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View Full Version : Elkmont 6/26/08 & "grumpy bear"


jzimmerman
06-26-2008, 10:17 AM
I left work to head to the mountains yesterday and decided to go fishing at elkmont. Normally I wouldn't tell you an exact location of where I was but I believe this time I need to. I started at the first pull of after making the turn into elkmont. First of all I had a banner day catching 10 trout 4 of which were larger browns. I was using a never sink caddis with a size 18 hares ear nymph dropper. While catching most on the caddis I did catch a brown and a rainbow on the dropper.

Now for the more serious part of my post, on the way back when I was about 80 or so yards from my truck I heard some rustling of leaves up ahead to my right. Not thinking much of it "sounded like a squirrel" I kept walking. After a few more steps I hear a bear growl at me. I looked to my right and about 50 yards away stood the biggest bear that I have seen in the park. He was alone and was staring right at me. Most of the bears that I have come across acted like I didn't exist or ran as soon as they saw me. That is what was so scary about this incident he stood there staring at me not scared at all and the fact that he growled at me also made me uneasy. So I made myself as big as possible faced towards him and walked backwards all the way to my truck. The bear never move just kept his stare. This bear is obviously not scared of humans "not good" and I just wanted to warn anyone fishing this area if they come across paths with him not to run just keep an eye on him. I always just joked about getting bear mace but after this particular bear I will more serious about having it with me.

rainshaker
06-26-2008, 12:19 PM
MY worst fear is finding myself in that situation with no easy escape route....yikes!

I'm trying to get a better idea of where you were. The Pull-off you took.....was this the spot below the campground with the pedestrian bridge that usually has the chain blocking vehilce access?

jzimmerman
06-26-2008, 12:47 PM
No, it was right after you turn off of little river road the very first place to park on your right. This is before you get to the campgrouns or any of that.

rainshaker
06-26-2008, 01:09 PM
I see.....sometimes I get my "-monts" confused....glad we didn't read about your trip in the newspaper.

I carry a whistle but don't know if that would scare away stubborn campground bear. I understand those are the worse kind, a "problem bear" if you will.

Sage
06-26-2008, 02:10 PM
jzimmerman,

Dude, late last fall me and a buddy of mine were fishing the same area. I headed back to the truck and when we met up he told me about seeing a bear about 20 yards above him in the woods. He turned around and there it was, just as suprised to see him as my buddy was. He said the bear made it's way back up into the woods after a brief pause and stare. Maybe it was the same one, maybe not, but we're glad you told us this. Next time I'm in that area I'll make it a point to be loud and to keep my head on a swivel.

sammcdonald
06-26-2008, 02:11 PM
that's probably the same bear that is often seen on the quiet walkway area just before the elkmont turn off.........and he is big. has also been seen in the laurel falls trail area (which is posted with bear warnings) which may be why he may no longer fears humans.
on a side note, a bear was hit and killed on the g'burg by-pass last saturday.

Speckleman5
06-26-2008, 05:12 PM
I was sitting in the Grassy Ridge Mine overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway last night and heard one in the woods. I turned off the radio, but my headlights were still on well before dark. Aound 840 I looked up and the biggest bear I have ever seen was walking out of the trail directly for the trash cans. He looked dead at me about 50 feet in front of the truck with the headlights pointed at him. He growled loudly and walked about 15 feet back into the woods. He never left and presumably waited until I left to resume his crusade for the bottom of the trash can. I have seen a lot of bears in my time. I have seen a ton in the park this year alone. I have never seen a bear as big as this one was. His head was at least 1.5 times the size of a basketball.....I usually get over it pretty quickly, but I honestly think he wanted to let me know he was there.....Very loud before he came out, very loud while my music was playing, and very loud when he was in an opening 5 feet form stepping out into daylight. I am beginning to get a little weary about going out and about anymore becaue=se everywhere I turn around a bear is standing there.

BlueRaiderFan
06-26-2008, 10:38 PM
People make fun of me because I carry a 10 inch Bowie knife when I go hunting or fishing in the Smokies...Mace is great, but I figure if they are close enough to mace, I have issues that mace won't handle.

Speckleman5
06-27-2008, 08:26 AM
Yeah I carry a large Bark River Banana blade, never hurts to be safe

jeffnles1
06-27-2008, 08:57 AM
I HOPE I'm never close enough to a bear that I can stick him with a knife.

I suppose as that last great act of defiance, the knife would be something you could use in a last stand, but I think the bear has a longer "reach" than I do. By the time I'm close enough to stick him, he's already had more than ample opportunity to smack me silly.

Heck, even most handguns (even if they were legal to carry in the park) are not going to drop a bear in his tracks, especially any handgun you'd carry in a concealed carry mode and want to lug around fishing all day. 9MM, 45, 38, 357, etc. would probably kill a bear eventually, but unless one was quite lucky, I doubt if they would make the kind of impression on an angry bear that most would think.

The loud bang would probably scare it off better than a bullet impact.

I'm by no means a "bear expert" so my approach is to try to make noise on the trail and to do the best I can to avoid close encounters with them.

I think I would need some extra baby wipes if I was 50' from a bear that was growling at me.

Jeff

TroutAssassin
06-27-2008, 10:44 AM
Bear spray isnt a bad idea. I carry a can on me when i fish in the park. It will spray a huge cloud of the stuff 25-30 ft out. You have around 8 seconds of spray depending on the size of the can. You can have it in their face before they even get close. Mine is rated at 2% which is the strongest the EPA allows in bear spray.

Speckleman5
06-27-2008, 02:09 PM
50 Feet is plenty far enough for me. I was in Cataloochee two years ago and it had rained up Palmer Creek so I went up the first small creek to the right above the horse camp. I made it about 40 yards up the creek, just out of sight of the trail and had already caught 4 little brook. I casted around a small tree to my left and set the hook on another speck when at my feet on the right creek bank a 300 pound bear jumped up and took off running. I don't know if it was because I was in full camo, or if he was sleeping, or what...but He was under my feet when he took off, I went the other way just as fast. My 2 buddies were still in the trail and had heard a downed tree that was leaning fall. They thought it was me until I stepped out white faced...needless to say, I ALWAYS carry my A2 tool steel Bark River.

BlueRaiderFan
06-27-2008, 04:35 PM
I HOPE I'm never close enough to a bear that I can stick him with a knife.

I suppose as that last great act of defiance, the knife would be something you could use in a last stand, but I think the bear has a longer "reach" than I do. By the time I'm close enough to stick him, he's already had more than ample opportunity to smack me silly.

Heck, even most handguns (even if they were legal to carry in the park) are not going to drop a bear in his tracks, especially any handgun you'd carry in a concealed carry mode and want to lug around fishing all day. 9MM, 45, 38, 357, etc. would probably kill a bear eventually, but unless one was quite lucky, I doubt if they would make the kind of impression on an angry bear that most would think.

The loud bang would probably scare it off better than a bullet impact.

I'm by no means a "bear expert" so my approach is to try to make noise on the trail and to do the best I can to avoid close encounters with them.

I think I would need some extra baby wipes if I was 50' from a bear that was growling at me.

Jeff

You may be right, but from my experience a .40 cal or better will definitely drop a 300lb man, but men aren't bears lol. Have any of you guys ever seen that "lion attack" video on YouTube? If you haven't, look for it on there. There are 3 guys and their wives hunting in Africa when one of them pops a male lion at about 100 yards with a rifle. Man was that lion TICKED OFF! He charges them and I won't tell you the rest because it would ruin the story...Check it out though. It's a trip. As far as mace, I too carry it, but it's in addition to my ridiculously big bowie that I carry in the back country. If I'm by the road, I just carry a 5 inch pocket knife. I would imagine that a bear would have reach on you. If he's swating, you might have a chance, but if he just bull rushes you, I hope you have the knife out already and are darn good at dodging rushing defensive linemen with huge claws and teeth!

Kytroutbum
06-27-2008, 05:33 PM
My wife and I always carry bear spray with us. There are many "Garbage Dump" bears that don't act like bears are supposed to. There are a lot of bear incidents occuring that are not made public. Two bears killed a Cosby Woman above Elkmont, I've been stalked up there myself, but he decided not to cross the river after my son joined me. Udap and Counterassault are two well known brands. Do a search of this forum and you will see a lot of threads.
We buy it in the Yellowstone area and keep it in our cars and under our bed when we return.
We carry "counterassault" Counterassault.com. (Reccommended by NFS personnel in Shonshone and Gallatin forests) costs about $50 a cansister has a shelf life of about 4 years. Spray stays good just loses some propellant after that time. Non lethal- very effective, and legal.
I feel we'll probably use it on some one's fido or on the "Banjo Pickers" that haunt the stream above Elkmont before on a bear.. PLAY IT SAFE- JUST DON'T GO UP THERE, THERE AREN'T ANY FISH UP THERE ANYWAY!!(:>)

Maybe this is a product LRO might want to carry?????

Kytroutbum
Randall Sale

jeffnles1
06-28-2008, 12:12 AM
Blue,
A 40 or a 45 will kill a bear, but probably not before he has done whatever it was he was going to do to you. Their hide and fur are MUCH thicker than a human. A typical hollow point bullet one would be firing from a 40 would not expand in a bear the same way it would on a human.

I used to hunt a lot. Never hunted for bear but have a number of buddies who do. One friend hit one square in the lungs with a 30-06 rifle. The bear flinched, looked at him and continued ambling along on its merry way. 3 solid hits from that rifle later, the bear dropped. Another buddie hit one square with a 44mag that he had loaded VERY hot (max charge listed in the reloading books). This guy is a very experienced hunter and a good shot. He tracked the bear for over 3/4 mile before he found it dead.

Both of these firearms are far more powerful than any calibre one would typically carry as a self defence weapon. Given those experiences, I wouldn't consider a handgun anything more than a last stand weapon for a bear attack. I suppose they would be better than kicking and punching but I wouldn't count on it to drop an angry bear in its tracks.

Pepper spray would most likely have a more immediate effect in knocking the wind out of his sails and one wouldn't have to worry about where the bullet landed should he/she miss.

I still compete in target shooting events and from time to time serve as a range officer but I don't hunt any more and, thank the Lord, I've never fired a weapon at another person and pray that I never have to.

Sounds like you may have (or still) are a police officer or military person. If that is the case, thank you for your service. I appreciate the job you do (or have done).

Jeff

BlueRaiderFan
06-28-2008, 08:50 PM
Jeff,

I used to be in the Army (infantry), and later in the TN National Guard. I've been to a lot of deserts. I never fired on a man with a handgun, just heard some stories. A rifle is a different story. No situation is good with a big bear. Thankfully they have all ran from me when I have came upon them. So far anyeay.

BlueRaiderFan
06-28-2008, 08:54 PM
Lion attack video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CNgwZgoKFc

pmike
06-28-2008, 09:56 PM
the bears that killed the cosby woman were put down by park rangers who used their 40 cal service weapons. I would suppose that a 12 guage with rifled slugs would be preferable, but then again this is theory because the current legal climate forbids the posession or use of firearms within park bounderies.

Having used pepper spray a time or two, one key thought to remember is to not empty the can while a bear is too far away for it to affect it. My use of the spray has been for defense against dogs when riding my bike. I recall one occasion in which I was riding at nioght and could not see the dog chasing me. I could hear him clsoing in and literaly felt his breath on my hand that was extended with the spray in it. At that point I sprayed him, and he immediately retreated. The next day I rode by and saw that the dog involved was a huge Chow. He started after me again only to turn and run away once he spotted the can in my hand again.

I don't suggest waiting until a bear gets that close, but I do suggest that you do your best not to panic and empty the can before it comes into range.

Mike

jeffnles1
06-28-2008, 11:05 PM
Jeff,

I used to be in the Army (infantry), and later in the TN National Guard. I've been to a lot of deserts. I never fired on a man with a handgun, just heard some stories. A rifle is a different story. No situation is good with a big bear. Thankfully they have all ran from me when I have came upon them. So far anyeay.

Blue,
Off topic, but thank you for your service. It's the sacrifices by men like you and countless other men and women that allow me the freedom to sit on a comfy couch with a laptop computer on my knee and type these words in peace, security and without worry.

As a nation, I don't think we say it enough, but allow me to say it again, thank you.

Jeff

TroutAssassin
06-28-2008, 11:13 PM
Blue,
Off topic, but thank you for your service. It's the sacrifices by men like you and countless other men and women that allow me the freedom to sit on a comfy couch with a laptop computer on my knee and type these words in peace, security and without worry.

As a nation, I don't think we say it enough, but allow me to say it again, thank you.

Jeff

I'll have to second that:smile: Thank You!!

BlueRaiderFan
06-29-2008, 09:09 AM
Thanks for the acknowledgement, but compared to many in the past, I did very little and to be honest, it was for mostly self interest at the time. I'm glad I did it though. It gave me determination and discipline that I wouldn't have had, had I not joined up. I haven't really climbed the corporate ladder, but who knows where I would be if I hadn't learned those lessons as a young man.

Brian Griffing
06-30-2008, 10:39 AM
Every bear attack I have read or heard about in the Appalachians has been made on women or children. I think the greatest defense against a black bear is being a full grown man that does not show fear. A black bear is not going to mess with you. A griz is another matter. If it comes to it: fight a black bear, play dead for a griz. If a black bear attacks, it is trying to eat you. If a griz attacks you, it is most likely a territorial attack or it is defending a kill or its cubs.
As far as guns go, my woods gun is .44 magnum, but I never really intended it for bears. I am much more nervous about people out on the end of the road than I am about bears, and I think a hand cannon hanging from my hip deters potential criminals. Just about any caliber is going to scare the bejesus out of bear, but you'll want something that can crack its skull, like a .44, to do real damage in a timely manner.
I know a number of women and younger kids read this board. To you I would say, be cautious and respectful of the animals and the time of year. I think most predatory black bear attacks occur in the Spring. Going hiking or fishing with your father, or husband, or friend if you are worried.
To the adult males, I don't think you have anything to worry about. Like I said, I am much more concerend about running into somebody who isn't pleased with the fact that I have stumbled upon whatever they are doing, than I am about crossing the path of a bear. I have had a lot of encounters with bears over the years, blacks and grizzlies, from hundreds of yards off, to within an arm's reach, and every bear I have ever seen didn't like being near me at all, and left at the first opportunity. Just make sure you give the bear that opportunity.
Please take that for whatever it may be worth. I am certainly no expert.

Tiger fly
06-30-2008, 11:00 AM
I saw this same bear last Monday. And he is BIG! I was walking back to my truck parked at the end of the road at Elkmont and about 250 yards before I got back to the parking lot he crossed the trail. He just abled across and didn't pay any attention to me but 35 yards was too close for comfort. Everyone I have told this story to have said that all bears look big when you are that close to them in the woods but I have seen other bears in the woods and this one is by far the biggest. I couldn't help but think that if I hadn't stopped to take a sip of water or cast a time or two more before leaving, he would have been right on top of me when he crossed the trail. Scary stuff. I'm buying some bear mace.

BlueRaiderFan
06-30-2008, 01:09 PM
Every bear attack I have read or heard about in the Appalachians has been made on women or children. I think the greatest defense against a black bear is being a full grown man that does not show fear. A black bear is not going to mess with you. A griz is another matter. If it comes to it: fight a black bear, play dead for a griz. If a black bear attacks, it is trying to eat you. If a griz attacks you, it is most likely a territorial attack or it is defending a kill or its cubs.
As far as guns go, my woods gun is .44 magnum, but I never really intended it for bears. I am much more nervous about people out on the end of the road than I am about bears, and I think a hand cannon hanging from my hip deters potential criminals. Just about any caliber is going to scare the bejesus out of bear, but you'll want something that can crack its skull, like a .44, to do real damage in a timely manner.
I know a number of women and younger kids read this board. To you I would say, be cautious and respectful of the animals and the time of year. I think most predatory black bear attacks occur in the Spring. Going hiking or fishing with your father, or husband, or friend if you are worried.
To the adult males, I don't think you have anything to worry about. Like I said, I am much more concerend about running into somebody who isn't pleased with the fact that I have stumbled upon whatever they are doing, than I am about crossing the path of a bear. I have had a lot of encounters with bears over the years, blacks and grizzlies, from hundreds of yards off, to within an arm's reach, and every bear I have ever seen didn't like being near me at all, and left at the first opportunity. Just make sure you give the bear that opportunity.
Please take that for whatever it may be worth. I am certainly no expert.


Man, I don't know how long they would send a fella to prison for having a gun in the park, but it would be a while :eek: Having said that, I htink we should be allowed, but that's just me.

Brian Griffing
06-30-2008, 03:24 PM
BRF,
I don't take a gun into the park, and I wasn't suggesting that anyone else should. As I said, I carry a gun when I am concerned about people, and I am less worried about running into the wrong kind of people in a national park than in a national forest or some other place that has less visitors and is less frequented by any sort of law enforcement.
Getting back to bears: I'm 5'11'', weigh 215 lbs, and I am in fairly good shape. I don't think I'm a tough guy or anything, but there is no wild animal in the Smokeys that wants to tangle with me. I'm not so naive as to think I could outfight a bear: I know any adult bears could wear me out easily if it decided to. But the trick is, it doesn't know that. What it does know is that I'm big enough to be a problem and that it might very well might get hurt in the process of taking me down, which is lethal in their world. So they choose to go the other way.

BlueRaiderFan
06-30-2008, 07:44 PM
Oh...I got you:smile: I think with a large knife, you would put up a better fight than you think. Just don't try and fight it head on. I think everyone should learn to box. It's easier to win a fight by dodging blows than by landing them. We will have to put all of this to a test. I vote one of us volunteers to try out there theory on bear fightin':biggrin: The minimum wight is 200lbs and since I'm only 190...

BlueRaiderFan
06-30-2008, 07:47 PM
[quote=Brian Griffing;54624]BRF,
I don't take a gun into the park, and I wasn't suggesting that anyone else should.quote]

You said it and I can PROVE you said it...CITIZENS ARREST! CITIZENS ARREST!:biggrin:

Gatorbaiter
07-03-2008, 01:20 PM
Maybe I am crazy but I have never been very frightened of black bears I meet away from the roads. Including she bears with cubs. I have surprised well over thirty on trails or along rivers, some within 3 feet of me. Acually both of us are usually surprised. I do not back down, but if I'm moving I keep moving, unless it is toward them. While some of these bears were wary, a few even giving me a "WUFF", none have moved toward me. A few have stood their ground, most amble or run away. Bears by roads or towns are much different. I would never get out of a vehicle when I know one is in the area. Unlike some of the idiots I see in Cades Cove chasing them with cameras. I treasure each sighting I am blessed with. Yes they are wild animals. As far as they know so am I. I do feel if I showed fear they may pick up on it. I do not carry spray and would never pack a gun. My wife is sometimes with me or in the vicinity. we hiked Elkmont shortly after the ONE AND ONLY bear attack recorded in GSM park history. She feels as I do. she carrys a small pepper spray -------- for the human animals that frequent the park not the bears. There is more to fear from them.

jzimmerman
07-03-2008, 01:48 PM
Saw another black bear in Elkmont area yesterday. I think we noticed each other at the same time and it took off like a bottle rocket "4 July";) . It's nice to know that some bears are still afaid of humans in the area.

Oh and Gatorbaiter I don't think that the guy on discovery channels walking with bears was "skeered" either, but we know the end of that story.:eek: j.k.

Gatorbaiter
07-03-2008, 02:43 PM
those were grizzly bears correct? different animal - different reactions

BlueRaiderFan
07-03-2008, 05:47 PM
those were grizzly bears correct? different animal - different reactions

Yeah, and that guy was practically living with them too. He was asking for it IMO. I still carry a knife. I just don't like being bare handed out in the wild. Squirrels can be viscious.

kytroutman
07-04-2008, 10:51 AM
'Tis better to be smart than a statistic.

BlueRaiderFan
07-04-2008, 12:37 PM
'Tis better to be smart than a statistic.


Exactly what I was thinking.