Second-guessing follows every bear mauling in Alaska as surely as surgery and stitches.
Some of it is armchair bellowing of little use. Some of it is smart after-action analysis that makes for savvier outdoorsmanship the next time out -- and provides lessons for all with the sense to heed.
The first thing to say to the group of seven outdoor leadership students attacked by the grizzly in the Talkeetna Mountains? Bravo, kids.
By all accounts they regrouped with skill, courage and presence of mind after the terror of the mauling. One student led in improvising treatment for the wounded. Another took the lead in setting up camp as they waited for rescue. One of the wounded called for his mates to set off their emergency locator beacon. Those responses testify to their character and the value of the National Outdoor Leadership School training.
The attack was swift and sudden. Play dead? That's the drill, but not so easy if you're being mauled in the real thing.
Carry firearms? That's standard advice in bear country, but the kids never had a chance to reach for the bear spray they had. Would they have been able to get to a firearm any faster? And what about accuracy in the middle of a grizzly attack?
This isn't an argument against carrying firearms in bear country; that's standard procedure for many Alaskans and a wise precaution -- provided you know what you're doing with the weapon.
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