POTA – in Bear Country!

Most of us who live in North America are aware of bears. Many of us actually actually live in areas designated as “bear country”. The eastern part of the continent is home to black bears who are generally not aggressive. The west is home to grizzlies and that is a whole different story.

Black bears are generally not aggressive, but there are two exceptions: rare predatory bears who will drag you out of your tent and eat you, and female bears with cubs.

There are two techniques for handling a bear encounter in the back country. Speak softly to the bear and back off slowly. Don’t run because bears can easily outrun humans. The other technique is a little anti-social but very practical – take a companion along and run like hell. You don’t have to outrun the bear, you only have to run faster than your companion.

My companion on a recent hike into the woods was my wife. I can easily outrun her, but … So when she started feeling very uneasy about noises she heard in the dense bush that surrounded our hiking trail I bravely escorted her back to the safety of our truck.

My wife’s anxiety was likely triggered by a hand written sign at the trailhead. “HUGE MOMMA AND CUB BEARS SPOTTED IN THIS AREA.” The sign was dated a few days before our hike. Probably not a good day for a POTA activation.

Just imagine being all set up for an activation, your concentration entirely focused on working a pile-up, when along comes an enormous, disgruntled member of the Ursus americanus community intent on evicting you from his territory.

What a dichotomy. Obey the eviction order immediately and live to activate another day? Or first, grab the radio you love, hastily cut the cables connecting your antenna and anything else hooked up to your rig and hope the bear understands?

Maybe the second tactic will work; keep this idea in mind as the roaring bear charges toward you, it’s fangs dripping with saliva and its massive claws stretched out ready to exsanguinate you – bears often use a fake charge to intimidate you into leaving. And a good transceiver is quite expensive.

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