As you probably have read earlier I am obsessed with bear and moose safety. With all the wild animals that walk around the watershed I've taken many classes on bear safety and how to act in order to prevent a bear encounter. A few weeks ago there were two bear attacks on two separate days at two different locations in Alaska, both with a deadly outcome. Both including a black bear. It made me think about the fact that I have no clue what to do if worse comes to worse and you are attacked (read the bear is actually eating on you and it is a predatory bear). We do have the bear spray, but if for some reason I would not be able to deploy the bear spray and the bear actually got to me? Or you ran in to one of those predatory bears that is in it for a meal, what do you do? I know they say fight for your life, but how can you fight for your life if you have nothing to fight with but your bare hands, arms and legs? I have heard other stories about people being attacked in their tent, well I know this is extremely rare, but I started storing a knife in the tent for a while, and then I forgot about it. A knife that would allow you to cut the tent open if you needed to. I used to wear a knife in the field to, but then I forgot about that too, it was usually in my backpack if I did bring it.
W has been in the field too, countless times, many times alone. I think W has seen a bear from afar in the past while doing fieldwork, and I saw the back of a black bear once running away from me when I was on the ATV in the field once. Another time something was luring behind a tree as a friend and I came walking quietly after a long day in the field, we spooked it, it was huffing behind a large tree before it took a large leap to the side and ran up the hill. Still no clue if this was a bear or a moose. Lesson learned, be loud, and then be even louder. It's easy to forget about this after a long day working hard in the field, or when you are working with your head down in the stream it's easy to not make enough noise, plus you will most likely draw a curious bears attention to you, because many of them are just curious. With W's field season coming up and what had happened in Alaska I wanted him to buy a knife, a knife to have as a last resort, if for some reason there was no other way but to fight for your life. We talked about bear safety too, repeating what we already knew, again. I know W thought I was being ridiculous, but with what had just happened I felt first off very saddened for the two peoples families, but also very scared and wanted to be sure there was a way to fight for your life. I've had people laugh and make fun of me for my intense worry about bears in the field in the past too, but at least I want to be up to date with the bear safety for my own safety.
W bought a knife, a large hunting knife, I mean not too large, but enough to be able to potentially make an impact. At least something to have in the tent if you would need to get out fast, or to have on your belt in the field. After a few hours of the first day in the field for W he texted me and said he had to pull his bear spray. Which is insane because that has never happened before, he has never had an encounter like that before. This time he wasn't even alone. But the bear was a curious black bear, those are the worst. A young curious black bear who would not move away even though they made sound and made themselves larger. Eventually he moved away enough for them to feel safe and retract too. Did I jinx his field season? A couple of days later they were going to cross a stream to another field site and W decided that they should walk downstream a bit, and then try to cross. Well luckily they did because they manage to spot two grizzlies across the stream about 50m away from them, something they would have popped up right in front of had they crossed earlier. Yeah I really jinxed it didn't I?
Fingers crossed that those were the only bears for this field season, as I am sitting on a plane on Friday to Jackson WY to spend 10 days in the field in Yellowstone, and some of those camping!