Bears, Brains and Watermelons

Bears, Brains and Watermelons

I live in Montana and I'm scared of grizzly bears. There I said it. Not during the day because I'm a friggin' ninja in the woods and I'll go straight Matrix on 'em if they get agro. Not really, I'll just spray their face with pepper spray like I'm putting out a grease fire in a trailer house.

Nighttime is when I'm scared of the griz. I'm also scared of cougars when I'm beddy by. I know statistically I should be more afraid of the black bear, but I'm not. At night, when I'm trying to sleep this recurring thought of my neck being snapped like a corn cob just before my head is crushed like a watermelon and my sweet fat brains are savored by a grizzly haunts me until daylight. The thought tumbles through my oversized brain canister of a cranium over and over like a shoe in a dryer.

Despite this fear, I love the backcountry, so I just keep going. All that being true, here's how it goes when I'm in bear country and dusk is coming on. I hang my food



etc two mountain ranges away. I get my sleep area set up a quarter mile in another direction from the cooking area. I strip away any clothes I wore cooking and keep them far away from me. I skip brushing my teeth. Most importantly, I don't suggest any of these safety precautions to my camp mates thinking their screams of horror will alert me to the fact that I need to grab my bear spray and hide. No one ever called me a hero.

Then, once I tuck myself to bed and set my human alarms just within earshot I cuddle into my sleeping bag. I doze off confident this is the night I won't obsessively imagine my dome being popped open and sucked empty like a chocolate covered cherry. Unfortunately, some scurrying little mammal always awakens me soon after and I become sure he is the advanced team for a starving, homicidal, lunatic bear. The adrenaline surges, maybe I wet my bed a little and the hope of sleep evaporates. If I happen to be in a tent with my wife, I try to hunch down a little so her head is closer to the tent wall than mine, again hoping her screams will alert me to danger.

I have good news for those of you who approach sleeping in bear country in a similarly maniacal fashion.  Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is offering a series that includes "Bear Awareness Education and The Bear Trail Walk" at their new Montana Wild facility.


Their experts will help us:

  • Recognize bear signs

  • Prevent and handle bear encounters
  • Create a safe campsite
  • Safely retrieve down game
  • Properly handle your fish and big game
  • Use bear repellent spray

We can read about many of the strategies for avoiding confrontation with bears and I have. One can look at the pictures and get a pretty good idea of what's needed. If you've done this, you're ahead of the game. But there's something about actually seeing it and having it demonstrated that brings all of the pieces together. Additionally, you may pick up something you never thought of. But seriously, if you're headed into the woods in bear country and you're not 100% sure you know how to use your bear spray canister, hang your food or keep a "clean" camp, you must make time to get educated. Bear teeth and claws hurt.

If you live here or are traveling through the area on your way to a backcountry experience I would highly recommend taking in this educational opportunity.

I've been following the development of the program and toured the trail and it is very well put together and very informative. It will give you the info needed to not only keep yourself safe, but protect the bears as well. Often times when wardens are forced to kill bears, it's because of humans not handling food sources properly. So, even if you're a misanthrope like me, do it for the bears.

The dates are:

Today: Thursday, June 30, Tuesday, July 12th, Thursday, July 21st and Tuesday August 2nd. The hours each day are 10:30 am to 12:00 pm and 6:30pm to 8:00pm.

For directions or more information call 406-444-9944

My boys at Capital Sports kicked in big on this important project, as did Pepper Power.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Top Ten Hunts

Top Ten Hunts

Here at Petersen's Hunting we have compiled the 10 best hunts caught on camera from the last 2 years of Petersen's Hunting TV. Enjoy!

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Kevin Steele sights in his CZ .557 carbine rifle that he plans to use on a Colorado elk hunt.

Whitetail Shot Placement

Whitetail Shot Placement

Craig Boddington breaks down where hunters should aim for the best penetration of the vitals on a whitetail deer.

B&C Typical Mule Deer

B&C Typical Mule Deer

Doug Burris Jr's typical mule deer taken in 1969, could just be one record that will never be broken.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

These are our favorite new products of the year for the archery crowd. Bowhunting

Best New Bowhunting Gear for 2020

Petersen's Hunting Editors - May 21, 2020

These are our favorite new products of the year for the archery crowd.

These trail cameras feature the latest wireless technology. Optics

The Best Cellular Trail Cameras for 2020

Tony J. Peterson - July 09, 2020

These trail cameras feature the latest wireless technology.

We're deciphering new deer data for rut success. Whitetail

Daylight Deer Movement During the Rut

Jeff Johnston

We're deciphering new deer data for rut success.

Learn what freezer burn is, how it occurs, and how to slow it down with these tips. Recipes

Why Freezer Burn Matters

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Learn what freezer burn is, how it occurs, and how to slow it down with these tips.

See More Trending Articles

More Other Game

Setting up near a roosted springtime gobbler has never been easier. Accessories

Enhance Your Hearing with TETRA Turkey AmpPods

Jeff Johnston

Setting up near a roosted springtime gobbler has never been easier.

Be sure to follow these 5 tips from the expert. Other Game

Fred Eichler's 5 'Musts' of a Guided Elk Hunt

Randy Hynes

Be sure to follow these 5 tips from the expert.

Fur, feathers and bristles provide all the action you need to sharpen your shooting skills.  Other Game

3 Spring Hunts to Plan Now

Darron McDougal

Fur, feathers and bristles provide all the action you need to sharpen your shooting skills.

Hunting Aoudad in West Texas can be a challenge. And that's an understatement.

Petersen Hunting's Other Game

Hunting Aoudad in West Texas

PHTV Adventures - June 07, 2016

Hunting Aoudad in West Texas can be a challenge. And that's an understatement. Petersen...

See More Other Game

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now