Yes the Gun is for Hiking: Want to hear my story as to why?

When I moved to the wild wild west (Phoenix) for grad school I was 22 years old. I had relatives out there and they all had guns…I gues it’s just the norm if you live in the southwest. But I never really wanted to get a gun…I’m from Conneticut, where if you have Gun without a license and get caught it’s ranks right up there with felony sodomy.
Anyway, I was in phoenix for 4 years, loved it. Met my wife out there in fact. Then moved back to CT.
Back to the story. My second year into graduate school I decided to submit to peer pressure (mainly from my relatives) and buy a gun. So I went down to the local Gun R’ Us and bought a Glock 23. .40 Caliber .

FBI issued, I thought I was pretty safe. Small enough and durable enough for just about anything. My primary use was for Hiking.

Hiking you say? Why on earth would you need a pistol for hiking?

I can think of a hundred reason’s to have one whilst hiking, but mainly for the reasons I haven’t thought of.

So I’d take my new gun down to the river bed with friends and relatives and join the “oh so redneck” pastime of ‘shoot’in’. It was pretty fun, I learned a lot. I learned more when I got my concealed carry license and practiced at an actual range.

Not three weeks after I got my concealed license I was hiking in Mesa Arizona. 25 or so miles east of Phoenix. I was at a place called Usury Mountain. I went up with a new friend of mine, we went to get some pictures of the sunset from the top of the mountain. He had no idea I had a gun. Why tell anyone right?

Well it was October and we were on our way down the mountain in the twilight. A rain squall had just finished a very quick pass and the desert smelled like honey. (I don’t know why the desert smells like honey after it rains, maybe someone will know) So we are walking down the well warn path and we round a corner. My friend stops mid stride, mid sentence and stares out infront of him.
I look at him first and then see what he’s looking at. Not 70 feet in front of us is the largest cat I have ever seen. There squatting down next to a Cholla, was a large bronze mountain lion.
It let out an immediate blood curdling Screeech!! kind of scream. Sounded like a high pitched women who’d smoked all her life screaming at the top of her lungs. Ears tilted, head down she was startled. I immediately backed away, not taking my eyes off her. My hand touching my frozen friends backpack, queing him to step back a few steps.
Screeeeech again…she took a few steps forward and walked diagonal towards us and down the ravine. She was walking very slowly, her head probably 6 inches off the ground along with her body at the same hight. Kinda looking like she’s about ready to pounce.

I had my gun attached by holster to my backpack. It was situated between my backpack and my back. grip facing my right side, so I put my hand on it, fliped the release velcro from the holster and brought it out. My friends eyes got to the size of silver dollars, and a short look of relief passed through his brow. I whispered, “By the way Matty, this is why I carry a gun hiking…”
we watched the cat move ever so carefully down the ravine and we continued on at a faster pace down the trail. Not wanting to entice the cat with a run, we talked loudly so she knew where we were and walked rather briskly. The one thing going through my head was something my uncle had told me when I first got the gun. It went something like this:

“…heaven forbit you ever have to use it out of fear or anxiety remember the one golden rule for protecting your self from a wild animal. When they charge you if you can see’em com’in, remember to only fire when they are at the end of your barrel. Otherwise, you’ll miss out of pure unadulterated fear.”

I often wondered if that were true. But I knew I would not want to find out. Had that cat charged, wanting a meal, I’d have fired at the last possible second soas not to miss. She may have hit me, but she’d be dead. I’d be heart broken for killing an animal only doing what she was pre-programed to do by nature.

My greenpeace buddy said when we got back to the car…I never thought I’d ever be happy to see a gun.

Anyone else own a gun for hiking out there?

I often wear my .45 1911 on my hip, not concealed. More because it makes my wife feel safe. Not much in Northern Minnesota it would be usefull on. Black bears rarely attack, no real poisonous snakes to speak of, there is an extremely small cougar population in Minnesota, and those cats are extremly leery of humans. Moose charges happen on occasion, but a .45 wouldn’t do much to a moose. Frankly, I wear it mostly for the most dangerous animal in the woods, the human.

I’ve been wearing it less and less as she becomes more accustomed to life in the great outdoors. It’s uncomfortable.

Why did you wait to shoot? Shouldn’t you have shot a tree or something just to scare the cat off? At least, that is what I would have done. Big bangs make 'em run like hell. I don’t want them at the end of my barrel.

I haven’t carried a gun while hiking, but when I get back into it I will. I had a scare with a momma bear in the Sangre de Cristos in Colorado. Something big was coming at us through the bushes, then it spooked and turned around and ran. We didn’t see what it was, but 50 feet later we saw a baby bear all alone…Woke us up right quick.

I’d carry a revolver. No safety to worry about and a bit louder.


Oh, forgot. I’d also load the first chamber to fire with one of those bird-shot cartridges. I figure that if I have to shoot it to defend myself in the woods that the shotgun spread will increase my chances of hitting ‘it’ with something, so there will be pain and a loud bang, but not necessarilly a fatal encounter. The second shot would be though.


The bird shot is also better on snakes and means even less chance of an unfortunateness when what goes up comes down after you shoot in the air.

I wouldn’t worry about the size of the bang. Most animals know what a bang means and some bird shot across the rump will both teach the others and let you see how fast they can run.

I didn’t shoot at all. I waited. And there are no trees in high desert to speak of. plenty of scrub brush though. She looked pretty menacng, but at the same time kinda scared too. Not nearly as much as my buddy and I. The whole lesson was about the efficacy of carrying a gun whilst hiking.
And as for the other animal more dangerous out there, you know the one, humans. They scare me the most. I’ve done my fare share of deep desert, high platte hiking and I’ve seen stuff that would make you want to carry. Communes no one knows about. Some have no tresspassing signs others have more menacing deterents I’ve seen strung up cat, dogs, and a skinned mule strung up to the flies… Yeah I carry a gun for my own personal safety.

I’ve thought about it but my hiking is very weight conscious. I worry about ounces.

Plus, the only thing around here to worry about 'round here is the bears and they run before I can even get my arms all the way up!