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Attacked by a Black Bear
Saved by Storm Whistle

While most bears do their best to avoid the people traipsing around their back yard, every time you embark on an adventure into bear country you’re opening the door for a bear encounter. Bears are naturally afraid of humans, but as the lines between bears and humans become less defined, bears become more audacious in our presence. This is especially true in areas where they’re accustomed to seeing us, like hiking trails. Aside from always packing your bear spray, there are a few other precautions you can take while hiking in bear country. Reduce your chance of a bear encounter by following these 12 tips:

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12 steps to BEAR SAFETY

1. Avoid hiking alone if possible. A group makes more noise than a single hiker, increasing your chances of giving any bears in the area a heads up.

2. Never let your small children run ahead or wander.

3. Make a lot of noise by talking, clapping and singing to avoid startling a bear. Chances are a bear isn’t going to linger on the trail if he expects a circus to crest the hill at any moment. Despite what you may have heard, bear bells may not be enough to alert a bear of your presence so don’t rely on them. Using a extremely loud whistle like the Storm Whistle has been shown to turn bears away.

4. Stick to the trail. It may take some of the adventure out of your hike, but by staying on the trail you’ll minimize potential bear encounters.

5. Avoid bear food. If you smell something dead or see birds circling overhead, avoid the area. You don’t want to encroach on a bear food source.

6. Be aware of your surroundings. Headwinds, running water, a curve in the trail or dense vegetation all increase your chances of surprising a bear. Use caution and make plenty of noise before approaching areas where a bear may not hear, smell or see you coming.

7. Hike during the daylight hours. Bears are most active during early morning and late afternoon hours in the spring and summer. We all love hiking at sunrise or sunset, but in bear country, this can increase your odds of coming across a bear.

8. Avoid areas known to have a high bear population. Research the location you plan to hike and find out if it is known for bear activity.

9. Keep your food packed up tight and don’t leave food bits or garbage along the trail. Bears have a very strong sense of smell and even a small amount of food can attract one.

10. Watch for signs of bear – tracks, scat and markings on trees are all good indicators. Find out what kind of bears might be in the area you plan to hike and what kind of specific signs to look for.

11. Avoid wearing scented lotions or perfumes on the trail. The same rule with keeping your food tightly packed applies here. Don't test a bear's nose.

12. Don’t leave your packs unattended. Chances are there is something in your pack that might smell interesting to a bear and if it's lying alone without all the noise you would be making with it on your back, a bear will be all the more likely to investigate.

Attacked by a Black Bear
Saved by Storm Whistle

I'm convinced your Storm Whistle saved my life about 10 years ago when I was bowhunting for elk in the Rawah Wilderness of Colorado. It was late in the evening and I was sitting on a ridge with my back up against an enormous spruce tree. My butt was on the ground. There was a bull elk upwind from me about 100 yards away, bugling, tearing trees apart, creating some incredible theatre to watch. When I'd blow on my cow or calf elk call he'd get stirred up again. Soon I realized it was too dark to consider shooting this bull elk with my recurve bow and I simply enjoyed the evening listening to him, blowing on the calf call now and then. Fortunately the wind died down and after another calf elk call I heard a loud WOOOF, WOOOF, over my left shoulder. I turned to see a large male black bear, a boar, coming in fast to my call. I went from hunter to hunted in a split second. Thank God I had your Storm Whistle around my neck and in my shirt pocket. I pulled it out, turned toward the bear and blew as loud as I could. He slowed up at five yards, stood on his hind legs above me, wheeled around and took off. The first thing I realized was I hadn't peed my pants. Being in brown camo clothing, that bear could have easily mistaken me for a calf elk and the ending might have been different had I not had your Storm Whistle. 


I started putting together a backcountry emergency system when I was nine years old. I tested my gear and skills for two years before my parents let me go into the Cabinet Wilderness Area, ten days at a time, without adult supervision at the age of eleven. I never looked back and the passion for spending time in really wild places has only grown over the years. I take my safety and security seriously and in doing so I'm never worried about getting lost or not being able to handle a backcountry emergency. 


Most of the Ten Essentials lists you'll find are missing the key tasks everyone should complete before leaving home. These are the tasks that separate backcountry deaths from those who survived. The vast majority of the people I run into in the backcountry are woefully unprepared. My goal is to help folks confidently answer the following three questions if they are forced to spend one or more unplanned nights out in the backcountry while waiting for emergency help:


1. Who knows my current location?

2. When do they expect me back?

3. What is the plan and response if I don't return by that date and time? 


I put this system together to help me and others avoid a tragic outcome and more importantly, fully enjoy our time in the backcountry. That's what it's all about. I welcome your feedback.


I've attached the document as well. Most of my time in the backcountry is spent filming mountain lions with remote cameras. Plying this craft affords me time in truly wild places. Your Storm Whistle is noted in the Navigation section of my Ten Essentials Plus document. As I teach more workshops in the coming months and years I welcome the opportunity to purchase the Storm Whistle at a wholesale price. I'll call Donna this afternoon to discuss the options. Thanks again for saving lives, including mine! 




Warm regards, 


David Neils

Wild Nature Media

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