When I started fishing by myself, my dad gave me a can of bear spray. I laughed, thinking he was showing a little too much concern over an animal that had no great presence in my area of the world.

Stone-faced, he said, “It’s not for bears.”

Original 1523294626 bear body 3

Photo by Colin Wiseman

Over the years, I have never had to use said bear spray, but its presence on my wading belt has comforted me on occasion. There was the time when I lost a fish after a stranger I was unaware of shouted “Set the hook!” while standing 10 feet behind me. Or the time I was not-so-quietly follow around the lake by another stranger running commentary on the quality of my casts. And then there was the time a stranger proposed to me after learning I was fishing alone, and was not already spoken for. I’m obviously not going to whip out the whoop-ass on these well-intentioned gentlemen, but being a petite, young woman out in the wilderness comes with the need to protect oneself should any of those situations go south.

Original 1523293989 bear body 2

Photo by Heather Hodson