Poll: Bear Bells - Effective or Gimmick?

Black Bear

I was recently contacted by a reader who had a very specific question regarding the effectiveness of bear bells vs. whistles in the back country. Here is the full question:

"Brian I wanted to get your opinion on the use of whistles to alert bears in the area as opposed to using bells. I fish a lot in the Montana mountains and have been using bells. I thought that a whistle blown every 3-5 minutes while I'm in areas that are frequented by bears might work better than bells...... your thoughts please?"

I have a pretty strong opinion about this and responded back via email with my thoughts, but rather than just blurt out what my opinion is here, I'll share it afterward, I thought I'd open it up to everyone else to get a collective take on the effectiveness of bear bells and your thoughts about using an emergency whistle on a regular basis.

I don't mean to single out this reader because of their question, quite the opposite. I think it is a fantastic question and one that deserves to be thrown out to a larger audience than just me :)

So what do you think about bear bells? Effective, annoying, pointless sales gimmick, other? And what about the question of using an emergency whistle instead..?

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