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Thread: Backcountry Hike

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Mobile, Alabama
    Posts
    42

    Question Backcountry Hike

    Folks,

    just wanted to poll those of you interested in helping a flatlander...

    Do you carry any deterrent for bears and other wild critters when hiking in the backcountry? My son and I plan to do some one day hikes over the next week and a half into the backcountry to do some fly fishing. I am wondering if I should bring my current sidekick with me or purchase some deterrent once I get there, or both?
    Last edited by LA MantaRay12; 11-14-2011 at 10:36 AM.
    "Often, I have been exhausted on trout streams, uncomfortable, wet, cold, briar scarred, sunburned, mosquito-bitten, but never, with a fly rod in my hand, have I been in a place that was less than beautiful."

    Charles

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC
    Posts
    992

    Default

    LA MantaRay12--I have fished Park waters for a full six decades and have never given any thought to bear protection until quite recently. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons I won't even attempt to go into detail here in explaining (changed Park policies which I consider unwise, more bears, human-created problems, etc.), bears have become a bit of a problem in recent years. That's almost exclusively focused on backcountry campsites. I still don't carry anything and don't worry about them. The call is yours, but I do think it is wise to know what to do (and not do--such as running, turning your back, or doing anything to cause the bear's prey instincts to kick in) should you encounter a bear.
    Jim Casada
    P. S. This is one where I hope some others with long experience in the Smokies share their opinion. I'll really be interested in what they say.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    138

    Default

    I only carry bear spray when I have kids with me. I've done a lot of reading on the subject and black bear attacks on adults are very rare/almost non-existent. Most attacks are on children. That said, I take my kids in the park at least once a month often twice, either backpacking or daytrips, and have only seen a bear once. Chances are one-in-a-million you would ever have an encounter, but its a small price to pay to carry the spray versus the consequences of not having it the one time you need it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Posts
    1,561

    Smile

    I guess that depends on you. The only place in the park that I would ever consider carrying something would be a campsite that is known for problem bears. Besides that you are just taking extra weight, and just wasting your time in my opinion. I spend at least a day a week in the Smokies and have been for the last decade or so. While I have surprised bears and have had some close encounters, they always seem to run away, and are at least as scared as I am

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Lexington, KY
    Posts
    257

    Default

    Everyone needs to decide what they need to make themselves feel comfortable in the park as far as bears go.

    Personally, i have been backpacking in the park somewhere around 1982. Your mind starts to slip when its been that long but I have had many experiences seeing and walking up on bears in the GSMNP.

    I have not once ever felt threatened or have been worried about any bear concerns. Just always do the smart thing like Jim mentioned and a little reading on what or what not to do just in case.

    Just as a safty measure i do always go in the backcountry with my brother and i can always outrun him.

    P.S.
    Beers work to, I hate auto spell checker
    Last edited by Mac; 11-14-2011 at 04:52 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Knoxville, Tn
    Posts
    706

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mac View Post
    Everyone needs to decide what they need to make themselves feel comfortable in the park as far as beers go.

    Personally, i have been backpacking in the park somewhere around 1982. Your mind starts to slip when its been that long but I have had many experiences seeing and walking up on beers in the GSMNP.

    I have not once ever felt threatened or have been worried about any beer concerns. Just always do the smart thing like Jim mentioned and a little reading on what or what not to do just in case.

    Just as a safty measure i do always go in the backcountry with my brother and i can always outrun him.

    Personally, I find that the enjoyment gained from a couple of beers in the backcountry can be worth carrying the extra weight.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Mobile, Alabama
    Posts
    42

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    Unfortunately I have only been hiking in the GSMNP when we come up each year for Thanksgiving. I have not in the past carried anything with me for bears but it appears that this year, even in this forum, there is a lot more discussion about bear/human issues. We will be doing quite a bit of hiking in the Cataloochee area which I hear has a good bear population. I will be with my son but he is MUCH faster than me so that plan is crushed....I have read countless articles on how to manage a situation when bears are seen. Can you folks confirm my learnings? or correct my understanding?
    1. Do not turn your back on a bear
    2. Move slowly away from the bear. Do not run!!!
    3. If the bear has not detected you give it a wide berth avoid moving upwind
    4. Never approach or stick around when cubs are involved.


    I really appreciate the input in this string. I will arrive in GSMNP on Wednesday and will be there till the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Hope to do a lot of fishing/hiking. Hope to meet some of you fine folks.
    "Often, I have been exhausted on trout streams, uncomfortable, wet, cold, briar scarred, sunburned, mosquito-bitten, but never, with a fly rod in my hand, have I been in a place that was less than beautiful."

    Charles

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Lexington, KY
    Posts
    257

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    LA Mantaray 12,

    We plan to be staying in Gatlinburg at the Summit from November 20th thru 26th for Thanksgiving family visiting time. Both my brother and myself plan to do plenty of hiking around the creeks doing research and some fishing if weather permits. We will be exploring fly fishing locations we have never visited in anticipation of returning when the weather is better.

    We will be down with the family so i am sure that we will have a lot of Pigeon Forge tourist family time but there should be plenty of park time as well.

    If you are in the area and interested send a email

    william dot mclemore at ngc dot com

    P.S.
    You might be able to outrun my brother to.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    SE Tennessee
    Posts
    644

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    I take my wife. Actually, if I'm fishing in bear country, I have a bell that I salvaged from an old Christmas decoration and pin it to my vest or wader suspenders. I have never encountered a bear in the wild while fishing or hiking. I fish the park, the Hiwassee (bears have been seen in that area), and the Tellico. However, my daughter had one in her subdivision for two days this summer (south of Cleveland, TN). It was trapped by the TWRA officers.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    34

    Default

    I wouldn't worry too much about bears in the park. Now if you want to go searching around dumpsters after dark in downtown Gatlinburg, you may be more likely to run into one there ;-) Oh, and they like the Old Smoky Candy Kitchen too.

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