Safety Tips for Bear Country

Whether you're a bear hunter, an avid backpacker, or someone who enjoys light hikes and sightseeing, it's a good idea to stay abreast of the best methods for staying safe in bear country. The following bear safety tips and gear recommendations can help keep you safe when bears may be nearby.

1. Never feed bears. This rule applies to all wild animals. Protect yourself and the bear - don't feed it, and don't use food to try to lure a bear.

2. Protect food and other scented items in bear-proof containers. Store food, toiletries, lotions, and any other scented items in bear-proof containers. Tools you may need at a moment's notice, such as guns and hunting knives, should be kept with you or in a secure location.

3. Be noisy during downtime. Noise can make a bear aware of your presence without startling it. Get*into the habit of making a lot of noise whenever you are not hunting. If you are traveling in the woods at night, have an LED lantern to both light your way and announce your presence.

4. Stand out. Brightly colored, reflective clothing can save your life by letting other hunters know that you are a human, not a bear. (Protection from hunters is another excellent reason to carry an LED lantern if you are rustling around in the woods at night.)

5. Keep Calm and Back Away Slowly. If you unexpectedly encounter a bear, you should look down (avoid eye contact), speak in low tones, slowly back away, and give the bear a chance to escape.

6. When Attacked, Get Aggressive. It is highly unlikely that a bear will attack you, but if it does happen, it's time to pull out your inner monster. Get aggressive - kick, punch, shout, and use nearby sticks and stones to fend off the bear. If you have a hunting knife, use it to defend yourself. Finally, if you do make it through the attack in one piece, you should immediately report the incident to the state police or the state office of fish and wildlife.

7. Take a Buddy. Avoid hiking, camping, or bear hunting solo; always take at least one other person with you. In case of a dangerous situation, that buddy may save your life. Of course, there are times when nature calls and you must step away from your campsite on your own; during such nighttime nature excursions, carry your LED lantern so that others may find you quickly in case you get hurt.

8. Stay Away from Bear Cubs. Oh! It's so cute and cuddly! And it looks just like your teddy bear! Maybe so, but the presence of a bear cub indicates that Mama Bear is nearby. And there's no force in nature as fierce as a parent defending its baby. Stay away from bear cubs if you want to stay safe.

9. Follow the Law. If you are hunting, know that each state has special laws regarding bear hunting. In Oregon, for instance, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) requires hunters to take the skulls of bagged bears to ODFW or approved business. Finally, keep in mind that it is illegal in most areas to hunt cubs less than a year old or sows with cubs.

For more information and tips on hiking in bear country, visit the website for Coast Products, a manufacturer of premium hunting knives, survival knives and multi-tools. Coast also has the perfect LED camping lantern, flashlight or headlamp for your next overnight trip.