Cooler temperatures and peak fall foliage viewing make October a great time for a hike. But if you decide to hit the trails, take a cue from the outdoorsmen and women below, who used firearms to defend themselves against predators, both two-legged and four-legged.
A backpacking couple was hiking through the original boundaries of Mount McKinley National Park in Alaska’s Denali National Park when they happened across signs of bear activity. The male hiker drew his .45-caliber pistol as a brown bear appeared and charged the female hiker. The male hiker fired nine shots at the bear, which retreated into the brush and died. The couple backtracked through the woods to safety and found a forest ranger to report the incident. A recent change in federal law protects national park visitors' right to carry, so long as they are in compliance with state law. Prior to this change, Right to Carry was banned in the original boundaries of Mount McKinley National Park. (The Daily News Miner, Fairbanks, Alaska, 05/30/10)
Gary Boyd was hiking near Muldoon, Alaska, when he thought he saw a moose about 20 feet away. But what Boyd had actually seen was a 750-pound bear, which charged toward him. Boyd drew his .44 Mag. revolver and fired five shots. The bear hadn't been dead three minutes when 12 cross-country runners from the high school came by. (The Washington Times, Washington, D.C., 9/27/04)
Concord, N.H., resident Stephen Lockawich and his 100-pound chocolate lab, Mousse, were scouring woods for shed deer antlers when they were suddenly charged by a rabid skunk. The crazed critter lashed out at the much larger dog, sinking his teeth into Mousse's leg before being knocked loose. The dog and his owner attempted to escape through the woods, only to discover the skunk right behind them. Lockawich then drew his .38 and fired four shots, killing the diseased pest. (The Monitor, Concord, N.H., 3/27/95)
Hiking with his young son on the Appalachian Trail, Dauphin, Pa., resident Theodore Smith—a federal prosecutor—met another man at a trail shelter. When the man began acting oddly and then threatened them with a bayonet, Smith pulled his pistol. Startled, the man fled, but was later apprehended by police. The incident took place near the site of a double murder on the trail the year before. (The Patriot News, Harrisburg, Pa., 8/26/91)
Hiker Edward Driggers was staying in a church-run hostel on the Appalachian Trail when he and fellow hikers were confronted by a belligerent drunk. After threatening them with a knife, the man assaulted Driggers with a shovel. Driggers drew a revolver from his pack and shot his attacker. Police charged the assailant with aggravated assault, simple assault and terroristic threats. (The Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa., 5/25/90)