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Has anyone ever had encounters with bears or other wild dangerous species while boondocking?


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Hello everyone; the topic is self explanatory, but my biggest fear is finding a GREAT location in the wilderness with my family, only to waking up in the middle of the night to hear a bear or large animal trying to get inside of our RV or tent.. And for this reason only, I tend to want to stay around RV resorts or campgrounds, which makes the experience for me not as genuine, but for the safety of my family, I will do whatever it takes!!

 

Also be advised, that I have "NOT" yet to buy an RV to start our adventure, but I am being VERY proactive with my questions!!

 

Any comments, thoughts, or experiences to add? Would love to hear them!!

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I have seen where Yellowstone and other parks have restricted camping to hardside vehicles, either trailers or motorhomes, with tents not allowed when there have been bear incidents. I would suspect that would be a good place to start, and of course, don't leave foodstuffs outside to avoid unnecessary attraction of wildlife.

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We first and always chose boon docking over all other forms of camping, and spend a great deal of time in BC and AB doing so with nature besides us.

 

The closest we've gotten to wondering if we were on the menu, was when fishing in Alaska for Salmon - someone gave my hubby some bait in a bag and everyone was lined up along a shore area snagging salmon (they weren't hungry for any bait!). All of a sudden an adolescent bear I was watching way in the distance by a fallen tree trunk, disappeared and came up the back road behind all the fishermen unbeknown to us all. All of a sudden I looked at the end guy and within 6 ft of him was this bear. He started to run and told to stop - everyone turned and walked slowly backwards into a large group - the bear went up to hubby's "useless" bait, sat on his haunches and had a picnic. All we could do was edge backwards slow and wait until he totally finished and went back on his merry way. He wasn't there to hurt us, he was just after an easy meal.

 

A fed bear is a dead bear where we live, so provided folks adhere to avoid leaving cool boxes, food on display and food odours are kept minimal when in their territory there shouldn't be an issue. This applies to on display through the glass of vehicles as well = bears are known to smash windows to access cooler boxes in view. On occasion there is a rogue bear or some smart Alec will deliberately leave food, as we've seen marshmallows out on a picnic table to hope to view them and then when the association of people with food becomes known to them that is when issues can occur. Same as those tenting in bear country with sweets or food odours on clothes can attract a furry visitor with a great sense of smell and he ain't looking to keep you warm in your sleeping bag!

 

We have camped/ RV'd in bear country for two decades and never had an encounter - we've viewed them at the side of the roads grazing within a few feet of our RV, and we've seen folks walking down sidewalks on Vancouver Island, namely Tofino/Port Alberni where a bear is foraging within feet of them. Generally they will run away if they are aware of you, never get between a Sow and her cubs. When hiking we sing or talk loud to make all wildlife aware of our presence so we don't startle them. In our nearest City Calgary, we've had moose work their way into our main arteries to downtown, a puma caught in the stairwell of a new hospital build, another puma hiding under a neighbours Travel Trailer scared having wondered into a residential area during the night and now it was all busy with commuters, Bears leaning against Stop Signs in a newer developed community street as we infringe more on their space, and an adolescent one up a telegraph pole in a NW community. They are typically removed by animal control and flown miles away into the bush. If they return three times then sadly they are destroyed seems to be the mantra for the most part, albeit each case is viewed on it's own merits.

 

Most provincial and state parks give out detailed pamphlets regarding being "BEAR AWARE" as well post warnings of any sightings. In Banff now there are certain trails at certain times whereby it is posted you have to be in groups of 4 minimum to hike that particular trail due to higher bear activity. We have heard them rustling close by when setting up our rig, as well met bears that have run off during our travels around Lake Tahoe NV/CA. We try to be just sensible, respectful and cognizant of their space and ours, and take notice of any posted notices regarding presence where we are.

 

Some folks like to carry bear spray, wasp/hornet spray, wear bear bells to alert of presence in their area. Generally speaking Food and related Odours are the main precursors to the very few bear attacks that have occurred, followed by startling a bear or coming between a Sow and her cub.

 

We shake our heads every trip to Banff/Lake Louise and Jasper areas as we watch tourists during rutting season getting way too close to take photos of Elk, thinking a tree will protect them = they've probably done more damage over the years to folks than bears, and the other main wildlife fatality of people is hitting moose in your car on the highways = their composition generally means you get the full impact of their body at the weakest point of the vehicle.

 

Now personally, I am more concerned about walking in the dessert and inadvertently getting within striking distance of many of your snakes, bitten by a spider whilst gardening in Fla or disturbing a sleeping gator I didn't realize was nearby. Yet I play in the oceans, bays and canals where there's tons of hammerhead, bull and other shark sightings, water moccasins, gators and more - I just adhere to the locals that do so also, in after 10am out before 4pm when swimming, or when there's posted warnings stay away altogether. Guess it's what you get accustomed to, one's personal comfort levels on risk versus reward, and trying to be as sensible as possible without allowing it to ruin your enjoyment.

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I've been camping of one sort or another for 58 years. Had one minor bear encounter back in the 70s which ended when the bear took his nose out of my backpack and walked away because there was no food in it. I would not let fear of animals keep me from experiencing this great country. Other drivers are more likely to get you.

 

Linda Sand

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I have spent a lot of time in Yellowstone park, all around WY, many different places in the Rocky Mountains, in Maine on a wildlife refuge that has a very high population of black bears and many other places where they are common and we have done so staying in both tents and in RVs. With the use of a little bit of common sense, there is nothing at all to be concerned about.

 

It is true that Yellowstone does restrict some areas to hard side campers only but there have been no campers harmed by the bears in many years and their bears are far more used to seeing people than in most anywhere else that you can find. Most people who are harmed by bears are harmed because of things that they did. You never want to surprise a bear so when in bear country, make noise as you move about. You do not leave foodstuff or used cooking utensils scattered about nor keep anything smelling of food in a tent, in bear country. And you don't hang a hummingbird feeder on the awning as that would attract bears.

 

In undeveloped country, the wildlife does not want to spend time with you so if you let them be they will do the same with you. Never leave a small pet outside alone or allow it to roam free as there are many wild animals that may take offense at the pet's presence. Dogs tend to chase wildlife and some will kill the dog, such as a cougar or bear, while a porcupine will defend himself by donating a nice collection of quills to the dog's nose. A dog that chases a coyote may not survive the experience, but kept close to you it will be fine.

 

Venturing out into wild country is not completely free of any risk, but the greatest risk that RV travelers take is in traveling the US highways. Just as you take reasonable precautions for your safety and then travel the public roads, do the same when you venture into the countryside.

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Staying in the boonies is our favorite kind of campsite. In 16 years of full-timing we never had a bear check us out - even in Alaska. Bears are after food. If you keep a clean campsite and put the cooler in your vehicle and some folks recommend the grill, also, and no food left on kitchen counters and garbage properly disposed of, then the liklihood of a serious bear encounter is very low. I sure wouldn't keep to RV parks because of this. In fact, Fishing Bridge RV Park in Yellowstone is the only place in Yellowstone where tents or pop-ups are not allowed. It's not because of injuries in that RV park, it's because the Fishing Bridge area is a prime habitat for grizzlies and there are many of them around there.

 

Banning tents/pop-ups in Fishing Bridge is a precaution. When you have a lot of inexperienced city folk camp there on their vacation there will always be one or two that don't follow rules of food storage. This is dangerous for all in the park as this will bring bears into the campground. It's not only food in tents it's toothpaste, deoderant and anything with an odor.

 

We have been volunteers often and we once volunteered in Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park. A scene we will never forget is when a group of girl scouts returned from a hike. One, in particular, threw her backpack into the tent - complete with yummy food. Bears have a keen sense of smell. Bears walk through campgrounds occasionally. This one did and smelled the food. It tore into the tent and grabbed the backpack. No one was inside the tent. It proceeded to carefully open the backpack like he had done this before. By this time with a lot of screaming girls, the rangers showed up and the bear was unnecessarily 'disposed' of. Once a bear knows where food is it's considered dangerous. We all felt so bad for the bear. It wasn't his fault. It was the girl's fault. They all packed up and left.

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No food in tents at night

Lipstick, deodorents, etc can attract them

Once a bear has gotten in an ice chest they know what to look for. If you do leave one in the car put a lumpy blanket over it so it doesnt look like an ice chest. A dumpster overflowing is a bears gourmet treat and the camphosts worst nightmare the next morning cleaning up trash the bear scattered for a 1/4 mile or more !

 

We have tent campers all over our campgrounds and have bears all the time at our campsites at Bass Lake CA... They seem to have a route established going from one dumpster to the next to see whats available for a midnight snack. So when you hear the dumpster slamming around late at night I suggest staying away from it..NO dont grab a light to go see whats going on !

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Food smells attract bears. We lived in the high country in Colorado and left for vacation. We got rid of all of the trash but one empty cat food can. It was quickly rinsed and put in a trash can in our shed. A bear pulled off a 3/4" plywood door breaking it into pieces. The trash can and the can both had teeth marks where the bear bit them. However, when we were home we were never bothered.

We have RVed in bear country all over the west including Alaska and have never been bothered. We keep the food inside and give them room. There is still a small, very small chance of a problem but not enough to deter us. Unless you are in known and heavily visited bear country such as Yellowstone you are not likely to even see a bear. As for other wildlife don't approach, give them room and you are not likely to be bothered. Dogs can be a problem. Some wildlife such as moose will attack a dog so be very careful. I feel lucky to see wildlife and purposely look for them but I don't approach them. Nice to see them at a distance but most will run from you and avoid you. Like many others we really enjoy boondocking in the back country. We even have a UTV so we can get way off the beaten path. It has been years since we have stayed in a RV park.

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We first and always chose boon docking over all other forms of camping, and spend a great deal of time in BC and AB doing so with nature besides us.

 

The closest we've gotten to wondering if we were on the menu, was when fishing in Alaska for Salmon - someone gave my hubby some bait in a bag and everyone was lined up along a shore area snagging salmon (they weren't hungry for any bait!). All of a sudden an adolescent bear I was watching way in the distance by a fallen tree trunk, disappeared and came up the back road behind all the fishermen unbeknown to us all. All of a sudden I looked at the end guy and within 6 ft of him was this bear. He started to run and told to stop - everyone turned and walked slowly backwards into a large group - the bear went up to hubby's "useless" bait, sat on his haunches and had a picnic. All we could do was edge backwards slow and wait until he totally finished and went back on his merry way. He wasn't there to hurt us, he was just after an easy meal.

 

A fed bear is a dead bear where we live, so provided folks adhere to avoid leaving cool boxes, food on display and food odours are kept minimal when in their territory there shouldn't be an issue. This applies to on display through the glass of vehicles as well = bears are known to smash windows to access cooler boxes in view. On occasion there is a rogue bear or some smart Alec will deliberately leave food, as we've seen marshmallows out on a picnic table to hope to view them and then when the association of people with food becomes known to them that is when issues can occur. Same as those tenting in bear country with sweets or food odours on clothes can attract a furry visitor with a great sense of smell and he ain't looking to keep you warm in your sleeping bag!

 

We have camped/ RV'd in bear country for two decades and never had an encounter - we've viewed them at the side of the roads grazing within a few feet of our RV, and we've seen folks walking down sidewalks on Vancouver Island, namely Tofino/Port Alberni where a bear is foraging within feet of them. Generally they will run away if they are aware of you, never get between a Sow and her cubs. When hiking we sing or talk loud to make all wildlife aware of our presence so we don't startle them. In our nearest City Calgary, we've had moose work their way into our main arteries to downtown, a puma caught in the stairwell of a new hospital build, another puma hiding under a neighbours Travel Trailer scared having wondered into a residential area during the night and now it was all busy with commuters, Bears leaning against Stop Signs in a newer developed community street as we infringe more on their space, and an adolescent one up a telegraph pole in a NW community. They are typically removed by animal control and flown miles away into the bush. If they return three times then sadly they are destroyed seems to be the mantra for the most part, albeit each case is viewed on it's own merits.

 

Most provincial and state parks give out detailed pamphlets regarding being "BEAR AWARE" as well post warnings of any sightings. In Banff now there are certain trails at certain times whereby it is posted you have to be in groups of 4 minimum to hike that particular trail due to higher bear activity. We have heard them rustling close by when setting up our rig, as well met bears that have run off during our travels around Lake Tahoe NV/CA. We try to be just sensible, respectful and cognizant of their space and ours, and take notice of any posted notices regarding presence where we are.

 

Some folks like to carry bear spray, wasp/hornet spray, wear bear bells to alert of presence in their area. Generally speaking Food and related Odours are the main precursors to the very few bear attacks that have occurred, followed by startling a bear or coming between a Sow and her cub.

 

We shake our heads every trip to Banff/Lake Louise and Jasper areas as we watch tourists during rutting season getting way too close to take photos of Elk, thinking a tree will protect them = they've probably done more damage over the years to folks than bears, and the other main wildlife fatality of people is hitting moose in your car on the highways = their composition generally means you get the full impact of their body at the weakest point of the vehicle.

 

Now personally, I am more concerned about walking in the dessert and inadvertently getting within striking distance of many of your snakes, bitten by a spider whilst gardening in Fla or disturbing a sleeping gator I didn't realize was nearby. Yet I play in the oceans, bays and canals where there's tons of hammerhead, bull and other shark sightings, water moccasins, gators and more - I just adhere to the locals that do so also, in after 10am out before 4pm when swimming, or when there's posted warnings stay away altogether. Guess it's what you get accustomed to, one's personal comfort levels on risk versus reward, and trying to be as sensible as possible without allowing it to ruin your enjoyment.

WOW, what an adventure;

 

You need to have your own TV show!

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I have spent a lot of time in Yellowstone park, all around WY, many different places in the Rocky Mountains, in Maine on a wildlife refuge that has a very high population of black bears and many other places where they are common and we have done so staying in both tents and in RVs. With the use of a little bit of common sense, there is nothing at all to be concerned about.

 

It is true that Yellowstone does restrict some areas to hard side campers only but there have been no campers harmed by the bears in many years and their bears are far more used to seeing people than in most anywhere else that you can find. Most people who are harmed by bears are harmed because of things that they did. You never want to surprise a bear so when in bear country, make noise as you move about. You do not leave foodstuff or used cooking utensils scattered about nor keep anything smelling of food in a tent, in bear country. And you don't hang a hummingbird feeder on the awning as that would attract bears.

 

In undeveloped country, the wildlife does not want to spend time with you so if you let them be they will do the same with you. Never leave a small pet outside alone or allow it to roam free as there are many wild animals that may take offense at the pet's presence. Dogs tend to chase wildlife and some will kill the dog, such as a cougar or bear, while a porcupine will defend himself by donating a nice collection of quills to the dog's nose. A dog that chases a coyote may not survive the experience, but kept close to you it will be fine.

 

Venturing out into wild country is not completely free of any risk, but the greatest risk that RV travelers take is in traveling the US highways. Just as you take reasonable precautions for your safety and then travel the public roads, do the same when you venture into the countryside.

Great advice sir!!!

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P.S. A hardsided camper will not even slow a bear down if he should want in

Two things you mentioned that certainly got my attention!!

 

1) Bears are attracted to the smell of lipstick and deodorant.

2) hard side campers will not even slow a bear down!

 

My buttcheeks "just got tight" reading that!!!

OMG!!!!

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Food smells attract bears. We lived in the high country in Colorado and left for vacation. We got rid of all of the trash but one empty cat food can. It was quickly rinsed and put in a trash can in our shed. A bear pulled off a 3/4" plywood door breaking it into pieces. The trash can and the can both had teeth marks where the bear bit them. However, when we were home we were never bothered.

We have RVed in bear country all over the west including Alaska and have never been bothered. We keep the food inside and give them room. There is still a small, very small chance of a problem but not enough to deter us. Unless you are in known and heavily visited bear country such as Yellowstone you are not likely to even see a bear. As for other wildlife don't approach, give them room and you are not likely to be bothered. Dogs can be a problem. Some wildlife such as moose will attack a dog so be very careful. I feel lucky to see wildlife and purposely look for them but I don't approach them. Nice to see them at a distance but most will run from you and avoid you. Like many others we really enjoy boondocking in the back country. We even have a UTV so we can get way off the beaten path. It has been years since we have stayed in a RV park.

I never knew bears had such keen smelling abilities... That is scary!

I also heard they have poor eyesight. By the way, what about BIG cats in your area, or any other predators???

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I never knew bears had such keen smelling abilities... That is scary!

I also heard they have poor eyesight. By the way, what about BIG cats in your area, or any other predators???

Bears not only have a very good sense of smell, even though they are near sighted, their hearing is much superior to yours. We once traveled by horseback into the Bob Marshall wilderness for two weeks an watched a bear getting grubs out of a stump that was completely unaware of our presence, just 50 yards or so across a river, but when we started to take pictures he spotted us almost immediately from the sound of the camera shutter.

 

When in an area with mountain lions (or cougars or pumas which are different names for the same animals) you are unlikely to even see one and may never even know that they are around but they will know that you are. The same is true for bobcats, although they are seen more than lions. Attacks by either are extreme rarities and mean an unhealthy cat and/or one that was caused by the person or pet cornering the animal. Coyotes in the back country rarely bother anyone but in suburban areas they are becoming less concerned about people and sometimes hunt pets because of the lack of natural food sources. You don't want to allow your pets to run loose as they will tend to chase the coyote and he will have a friend waiting to join the fray once away from you.

 

There is no wild animal in the US who hunts humans as a part of their natural habits but any animal can be dangerous if people feed them. Even small animals and birds can be aggressive when used to being fed and it is illegal to do so with all of them, even though enforcement efforts for some are very lax. My grandnephew was badly bitten last June when feeding a chipmunk in Rocky Mountain Natl. Park. (which signs do forbid) The result was 4 stitches and rabies shots since the animal ran away. In many experiences as RV volunteers working with visitors around the country, the animal which we have seen cause the most harm to visitors has been the raccoon. In many parks and campgrounds people feed them and with any wild animal they start to consider people to be food sources. Most animals do not have the ability to differentiate between people feeding them and people being food.

 

The key to safety in wild country is to avoid surprising the creatures who live there, never feed them, and when you see one just remain quiet and take pictures from a distance, always remembering that you have entered into the animal's home. Be a courteous visitor and they will not bother you.

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On our ranch we had a big cat that hung around. We also had a lot of deer which is why it was there. We never saw him but his work was obvious. Fortunately it didn't bother our cattle so we didn't bother it. We also had bobcats and 1 morning one was just outside our front window. Got to watch it close up for 20 minutes or so. The bobcats were rarely seen and were never a problem. It was easy to know where the big cat was by watching the cattle and horses. Usually they would go into the trees during the heat of the day. When they would avoid an area it usually meant the cat was there. When we sold the ranch the new owners wife watched the cat take down a deer while irrigating. Then in a moment of not thinking she walked over to see. Luckily the cat ran away. Just stay back and you are not likely to be bothered. Most are more afraid of you than you are of them. More people are hurt in Alaska by moose than bears or cats. I have spent a lot of time in the woods but I have only seen 2 cats and only briefly. They generally stay away, way away from people.

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A few years ago, while boondocking on a paper company's tree farm in Adirondacks, we were sitting outside one evening when a mama black bear and two cubs came trucking down the logging road near our site. They never gave us the slightest notice and we just watched them go on their way while wishing we'd had our camera handy.

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I never knew bears had such keen smelling abilities... That is scary!

I also heard they have poor eyesight. By the way, what about BIG cats in your area, or any other predators???

 

OH YES THEY DO!!!! It's even been thought and assumed a female that was attacked a few years ago was because of her menstrual cycle odour! That's why we say Tenters should change out of clothes they cook in when retiring at night to their tents, and string these in a sealed plastic bag along with other foods at a distant from their tents up on ropes in the trees.

 

It is very rare for the majority of folks visiting to sight Pumas/Cougars in the wild but they have been known to work into the fringes of cities and towns and jump over folks backyard 6ft limit high fences and kill small type terrier size dogs etc = they look like a hare size. Their general prey is usually a lot smaller than humans and "if" they were to attack due to limited other food sources more likely to attack one smaller individual than folks in groups = hence one of many reasons why we never hike alone in the back countries. Aware of a group of horseback riders once a few years ago in BC where a puma jumped down onto the back of one horse from a tree above = first and only situation we've heard of that occurring. Again, if regular food sources are plentiful we hear nothing, it's lack of food typically when we hear of an odd incident so stay tuned to area news for weather as well as wildlife activity info before venturing and you'll be fine ideally in a group. As many have reiterated for the most part wildlife will run away from us unless there are extenuating circumstances to cause them to do otherwise.

 

Now get out there and enjoy our wonderful continent ;)

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Several moose the last couple weeks in and around the yard. While sitting next to the rig a mom and baby decided to come over and say hi. When they got about ten feet away DW said it was time to go inside. Got some great photos. So far moose in the yard this month; mom with baby, mom with 2 babies and then couple days ago mom with 3 babies. Didn't see her false charge but she did clear the area of kids on bikes.

As mentioned above there are more moose encounters here in Alaska each year then with bear so it is best to stay aware while enjoying your day.

Later,

J

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Several moose the last couple weeks in and around the yard. While sitting next to the rig a mom and baby decided to come over and say hi. When they got about ten feet away DW said it was time to go inside. Got some great photos. So far moose in the yard this month; mom with baby, mom with 2 babies and then couple days ago mom with 3 babies. Didn't see her false charge but she did clear the area of kids on bikes.

As mentioned above there are more moose encounters here in Alaska each year then with bear so it is best to stay aware while enjoying your day.

Later,

J

 

Where in Alaska do you live KodiakJack??

 

I spent some time in Delta Junction near lake bolio, also up at the North Pole in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and have been to Seward as well.

 

While I was there, did encounter Moose, Wolves, and Eagles in the wild, but only seen bear at the zoo...

 

VERY BEAUTIFUL in Alaska, but scary if you are NOT from there!!

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Wildlife can be very dangerous. I have been attacked and bitten multiple times by the most dangerous animal of all, responsible for millions of deaths each year (due to the diseases they carry) - mosquitos.

 

Snakes are also pretty dangerous, but they can be avoided. Nevertheless, I recently had a beloved cat killed by a water moccasin. At least rattlers give you a warning - most of the time.

 

Bears and cougars (the 4 legged kind) are not very dangerous as encounters with them are rare. I was hiking the AT once through a section in the Smokies when a black bear came up behind me and actually passed me on the trail. I guess I was moving too slow for her. ;) I just stopped a little ways off the trail and let her by. She showed no interest in me whatsoever. Grizzlies are more aggressive, so if in Griz country, I recommend always carrying bear spray.

 

I have seen many kinds of animals over my lifetime in the woods. I swam with gators in Louisiana. I saw black panthers twice - the 4 legged kind. My DW saw one once at 10:00 AM in broad daylight. I've had my campsite invaded by Javelina, skunks, deer, turkeys, coons, poisonous snakes, scorpions, tarantulas and even bears and cougars, but never felt threatened by any of them. Other campers may make you feel safe, just remember that is a false sense of security. The wilderness can be dangerous if you let your guard down and don't use common sense, especially where pets and kids are concerned. Gators only rarely attack an adult, but dogs and kids are more the size of their natural prey, so are vulnerable.

 

I was only attacked by wild game once, when charged by a large wild boar. The Lord was with me that day, and a lucky, well placed shot from my bow brought the charge to a immediate end. I was deer hunting a the time and had my bow, but no gun. Had I been completely unarmed it would have been very bad for me indeed. A can of bear spray would be a far superior method of defense, besides it's non-lethal too. Such an event is so rare it's hardly worth mentioning, however take note of the possibility if you do frequent areas where feral hogs or wild boars are known to live, and take precautions.

 

Here's an idea of what I'm talking about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBMtCfjm-OQ

 

Chip

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After almost 50 years on Kodiak Island we relocated to the mainland a few years back after I retired. We are now in the Wasilla area and generally see moose most weeks.

Later,

J

PS Very beautiful is an understatement. Our ATV blueberry picking trip a couple days ago was specular and that's not counting more berries than you could possibly pick.

Where in Alaska do you live KodiakJack??

 

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We jokingly refer to the mosquito as the Alaska State Bird.

Later,

J

PS Was on a search with my dog in a little village by the name of Kotlik at the mouth of a tributary of the Yukon River where I encounter absolutely unbelievable numbers of this very dangerous animal. All I can say is that having traveled most of the state I have never seen anything like it. The other search dog team I traveled up with the handler was wearing hip boots that he would scrap the dead mosquito from that had become crushed between his legs and the inside of the boots each night.

Wildlife can be very dangerous. I have been attacked and bitten multiple times by the most dangerous animal of all, responsible for millions of deaths each year (due to the diseases they carry) - mosquitos.

 

 

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