Category Archives: Backcountry Considerations

Bears Can Definitely be A Consideration – Among Other Dangers

Bear Attacks and Wilderness Survival

A Bad Day To Be a Grizzly Bear, Or A Grizzly Bear Hunter

 

“The roar of a wounded grizzly bear is nicely designed to try the courage of a man. It’s half snarl and half bellow, and it’s full of blood and fangs and murderous rage.”Ben East, Brown Fury of the Mountains, 1940

 

October 28, 1864

 

A Grave Marker For Benjamin Harrison Baird, Killed By a Grizzly Bear On Grave Creek NEar the Rouge River in 1864, and Found In Croxton Memorial Park In Grants Pass, Oregon. Posted By Michael Patrick McCarty
Photograph By James Dolmage

 

“Located in Croxton Memorial Park (in Grants Pass, Oregon) is a large, concrete circle with a number of headstones imbedded in concrete. There are also two plaques that note the names of 90 individuals interred here. This park was once a cemetery for many years but neglect and vandalism forced the city to convert this lot into a city park in 1975. The headstones of the surviving graves were imbedded in concrete to prevent further vandalism and damage.

One of the graves imbedded in concrete is of Benjamin Harrison Baird who was unfortunately killed by a grizzly bear.”

You Can Find More Information Here

California Alta Daily
December 26, 1864
p.1, c. 4

KILLED BY A GRIZZLY — Mr. B. H. Baird, of Jackson county, Oregon, was killed by a grizzly bear while out deer hunting on Grave creek. The following particulars are from the Sentinel: —On the morning of the 28th, about sunrise, Mr. Baird started in pursuit of game, taking his faithful dog, Rover, with him. He proceeded about one mile and a half, when his dog bayed three grizzly bears in their bed. Mr. Baird got within fifteen yards of them, and shot the largest one, only wounding it. The bear pitched at Mr. Baird, who ran about two hundred yards, when the bear caught him and knocked his gun about sixteen feet from him. Getting loose from the bear, he sprang to the limb of a tree, the bear passing under and hitting his feet, went a short distance down the hill, when he stopped to fight the dog. Mr. B. got his gun, re-loaded it, and shot the bear the second time. The bear now came at him more furiously than before, and knocked the gun out of his hand the second time. Mr. B. swung around a bush to keep out of the bear’s reach, drew one of his butcher knives and stabbed the bear in the belly. The bear struck him several severe blows, knocking his knife out of his hand. Mr. B. then drew his second knife, when the bear seized his hand in which he held the knife, causing him to drop it. The bear now got the better of Mr. B., getting him down, biting him in the face, cutting several severe gashes on the left side, tearing out his right eye, and also tearing off all the right side of his face. It bit several large holes in his right side; in fact, bit him nearly all over his body, down to his boots. The bear now turned to fight the dog, that had saved Mr. B. from having been killed on the spot. The bear and the dog then rolled down the hill some distance, still fighting, when Mr. B. gathered up his gun, two knives, the rope with which he had been leading his dog, and started for Mr. Michael’s cabin, distance about one mile and a half, where he arrived, much exhausted, about 10 A.M., and was assisted into the house, when he related the melancholy event to Mr. McDonough. Being conscious that he could not long survive, he spoke of his family, and his desire to see them before he died. He was reconciled to meet his death, and spoke of a future happiness. He died about 8 P.M. of the same day. Mrs. Baird was sent for, and hastened with all possible speed the distance of eighteen miles, over a very rough, hilly road, but arrived about five minutes too late to see her husband alive. He was brought home and buried near the farm, some four miles north of Rogue river, near the stage road. He leaves a wife and sixteen children, eight of whom are but young, and live at home.

 

“…the last officially documented grizzly bear in Oregon was killed along Chesnimnus Creek by a federal trapper on September 14, 1931. According to Jerry Gildemeister’s Bull Trout, Walking Grouse and Buffalo Bones: Oral Histories of Northeast Oregon Fish and Wildlife, however, sheepherders knew of a pair of grizzlies in the Minam drainage on the far western side of the Wallowa Mountains in 1937 and 1938; one of these bears was shot.

Of course, the very last grizzly of Oregon probably escaped the notice of humankind altogether. Whether he or she died in the remote plateau forests flanking the Northeast Oregon canyonlands or the brushy breaks of the Siskiyous—or someplace else entirely—we can only offer a vague, if heartfelt, toast.

Meanwhile, Hells Canyon country has continued to cough up the occasional grizzly rumor over the decades, although it should be noted that many of the black bears here are cinnamon-phase and thus easily confused with their heftier cousins. In Oregon Desert Guide, Andy Kerr reports an alleged sighting from 1979 along Steep Creek a few miles from Homestead, and Gildemeister’s oral histories mention possible grizzly sign noted by a wildlife biologist in 1989 near Smooth Hollow, right along the Snake River below Hat Point.”

From  Oregon Wild, The Last Grizzlies of Oregon By Ethan Shaw

 

You Mike Also Like Our Post About Bella Twin,

or, Grancel Fitz

 

Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance (Paperback)

Alan Precup disappeared while backpacking in the Alaskan wilderness. Days later, searchers found his campsite. In the bushes about 150 feet away, they found Precup’s bare skeleton, one intact hand, and both feet, still booted. In his camera were the exposed frames of the bear that killed him.
Chris Dunkley and three friends were hiking in Banff National Park. Suddenly a grizzly bear mother came galloping toward them. The first of three charges came so close that it broke a fishing rod in Dunkley’s hand, yet none of the party was injured.
Keith Ecklund and Larry Reimer were fishing in central Saskatchewan one spring day when they were attacked by a black bear. Ecklund kicked the bear in the head to hold it off. Reimer came to help, was attacked, and while fighting with the bear, killed it with his filleting knife. An autopsy of the bear revealed parts of a third man, Melvin Rudd, in the bear’s gut. The rest of Rudd’s partly consumed body was found nearby.
What can we learn from these and hundreds of other attacks and non-injurious encounters with black and grizzly bears? Of all the animals in North America’s wilderness, none command such fear, awe, and interest as the bear. Creatures that fear little, bears now compete for survival with the only other animal that can threaten their existence: humans. What do we know about black and grizzly bears and how can this knowledge be used to avoid bear attacks?
For more than three decades, Bear Attacks has been the thorough and unflinching landmark study of the attacks made on humans by the great grizzly and the less aggressive, but occasionally deadly, black bear. This is the sometimes horrific yet instructive story of Bear and Man, written by the leading scientific authority in the field. This book is for everyone who hikes, camps, or visits bear country—and for anyone who wants to know more about these sometimes fearsome but always fascinating wild creatures.

New From:$13.36 USD In Stock
buy now

Some Basic Mountain Mulemanship

 

To The Mountain Horse

 

“His sire was Spain; His dam, the Nez-perce. Legs forged on granite anvils; Heart forged by the mountains.

Kin to the bighorn With clever hoof and infinite eye. Drinker of the wind, the dawn-singer, Kin to the elk.

Enduring, gaunt, rock-worn, Lacking titled rank or registry, His labors win the noble heights And the consort of eagles.” – John Madson, From The Elk, 1966

 

A Pack Mule Poses in Front of the Colorado Snow-Covered Peaks, While on an Elk Hunting Trip On Red Table Mountain, Near Basalt.
Mule Over Mountain – A Stunning View From Red Table Mountain Near Basalt, Colorado. Photo by David Massender

 

There is no better way to hunt elk or mule deer in the high Rocky Mountains than by horseback or mule, yet working with pack animals is fast becoming a lost art. Still, there are still some diehards out there, so hats off to all of you pack-in hunters.

Mountain hunting holds a certain romance and allure all its own, and a large part of the experience depends on how you get there. Some prefer horses, others say that mules may be better. But then again, I think I will stay out of that argument.

Still, from what little I know about mules, they always seem to be playing chess when everyone else is playing checkers. They are definitely smart, and so sure-footed too! As many of you know, that can be particularly comforting when your life literally depends on the careful placement of hooves on stone.

Check out this short video for some basic tips.

 

– Video courtesy of Dave Massender. See Dave’s Youtube Channel Here.

 

——————————————————–


 

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You Might Also See Red Rock Sentinels

 

We can highly recommend:

 

Packin’ in on Mules and Horses (Paperback)

For those who yearn to pack in the wilderness country of the West, either on their own mules and horses or those of a professional packer, here is a book that takes the mystery out of back country packstring travel.
By teaching you the tricks of the trade, professional outfitter Smoke Elser show how your trip will be easier and more enjoyable by knowing more about the animals used and why and how they carry their loads as they do.
Whether you’re an expert of a dude, Smoke’s packing system will get you into and out of the back country safely and efficiently. Best of all, you will start to become self-sufficient and resourceful, important aspects of any wilderness travel. The book is laced with instructional photgraphs and sketches, presented in an open, attractive format.

New From:$16.88 USD In Stock
buy now

The mule alternative: The saddle mule in the American West (Perfect Paperback)

From Scientific American
…a must-have for anyone with an interest in the subject is Mike Stamm’s The Mule Alternative. Modest in appearance and presentation, The Mule Alternative is packed with insight into mules and the history of their use in the United States. Stamm discusses the viability of the mule through the letters and diaries of historical figures. A unique approach to say the least, but one that works very well indeed. Practical and poignant (many of the historical passages concern the ravages of war and exploration) by turn,The Mule Alternative has the ability to hook and hold the reader’s attention. History buffs and equestrians with an affinity for the mighty mule will be delighted with this book. –This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From The New Yorker
Wildlife biologist Mike Stamm began research several years ago into a number of questions concerning the historic use of mules during the settlement of the Old West. He wanted to know why many early westerners preferred mules to horses as saddle animals: how mules compared to horses in terms of endurance, hardiness, surefootedness, longevity, and manageability, and why mules have fallen into relative disfavor today. Using historic diaries of early travelers, including mountain men, traders, soldiers, and settlers. Stamm puts together a remarkable testimony in praise of the saddle mule. Stamm includes excellent historical photos and maps in this book. His research will be useful to both mule and horse owners and everyone interested in transportation during the settlement of the West. –This text refers to the Paperback edition.

New From:$18.99 USD In Stock
buy now

Careless For Just A Second Can Get You Killed

Spot Satellite SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger – Orange SPOT-3ORANGE (Misc.)

SPOT 3 SATELLITE GPS MESSENGER ORANGE

New From:$149.95 USD In Stock
buy now

July 18, 2015

karpartenhund / Pixabay

 

I took a seriously bad fall yesterday while scouting for mountain goats, and boy, oh boy…Did That Hurt! I might also add that it still does.

It is generally best to stalk a goat from a position directly above them, and my goal had been to locate a new approach route to the goats I had been scouting this summer. The climb to the peaks above them seemed almost impossible from any direction, but I had to try. Bowhunting almost always has a way to add extra dimensions and complications to the affair.

My approach this day was stopped cold by what appeared to be an almost impassable boulder field of jagged and unstable rock, and you might say that I had probably pushed it harder than my conditioning up to this point would allow. It also became obvious that my balance and confidence in such matters is not what it once was either.

There were some other facts on my mind too. Just two years ago a goat hunter died in the Maroon Bells not far from where I was standing, and that tragic information was never too far removed from the landscape around me. He had been successful too, but then fell from a cliff while packing out his goat.

Still, I wish I could blame what was about to happen on muscle fatigue from the long hike to get there.  Or I could blame it on the loose rock and the steep downhill grade of my return trip.  But the fact is, I was simply moving to fast for trail conditions and I got careless.

Careless in this kind of country can get you hurt. Careless for just a second can get you killed. In this case I was very, very lucky. I simply got hurt.

It happened so fast that I was part way down the hill before I had a chance to worry about my future prospects. I remember the sound my boot made as it scraped the gravel and my feet flew out from under me. I remember feeling my back leave the trail as I began my roll down the slope and through the boulders. I remember the sickening feeling that comes when you know that you are in for a hard landing and there is nothing to be done for it except to accept and absorb the pain and punishment of your bad mistake.

https://www.flickr.com/people/53986933@N00

 

Maroon Lake at peak fall color in late September on the White River National Forest in Colorado.Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the 2.3 million-acre White River National Forest is the top recreation forest in the nation. Home to world-renowned ski resorts and the birthplace of Wilderness, the White River has something to offer every outdoor enthusiast. It is located in game management unit 12, and home to a huntable population of rocky mountain goats,, with limited hunting permits.
Maroon Lake at peak fall color in late September on the White River National Forest in Colorado.Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the 2.3 million-acre White River National Forest is the top recreation forest in the nation. Home to world-renowned ski resorts and the birthplace of Wilderness, the White River has something to offer every outdoor enthusiast.

 

I wish I could say that I somehow escaped all of that in the end, and I did for the most part. It was over in just a few seconds, and when I landed in the trail under the sharp switch back above I could have shouted for joy that the terrible rolling had ended. That is, if, and only if, had not the wind been partially jarred from my lungs.

I didn’t stay on the ground long though, and I was on my feet and moving down the trail before the dust settled. I couldn’t tell you why I jumped up so fast – perhaps it was my way of pretending that what had just happened could not possibly be true, and if I walked fast enough I could leave the consequences behind.

geralt / Pixabay

 

It didn’t take long to discover the blood trickling from my left elbow, nor the sharp twinge that gradually appeared in my right knee. I did my best to shake it off and ignore such minor inconveniences, for after all, it could have been far, far worse.  And I still had 2 1/2 miles to hike to reach the parking lot and the aspirin bottle I so craved.

That was yesterday, and today I remain battered and rock bruised with a knee that screams for ice and elevation. The knee is my biggest concern, although I think, and pray, that it is just a moderate MCL sprain and nothing worse. The aches and pains and other wounds will heal, but I would not be honest if I did not say that I am more than a little concerned. With luck I will fully recover before it is time to do it all for real.

Flickr/Rob Lee

A few things I know. A hunter’s fate is determined by his relationship with, and actions upon, the mountain. It probably would not be a goat hunt without a fall of some kind somewhere in the mix, and hopefully I have now had mine. A man’s knee will lose a battle with a rock each and every time, and I am probably not the first person that these goats have observed bashing themselves upon the boundaries of their bedroom.

Perhaps that tired old euphemism is true, sometimes, and what did not kill me will make me stronger. I have been initiated upon the altar of stone, and may now have some protection against further mishaps. My boots will be set down more precisely from now on.

No matter what happens, blame cannot be placed at the feet of the goats. They are just being goats, and what becomes of this insignificant, two-legged animal is not their concern. They know as well as any creature on earth the perils of miscalculation, and the mortal ramifications of a misstep. They live with those truths for practically every breath of their life.

So,…please,…be careful out there. There are limits to our abilities, and realities within our desires, and sometimes one step is one step too far.

Careless in this kind of country can get you hurt. Careless for just a second can get you killed.

I will be sure to remember that, as soon as I can bend my knee…

A photograph of mountain peaks taken high in the maroon bells-snomass wilderness in colorado, home to rocky mountain goats and other wildlife and open to limited permit mountain goat hunting
It’s Beautiful, But Oh So Treacherous…

By Michael Patrick McCarty

*It took over a month to begin to start some light walking on my knee, and another two weeks before I could begin to hike in the mountains again. A little too close to opening day before I was able, but I did heal, and I did hunt.

You way wish to take a look at the end results HERE

———————————————————

Update: July, 2015

We have some very sad news to pass along, for as you may have heard by now a man and his young son  were killed by lightning this week near West Maroon Pass in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.

My heart goes out to the family of the victims, and it leaves an ache in my belly that I can’t fully quantify.  Lord knows, I have been in fear for my life many, many times as the sky blew up and the lighting cracked all around me. Death can visit the most experienced of mountaineer’s in an unexpected and blinding flash.

You are truly oblivious to reality if you don’t have one eye on the heavens when hiking at high altitude in the Colorado mountains. It is a stark reminder of just how precious, and fleeting, our time on this great blue ball can be.

God be with them…

———————————————————————————-

* There are now reports that carbon monoxide poisoning  may be the true cause of death in this case. It may be several weeks before the test results are released.

**It has now been confirmed that they were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from using their camp stove in an enclosed space (July 28, 2015)

 

Forget Your Aspirin? – No Problem, There’s Always Willow

Hunting, fishing, and other kinds of outdoor fun may have little in common with a bottle of aspirin, but not from my somewhat jaded point of view. A rugged outdoor lifestyle can leave some marks, and at this point in my sporting life I can barely imagine one without the other. It is a small price to pay for a lifetime of wild rewards.

Perhaps I have more nagging and bothersome pains than most, but then again, perhaps not. I just know that I have some issues and several points of contention with my otherwise healthy body, like a little toe that likes to remind me at every step that it is not so happy on a steep uphill grade. Or a neck and lower back that tend to tighten, burn, and throb after a short hike with any kind of weight in my pack.

We all have them, those little nicks and troubles. We nurse them along and suffer through the pain and inconvenience of it all. Making the best of it is the outdoor way, but what  do you do when diet and exercise or body treatments haven’t helped?

Call me trite or unimaginative, but I choose painkillers. Nothing too strong of course, just a couple of  small white pills…the breakfast of champions… a little marine candy…, and more coffee, always coffee, if I can get it.

The problem is I tend to forget it more often than not, a sure sign that many of my springs’ have already sprung which is one of the reasons that I needed the aspirin in the first place.  I usually realize that I forgot it when I am far enough from the truck for my body to finally remind me that I can’t be without it, while at the same time being too far from it to endure the pain to go back and get it. Or something like that.

This can lead to a long, uncomfortable day in the field, wincing at every step while promising my burning brain to never ever ever forget such a small but crucial little item again…until next time that is.

Some things in life are simply not fair, and rarely do they change.

So, if you are like me, take heart. The remedy may be right under your nose, where is exactly where you will want to put it…and it’s called “Willow”.

 

Nature's Pain Killer
Nature’s Pain Killer
100_0883
Smething to Chew On