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Firearms when Backpacking


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  • #3588034
    D M
    BPL Member

    @farwalker

    Locale: What, ME worry?

    I carry for personal protection. I’m legal and trained and stay active at the local range. Before I carried regularly I was beaten into unconsciousness once in the middle of nowhere….NEVER again. I am lucky to be alive and I don’t give a cent what anyone thinks about my gun. Backpacking or otherwise.

    #3588037
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    I’ve said all this before, so the regulars can just skip to my next post where I’ll try to say something new.  Here are my own thoughts on guns on the trail, your opinions and decisions likely vary:

    • there are many selections of 2 or 3 or 5 or 7 pounds of just-in-case gear that are far more likely to save your life (SPOT, EPIRB, an extra layer of clothing, a bivy sack, better maps and nav gear, a bit of redundancy on your headlamp or lighter or sleep system).  For the weight of a bear-capable gun, you could actually carry ALL of those things.
    • It ain’t just the gun.  Usually, it’s the gun plus ammo, plus an extra magazine, plus a holster or a sling.  So the 2-pound Glock becomes a 4-pound kit and anything for real critters totals 8 to 11 pounds.
    • The *other* uses of a gun, which, yes, is a multi-purpose tool – signaling and getting meat – can be addressed with a whistle and a few ounces of fishing gear.
    • and getting meat?  If it’s not hunting season, that’s called “poaching”.  Likewise, if it’s not legal size and gender or if you don’t have a hunting license and proper tags or if you’re in the wrong area. Want a few pounds of meat?  Carry a few pounds of meat and then you’re sure to have it.
    • Any weapon you carry might end up being used against you.  I’d rather be sprayed with my bear spray than shot with my gun.
    • Lots of us are old white guys – the most at-risk demographic for suicide.  Far more people survive bear / cougar / dog / mugger attacks than survive a gunshot to their own head.
    • If I was in desperate need of $500, the most fungible commodity I could rob from someone on the trail would be a gun – guns are far easily to resell than a used sleeping bag, Thermarest pad or Mountain House dinners.  If they draw first, you kind of have to do what they say.
    • the researchers who have reviewed all the bear attacks in North America for the last century and publish in peer-reviewed journals conclude that bear spray leads to better outcomes for the human (and vastly better for the bear) than any firearm.

    If you want to carry, go ahead.  I could make most of the same arguments about 8 pounds of camera gear (useless for survival, slows you down, could be stolen, other gear improves your safety far more) but if you can’t remember what you’re looking at, go right ahead!  Please remember the four rules of gun safety (treat it like it’s always loaded; don’t point at anything you don’t want to destroy; finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire; know your target and your backstop) and practice enough that you’re a decent shot while under pressure.

    #3588039
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    I live in Alaska.  Most everyone I know does lots of outdoors activities.  Hiking, backpacking, fishing, hunting, dog mushing, snow machining, just walking around their 40 acres. . .

    I don’t know anyone who’s used a gun on the trail to defend themselves against an animal or a human (but in their yard, with tasty 4-H animals, yes).  I know a few people who know people who have.  Realize that we’re now talking about thousands of people because these stories really get around.  Here are the only three cases I’ve heard of through a friend (not in the media that reports the weirdest stories from millions of people around the country).

    My doctor runs the Iditarod some years.  Therefore he knows most of the other name-brand mushers in the State.  In 1990, Lorren Weaver killed a moose that attacked his dogs on the trail with five pistol shots.  It was a big snow year and more moose were on the trail (where it’s easier to travel) and pretty ornery.

    One of my wife’s patients presented for care distraught because after she’d reported her husband overdue and the troopers got back to her that he’d been attacked and killed by a bear.  He’d gotten off some rounds of his .270 rifle and they found some clipped bear fur, but no bear.

    Co-workers of my wife out of Dillingham went on a trip in a remote State Park and encountered a threatening man with a pistol.  One of the kayakers expressed enough curiosity about the gun that the guy handed it to him, but when he got violent again, they felt they had to defend themselves and shot him, killing him.

    I’ll note that this is only three incidents out of many thousands of very active people over many decades within my acquaintance-of-a-friend criteria and that in 2/3 of the cases, the outdoorsmen carrying a gun died – in one, maybe two of those cases because of the gun he carried.

    #3588064
    David P
    BPL Member

    @david-paradis

    Wow David, interesting and sad stories. There are a lot of moose where I live in northern Maine. They absolutely hate dogs for good reason. There is a annual lottery to get a  permit for hunting moose in Maine. I don’t hunt personally (I’m vegetarian I don’t even kill mosquitoes) but it is a way of life up here. Nearly everyone I know has a firearm of some sort. Guns make me more nervous than wild animals but to each their own if they are smart and safe with them. Most human fatalities involving moose are collisions with vehicles. However my friend Todd once had to kill a bull moose that was attacking his father. The moose had Val pinned up against a rock with its antlers and Todd had to basically risk hitting his father in his shot. The only fatality luckily was the moose.

    on a more pleasant note I have had 3 close encounters with moose including a mother and baby, they are magnificent creatures… in my case they displayed no aggression at all to me. Females tend to be more docile I believe.

    We should start an indigenous fauna stories thread! :) I would love to hear some kangaroo stories from “down under”

    #3588069
    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member

    @mocs123

    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    One of my wife’s patients presented for care distraught because after she’d reported her husband overdue and the troopers got back to her that he’d been attacked and killed by a bear. He’d gotten off some rounds of his .270 rifle and they found some clipped bear fur, but no bear.

    And there is no way to know for sure, but my guess is he’d still be alive if he had bear spray instead of a gun.

     

    #3588070
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I encountered a skunk on the trail.  It attacked me (that is, it wasn’t scared and walked in my direction rather than running away like other animals).

    I back tracked a ways and picked up a long stick.  Then walked back and it was still there in the middle of the trail.  I threw small pebbles at it.  After I hit it in the side a couple times it started off the trail.  Then I put the stick between me and it and scooted it off the trail some more and walked around it.

    I’ve never seen a skunk in the wild before.

    Fauna, not firearms.

    #3588074
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    To riff on David’s theme, there are frequent stories about people getting lost and either found dead or not found at all.  A couple people have been drowned on the Sandy River.  Someone followed google map directions over coast range in the winter, stuck in snow, died.

    There was a lady on a trail I’ve been on that was killed my a mountain lion.  There was that guy on a bike that was mauled by a mountain lion in Seattle area, I forget, did he survive?  There are occasional stories about people being killed by bad guys, but they’re at parks where cars are, and they’re rare.  I can’t think of any stories about someone being killed by a bad guy in the wilderness.

    People die all the time from heart disease, obesity.  Hiking in the wilderness would reduce that risk.

    It’s all about relative risk.  Focus more on risks that are more likely to kill you.

    #3588079
    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member

    @mocs123

    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    Skunks don’t see well – I’ve done some research

    In the summer, I run before work to avoid the heat – This means before sunrise sometimes as early as 03:30 but at the latest 05:30 – so before sunrise.  I was running with no headlamp as it’s a route I run on a regular basis and houses in my neighborhood have lights on the mailboxes (about 30 are burned out).  One day as I was running, something ran across in front of me (within 3 feet – I almost ran over it), when I turned around to get a better look at it, when it ran into the light I could tell it was a skunk!  Needless to say I brought my headlamp on runs after that, and I saw a skunk just about every time I would run, sometimes as many as 5 or 6 during a 5 mile run.  I have found since the skunk discovery last summer that my morning runs have gotten slower – my head is on a swivel.  Six deer this morning but no skunks – it was a good day!

    Now back to a gun debate that neither side will ever budge on!

    #3588093
    Ben H.
    BPL Member

    @bzhayes

    Locale: No. Alabama

     

     I live in northern Maine. …I’m vegetarian I don’t even kill mosquitoes …

    Wait… you live in Maine and you don’t kill mosquitoes?  Either you leave every spring or I call BS!  If you aren’t killing them, they are killing you.

    #3588101
    Jarred O
    Spectator

    @set7-2

    Why does Carlos C start a topic which is known, broadly and definitively, to be divisive and then not participate in that topic?

    This is the case both with this thread and the “prepper” thread. In my estimation that is both poor form and inflammatory.

    #3588120
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    “Why does Carlos C start a topic which is known, broadly and definitively, to be divisive and then not participate in that topic?”

    It’s not Carlos C.  It’s a paid Russian troll posing as “Carlos C.”.

    #3588144
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    DonnaC’s less inflammatory question about guns while backpacking last year engendered a thread that remained very civil for 160-odd comments.  She had an honest question (if you carry, what do you carry?) and of course the discussion went all over the place because it always does, but there were direct answers to her question, deeper dives into training, other options like mace, etc.

    Carlos’s phrase, “no harm in carrying one (besides a little weight)” is, arguably, “fighting words” on this forum and yet it didn’t get a rise out of anyone.  Camera gear, camp chairs, a gun, fishing supplies, etc – HYOH, pick your own “luxury items”.   Two of the three heaviest things I’ve carried on a trip are meat – hauling caribou / bear / elk quarters back to camp and taking our infants and toddlers along on backpacking trips – they’re the ultimate pointless gear: you can’t wear them, eat them, or sit on them, they require food and they produce dirty diapers to be carried!  And yet, I choose to haul those items along and UL techniques and gear helped me do it by greatly reducing the weight of everything else.

    There was some newbie a year or so ago that posted a series of semi-questions, semi-arguments like, (paraphrasing) “you need an axe while backpacking because bushcraft, making a fire in an emergency and what’s the best one to take?” that similarly seemed designed to stir the pot.  Or maybe is just an on-the-spectrum kind of cluelessness like asking your Catholic priest to recommend a brand of condom or your vegan friend to pick you up a pound of burger from the store – perfectly acceptable queries in another setting, but not that one.

    Russian troll or someone new who just hasn’t noticed the common goals and focus of the UL community, yet?

    If we each respond with what is true for us without getting overly prescriptive of others (i.e. HYOH), the thread still works to inform and amuse.

    #3588148
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    “If we each respond with what is true for us without getting overly prescriptive of others (i.e. HYOH), the thread still works to inform and amuse.”

    100%.

    I hope it’s clear I’m being totally tongue-in-cheek.  Raging debates about anything under the sun here on BPL don’t tend to bother me; people can ask and talk about whatever they want.  I’m staying out of this one in particular because I don’t have any real strong opinion on the matter (and it likely wouldn’t change anything even if I did).

    #3588151
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    You were being tongue-in-cheek, but given the known extent of Russian hacking, infiltration, and successful efforts to dive wedges between Americans, I don’t rule it out.

    I haven’t changed my overall approach (I don’t and wouldn’t carry a gun unless I’m planning to kill and eat something)*, but I have changed my advice to those who choose to due to arguments advanced on BPL threads about guns and bears.  To wit: that a 10mm or .40 Glock with hard-cast bullets has enough advantages (and bullets) to be a possible alternative to a 12-gauge with rifled slug or .300+ magnum rifle for those who decide to carry.

    * I could imagine packing a 12-gauge with slugs for a Yukon River raft trip or a coastal trip along the Arctic Ocean or Western Alaska because of grizzlies, polar bears, and that 7 pounds of gear in your boat is lot lighter than 7 pounds of gear on your back.

    ** Oh, and I guess if we went out into big water for bigger halibut, I can see the point of a .45/.410 stainless long gun to dispatch a  >100-pound halibut before bringing it on board.  But we stay in 120-150 feet of water and are happy with 10-, 20-, 30-, and 40-pound halibut.  The limit is 2 each, and with two couples and some kids on board, that’s plenty of fish for us.

    #3588154
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    I guess I’ll chime in then on a more serious note…I don’t carry a weapon backpacking unless I’m hunting- for the exact reasons you outlined David.  But I don’t care much what others do.  The armed people I worry about are probably not the ones posting on a UL backpacking site.

    In all of my life, I have been in a single situation in which I would’ve liked to have had a weapon while backpacking but didn’t.  I was camping in a local local canyon with my son and two of his friends.  They were doing their teenage thing, I was sitting off by myself drinking some wine and reading.  Not long after darkness falls, a gunshot cracks through the small canyon.  I can tell it’s very close.  I’m half-wondering if we’ve just been shot at, given some of the weird people I’ve seen in the area I tell the kids to get down behind a berm and stay down until I know what’s going on/what direction the shots are going.

    Another shot goes off.  This time it’s followed by yelling.  I can’t tell if it’s a deranged person or a fight of some sort.  A third shot goes off, then everything is quiet.

    We’re staying down still and a person soon appears walking up the trail by headlamp.  I can see a shotgun slung over his shoulder.  We stay out of sight and he passes, disappearing up the canyon.

    I would have very much preferred having a weapon than not in that situation.  I did not care for the idea of being completely at the mercy of an armed and potentially deranged person with three minors under my care.

    That said, this single experience was not enough to convince me to start carrying.  Maybe others would see it differently.

    I did strongly consider carrying on a bison hunt in Montana, but I knew other people in my group would be armed so bear spray would suffice.  The thought of being in the backcountry and covered in blood scent for a few days upped the ante a little in my calculations though.  As did a fatal grizzly mauling in the region a week or two prior.

    #3588158
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    Craig, you should join me on one of Adak caribou hunts.  The only “predators” on the island are some very well-fed bald eagles who know that a rifle shot is a dinner bell but they perch on the nearest grassy knoll until you leave the carcass.

    Yeah, on the mainland, I let other people carry the guns – they all want to, even if the plan is one or two animals between us all (so why are there 5 guns along?).  It’s like spouses and underwear – people don’t like to share.  Actually, only like underwear – they’ll lend but not want to borrow.  And the reverse with spouses.

    #3588160
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    : )

    Yeah, I’d love to get up there for that hunt.  This summer (you go in July if I remember right?) is too tight but I could definitely make the following summer work with some planning.

    #3588166
    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member

    @septimius

    Locale: Changes Often

    “It’s like spouses and underwear, people don’t like to share.”

    Yea, but sometimes they like like to swap.

    “Actually, only like underwear, they’ll lend but not want to borrow. And the reverse with spouses.”

    I’ve found that borrowing can be very dangerous.

    A few years back there was a poster here on BPL who called himself David Drake. He was the ultimate troll because he combined guns and bushcraft into one combustible thread. Very efficient.

    #3588172
    Kevin Buggie
    BPL Member

    @kbug

    Locale: NW New Mexico

     

    Glad this thread has gotten a little more level headed with contributions like David’s and Wisner’s.  To bait the guy who inferred I was homicidal, here’s a pic of my glock in a Mystery Ranch holster  attached to my hip belt during a fall elk hunt.  Funny it’s the only pic of my gun I have.  Then again, I wholeheartedly support New Mexico’s new laws requiring background checks for all gun sales, even between private citizens.  Horses for courses, as they say..

    #3588179
    Tom K
    BPL Member

    @tom-kirchneraol-com-2

    “I encountered a skunk on the trail.  It attacked me (that is, it wasn’t scared and walked in my direction rather than running away like other animals).”

    There’s a reason for that, which leads me suggest acquiring a pet skunk and training him/her to fire on command.  The very sight of said skunk would be enough to turn any critter charging with mayhem on its mind 180 degrees, and more effective than a gun, should one confront a nut job.  Plus they’re amusing lil’ critters to have around.  Actually, I’m puzzled that some enterprising outdoorsman hasn’t found a way to package and distribute skunk spray as a bear deterrent.  It has to be one of the most obnoxious odors in the world.

    #3588182
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    Jerry: “People die all the time from heart disease, obesity.  Hiking in the wilderness would reduce that risk.”

    ^^^ this!

    And, for the primary risk of firearms to white men (suicide), going outside in the wilderness has got to be better than staying cooped up inside, so whatever it takes to get you outside.

    #3588185
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    Tom: for some stupid reason, a chemistry teacher at my high school had a bottle of a mercaptan / thiol – like the odorant used at a few parts per million to scent natural gas.  Mercaptans/thiols are what make a skunk’s spray smell so bad.  Humans can detect it at a a few parts per billion.

    A student opened up the bottle and their reaction was to throw it out the nearest window, which thankfully was an untravelled planted area between wings of the school, but even with its high volatility, you could smell it in the area for weeks later.

    #3588193
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I find the odor to be somewhat pleasant

    If way, way, way,… diluted

    #3588196
    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member

    @septimius

    Locale: Changes Often

    NM

    #3588203
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    I think we shoot the same bow Kevin…

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