Bridget’s 10mm vs. a Bear
April 9th, 2020
6 minute read
On one beautiful July day, I decided to take a walk in the woods to one of my favorite fishing spots. This particular fishing spot holds big tiger trout (which are a hybrid cross between a brook and brown trout).
Because I love both hunting and fishing, I decided that I would multi-task and take some trail cameras into the woods to set up. I was looking for elk and deer to show up on these cameras because I have seen a lot of tracks in this area before. These woods are thick with ponderosa pines, aspens and berry bushes.
I started hiking towards the lake and split off the trail before reaching it to hike down into the canyon and set some trail cameras. I had two with me and planned on putting one up high, and one down in the bottom of the canyon. I took my time to set each camera on the perfect tree and then began heading back up the hill.
As I started hiking back to the trail that would lead me to the lake a storm rolled in. The blue skies turned grey fast and thunder started to echo through the woods. After a few minutes, a light rain began to fall and the thunder and lightning pressed on. This is typical July weather in the Utah mountains, and I expect a storm a day. Because of this, I’m always prepared with a rain jacket in my backpack which helps keep me warm and dry.
As I got back on the trail most of the rain had passed, but the sky seemed to be permanently grey for the rest of the day. As I looked up at the grey puffy clouds, I thought to myself “this will get the animals moving.” The summers in Utah are hot and you will not bump into most wild game or predators during the day. Because of the heat, they stick to roaming at sunrise, sunset and through the night. Occasionally when a storm like this comes in and cools the temperature they will get back up and move around throughout the day. With that thought, I pressed on my hike and eventually reached the lake.
I hiked down a steep hill to the shore of the lake that I wanted to fish. I put my backpack down and took out the gear I needed. I set up my fly rod with some floating line, some tippet, and a nymph. I began casting around and caught a nice tiger trout pretty early on. Overcast skies during July lead to great bug hatches, which means great fishing and a happy Bridget!
Facing the Threat
Shortly after catching that fish, I heard movement in the woods above me. I was still fishing at the base of the hill just inches off the lake. The sound of movement in the middle of nowhere triggered my attention and I looked up. I could not see what was moving, but I did see many thick baby aspen trees moving around like an animal or two was barreling through them.
Shortly after seeing this, I heard a cry. This cry was the clear and distinct sound of a baby bear. Because of the sound, I knew I was dealing with at least a baby and a mama bear based on the tree movement above me. After a couple seconds, I received a clear view of a big black bear with a cinnamon tint to her coat. This was the almighty mama bear.
As an outdoorswoman, I do not trust bears or most predators for that matter when I’m alone in the woods. On top of that, we all know that the most dangerous and aggressive animals are typically mothers protecting their young. My heart definitely started beating faster as I crouched down in attempts to hide from the bears. These bears were only about 20 yards from me and moving through the thick brush on top of the steep hill above me. Another glimpse made me realize that there were actually three bears right in front of me. They were a mama bear and two little cubs.
This is a good example of why it is important to always have your gun on your person. Rarely, I will holster it onto my backpack hip straps, or keep it inside the backpack. If I were to have done that on this particular day my gun would have been 20 yards from me and I would not be able to reach it before the bear would reach me if it were aggressive. This particular day I had it on me, in its holster and on my belt.
I was carrying my favorite open carry mountain gun, the Springfield 1911 Range Officer Elite Operator chambered in 10mm. I carry this gun specifically for its knockdown power, capacity and accuracy. This gun looks heavy and large on my hip, but it is my go-to open carry mountain gun because I can shoot it with accuracy and precision each time.
I watched the mama and baby bears walk through the aspens above me. The baby bears were making their baby bear sounds and the mother was staying right behind them on the trail. Where the aspens opened up the baby bears began wrestling with each other while making funny noises and running around.
Through the sound of the bears moving and playing I was able to sneak my 1911 out of its holster and hold it with two hands, just to be prepared. I respect bears and am not afraid of them typically, but I wanted to be ready in case the mother bear turned and got aggressive at my presence.
Within a minute the mama bear and cubs had moved down the trail and never even caught a glimpse of me. The aspens protected their view of me, and so did the fact that I was down a steep hill. As they walked out of my view, I felt at ease that they never saw me and was relieved I did not have to use my gun. Most predator encounters do not end in attacks, but I think it’s always smart to be prepared in the moment just in case.
The moral of this survival story is that keeping your gun on your person while alone in the wilderness is always going to be the best option for you. Sometimes it may be easier and more convenient to throw it in your pack or clip it to your backpack, but at the end of the day open-carrying on your belt will give you fast and easy access when you need it most.
After spending many years in bear country I feel the most comfortable sharing the woods with them while carrying my Range Officer Elite Operator in 10mm. This round has gained popularity in recent years and I highly recommend giving it a try! Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for my next survival story!
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