-- Last Updated: May-03-10 8:14 PM EST --
Back in 2000 or 2001, I was guiding south of Yellowstone. We took a couple out for a pack in camp near Two Oceans Pass. Since I'm an early riser, I got up each morning to start a fire and make coffee. Of course, mother nature's call was the 1st order of business, so I went off by flashlight one morning down the timberline and found a suitable place to do what needed to be done. We had two border collies with us, and I heard them raising cane back at camp and the horses were jumping around quite a bit. I finished my deed and went back to quiet the animals before they woke the clients. Well, as soon as I got back to camp, my partner let the dogs out of the wall tent and they headed straight into the timber. As I was looking down the timberline, out comes this griz right from where I had been not 3 minutes earlier. He went to the middle of the park, spun around towards where the dogs were and shook his head like I've never seen an animal shake. Then, he spun around and headed across the park to the next timberline and disapeared. As if that wasn't enough, the next two nights we were visited by a bear who grunted around the tents. We kept the dogs in, and when the bear got sniffing right next to the wall tent at the foot of my cot, my partner fired a shot in the air through the tent door. The bear left and didn't come back the rest of the week. The first shell was buckshot, meant to be a noisy warning or a stinging one, with deer slugs to follow in case the warning was not heeded. For the rest of my years packing, I never went to answer nature's call without my shotgun.
Yeah, I am armed in bear country and I'm armed at rest areas along the highway. I've camped in the mountains of southern Arizona where smuggling and illegal fugitives makes it the smart thing. I carry a pistol in everyday life, so it only makes good sense to go armed in remote places. In fact, I can't really think of a place I wouldn't prefer to be armed. I figure it's better to have a weapon and never need it than to need it and not have it. It is true that in most eastern parks, the human threat is greater than any threat posed by bears, but bears do kill and maime people. You just have to decide whether you're going to be a survivor or a victim.