A Wilderness Backpackers Best Friends

A Wilderness Backpackers Best Friends

Two friends that you can always count on to protect you while backpacking through the wilderness are a reliable high-powered firearm and a dog! In some cases, it is silly to enter an area without one or both. Of course, there are some National Parks and Wilderness areas where it is illegal to carry firearms but you won't find us there! 
Sure, either of these two will increase your carry weight but it is worth every ounce.  Due to the fact that we backpack in areas where there are Bears, Mountain Lions and Wolves, it would be irresponsible to even leave the truck without at least some form of protection.  I can honestly say that to date I have never had to shoot any of these predators out of desperation but I will also say that I sleep very well in dangerous territory knowing that I have my trusty sidearm and my dog.  The majority of encounters with wild predators are easily avoided or end peacefully almost faster than they start.  There is always the possibility that you meet a grumpy bear or cat that has your number and wants to eat half of you now and bury the other half for breakfast. Neither a gun nor a dog is 100% protection against this, but it certainly maximizes your chances of survival.

Backpacking with Dogs

The phrase "Mans best friend" pretty much sums it up.  A good dog is always an asset when trekking through the wilderness.  The scent of a dog alone can be a deterrent for a Bear or Cat looking to do you harm while their behavior can alert you to approaching trouble. The right breed would gladly give their life to save yours in an unfortunate situation or at least buy you enough time escape or take action with a firearm.  Not all breeds are compatible with backpacking.  If your dog wears a pack, it should be properly weighted and adjusted. It should be light enough that they can keep up without straining or overheating. 
If you expect the dog to pull their weight they should be fit and capable.  Besides protection, a dog is also a great source of heat while sleeping in cold weather.  Either inside your sleeping bag or on top, they can make a miserable night tolerable.  And lastly, a dog is a companion that is always happy and never bitches or complains.  They are just content to be there and to be part of the project! 

Guns Versus Pepper spray

A very long-standing debate hosted by both sides of that disgusting political machine, there's no hotter topic than "Guns".  The left-leaning Liberals will tell you that guns are evil and scary in any capacity, while the far-right, gun-toting, corn-fed conservatives prefer to bare cold steel in preparation for an encounter with any wild predator.  Regardless of your stance on the issue, the debate on guns has been tainted by the shady agendas of Special interest groups and big-city politics.  Each person is entitled to their own preference and therefore is ultimately and solely responsible for their own safety and well-being.  For those of you who are silly enough to rely on the biased suggestions of your government to provide you with a safe backpacking experience, you probably won't be missed anyway.   
While pepper spray can be a non-lethal solution to an animal attack, it is far from perfect and in some cases completely useless. All you have to do is watch it being applied to an angry hopped-up Crackhead to see that sometimes it works very well - but other times, when combined with an elevated dose of adrenalin and the fear of jail time, it appears to provide them with super-human powers. Now, exchange your 100-pound Crackhead with a 1500-pound Grizzly with cubs and 3-inch canines, and then try to convince me that you would feel confident spraying a non-lethal irritating substance in its face.

In the event that sheer luck happens to be on your side that day, and that fate would have it that you are able to temporarily stop the Bear from tearing you into human finger steaks, the fact remains that you are still left with a wounded, very pissed off animal that will give its life to protect it's young. What makes you so bold to think that you will walk away unscathed?  What makes you think that a wounded bear is going to give up that easily when evolution has programmed it to fight to the death?  Do you trust the questionable statistics and recommendations created and provided to you by your government and media?  ...Absolutely, please do.  You'll be fine...you'll be fine!
Having a firearm serves as more than just a form of protection against wild animals when you are backpacking.  It can also be used for hunting (Duh) if needed, as well as a form of signaling if you are lost. A gunshot can be heard for miles and in many cases has been used to lead rescuers to lost hunters or hikers.  Let's see your pepper spray do that!  Firearms are not for everyone though.  When properly used by responsible people, they absolutely can save your life and the lives of others in your party.  If you are unsure how to use a firearm or lack common sense, then pepper spray may be the better option for you... and for the rest of us.  Well, good luck with all that! 

The Conclusion

Contrary to what others choose to believe, I consider myself and MOST other humans to dwell at the peak of the food chain.  In order to hold this position, it is vital that we preserve our lives (and way of life) over the lives of our competitors, including animals.  I know that for some it may sound less than PC when you say it, but nonetheless is a reality and the only way that we can remain at the top of the chain while continuing to thrive and prosper.  For those of you who take refuge in a hypocritical bubble, this will be an alien concept for you...and sadly, in my relentless quest for survival, I will probably pull off your wings and eat you at some point during your evolutionary descent... Hey Bear!

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