Is Your Life Worth $40 in Griz Country?

Is Your Life Worth $40 in Griz Country?

Brian Matayoshi would likely be alive today if he carried a $40 canister of bear repellent spray on Wednesday.

According to bear pepper spray research data compiled by Dr. Thomas Smith, an Associate Professor of Plant and Wildlife Sciences at Brigham Young University, bear spray stopped aggressive bears in 92% of the cases studied. The research covered twenty years of incidents in Alaska.

Of the 175 people who used bear spray and were involved in these incidents only three were injured and none went to the hospital. Contrast this with nearly 300 bear attacks involving firearms, the firearms were only effective in 67% of the cases.

According to Smith "The reason guns are less effective than bear spray is the difficulty of making an accurate shot during a split second chase. Smith's data shows it take an average of four hits to stop a bear. Bear spray is easier to carry and easier to use accurately in an emergency than a gun."

This article and the research it is based on are very interesting. I would suggest reading the article. Smith thinks one of the reasons bear spray is effective, is it requires the person being charged to hold their position, thereby avoiding triggering the bear's instinct to chase. Another upside is that a bear that has been sprayed in the past remembers it. I've heard reports that bears encountering humans with spray regularly are being conditioned to depart to avoid being sprayed. Sometimes this merely requires raising an arm in gesture similar to spraying.

Bart Bratlien of my neighborhood sporting good store, Capital Sports in Helena, MT took a few minutes to demonstrate proper deployment of bear spray and to discuss his choice of a "plan b" firearm in the off chance the bear spray fails.

Recommended for You


Steiner Predator AF Binoculars: Quality at the Right Price

Joe Arterburn - May 28, 2019

Sponsored By

HUNTING's Booth Babes of SHOT Show 2014

David Draper - January 21, 2014

A record crowd of more than 67,000 people fell upon the halls of the Sands Expo & Convention


Field Tested: Cold-Weather Boots

Kali Parmley - April 22, 2019

We put the best boots for late-season hunting to the test. Here are the results.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 7: Beginner's Luck

Host Kali Parmley takes first-time hunter Danae Hale of CZ-USA to Wyoming for a mule deer hunt. After covering all the basics with Danae, the girls head into the field and what happens next goes way beyond either of their expectations!

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Have a freezer full of ground elk venison from your fall hunting trips? Never fear, the folks at Camp Chef have a great SHOT Show recipe that is lean and mean, easy to prepare, and a crowd-pleasing favorite!

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 16: Cedar Break Bucks

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


8 Best Venison Marinades

Hank Shaw - August 20, 2013

Perhaps the most common question I get about cooking venison is what marinades I use the most.


The Ultimate Hunting Trailers

WA Staff - May 11, 2015

I have never felt that camping trailers at least the "house on wheels" variety that most...

North America

5 Great Last-Minute Public-land Hunts

Joseph von Benedikt - October 16, 2017

Didn't draw? Here are five great places you can still make a 2017 mule deer hunt. According to...

See More Stories

More Survival


Becoming a Huntlete: How to Manage Extreme Hunting Conditions

Jace Bauserman

Looking to eliminate the fatigue, brain fog and poor decision-making that comes from improper...


Stroud on Survival: How to Avoid Poisonous Plants in the Wild

Les Stroud - July 18, 2012

As those of us who have suffered through a bout of poison ivy can attest, coming into...


Castaway: Hunters Discover Hunting for Survival

Simon K. Barr - May 09, 2016

Waves splashed around "The Verle Anne," a leftover landing craft from the Falklands War. The

See More Survival

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.