A little of both, I'd say. I've shot since I was eight or so, as did
most of my friends. I haven't hunted in decades but I enjoy going to the
range. Sometimes I will shoot in matches although I'm not very good but
mostly it's a personal challenge. I shoot bows, too, and it's the same
thing. How good can I do? If I'm hiking I may or may not go armed.
Then there are the people who purchase a handgun as sort of a magic
talisman. They put in a bedside stand to prepare for the next zombie
attack and there it stays. Or they'll take a course to get a concealed
carry permit but never practice. Again it's their magic good luck charm.
Then there's a political motivation that can overlap both groups. I have
friends who are active shooters and have bought AR-15s because 'black
guns' make some politicians soil themselves. Others who are not
interested in firearms may buy one just in case they will be banned. I
listened to one older gentleman talking to a clerk shortly after Obama
was elected. He wanted a AR-15 for 'home protection' although I doubt he
could identify an AR. He'd heard the word and the possibility that it
might be banned and wanted one. After some back and forth it was clear
he was clueless and asked the clerk for a recommendation, the clerk was
honest enough to say 'a shotgun'.
You will still be charged and you will have to prove that you were in
imminent danger of bodily harm. The case might even be harder to make
than if you just shot a person.
We have a guy here who shot one in his back yard and although there
were scratches on the back door, he could not prove that the bear
could have actually gotten in. It cost him a hefty fine and a couple
days in jail along with the legal fees.
Why would they want to, I am Canadian, but they are and can be a
beautiful creature. I have paddled a canoe past some in a river up
north. Oddest thing was when one chased after a car a buddy and I were
in, we were a bit faster.
Talk is cheap :) I don't keep a score card, but I'd say roughly 50% of
the black bears I've encountered either run like hell or climb a tree.
The others know I'm there and ignore me. It would be interesting to see
what the latter group would do if you blew a horn.
The ones I feel sorry for are the ones I encounter on my bike. It's a
big thumper but well silenced so it's quieter than most riding
lawnmowers. It's my theory bears prefer fire roads to take a dump since
there's no brush to tickle their butts. So there's Mr. Bear peacefully
hunched down like a big spaniel crapping in the road when I come around
the corner. I can attest a bear can do 25 mph since I've chased them a
hundred yards or so until they find a convenient place to leave the road.
I had one young bear that hung around an area where I was brushing out a
nature trail. I'd throw rocks at him whenever I saw him to convince him
humans were better avoided.
Black bears, definitely. For grizzlies, I'd say extreme caution when in
their neck of the woods is in order. Two different species, two
different mentalities. For most Americans, unless they are on vacation,
grizzlies are not an issue. There are only about 1500 in the lower 48.
However about 800 of those live in Montana and 600 in the adjoining
Wyoming, with a few in Idaho. So, for me, living in northwest Montana,
grizzlies are a reality.
A friend once posed a hypothetical question. You're hiking along in the
late afternoon and you see a grizzly a few hundred yards away. The bear
ignores you and you continue on your way a mile or two and make camp. Do
you sleep much that night?
Fortunately, I'm not a menstruating woman so I don't tend to smell like
supper. I have sometimes asked myself my own hypothetical question.
You're sleeping soundly in a one man tent with a .45 by your side.
You're awoken at 3:35 AM by a bear who knocks the tent down around you.
What are the odds of extracting yourself from your mummy bag and what
has become a large nylon sack without shooting yourself?
I'd suggest 'Night of the Grizzlies' for bedtime reading.
If you like statistics, what are the odds of two different fatal bear
attacks on the same night? There were other people involved one of which
was badly mauled but survived.
Maybe it's genetic. Why do people fear wolves? Again they're a creature
out of old folk tales for most people. I've got about 500 or more in the
A lot more black bears spread over a larger area with a greater
population density means more human/bear interactions and more potential
of something going bad. If you look at the grizzly attacks in the lower
48, you'll see Yellowstone and Glacier repeated. Both have significant
grizzly populations and both are national parks. Glacier had 2.3 million
visitors last year, Yellowstone 3.8 million. For reference, the actual
population of this state is 1 million. So there's a somewhat limited
geographical area where the grizzlies live, and you pump in millions of
There are grizzlies in other area in the state, but fewer bears and
fewer people wandering around.
Black bears, otoh, wander around town. I was walking down a creekside
trail in a residential neighborhood and there was hardly enough woods
between the trail and the houses for me to take a discreet piss. There I
am relieving myself, and I look up to see a black bear, maybe on the
same mission. The nuisance bears are trapped and taken out of town but
so far there haven't been any unpleasant events. Still, there's the
potential that someone is going to fall over a black bear that's having
a bad day.
That's about it. For all the fairy tales documented wolf attacks are
extremely rare. A couple of hunters reported a 'harrowing' experience
last year. The assholes shot an elk and were too lazy to drag it out so
they field dressed it and planned to go back the next day. When they got
back a wolf pack had taken possession. I'm sure the story was well
edited but what it came down to is a wolf looked up, growled, and they
ran back to their car shooting over their shoulders blindly while
pissing themselves. No harm, no foul, and maybe they'll take their elk
out with them the next time.
There's a fund to reimburse ranchers for wolf kills. These aren't
farmyards. The cattle or sheep are sent out to fend for themselves.
Coyotes and eagles get the calves and lambs, cows walk off cliffs, and
so forth. In other words, they don't really expect to see a full roster
at the end of the year. However, if a wolf nails one, it's the end of
The llama people really get upset. For my money's worth the wolves are
natives and the llamas are another Latin American immigrant. Good on the
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