Animal encounters


May 20, 2011, 10:37 AM
I see quite a few bear gun threads around here. Itís a gun focused website so I guess I understand.

Iíve hiked and camped all over Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. Iíve had very few animal encounters that were even remotely dangerous

Iíve seen black bears; mostly around campsites but occasionally on the trail. The ones near campsites I run off. The ones on the trail I just watch from a distance. Iíve never felt like I was in any danger from bears.

I was backpacking deep in Rocky Mountain National Park and almost tripped over a baby elk hidden in some high grass. It was perfectly camouflaged. I would have missed it if I was 5 feet away. I stopped, thought, this is cool and started to reach for my camera. I then realized I was in a precarious situation and quickly moved on; head on a swivel till I was well clear.

While pheasant hunting I was at the bottom of a deep pocket. It had been a wet year and the brush and cover was well over my head. I was pushing through a particularly thick portion thinking this was a complete waste of time when I entered a clear area about 15ft across. In it were 4 coyotes eating a dead deer. I froze, they looked at me, I looked at them and nobody moved for what was probably 3 seconds but felt a lot longer. They took off away from me, I backed out the way I came and went looking for a different pocket. For sure there werenít any pheasants in that one anyway.

Usually any coyotes run out before I even reach the edge of any pocket. Iím sure the meal was what kept them around but they must have heard me coming. I was making a ton of noise. I was probably shooting 2 ĺĒ 5ís out of my AL391 and I wasnít the least bit comforted by having it.

Iím not that familiar with coyote behavior but I canít remember hearing of any coyote/human attacks. What worried me though was the deer. They might have been willing to defend it and 4 coyotes were more shells than I had loaded in the gun. Itís also a pretty unwieldy gun at close range. That was my closest and most numerous encounter before or since.

I was charged by a marmot once on a small glacier pretty high up in the Rockies. Not what I would call scary or anything but that little guy was definitely trying to run me off. Being the considerate guy that I am, I let him.

What sorts of animal encounters have you all had?

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May 20, 2011, 10:55 AM
Funny you say "elk" and RMNP in the same sentence. My closest amimal encounter ever was also with an Elk (a huge bull elk) on a trail in RMNP. Came around a corner, view was blocked by some relatively small trees, I was going up the trail, he was coming down. If that bull had lowered his antlers he would have hit me on the head with them (we were maybe 5' apart). He snorted and jumped into the brush to his left, and I did the same, to my left.

Closest black bear encounter, maybe 25'. I came out of the woods onto a road in the Mt Baker NF. Nice big (maybe 400 lbs) black bear in the middle of the road. Threw my arms up in the air and yelled at it. It stood up looked at me, and quickly left the road for the brush.

Oh, the bear doesn't count the one in my yard here at home. Our Doberman chased that young sow off. It was funny, every time her hind feet hit the ground as she was running away, there was a bear plop.

May 20, 2011, 11:09 AM
I actually never saw the mama elk; lucky for me I’d wager.

During mating season the elk come down out of the hills to two particular valleys in RMNP. You can get in pretty close and watch the males fight. I usually climb up on a large boulder and watch. I’ve had bull elk smashing racks together not 50ft away. It’s pretty cool; though I wouldn’t want to be at ground level that close necessarily.

May 20, 2011, 11:09 AM
Out here, coyotes are a fact of life. Rabid ones will attack people, but other than that, I couldn't begin to list all my coyote encounters. The more serious critter is the javelina and we've got those in abundance too! I know someone who was archery hunting javvy, had one down in front of him, another charged him, he shot and hit it in the shoulder 'cause he was running backward. It "treed" him on a barrel cactus until he could pull out his SD gun. They have attacked and killed dogs in neighborhood settings. When we bump in to them, we back out calmly, but in a hurry!

And once we had a black bear in the back yard. I was 4ish and said oh look at the big dog and went running up to pet it. It took off, but I sure scared my folks!

We also have seen a mountain lion (not a bobcat, those are way common - a mountain lion) sleeping on the hood of the car, because it was still warm! Again, we're talking neighborhood setting!

May 20, 2011, 12:01 PM
Bears - yep, seen 'em, they usually run away. It's the one that doesn't, the aberration, that would cause the problem.

Was pretty intimidated the day I was hunting elk, heard a large hoof stomp in some trees, stalked into the stand looking for an elk, and came upon a mama moose and her humongous darlin' baby. I had a .30'06, but no interest in killing either of those moose, nor in getting stomped by her, either.

Most coyotes won't attack a person, but I've had one go after my Brittany. He was dissuaded by a bullet kicking dirt up in his face.

Most people won't attack other people, either. The few aberrations to that rule whom I have encountered to date have been dissuaded by the presence of a gun or knife.

To any general rule, there are exceptions. The exceptions to this subject (animals attacking) are the ones that cause problems, and need to be dealt with in the most severe manner.

May 20, 2011, 12:30 PM
We also have seen a mountain lion (not a bobcat, those are way common - a mountain lion) sleeping on the hood of the car, because it was still warm! Again, we're talking neighborhood setting!

I've never seen a mountain lion in the wild. I'd love too, and I'm sure they were around, but their sneakiness is apparently better than my ability to spot them.

May 20, 2011, 12:50 PM
I've seen a lot of black bear up close. A cub charged me last year, which was both funny and unnerving. I've had quite a few moose charges, including one that I would class as serious where the bull had his hackles up and his tines pointing right at me. I dove off into the devil's club and he ran past, wagging his head in triumph. I've had no serious run-ins with brown bear thankfully. I've seen lots of fresh tracks and seen them from a distance, but I get the heck out of their way. Outside of visual distance if I can.

The only animal I had to shoot DLP was an enraged muskrat fighting with a puppy.

May 20, 2011, 02:36 PM
A lady was killed on a run in the Province of Nova Scotia last year or the year before by coyotes. They have attacked children many times. All wild animals are capable of doing serious damage when startled or defending their young. As I recall a young lady was severely hurt by a black bear in Alaska many years ago while surveying. I think many people operate on the premise of not if an animal will attach but when one will attack. In that case it is better to have a gun and be prepared than not have a gun and wish you did.

May 20, 2011, 04:25 PM
I've run a black bear out of my camp before. 2 shots from a 44 mag into the ground didn't phase him, firecrackers did. That was in Crested Butte.

Had a coyote nearly walk on top of me in a heavy snowfall in area 8 near Red Feather Lakes he took a big leap backwards when I said hello.

Stepped on a porcupine in the same area, NOT fun.

I may have glimpsed a lion once on a 9500 foot ridge. In Boulder Canyon/Deer Creek Canyon they aren't as sneaky, in the woods they don't like to be seen.

Am positive I saw wolf tracks in area 8 and may have glimpsed one crossing a logging road. Animals don't know where the borders are between Colorado and Wyoming. Know I saw a wolverine in area 8.

Been close enough to a startled cow elk that when she whistled at me I could see her ivories.

Saw my dad lose a property dispute with a ring tailed cat (coati) in the Grand Canyon.

Been charged by a buck antelope trying to run me away from his does. That was shocking and strange.

Oh and I about laid down on a tarantula while hunting in La Junta.

Those are just a few of my encounters. ;)

Larry E
May 20, 2011, 11:15 PM
It never fails to amaze me when I see people who seem to believe that wild animals are safe to approach and even touch or stand near. Lots of people in Yellowstone don't seem to understand that bison are fast and have generally bad dispositions. The same with moose, maybe even more than bison. I've had buck pronghorns express their displeasure with my presence by stamping their feet and snorting at me.

The only coyotes I've seen in the wild were heading the opposite direction because they're fair game here anytime and frequently shot at. Wolves of course are protected depending on Judge Malloy and the "environmentalists" or they may be game animals in Montana and Idaho. Depends on the day of the week or even time of day. Since I don't own any sheep or cattle though I've never seen one.

Dr Rob you should know that wolves don't live in Colorado. I mean the FWS has told us so. They're not in North Dakota either, although a federal coyote hunter shot one there. He was told it was a "large coyote", but said that he'd been hunting coyotes for 35 years and had never seen one that large - wolf size.

May 20, 2011, 11:23 PM
What I saw was black and jumped across a logging road in a single bound, tracks were large and dog like. OK so I thought, maybe I saw a feral dog.

Next day I found similar tracks but BUNCHES of them, a dozen or more (a pack) of large footed canines were running along game trails. Coyotes don't run in packs.

Where I've hunted in area 8 is only 2 miles from Wyoming, and while those 'wild dogs' might not be residents of Colorado, they were sure as shootin' vacationing here.

Game warden says it's doubtful they are here, local loggers and outfitters say they are.

Area 8 is a moose release area, has bears, mountain lion, deer and elk and beaver maybe wolves too.

May 20, 2011, 11:49 PM
Elk are getting more common in the North-Centralish part of my state and beginning to move out into my area. Still... they are kind of a curiousity at this point. When people see them in a field, they feel a need to stop and watch for a bit.
Anyhow, I was hiking in the woods less than a mile from the parents' house last summer and came upon five of them. They are BIG up close. At first I stopped on the old mining road I was on and just watched as they walked directly toward me. I had apparently been quiet enough by accident and had wound up downwind. It was cool to have the chance to see "wild" elk in an area where they were still so rare. Anyhow, as they got closer, I realized the danger of having a small herd of panicked Elk charge in my direction. I was carrying a .357 SP-101 loaded heavy, but it was no comfort whatsoever. Fortunately, they all turned and bolted when I started making noise to scare them away.
Last year near that same place I actually used my .357 to dispatch an animal. I saw a raccoon off the path by a few feet milling about in the woods after I had passed it. Not really normal to see them out and about in daylight so I watched it closely and tried to distance myself, but it charged out of the weeds and came straight at me before I could. I shot it twice. It was the only time I've ever needed to use a gun to defend myself from anything. A raccoon is small but I'm sure that I saved myself a lot of suffering and expensive medical bills by not allowing a potentially rabid one to chew on my leg. I almost always took a gun into the woods with me before that... I ALWAYS take one now.
As for bears, I've seen about a dozen in the woods over the years. The closest were probably no further than twenty feet away while deer hunting - that's happened twice. The rest were all easily inside fifty yards. None have ever been even the slightest bit threatening. I actually feel kind of lucky when I see them in their natural habitat just doing their thing. Same with bobcats, which are sighted even more rarely. I have yet to ever see a coyote even though I run across their tracks and hear them howling occasionally.
I was almost run over by two terrified deer once. They were spooked while a group of us were trying to drive them out of a fenced-in tree preserve, and ran the wrong direction. My arm waving and yelling failed to persuade them to change course. I dove to the ground behind a downed log just in time to see them sail right over me! I was at work in that case and unarmed, but it was one of those cases where it wouldn't have made a difference anyhow.
One thing I see a lot of up close are porcupines. Not that I consider them a real threat to me as long as I let them alone, but they are slow and not too bright. I literally almost stepped on one as I was hopping across a small creek once. It taught me to pay attention to what I'm doing when I'm in the woods!

May 21, 2011, 12:33 AM
Wife and I were setting up the pop-up camper on the Mogollon Rim in AZ last summer. Had our three dogs with us. All of a sudden, the dogs start going ballistic. I looked around and 50 yards from us sat a black bear, just watching us. I start yelling "Get the camera!" and the wife yells "Get the gun!". With all the commotion, the bear ambled off into the woods. I grabbed the camera and stuffed the pistol in my back pocket and chased it into the woods. I was shooting that bear, one way or another! I did manage to get close enough to get a picture before it got totally away. Of course, I used the zoom telephoto feature on the camera.

May 21, 2011, 12:46 AM
Black bear encounters while backpacking in Olympic National Park. On later reflection, we figured they got used to food being around shelters and put the shelters on their "rounds". If the current occupants of the shelters believed in bear-bagging food (instead of sleeping with it...), they just moved on.

Coyotes, black bear and cougars occasionally seen near or in the picnic area at the hydroelectric project. Some of the visitors are quite alarmed when the cougars walk through the picnic area in broad daylight. We're pretty sure the cougars are using the USFS bridge as a route across the canyon, and the picnic area happens to be on the route.

So far, the most serious incident we've had is a bear tearing up the back of one of the houses trying to climb up to a hummingbird feeder. A wildlife officer came up the next day, trapped it and relocated it.

We keep the garbage cans empty. Several patrols a day to make sure we empty them into a large, steel lid dumpster before the animals can raid the cans.

We also encourage the resident staff to feed their pets inside, so we don't encourage coyotes to go after the pet food. Or the pets.

So far the sightings have been rare, and there were no interactions with the visitors at all. I really, really hope we can keep it that way.

May 21, 2011, 01:40 AM
I recently mined THR's archives for fodder in a research paper. The goal was to apply the ideas of several Anthropological theorists to a topic of my choosing.

I chose to study how the internet affects American Gun culture.

Some statistics:
* TWO people were killed by bears in the US in 2010
* 70 people in the US were struck by lightning.
* THR has over 7 MILLION posts... a simple search shows 9% of those concern 'bears'.

Yes, those statistics are not completely apples to oranges, and several caveats apply, but they illustrate a larger point. The indisputable facts are that bears are not a REAL problem... yet they concern nearly 1/10'th of all our discussion.

That doesn't mesh up with apparent reality... So why do we talk about them so much?

Basically, the bears are a symbol. The way we interact with that symbol says a lot about us. The bears anthropomorphize a wide range of 'threats' in our symbolic universe. They are a method of constructing our reality, and provide us with a worst case scenario. I.E., If you are loaded for bear, then you are probably prepared for anything.

This is very similar to the way some discussion groups use zombies as a metaphor for preparedness... the only difference is that the zombies guys KNOW they are doing it, whilst we are biting our nails over grizzlies.

As irrational as it appears on the surface, the obsession with 'bears' serves a necessary function in our culture.

May 21, 2011, 02:17 AM
I have had a few encounters, from scary to wonderful.

For wonderful, I was sitting beside a small creek dipping my toes in the water, when a hawk flies up and lands across the creek, approximately 15 feet away. It was huge! It sat there for about 5 minutes watching me, then flew away.

For scary, a friend and I went camping on a Sunday night near Birmingham, Alabama, at a state park. The ranger told us we'd be the only ones out that night, but we were cool with that. As it began to get dark, my friend told me he had a feeling we were being watched, and so we decided to put out our fire, and move about 100 feet up the hill overlooking our campsite. About 30 minutes later, we heard the sound of a woman screaming, getting closer and closer. Through the moonlight, we were able to make out a mountain lion roaming through the near brush. We sat back to back for most of that night, and hardly slept a wink.

May 21, 2011, 05:30 AM
I hike with my dog in a local wilderness area that is a watershed and therefore controlled by Florida Water Authorities. They don't allow guns in this area. However, after an encounter with a very large wild boar (was ready to charge me and my dog but then ran away) I carry my handgun anyway. They know that wild boar are a problem in this place and allow a one-day-a-year hunt there to thin them out.

May 21, 2011, 08:54 AM
So far pretty rare, especially here in Texas. Coyotes, bobcats you may or may not see more often depending on where you live. For the most part coyotes will generally leave you alone, however small children can be a target or a single coyote with rabies may attack a full grown human on it's own, but again I think it's pretty rare. When I lived in the Round Rock, Georgetown area there aparently was a mtn. lion attacking some peoples pets, and caused a public stir. That particular area of Texas is pretty close to the hill country, so I wouldn't be at all suprised if it were true, but again the chances of running into a mtn. lion, or bear in Texas and having to kill one in self defense are pretty slim.

May 21, 2011, 10:56 AM
The indisputable facts are that bears are not a REAL problem...

In Indiana. Many of these bear threads, if not most, concern Alaska where bear attacks are common. I've been badly mauled by a bear and shot a bear in self defense. I know two other people who have been mauled by bears. I know at least a half dozen others who have shot bears in self defense, and countless people who have sprayed them with pepper.

So, yeah, in Indiana it's not a real problem. If you're going fishing in Alaska and will be sharing a stream with 1000 pound bears then it's worth considering.

May 21, 2011, 12:39 PM
Was fishing a large beaver pond in NW Montana when I hear thrashing and crashing behind me. I turn and see a small moose head and a very large moose head coming right at me, but not looking at me. They seemed intent on pushing through the heavy brush to the pond. There is no were to run and no tree big enough to climb so I freeze and start silently chanting ď Iím a tree. Iím a tree. Iím a tree.Ē They pass about 10 to 15 feet on either side of me, mother left, calf on the right, and splash into the pond. When they get about 50 feet away and facing the other direction I sneak out, hastily.

Now Iíve had equipment break and try to drop 100 ton of steel on me from 270 feet up, Iíve had a single car crash that went end over end and rolled 1 and a half times, Iíve shared the same berry patch with a grizzly bear, for a very short time, but this is the most frightened I have ever been.

To make this gun thread compliant, I was carrying a 22 revolver. I never even considered it.

May 21, 2011, 02:51 PM
Heard a Florida Panther 'purring' if that's the correct term, not quite a growl, in the dark on my way back to hunt camp after leaving my stand late one evening.

Close...very, very close :what:

That will really get your attention! Never saw him, too dark. Of course I was armed and had a couple bright flashlights!

They are pretty rare anymore, I had seen him a few weeks earlier about 1/2 mile away in/near a pond during a heavy downpour in late afternoon. I watched him for about 30 minutes through binoc's while he 'played' in the mud at the edge of the pond and actually went into the water up to mid chest. Interesting behavior. :confused:

In the same area, I've had a Bobcat walk up to within 3-4 feet while laying in a hog wallow. Had deer and hogs came within 4-5 feet while in my makeshift ground-blind and ghillie suit. Also have a good sized black bear on one of the game cameras...he's about 10 feet to the ends of outstretched paws (standing while trying to rip lid off feeder).

May 22, 2011, 12:20 AM
....the only difference is that the zombies guys KNOW they are doing it, whilst we are biting our nails over grizzlies...

KodiakBeer brought this up and addressed it, but I wanted to second the comment that some of us actually do live where the grizzlies are.

May 22, 2011, 01:18 AM
Along with that... I freely admit that I've never been threatened by a black bear. I also know that people have been mauled and killed by them. My dad was even chased by one once. I think 99% of the time, luck, a reasonable amount of intelligence on my part, and the fact that most bears are just not looking for trouble is enough to keep me pretty safe. But that 1% of the time when those factors aren't present is what concerns us with the choice of firearm. A good handgun only weighs two to three pounds. I'd rather carry that extra weight than end up a statistic.

May 22, 2011, 12:33 PM
I've never had a bear do anything but wander away but I did have a herd of elk (spooked by some hunters) come charging past one time while out hiking. Wow those things are a lot bigger when they are still on their feet!

May 22, 2011, 01:13 PM
All of the above posts deal with bears cougars elk and coyotes, but a 1265 pound angus bull will sure ruin your day and just as quick. He was dead set on killing or hurting me, and did a damn fine job of it to. A gun and a quick to respond 16yr.old grandson got him off. They are all wild animals so never trust any of them. Can you guess who my HERO is?

May 22, 2011, 01:16 PM
Elk are pretty big when you're trying to load them into a truck, too. :D

Bears can be dangerous when they decide to be. So can anything else, and that's what you can't control. Despite some opinions to the contrary, animals do think and make decisions.

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