@Cdawley4 - I've been doing a lot of research on this topic as I prepare for a solo circumnavigation of Lake Superior by kayak.  My concern is campsite encounters, not surprising bears on the trail.  As a biologist, I love taking deep dives into animal behavior as this knowledge can keep you out of harm's way.  I will say one thing in advance: bears don't read books.  Every bear is an individual and their behavior is shaped by their own experiences.  

Here are few things that might help:

1)  Carrying a firearm is one thing.  Being able to use it under duress is something else entirely.  Bears close distance more rapidly than you can imagine and getting off a kill shot requires expertise, not just the right firearm.  

2) Warning shots to chase bears off are discouraged.  Loud, unexpected noises will startle bears, but continued exposure habituates them and becomes less affective.

3) Even when you ask for Black bear information specifically, almost all conversations turn toward Grizzly/Brown bears.  Very little in-depth information is out there for Black bears.  The species do not behave the same.  Play dead in a Black bear attack and you will be.

4)  The idea that Black bears are benign is not accurate. There is an increasing number of encounters with what seem to be predatory Black bears -  for instance stalking for long periods of time or running off after being bear sprayed and then quickly returning.  These are rare, but seem to indicate a departure from the usually easy to startle behavior that is taught. Local wildlife offices should be able to tell you about any recent situations.

5)  Black bears are curious and body posture will reveal that curiosity.  Agitation has a different set of postures.  The bear can go from one to the other quickly, depending upon your actions.  Learn the differences and the appropriate responses.  Because of the belief in #4, people often approach Black bears and precipitate an encounter.  

I gleaned a lot of information by reading "Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance" by Stephen Herrero, a Canadian ecologist.  As I said above, the book is heavily skewed toward Brown bears but there is section with good Black bear information.  

I think it was Herrero who mentioned sleeping in the middle of your tent as opposed to up against a side.  Bears will often explore a tent by poking or nibbling.  Not sure where that leaves us hammock campers!   

Hands down my favorite comment was from a Backpacker article (it's mostly about Grizzlies (sigh) but still has good info): "Don’t act like you’ve been violated when you get attacked after washing your hair with a fragrance that makes you smell like a 200 pound strawberry."  Full article here: https://www.backpacker.com/survival/the-truth-about-bears-the-skills/

NOLS also has some information available.


Kayaker Bee