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Old 04-11-2019, 09:49 PM   #1
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Cruising Northern BC,bears & guns

Hi
I am planning on cruising north of Cape Caution this season and wonder what people think about bringing a shotgun along for bear protection. Bear spray is one thing but I might feel more comfortable with a shotgun....
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:43 PM   #2
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I use a .45, but a shotgun with slugs should stop a bear. If you stay away from cubs that may have a mother near, bears usually won't bother you if you don't surprise them or approach them. Travel with a dog.

If all else fails, travel with someone that runs slower than you.
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:43 PM   #3
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Hmmm. First of all, bringing a firearm into Canada has its own set of requirements. Second, are you planning on hiking up in the bush? If you are like most boaters, you will simply enjoy watching the bears from a safe distance, like from your dinghy!

By the way, even bear spray has to be declared when you cross into Canada. Mace is not allowed and bear spray must be labeled as such.
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Old 04-11-2019, 11:02 PM   #4
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Crossing the border with a shotgun could be problematic.

I've lived on BC's north coast for 53 years. Big time hiking in my teens and twenties. Sea kayaked the whole coast after that. Been photographing in the bush for 40 years, mostly solo. Also worked in the bush at many different jobs, including living in a one room cabin all summer by myself counting fish for Fisheries, walking active spawning streams almost every day. Never carried a gun.

Have only had one close bear encounter, and it was my fault. Was a compassman with a guy putting in logging setting boundaries way back in the bush, but we didn't get along and were walking silently beside a mountain stream in spring. Heard a 'grunt' and looked up to see two black bear cubs climbing a tree. We did the same. Mom sat 1/2 between us and the cubs and calmly watched us. After a while we climbed down and sauntered out of there.

I also know a fellow who's been a traveling Fisheries guardian on BC's north coast for over 30 years who's job it is to count spawning salmon in rivers and streams. He carries two big cans of bear spray, one on each hip. No gun. He walks by himself and his wife stays on the boat.

My advice would be to carry bear spray, and make noise as you walk. My trick is to pick up a dry stick and whack tree trunks and rocks as I move through the bush. I got the idea after watching a documentary where the photographers got to know a bear so well, that it allowed them to follow it into the bush and sit beside it while the bear napped.

Even in a deep sleep, the bear would wake up instantly if it heard a small twig snapping in the bush. My theory is; snapping branches is what they're listening for, so if they hear me whacking tree trunks and rocks they must think to themselves, "Hey, there's something BIG moving through the bush up ahead, and it doesn't care who hears it, so it must be a bad-ass".

So far (decades) so good

Another thought about guns...chances are you'll be charged in deep grass, thick salal, or huckleberry bushes where getting an accurate shot off is pretty much impossible.

Your odds will be much better avoiding them in the first place!
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Old 04-11-2019, 11:02 PM   #5
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I've spent a lot of time in BC and SE Ak. Don't worry about the bears. They will for the most part stay away from you. If in doubt make a lot of noise, sing, talk loudly among yourselves. Black bears are rarely a threat unless you get between a mom and her cubs.

In BC you'll be hard pressed to find a path to take you into the bush away from the beach. As others have said, watch 'em from the boat or dingy.
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Old 04-11-2019, 11:22 PM   #6
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From the web:

"Bringing a Firearm into Canada
Bringing firearms into Canada
Canada has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bringing a gun into the country. Be sure to read our page on transporting firearms across the border for additional information that applies to both countries.

The biggest problem Americans have is forgetting about a handgun they have with them. People from states such as Texas, which allow concealed weapons, get snagged quite often. If you fail to declare your weapon it will be destroyed, you will pay a fine, and jail time is a real possibility. Don’t make a mistake. The official Canadian website says that border officers can exercise discretion, but it appears far more likely that they will take a hard line if you violate their rules.

Generally speaking, you may bring up to three allowed guns across the border if you fill out a form and pay a fee in Canadian dollars. When you arrive at the border you will declare your firearm, provide the required documents as listed below, and answer all questions truthfully. The border services officer must be satisfied that you have a valid reason for importing the firearm, and may check to ensure that you have stored your firearm properly for transportation. They will review your paperwork and may verify that the firearm you have with you matches the one described in the documents.

This whole process is governed by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Rules change, so review these websites carefully to make sure you are up to date on all requirements. You can contact the CBSA directly for advice at their telephone information line. Likewise, you can call the RCMP directly for advice. Review our general page on Transporting Firearms Across the Border for general information that applies to both countries.

Personal Requirements to Bring a Firearm into Canada
You must be 18 or older to bring a firearm into Canada. Minors ages 12-18 can bring firearms, but they have to first obtain a minor’s license. To obtain this, it is necessary to pass a firearms safety course. The minor will need to be accompanied by an adult the entire time they are in possession of the firearm, and the adult will be legally responsible for it. Minors can only use non-restricted firearms.
If you have a criminal record it will take longer and be significantly more difficult to bring a firearm into Canada. It does not matter if the crimes were violent or gun-related. Get your application started much earlier if you have any type of criminal record.
Types of Weapons
There are different Canadian government forms for different purposes, so you will need to make sure you get the right form to declare your weapon and ammunition at the Canadian border. If you are moving permanently to Canada there are different requirements than those listed below.

Antique firearms are not considered firearms for licensing and registration purposes, so you shouldn’t need any paperwork. You should still declare them at the border crossing. Antique firearms include any firearms manufactured before 1898 that are not originally designed or redesigned to discharge rim-fire or centre-fire ammunition; long guns manufactured in 1898 or later that are reproductions of flintlock, wheel-lock, or matchlock firearms; and firearms that are classified as antique by regulations.

What you need to do about your weapon depends on which category if falls into. There are three primary weapons categories: non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited.

Non-restricted firearms
Non-restricted firearms generally include most ordinary hunting rifles and shotguns, which are expected to be used for sporting, hunting, and competitions. The gun must meet the following requirements:

semi-automatic rifles and shotguns with barrels that are at least 470 mm (18.5 inches) long
single-shot or manual repeating rifles and shotguns of any length, as long as they are not designed or adapted to be fired when reduced to a length of less than 660 mm (26 inches) by folding, telescoping or other means.
As a visitor, you will need to fill out a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration Form to bring one of these types of firearms into Canada. This counts as a registration certificate and a license to have your guns. Declarations are valid for 60 days, but may be renewed free of charge before expiration. With this form, firearms can also be transported through Canada to another eventual destination.

The Canadian border officer will not make copies of the form for you at the border, so it is recommended that you complete the form before arriving at the border, and make an additional copy of the completed form. It is also imperative that you do not sign the form until you arrive at the border, since it is necessary for a Canadian Customs officer to witness your signature. This license will allow you to buy ammunition in Canada, and to transport up to 200 rounds into the country with you."
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Old 04-12-2019, 04:08 AM   #7
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Noise. Tie a jingle-bell to your pack. They would much rather choose to run. Give them a heads up that you're coming and they will choose to slink away. If they are intent on fishing, they will ignore you and the bell.
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Old 04-12-2019, 09:51 AM   #8
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Been up their a couple times on my boat and once with a RV. On the RV trip I took a shotgun with me but never removed it from the locker. Did walk with bear spray. My dogs will usually alert me if something is not right.

On the boat trips I carry bear spray with me and I will put some small rocks in a empty soda can which I can shake to make some sound. I usually will need to take the dogs for a walk twice a day but rarely will get off the beach. Like I say the dogs will let me know when there is a bear in the area, they did last summer and they did on the RV trip.
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Old 04-12-2019, 09:54 AM   #9
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Thank you all for your time and effort regarding this post...
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Old 04-12-2019, 10:32 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Russell Clifton View Post
My dogs will usually alert me if something is not right.
I used to almost never see wildlife when I hiked with my dog. We used to see significant Black Bear presence when we hiked in the the Adirondack's in NY.

Black Bears would wander into camp every night. As soon as one of the dogs started barking, all you would see is ass and paws streaking into the woods.

I couldn't say how more aggressive breads like Browns, Grizzlies, etc would behave. The old joke we used to tell in Northern New England was....

Q: How do you get rid of a Black Bear
A: Just yell "Boo!!!"
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Old 04-12-2019, 10:44 AM   #11
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Seeing bears is a highlight on our trips north but they do demand respect.

One year, we went up Knight inlet in early June to see the grizzlies emerging from hibernation. Most of them looked very skinny and starved after the long winter. There were a few dominant bears claiming the best foraging ground at the head of the bay but life is though for most of them. We were only a few feet away from them in a dinghy. They could have walked out to us but they completely ignored us even when our small dog started to bark at them.

The only time I was concerned about bears was when we walked at Mamalillacoola (Village Island) at dusk. A beautiful setting. But the "paths" in he abandoned village are winding through thick berry bushes up to 6 feet high. In this situation you won't see the bear until you literally stumble upon it. The brush is so thick that there is no place for you or the bear to go. We left after we saw something big shaking an old fruit tree ahead.

Being reasonably careful, no guns are needed. But I would not put too much trust in bear spray either. You need to aim very accurately while the bear is charging you just a few feet away. Both, the bear and you will be high on adrenaline. Assuming you actually hit its eyes/nostrils, it won't feel the pain until long after it has run you down.
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Old 04-12-2019, 10:47 AM   #12
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The bear encounters I've had involve going to shore in the dinghy, both in BC and AK. I wasn't careful enough to scope out what could be near the beach but unseen as I rowed into shore. In all cases, the bears scurried away and so did I, as fast as I could. On packing a shotgun for defense, if you measure your risk of being attacked against having to lug a shotgun around when you're on shore, I doubt that it would be attractive. Spray is probably the best solution.
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Old 04-12-2019, 10:48 AM   #13
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They have a saying up north that the way to tell black bear scat from brown bear scat is the brown bear scat will have little jingle bells in it.
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Old 04-12-2019, 11:00 AM   #14
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Did you know Bears like to drink white wine when eating fishermen and red wine while eating hunters.
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Old 04-12-2019, 11:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcarli View Post
Hi
I am planning on cruising north of Cape Caution this season and wonder what people think about bringing a shotgun along for bear protection. Bear spray is one thing but I might feel more comfortable with a shotgun....
You've a right to be scared of bears. I've lived and worked in bear country. I have friends and business associates who've been mauled and chased. But unless you are a professional hunter or guide, the best advice is get bear smart as already suggested.

Your question implies a degree of inexperience in this regard or you wouldn't have asked it on an Internet boating forum. A shotgun will not make you safer, but it will make you bolder. Not the right approach. Get less bold. Read a bit more on government publications, lots better than a gun for saving your life during a fateful charge.
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Old 04-12-2019, 12:27 PM   #16
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Noise. Tie a jingle-bell to your pack. They would much rather choose to run. Give them a heads up that you're coming and they will choose to slink away. If they are intent on fishing, they will ignore you and the bell.


My son from AK says bears call those bells dinner bells.
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Old 04-12-2019, 01:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
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I used to almost never see wildlife when I hiked with my dog.

Try hiking with a six year old. Our daughter likes carrying a bear bell, but I joke that she could just put it in her pocket as the bears could never hear the bell over her continuous talking.


On the subject, I have a bear gun, a really nice stainless short barrel shotgun. I loaned it to someone here in town years ago, never missed it as I never carried it. I have bear spray, I think it is in one of the trucks, about once a year I remember it and carry it on a hike so it doesn't feel forgotten. Our brown bears are the size of small cars so I'm not sure either option would be easy to pull off as I'm crying and peeing myself.


The only bears I feel threatened by are the ones in town that are eating out of garbage cans and not afraid of people. The rest of them are just as afraid of you, and short of doing something stupid are probably not a threat.
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Old 04-12-2019, 01:16 PM   #18
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We’ve been boating in remote areas of B.C. for many years, and to be honest, our scariest encounters have been with hikers carrying shot guns!
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Old 04-12-2019, 02:04 PM   #19
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This'll make the hair on your arms stand up:

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Old 04-12-2019, 02:12 PM   #20
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I've heard bells work good w black bears not so well w brown bears. If you find any bear scat just check it for bells to tell who's territory you are in!?
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