Backpacking Gun Owners

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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c0ryh
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Re: Backpacking Gun Owners

Post by c0ryh » Fri May 11, 2018 8:13 pm

I went on a weekend trip along the Kern with a close friend from high school. He brought along one of his buddies who happened to bring a 9mm. He was certain we were surrounded by man eating bears the entire trip. He also brought a huge jar of tartar sauce, limes, cilantro, tortillas, 2 sweaters, and 3 pairs of pants for a 2 night trip. By the time we arrived at camp after a relatively flat 5 mile hike, he threw up and laid down for an hour.

I feel like a large portion of people carrying in the woods have never been backpacking and have a fear of being eaten alive by animals.








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rightstar76
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Re: Backpacking Gun Owners

Post by rightstar76 » Sat May 12, 2018 5:09 am

The only time I've seen firearms in the Sierra Nevada has been during hunting season. All the hunters I've met have been courteous and friendly. Some have even offered food and drink. Luckily, I've never run into any scary gun owners like the ones Fishmonger saw near Silver Pass. In the Golden Trout Wilderness, unfortunately, I have encountered deserted backcountry camps where there was garbage and bullet ridden cans.

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oldranger
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Re: Backpacking Gun Owners

Post by oldranger » Sat May 12, 2018 1:37 pm

As a commissioned backcountry ranger in SEKI in the 80s, I carried only when on horseback (regs have changed since then and now, as I understand it commissioned rangers must carry). Most of the time my weapon was concealed in a pommel bag. From mid September until the end of the season I would carry on my belt anytime I rode between my station and the park boundary. On only 3 occasions did I even consider that use of the weapon was even a remote possibility. 1. Report of an assault on a female backpacker with the perp possibly headed in my direction. Before contact was made the reporting Ranger did an extensive interview with the supposed victim. The female ranger called off the search for the supposed assault because she felt from the interview that the supposed victim was actually more likely the perp! I never did see anyone that appeared like the person in the original report. 2. I encountered a man with a large knife on his belt on horseback with 2 sons also on horseback and a dog. I told him he would have to exit the park. He was quite reluctant to turn around and kind of escalated the encounter to the point where to turn around was to lose face in front of his sons. Finally I told him that he could do anything he wanted but because he obviously had a horse trailer and truck at the trailhead there would be rangers waiting for him and he would be cited for dog in the backcountry and disobeying a lawful order. Given a choice he turned around and exited the park. 3. During boundary patrol, returning to the government packstation outside of the park, I encountered 3 hunters with an untangled deer. I immediately had them unload their rifles (they had no sidearms) made one carry all 3 rifles cradled in his arms and the other 2 carry out the deer as I followed on my horse. While riding I contacted the CDFG wardens in the area and they met me as I escorted the hunters out to the trailhead.

Bottom line is I never drew my weapon in the field over the 9 seasons I was a backcountry ranger. But I always assumed that everyone I met was carrying. Classic case of don't ask don't tell!

FYI Yosemite and SEKI are exclusive jurisdiction parks. That means that except in certain restricted circumstances local law enforcement officers have no more rights than any other citizen to carry or utilize a firearm in the park.

And yes it makes no sense to me that it is legal to carry a firearm but illegal to discharge it in a park. It also makes no sense that it is legal to carry a firearm but not bear spray in a SEKI and Yosemite.
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

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Harlen
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Re: Backpacking Gun Owners

Post by Harlen » Sat May 12, 2018 2:16 pm

Thanks for the gripping tales, and rules clarification. You sound like you handled those situations well Mike. Working in the State Parks, I saw and heard too much of the other- rangers and police too quick to unholster weapons, often seemed to be the young guys who lacked your sort of self confidence.

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Pietro257
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Re: Backpacking Gun Owners

Post by Pietro257 » Sat May 12, 2018 3:08 pm

I don't understand why anyone would bring a gun to the mountains. I go to the high country to get away from guns. I've been afraid of creek crossings and large talus fields. In neither case would a gun have helped me. I'm not afraid of bears. If you steer clear of them they will gladly steer clear of you.

This "wise," "experienced" 25-year-old thru hiker spends 20 minutes on YouTube talking about guns and the PCT. Really?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttA7xEgml4I

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oldranger
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Re: Backpacking Gun Owners

Post by oldranger » Sun May 13, 2018 8:53 pm

Harlen wrote:Thanks for the gripping tales, and rules clarification. You sound like you handled those situations well Mike. Working in the State Parks, I saw and heard too much of the other- rangers and police too quick to unholster weapons, often seemed to be the young guys who lacked your sort of self confidence.
Not sure that "self confidence" was the correct description. I remember rehearsing my responses to multiple scenarios of encounters with Claude Dallas. More than one involved me running and zigzagging thru the trees.
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

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Re: Backpacking Gun Owners

Post by giantbrookie » Sun May 13, 2018 9:49 pm

I don't carry but I've encountered folks in the backcountry who were armed in various ways. Most (excluding hunting season) of this has been doing geologic field work, although I went to fish the Middle Fork American once and ran into a guy doing gold dredging with a 9 mm tucked into his waistband (ie underpants). On another occasion, I ducked under cover to avoid two guys on horseback with AK47s once in the Coast Ranges once, and on another was accosted by a guy with a shotgun (not pointing it at me) somewhere N of San Diego (apparently guarding stuff growing beneath the cover of an avocado grove). There was this one dredging guy along Slate Creek in the N Sierra who was discharging his 44 magnum, not in my direction, but likely with intent to intimidate (message received) and most recently was chased off of a place near Sierra Buttes by gunfire (again not aimed at me) probably designed to intimidate me and related to an ownership dispute over the land I thought I had permission to do geologic mapping on. I recall the "Land of the Giant Brookies" never lacking for gunfire at any time of year and the worst was well outside when Judy and I were hiking back from a cutthroat lake called Johanna Lake and ran into a bunch of drunk guys driving the Fordyce jeep trail and firing all manner of assault weapons in all directions from their various 4WD vehicles. On backpacking trips I've run into folks with sidearms twice, once in Dinkey Lakes Wilderness (guy simply said he wanted to feel safe from potential yahoos out there), and the more amusing one was in Trinity Alps Wilderness. The latter story...

I was hiking with a girlfriend (May 1984 pre Judy) to a place called Big Bear Lake in the Trinity Alps. We arrived at the outlet of the lake and ran into two young guys in camo, both sporting 9 mm handguns. Although they looked a bit out of place they were friendly enough and they really wanted to know "Did you see any bears?". The answer was no. We still didn't like the looks of guys so we did some serious off trail to get to the inlet side (including bushwhacking and some hairy snowslopes). We caught a lot of fish and were impressed with the amount of bear poo around where we were camped, but we never saw a bear. When it came time to hike out we were still a bit spooked out by those guys so we hiked a route along the opposite perimeter of the lake so as to get back to the trail below where those guys were camped. This was a perfectly miserable hike given the thickness of the brush but we pulled it off, got onto the trail and kicked into the high gear down the trail. But.... It turned out the other guys were headed out too and we overtook them. The first thing they asked us was "Did you see any bears?" We spoke further. It turned out they were from NY State and didn't know the area very well. It was clear they were very impressed with the Big Bear Lake, Little Bear Lake, Wee Bear Lake place names in the basin and they were very scared of encountering a bear, hence the sidearms.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Harlen
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Re: Backpacking Gun Owners

Post by Harlen » Mon May 14, 2018 11:31 am

GB wrote:
once ran into a guy doing gold dredging with a 9 mm tucked into his waistband (ie underpants)
Did he have it up front GB? Aimed to take himself out of the gene-pool?[/b]

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Re: Backpacking Gun Owners

Post by richlong8 » Mon May 14, 2018 3:31 pm

c0ryh wrote:I went on a weekend trip along the Kern with a close friend from high school. He brought along one of his buddies who happened to bring a 9mm. He was certain we were surrounded by man eating bears the entire trip. He also brought a huge jar of tartar sauce, limes, cilantro, tortillas, 2 sweaters, and 3 pairs of pants for a 2 night trip. By the time we arrived at camp after a relatively flat 5 mile hike, he threw up and laid down for an hour.

I feel like a large portion of people carrying in the woods have never been backpacking and have a fear of being eaten alive by animals.
The #1 question that I get from people who don't hike or backpack in the mountains is always, do you carry a gun? And many of them cannot believe that I don't. Now, If I was spending a lot of time in campgrounds, I might just have a firearm available. I believe the real danger in the outdoors is people, and in most cases, if you get 10 miles away from the end of the road, the probability of having people problems is very low. I believe that rangers are always going to be at greater risk, because they have authority, which is often resented, and enforcement responsibilities. I have always felt that if folks are not supposed to have guns in the national parks, that the park personnel should not have weapons either, but that is the libertarian in me with that opinion. If I had to do their job, I would want a gun available also. Too many crazy people nowadays......

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Re: Backpacking Gun Owners

Post by giantbrookie » Mon May 14, 2018 5:02 pm

Harlen wrote:GB wrote:
once ran into a guy doing gold dredging with a 9 mm tucked into his waistband (ie underpants)
Did he have it up front GB? Aimed to take himself out of the gene-pool?[/b]
Yes he did.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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