and food conditioned causing problems.  South Colony Lakes, the Four Pass Loop and a recent bear at Willow Lake.  Below is a post from a Willow Lake camper on August 5th.  This bear was put down soon thereafter.

"Our group, three tents, goes to bed. One tent gets bear activity three times during the night with no food, toothpaste, nothing with an odor. The bear is shooed away twice. The third time, the bear would not leave for several minutes. There were several flashlights and people up and around at approx, 2:30 AM. The bear did stay away from the tents after this event. It did, however, move to the Forest Service installed bear bag cable and was able to get one bag down. At 4:30, our group woke up to prepare for climbing Challenger and Kit Carson. We found the owner of the missing bag looking for the food bag. He found it, along with the bear eating the contents. The gentlemen requested bear spray in order to retrieve his food bag. I respectfully requested that he leave the food bag and avoid a confrontation with the bear. He approached the bear a second time and was able to shoo it and retrieve the bag with just coffee remaining. Our group provided food for the gentleman to still make an attempt at summiting."

Me - I would not have gone back to sleep, would have let the bear finish the contents of the food bag, and swore to bring an ice axe year-round when backpacking.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline ggowins

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Re: NM bear encounter
« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2018, 12:57:24 PM »
I used to work at Philmont Scout Camp in northern New Mexico.  The times we had problem bears was when there wasn't much in the way of stuff for the bears to forage, so they would turn to camper's food.   Otherwise, they were really skittish and would run away.

My closest approach to a bear was on the Window Trail.  Four years ago I was there on a trip with my parents, and we also brought my cousin's son.  This was his first trip to Big Bend, and we took the hike to the Window our first morning we were there.  While taking a break at a bench near a wash, I heard something small in the brush.  I went over to see what it was, figuring it was an armadillo or rabbit.  Turns out it was a bear!  I was only a couple of feet away from it at that point.  I told them I just saw a bear, to which my mom told me to shut up and stop trying to scare my cousin's son.  :icon_lol: It came out of the brush about 15 feet away, turned to look at us, then turned back and headed up the wash.

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Offline dprather

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Re: NM bear encounter
« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2018, 04:40:19 PM »
I once came face-to-face with a Black Bear while solo backpacking Arkansas' Eagle Rock Loop.  Ready for just such a possibility, I had my Glock strapped across my chest, several rocks in my pocket, a whistle in my shirt pocket, and a camera in my balloon pants pocket.  An Eagle Scout, I believe in "Be Prepared."

When the bear and I came face to face, both of us froze before he ran away (with truly amazing speed).  I was physically unable to perform any rock throwing, whistle blowing, Glock shooting, or picture taking.  Not on the bear's menu, I lived to tell the story.

Had the bear covered the 20 or so yards that separated us with aggression and speed, I was done for.  There might be some out there with the dexterity of mind and body to respond in milliseconds, but I am not among them.

PS: for the remaining two hours of daylight following that incident, my whistle was death-grip CLINCHED between my teeth and I whistled at EVERY rock, stump, and shadow - have you ever noticed that every one of those darned things has ears?  I suspect that the bear in the Ouachitas still tell the story about the fear-paralyzed backpacker who morphed into Tootsie the Train.

Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline presidio

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Re: NM bear encounter
« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2018, 05:45:33 PM »
When the bear and I came face to face, both of us froze before he ran away (with truly amazing speed).  I was physically unable to perform any rock throwing, whistle blowing, Glock shooting, or picture taking.

Had the bear covered the 20 or so yards that separated us with aggression and speed, I was done for.  There might be some out there with the dexterity of mind and body to respond in milliseconds, but I am not among them.

Your experience is an object lesson for everyone.

In an emergency or other high stress situation, two things occur.

First is "fight-or-flight," which does not always result in either. Sometimes, it manifests as paralysis. The latter is much more common in a 'startle' event such as you describe. It takes time to recognize the situation and react appropriately. I'd hazard a guess you also experienced apparent time warping and the event seemed to last longer than it did.

Second, regardless of what happens above, the mind and body always will revert to training. The simple concept is that of 'muscle memory.'

Folks will prepare for an encounter with dangerous wildlife by doing some or all of the things you did, but very few have any real expectation of an encounter and even fewer have any actual response worked out (other than as a mental exercise). After all, how do you train yourself for such an incident? What scenario-based training and frequency of same could a person use to be ready?

In a situation where you have advance notice, such as seeing a bear at a distance and able to ascertain what it is doing, you have time to process the situation and get your bear spray or larger caliber response into play. In a startle event, there is no reflex arc to prod you into instantaneous action such as occurs when you inadvertently touch a dangerously hot (or extremely cold...the reaction is the same) item. In that case the body reacts before you have time to think. That reflex bypasses the brain. Danger from a bear has to go through the brain and be processed for a reaction.

Thus, it is entirely NOT surprising that your reaction (and everyone else in such a situation) would be as it was.

This type of situation is even more applicable to concealed carry. Lots of folks have licenses, but the vast majority do no regular shooting, much less scenario-based training (and all that IS possible for dealing with the most dangerous game). Lack of training results not only in loss of accuracy, but also a fumbling with the mechanical operation of a firearm. That is a huge LIABILITY from a legal perspective, in addition to dealing with the physical threat.

As with the bear, in an encounter with a dangerous person, not only do you have to assess the situation, which slows reaction, but fine motor skills vanish at high speed as the threat level increases. You see this even among law enforcement officers involved in shootings where it is not uncommon to see the majority of shots fired miss the intended target (and these folks train constantly).

It would have been interesting to see what your heart rate was as soon you comprehended the situation (which really was after it was over). I bet the number was impressive.
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Offline dprather

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Re: NM bear encounter
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2018, 06:33:01 PM »
Time warp - for sure.  I honestly think the whole thing was over and done wit in 3-5 seconds, maybe even 2-3 seconds (except for the two hours of whistle blowing).

Odd thinking - for sure - I was mostly awed by the coolness of the close encounter of the Bear kind.  The fear reaction didn't set in until after the bear scrammed.  No thought of rock-throwing or etc even entered my mind until some minutes later.

The experience exists in my mind as a sequence of tiny slowed-down out-takes separated by faster blurred stretches.  I am almost certain that the bear was ambling toward his evening drink from the Little Missouri River and that my presence messed up his routine.  I recall that he glanced at me, glanced at the river, and then took off.

I am familiar with firearms, but not trained for conflict, and I am familiar with the reaction concepts your speak of.  But I'm pretty sure that no amount of training could prepare me to respond adequately had the bear decided to attack.  3-5 seconds is the blink of an eye.     

The wonder to me is how bear decide when to ignore you, when to run away, and when to attack.

Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline Hookim

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Re: NM bear encounter
« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2018, 12:43:30 AM »
I once came face-to-face with a Black Bear while solo backpacking Arkansas' Eagle Rock Loop.  Ready for just such a possibility, I had my Glock strapped across my chest, several rocks in my pocket, a whistle in my shirt pocket, and a camera in my balloon pants pocket.  An Eagle Scout, I believe in "Be Prepared."

When the bear and I came face to face, both of us froze before he ran away (with truly amazing speed).  I was physically unable to perform any rock throwing, whistle blowing, Glock shooting, or picture taking.  Not on the bear's menu, I lived to tell the story.

Had the bear covered the 20 or so yards that separated us with aggression and speed, I was done for.  There might be some out there with the dexterity of mind and body to respond in milliseconds, but I am not among them.

PS: for the remaining two hours of daylight following that incident, my whistle was death-grip CLINCHED between my teeth and I whistled at EVERY rock, stump, and shadow - have you ever noticed that every one of those darned things has ears?  I suspect that the bear in the Ouachitas still tell the story about the fear-paralyzed backpacker who morphed into Tootsie the Train.
Great story! I laugh a lot reading this forum. I missed this convo before posting mine the other morning, and I'm glad because I might not have slept the night they came-a-knocking on my tent. I thought about the flight/fright response for the next two days - why I wasn't really afraid and reacted basically with "fight". Perhaps because I know there haven't been incidents in BBNP... yet. It's interesting how our bodies react without our reason.

I also wondered about the "consciousness" of lightning since there were so many thunderstorms this trip. How is the where of the strike determined? So much to read.

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Offline badknees

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