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This might seem a little off-topic as far as helicopter operations go, but I was wondering if knowledge of firearms is practical for a bush pilot?

 

Simply for self defense against wildlife of course. I've worked a bit in the bush (Northern Ontario and James Bay, Quebec) and rarely saw any fauna; a few moose on logging roads, a wolf or two and black bears which ran off pretty quickly.

 

The noise of a helicopter seems to frighten everything away, except for flies :angry: But what if you're shut down for a long period of time?

 

Just wondering if it's a valuable skill.

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I'd say it's a valuable skill for anyone to have if they are inclined to do so. Carrying a defensive weapon on board has been a on/off argument for a long time. When I worked in northern Alberta off a base, I regularly carried a shotgun, though I usually kept it out of sight of customers unless I knew them. Some clients don't allow firearms, such as major oil companies when working in their fields, so it does pay to have some understanding of who you're flying with. As far as for animal defence, it is a rare thing to have a wildlife problem, but I can remember sitting overwatch a couple of times with crews working on a wellsite while bears were walking the perimeter of the leases.

When I left a regular base rotation however it became difficult to carry as I never knew where I was going to be. One week in the bush, next week could be down by Calgary, so it became impracticle to carry a firearm especially when you may be tempted to leave it behind in your hotel room while you're gone. I do however see a firearm as a great survival tool to have on board in remote areas. If you do choose to take the route of carrying please be careful and don't cause problems with it. It is still a freedom we allowed to exercise, and abuse of it will cause nothing but trouble for everyone else....be responsible.

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This might seem a little off-topic as far as helicopter operations go, but I was wondering if knowledge of firearms is practical for a bush pilot?

 

Simply for self defense against wildlife of course. I've worked a bit in the bush (Northern Ontario and James Bay, Quebec) and rarely saw any fauna; a few moose on logging roads, a wolf or two and black bears which ran off pretty quickly.

 

The noise of a helicopter seems to frighten everything away, except for flies :angry: But what if you're shut down for a long period of time?

 

Just wondering if it's a valuable skill.

 

It's a valuable skill if you carry a firearm into the bush. I have been at more than a few jobs when something a little stronger than a "bear banger" was required. Also a few times when I wish I'd had a gun. Most bush pilots don't carry but once you jump through all the paperwork hoops it's really not that big a hassle. I've seen bears that aren't afraid of helicopters too.

 

Go get some bush experience first and make your decision as to whether it's something you need (want) or not. Most guys get by just fine without guns. There are no "cool" points for packing either...nobody cares.

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I used to pack a defender but started leaving it at home approx 8 years ago.I never had to use it to protect myself or camp but it was fun to have to blast stuff.Also I found that it was more of a liability than anything. Most times in camp if there is a problem it usually is the gun.Last fall I was in Bronsen crk and about 11 pm somebody started blasting with a rifle because they saw a Black Bear.Most Times if you are in camp and you notice Bears around look for the Garbage and the food and help clean up and you shouldn't have a problem. Also read some books on wildlife prevention is easier than protection.

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Bug spray is your best friend, don't leave home without it! Firearms are a valuable tool when doing bush work in the high Arctic. They provide a means of defense against polar bears, wolves and in certain situations puts you in a position to put some food in your stomach if you were ever in that position. It could also aid in getting the attention of search and rescue parties when needed.

I know of polar bears attacking helicopters and doing a costly amount of damage, and in self defense for the helicopter (your ride out of there) firearms could prove to be useful. If you ever spend the night in the Bell hotel in polar bear alley you cuddle a 303 like it was your girlfriend. :lol:

A Coleman stove is also a nice luxury in very remote locations, especially later in the season.

Don't forget a collapsible fishing rod if your around areas where fish is abundant.

Make sure to remove all food and candy from the machine when around bears, especially mentos :lol:

I know some guys won't go take a leak without getting the firearms ready first and some that barely know how to put the bullets in.

It's all personal preference and how comfortable you are in your working environment.

It depends on the location(s) you operating out of and the dangers in those settings.

For those avid hunters possessing the right permits, wildlife regulations currently state that in order to hunt wild game in regards to helicopter operations you must wait at least 12 hours after flying before you are allowed to shoot anything, I believe this doesn't apply to ocean dwelling creatures. I'm sure this varies from province to province and the requirements are different for each place. Cheers!

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If you do choose to take the route of carrying please be careful and don't cause problems with it. It is still a freedom we allowed to exercise, and abuse of it will cause nothing but trouble for everyone else....be responsible.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was told that carrying firearms on board for self protection was not legal, but "tolerated". If it is legal, what is the process for obtaining a permit to carry ?

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I don't even have an FAC, but if I was to get one it would just be for a nice shotty to use when I go skeet shooting with the father in law. That way I wouldn't have to bum someone elses shotgun all the time.

 

I work primarily in the foothills and mountains of Alberta and BC and I have never been stalked or molested by a grizzly that I know of... I do feel a bit nervous going for walks in the woods by camp in the evenings sometimes though, if anything a gun would be nice for those situations.

 

But, It has never really been worth going through all the trouble and jumping through the hoops to get one. It's easier to just not go for those walks. Like someone else said, almost all of our clients have a very strict policy of NO firearms on the jobsite at all. If they caught a pilot carrying a gun the whole company could be removed from the job.

 

The few times I have actually seen grizzly bears on the job, I was in the air and wasn't the one at risk... My drillers on the ground were the ones who should be worrying and they don't carry guns, only dynamite. LOL

 

On the same side of that coin, a noisy 205 with a 3000lb drill swinging at his furry behind seems to scare a bear away nicely from my experience.

 

If I was working on a base type job in some remote location and not having to travel routinely on airlines etc, I would probably keep a shotgun with slugs safely stowed on board if I could do it legally. It would be nice for fishing trip safety.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was told that carrying firearms on board for self protection was not legal, but "tolerated". If it is legal, what is the process for obtaining a permit to carry ?

 

 

You don't need a permit if the firearm is non-restricted (although you may need a different kind of permit to carry in a park area), If you have a possession/aquisition licence you are fine. People who want to carry handguns (which are restricted catagory), must apply for a carry permit. That is a whole other issue and quite frankly not worth the trouble. Even if you did decide to persue that course, the government can still say no. Just stay simple with a shotgun or compact rifle. Since you asked the question wether it was legal or not, I have to assume you don't have a possession license. take a firearms training course, they are cheap and available, and may dispel any myths you my have heard.

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You don't need a permit if the firearm is non-restricted (although you may need a different kind of permit to carry in a park area), If you have a possession/aquisition licence you are fine. People who want to carry handguns (which are restricted catagory), must apply for a carry permit. That is a whole other issue and quite frankly not worth the trouble. Even if you did decide to persue that course, the government can still say no. Just stay simple with a shotgun or compact rifle. Since you asked the question wether it was legal or not, I have to assume you don't have a possession license. take a firearms training course, they are cheap and available, and may dispel any myths you my have heard.

 

I had a FAC waaaay back in the late '80s and early '90s, long before the new rules came into effect, so I am alittle bit rusty on that aspect... :lol:

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