I've always been scared out of my mind of encountering a bear and I'm not afraid to admit it. Montana back country and bears go hand in hand. My safety is more important to be than sounding like a badass on Monday morning about how gnarly my hiking/camping trip was.

Be Bear Aware is a site to study if you haven't taken the time to learn about precautions.

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Bear safety is fairly simple. Until you meet one in the wild and you pee yourself in fear. Be prepared. Stay calm. Do everything you're supposed to do so you DON'T MEET A BEAR IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Talk, sing or clap your hands (don't feel stupid) to let a bears in the area know you're there. Don't rely on jingle bells as usually they are too quiet. Shout often, especially when traveling upwind, near streams and waterfalls, or when you cannot see the path ahead. (Or just take my friend Megan with you. She's a loud talker who rarely shuts the hell up.)

Confrontations are usually the result of a sudden encounter with a grizzly bear protecting its space, cubs or food caches. On rare occasions it may be a black bear. In defensive confrontations., the bear is attacking you because it feels threatened.


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Bear Sprayplays an important part in reducing attacks during human encounters with bears. It is an effective deterrent of North American bears, but it can be adversely affected by wind, rain, temperature, and even how close the bear is when it charges.

When purchasing bear spray it is important to remember that pepper sprays (personal defense sprays) are not the same as bear spray. Although both types of sprays are made from oleoresin capsicum, it is the capsaicin and related capsaicinoids that are the active ingredients in bear spray. Therefore, if you see claims on a large can that state 10%, 20%, or 30% oleoresin capsicum, it is pepper spray (personal defense spray), not bear spray.

For more information about bear safety and outdoor encounters, visit BeBearAware.org. It's a great website full of practical information that's easy to understand. Your safety is more important than the dude/man/bro story on Monday morning.