Bears! With Bear Expert Dr. Tom Smith

Join our panelists Pam Shoppman, Shannon Utz and Ryan Chappelear, along with producer, Shelley Carney, and moderator Toby Younis as they spray bear questions at Dr. Tom Smith of Brigham Young Unversity.

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Grizzly Encounters in Yellowstone Park

This morning, I received this letter, and some photos, from one of our viewers. It described his experiences with bears during a recent Fenn Treasure recon to Yellowstone National Park. He agreed to let me share the information with you. Reminder: on this Wednesday evening’s panel, we’ve invited bear expert, Dr. Tom Smith. It’s a stream with live chat, so Dr. Smith can answer your bear-related questions. Subscribe here to be notified of the start of the session.

Hi Toby,

Just wanted to pass along a strong warning that you can relay to you viewers. I was in the Yellowstone area on multiple occasions over the last few weeks. I had two grizzly encounters, first one being no big deal. A male about 6-7 hundred feet up a hill, I saw him before he saw me. I moved a little closer to a group of trees before he looked up at me. Since I search alone I always hike with a cowbell, I’m positive it saved my ass last year on Ramshorn Peak when it woke a grizzly that must have been napping in a ravine that I was heading to. So I rang my bell at it and took off up the hill.

This last Saturday I was coming down a trail by a creek (to my left) with a hill on my right side. I had been up the trail two miles and was coming out and thought I was fairly clear of bear area, maybe a third of a mile from the trail head and road. Scanned up the hill and there was a 5-6 hundred pound grizzly giving me the stink eye because I was between him and the creek. When I later measured it on Google Maps it put him at about 125 feet, I quickly turned towards him and started side stepping to get on the road side of him. I instinctively shook my cowbell at him twice, which didn’t faze him a bit as he was sizing me up as friend, food or foe. I was thinking spray or weapon, given that he was up hill and could have been on me in seconds I pulled my 10mm (edit. semi-automatic handgun). Just about that time he took a step down off the ridge towards the trail. It was going to be to close if he made the trail before I could get some more distance and being that he showed no fear of me whatsoever. I discharged a warning shot in the air. He turned and quartered away from me back over the ridge. I could tell he was still coming down towards the trail, but that bought me enough time to get down the trail and behind a dead fall. Luckily he did not pursue me and I moved back out about 50 to 75 feet and watched his profile as moved towards the creek.

Whew, to close for my comfort. Need to find a buddy or partner for the search. My advice, big bell, use it often especially on closed in trails, get use to it. Bear spray, side arm or both, if you pack a weapon be trained with it. I think the 10mm Glock is a good choice because the clip is 15 rounds and I always carry a spare. Know your sign and the area your in, Here are a few pic’s you can share with your viewers.


Chris Baxter
Kings Valley, OR

Grizzly Scat

Grizzly Track