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The Wasatch Behind: Spud's bear survival tactics

Sun Advocate Columnist

Since my column on bears was so well received a few weeks ago, I decided to ask Uncle Spud for his advise about what to do in bear country. Uncle Spud is an expert on coexisting with bears. Grizzly Adams was known as Prairie Dog Adams until Uncle Spud taught him the bear necessities. Here are a few of Spud's recommendations.

Always camp with the bear minimum: A gun, a dog, a fire, and a getaway vehicle.

Take your trash to the dumpster in someone else's campsite after it gets dark.

Tie your dog 100 feet from your tent so it can't crawl under your sleeping bag when the bear comes.

Always go camping and hiking with someone you can outrun.

Scatter potato chips around your tent so the crunch, crunch, crunch, of the bear walking on potato chips will wake you up.

In spite of what you might have been told, don't tie bells on your shoes so the bear can hear you approaching. Like Pavlov's dog, the bears have become conditioned to eat at the sound of bells. And besides, bells on your shoes might send the wrong message in some social situations.

Remember that sleeping in a mummy bag makes you more believable when playing dead.

Never look a bear in the eye. Bears are very self-conscious and wracked with guilt after eating from trash dumpsters. Looking them in the eye only adds to their low self-esteem. When a bear approaches, look at the ground and speak in a low tone of voice, saying things like, "good bear, good bear." It might make all the difference in whether the bear needs counseling or not.

Put a "no bears allowed" sign in front of your tent and at the campground entrance. Bears can't read, but the sign makes some campers feel more secure, sort of like those "no guns allowed" signs at the entrance to shopping malls.

Put a big bag of Purina Bear Chow near your tent. If the bear gets all the food he wants, he might be too full to have you for dessert.

Shoot bottle rockets or a .44 magnum into the bushes around your camp every hour or so throughout the night to scare off any bear that might be getting close.

Be proactive and use pepper spray the same way you use bug repellant or sunscreen. Douse your body, tent, sleeping bags, grub boxes, dog, and kids with pepper spray before going into the woods.

Wear protective clothing when hiking in bear country. A football helmet, bulletproof vest, steel-toed boots, welder's gloves, safety glasses, and a big Roy Rogers belt buckle offer more protection from teeth and claws than spandex shorts and a t-shirt.

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