I'm wondering if anyone else has had any experiences with guns and/or bear spray in combination, instead of just carrying one over the other? How have bears reacted to warning shots?
We backpack in bear country (black & grizz) and carry bear spray as well as a handgun for our safety. Unless we're in a National Park, we will also have our Border Collie with us, mostly off leash (if you ever hiked long distance, over variable terrain with your dog(s), you know why a leash isn't comfortable or safe for either dog or owner), but not allowed to run ahead of us on the trail. I've read many stories, statistics and comparisons between using bear spray vs. a gun for protection, almost all of them favor the bear spray. I'm not disagreeing with these, but haven't found much advise on the use of BOTH. We ran into black bear in the Wilderness the other day, on the trail, about 50-70 yards away. The dog was about 10 feet to my right, and we saw the bear just after it had spotted us. She didn't charge or bark. The bear checked us out, while I turned sideways, keeping an eye on the bear, reaching for my bear spray, and telling my hiking companion behind me of the bear. We were slowly backing away to give the bear an escape route, speaking to the bear and the dog. The bear (bluff) charged, and my companion shot a warning shot. Everybody froze. The bear stopped its charge. I discharged the bear spray, mainly to build a wall in front of us, as the bear was about 25 yards away now. The wind carried the bear spray cloud off to the side, it went out maybe ~10', not the 35' advertised on the can, I was disappointed in the product. We talked loudly and aggressively to the bear and stood our ground, the bear left. Despite being in the wilderness, this was on a fairly busy trail, at a lake used for camping as well. I'm assuming the bear was habituated to humans and looking for food rewards. We saw it again on our way back from our destination in a gully, this time we were louder and there was no wind, so the bear had spotted us beforehand and wandered through the creek and up the other side of the gully, clearly not out for a confrontation. After this experience, I don't see how one would ONLY carry bear spray, as the bear would have to have been so much closer in its charge for it to have even reached it/deterred it with the wind. The warning shot proved very effective in this case!