The mushroom season is on and I finally have a credible reason for wondering around in the nearby forests and mountainsides, the only problem is, that my mushroom hunting ground is also home to Europe's largest brown bear population, an estimated 6500 to 7000 specimens live in the Carpathian Mountains, of course not all of them live in "my back yard" but extensive logging, deforestation and high numbers due to their protected status forced them to the settlements' edges, attacks on livestock are regular in these parts and occasionally people get mauled too. Last year there were 4 bear attacks in this area, one of which was fatal and all happened when unwary people stumbled upon the, presumably, sleeping bear in the bushes.
Experts say that bears seldom target humans as prey and the vast majority of attacks happen when the bear is surprised and feels cornered, the "fight or flight response" kicks in and the bear (usually) chooses to fight, this is why it's generally a good idea to talk loudly and make noise when moving trough the woods, so that the bears notice your presence in time and move out of your way. Talking loudly is not always an option for me, especially when I'm out alone, so I used firecrackers, I popped 2-3 on a trek, in places where the undergrowth was thick, but now firecrackers cannot be purchased without a pyrotechnician permit, so this brings me, or us, to the next option: the bear horn; and while we're at it, why not make it really outdoorsy, out of antler and stuff...
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- plastic tube (a disposable syringe, pen, etc...)
- surgical glove
- string or rubber band
- epoxy glue
Step 2: Making the Horn
I think the 37 pictures above should suffice in explaining the whole process, if not, please post your questions in the comments section and I'll reply as soon as I can.
Step 3: Using the Horn
Maybe it's already clear, but let me just put it straight: it's very unlikely that this horn will deter an attacking bear, nonetheless it will alert bears in your vicinity of your presence, giving them time to move away and avoid a possible conflict; fresh tracks, piles of steaming excrement and the not-so distant sound of a large animal moving through the bushes convinced me that the horn works as intended, still, I always carry a can of pepper spray, just in case ...
Also, if you don't hike or camp in places where bears are a threat, the sound of this horn is very similar to the one marketed as the "emergency survival horn", but it looks waaay bushcrafty-er.
Runner Up in the
Animals in the Wild Challenge