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Seasonal Reminder: Dress for the weather, not the car.

You can't always avoid the emergency room. But there are simple things to do that can make the best of a bad situation. Click here for tips to deal with trauma (e.g., broken bones, bleeding, etc), chest pain, abdominal pain, respiratory difficulty, and high fever. More info....

Click here for a listing of first-aid essentials for home, car, pack, or trek.

Finding Firewood

´╗┐Firewood is always a challenge, especially during wet or wintery conditions. Click for a tip...

Wildland Safety.

Always be prepared for survival situations.

 Be Safe Out There. Driving to the trailhead, hiking along the trail or bushwhacking and camping in the backcountry need some special techniques and good equipment. Keep your tent, sleeping bag, backpack and other gear in tip top condition.

Wildlife needs your respect, especially if you are part of their food chain. Learn to incorporate preventative techniques in your normal routine and you’ll not need to be apprehensive while in bear or cougar country.

Safe drinking water is one of your main concerns. Water filters and water purifiers provide safe and convenient water wherever you are.

To fully enjoy the great outdoors you must feel safe and secure. Whether you're new to the wildlands or have spent several years trammeling about, learning or reviewing safety tips is always beneficial.

Be aware of hypothermia whenever in cool, moist windy situations.

So pack up your tent, sleeping bag, and camping gear on your pack frame and get out there. 

NOTE: Please click on bolded words for additional safety information< ><-->


Is there a bear in the woods?

It’s important to note that not all wildlife create conflicts. Although it might not appear so at the time, the animals, which are often referred to as nuisance or problem animals, are innocent. When a conflict exists between humans and animals it is usually because the animal is only doing what it needs to do to survive. It is simply following its own instincts, and intends no harm or discomfort.

How To Prevent Bear Problems

Bears can be trouble or a treat, depending on the situation. Bears in a wildland setting where there are few people or where bear hunting is allowed are more prone to avoid a human encounter. Sighting one is a treat.

Bears in a protected environment or where people are more frequent, can easily become habituated to expect a benefit from the human animal. Most of the trouble involves food--either yours or their’s. Bear attacks on the trail are rare, usually when cubs are present or getting to close to the bear’s feeding area.

Each of us is responsible for keeping a clean camp and ensuring that we do not encourage problem behavior among bears. Here are some tips:

• Do not leave food or garbage in your vehicle or tent.
• Do not leave fish entrails along streams or trails. Puncture the air bladder and sink the entrails in deep water, or pack them out
• If hunting, hang game at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet away from tree trunks.
• If there is a bear in your area and it doesn't appear to be just passing through, make noise by banging pots and pans together and shouting to try to encourage the bear to leave. Do not approach the bear.
• A general rule of thumb: anything with an odor, even if it is not food-related can attract bears to your site. Keep anything with an odor in a secure place (bears have been known to get into motor oil, antifreeze, gasoline, paint, and cleaning agents).

While hiking in bear habitat of a “wild” population where bear problems are very rare, relax and enjoy the outing. If you are in a national park or area where bears and humans have closer contact, making noise and taking extra precautions may prevent a fright or injury.   

Bear Protection. If you feel the need to carry a pepper spray to feel secure, be sure you have the right stuff. Here's how to select and use bear pepper spray:

Carry a Can of Bear-B-Gone

Montana bear management specialists strongly endorse bear pepper spray for people recreating or working in grizzly country. Some of their tips on which sprays to buy and how to use them:
  • Of the several brands on the market, choose one designed specifically for use on bears and registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • The canister should weigh at least 7.9 ounces and the spray must include active ingredients -- capsaicin and related capsaicinoids, the chemicals that make peppers hot -- at a level of at least 1.3 percent, preferably 2 percent.
  • The product should have a spray time of six to nine seconds, enough to create a sizable cloud, and it should have a range of 25 feet.
Survival tip: Some bears may charge retreat and charge again, others may zig zag as they charge, or stop at the sound of the spray and the sight of the orange cloud. An additional two or three-second-burst may be needed if the bear retreats and recharges.

  • Once you select a spay, make sure you're familiar with it. Practice taking it in and out of the holster, which you should carryon your belt or backpack strap.
  • Learn how the safety clip works.
  • Test the spray with a quick blast to make sure the canister works, but do so before you begin going into the wildland. Test it in an isolated area far from others, with the wind at your back. It's powerful stuff.
  • Bear spray does no good in the bottom of your pack or in your car. Keep it handy in cooking areas, in your tent at night, and while field dressing an animal or packing meat out if hunting.
Survival tip: Use a hip or chest holster, or keep it in your hand as bear managers do when walking through an area bears are known to inhabit.
  • If a bear charges you at close range, aim slightly down and toward the animal. Adjust for any crosswinds. Give the bear a brief dose when it gets to within about 25 feet, and be ready to spray again if the charge continues.
Survival Tip: Don't wait until the bear is 25 feet away. If you have the opportunity, shoot a cloud of bear spray as soon as it is evident that the bear is charging. If the bear is charging from 40 or 50 feet out, the bear will generally meet the loud of spray at about 25 feet, and by the time it feels the effect will have traveled another 10 feet.
  • Once the bear retreats, you should do the same. But don't run. This can trigger a chase response. Slowly back off.
  • There's a chance after.a discharge that you'll get some spray on yourself. The discomfort can be significant, but it's temporary and doesn't compare to what a grizzly bear could have done to you.
  • Don't store bear spray in your car on a hot day. Canisters have been known to explode.
  • Pay attention to the expiration date.
  • Bear spray is not like bug spray. Don't apply it preventively to skin, tents, boats, clothing, or other gear.

Always report encounters with grizzly or black bears where the bear is aggressive or displays defensive behaviors toward people, livestock or pets by contacting wildlife or land management agency nearest the area where the bear is seen.