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Mountain Hiking Tips No 6, If A Bear Meets You
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This is Ed Westover. Today we will be taking a look at what to do if we happen to bump into a bear while hiking in the mountains. Things could get a little wild, especially if it's a bear with cubs. One thing you don't want to do if a bear meets you is shake hands! I don't think there is anyone who doesn't have a healthy respect for bears, especially when they seem to be a little aggressive. That being said, it is a good idea to figure out ahead of time what we might do if we run into a bear that wants to argue the right-of-way.

First, we need to realize that it makes good sense for a man to swallow a little pride, and realize that the bear is a lot bigger and stronger than him. But even if the bear happens to be smaller than him, that is even more cause for alarm, because it means that Momma Bear is nearby. If she learns that you are near her cub, her first move will be to come barreling in to protect the cub. She might show a little fear of you when she is alone, but when she is with her cubs, that is an entirely different situation. Her determination to protect them will completely overwhelm any fear of you that she might feel.

So, what do you do? If you havn't seen the mother bear, your best bet is probably to immediately and quietly go back, following the path you just came in on. The only thing you are sure of at this point is that you know where one or more cubs are. What you don't know is where the mother is, and where and if there are more cubs. Since you didn't see any bears on the way in, that should be your direction for retreat. Any other direction might lead you to the mother bear or more of her cubs.

Being between a mother and her cubs is the last place you want to be in a moment like this. But if it happens to be a full grown bear that you run into, how do you tell if it's a bear with cubs? You probably can't. Just assume it is, and act accordingly.

I have two friends who were bow hunting for deer some years ago. They happened to find themselves unexpectedly between a mother bear and two cubs on one side, and another cub on the other side. They didn't see the lone cub before the mother bear came charging at them full speed to protet her cub.

One of the men decided to climb a tree. That didn't work. The bear went after him and bit him on the calf of the leg. His companion came to his rescue, and began hitting the bear with his bow. In the meantime, the cub ran away. The cub's leaving probably helped more than the beating with the bow. In any case, my friends felt fortunate to escape without more damage.

This has been one of my mountain hiking tips that I hope you will never need. If you have any bear experiences you would like to share with us, we would like to hear about them. If you prefer to use your initials rather than your name, that will be okay. Until next time. Happy hiking, Ed.

Street Talk

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