Do You Need a Gun for Camping? – A Woodman’s Perspective

Glock Model 27 .40 S&W

“If you go before the open season for shooting, take no gun. It will simply be a useless incumbrance and a nuisance.”            –Nessmuk

The Old Woodsman wrote this advice regarding trips to the woods over one-hundred years ago. Is it still relative today?

It stands true that carrying a gun, even a small pistol, is an encumbrance and a nuisance. Continually keeping track of it and ensuring that it is out of reach of children, difficult for others to find and use, but still convenient and quick for defense is to say the least, a daunting task. There are legal concerns as well. If you don’t have a concealed carry permit, how do you keep yourself within the confines of the law? Keeping the gun clean also becomes a necessity as it does occasionally rain and we do occasionally get dirty when on outings. The packing and additional weight also becomes a difficulty. Walking miles with a backpack is difficult enough. Add a pistol digging into your side or back and you’ve made it a miserable experience.

Glock Model 27Many would argue that a gun is needed for safety. There are dangerous people in the woods and we need to defend ourselves from them. Would-be woodsman can rest assured that they are much more likely to find dangerous people in cities and towns as opposed to local campgrounds or the wilderness. Others would argue that a gun will save them from a bear or other wild animal attack. Although there is some truth to this logic, most who have had encounters with a bear would argue that they had no actual need for a gun as bears and other animals are quite prone to avoiding less intelligent species including H. Sapiens.

The decision rests with you. Even with all of the reasons why there is little need for a gun in the wilderness, this woodsman has carried one to nearly every outing and adventure he’s taken.

If you are a woodsman, camper, or outdoorsman, do you take a gun with you on your outings?

If you are considering taking up camping and woodcraft as a hobby, will you carry a gun with you?

Do you have any other reasons why we should or shouldn’t carry a gun to the wild?

Better yet, do you have a story or situation where you have found yourself needing or using a gun during an outing?


14 thoughts on “Do You Need a Gun for Camping? – A Woodman’s Perspective

    • Many would feel the same way about guns here. It’s a pretty strong division. However, I can’t imagine spending time in the woods (or even sitting at my computer typing a reply comment) without a pocket knife.

  1. I say to each his own, as you’ve mentioned – plenty of reasons not to and there are some justified possible situations. I’ve never felt the need – although once when spotting a grizzly fairly close to us it probably would have offered some comfort. I imagine a charging grizzly probably isnt going to be stopped by a handgun tho. My experience hiking in Western US is that most people outside are there for the same reasons I am. We’ve encountered people on the trails (and hiked with friends) with guns and mostly felt sorry for them having to haul the extra weight, ha!

    • Although it offers some level of comfort, it is hard to imagine ever having a genuine need. I’ve spent many nights without and many nights with and have never felt a real need in either situation. Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment!

  2. Duncan,
    Great post. I personally have my concealed pistol license and carry whenever it is legal and practical to do so. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. While I am more likely to be required to offer first aid in some situation, I don’t know that I could live with myself if something happened to my family because I wasn’t carrying and couldn’t protect them.

    With regards to ease of carrying while hiking and camping, there are a couple ways I can think of that might make it easier. A good carry belt is the first thing, I posted about it on my blog a while back. I was amazed at how much more comfortable a good thick belt makes carrying a firearm. You could also carry it in a drop leg holster exposed around camp if that is legal and within your purview to do. The last way is that in many backpacks now there are quick access pockets that will fit a firearm.

    One quick pointer if you don’t mind… If that is a picture of your pistol grip try sliding your left hand up and around the pistol so that your thumbs are touching. It will give you more surface contact with the grip and therefore more control. Also, many malfunctions will look for the path of least resistance which could be out through the mag well, so having your hand below that could be bad news.

    Shoot straight!

    • Thanks a lot for the comment and tips! I read your post about the belt and will likely try switch at some point. Good tips on the grip. I’ll try it out next time I’m at the range and willing to sell an arm and a leg for practice ammo.

      • Yeah, ammo is tough to come by these days, even .22. Hopefully it is starting to let up a bit. If you have any gun shows around you, they will probably have “Amish” belts for sale for $20-30, and even those are so much better than regular department store belts. Good luck. By the way, how do you like your G27?

      • I’ll check on the belt at some point. I like the 27 OK but it’s a bit small for me. I am much more comfortable with the 23. Otherwise, it’s been a great little pistol. Of course, I’d have a hard time saying anything bad about a Glock. I’ve owned quite a few and have never had the first misfire, malfunction, or concern.

  3. Pingback: The Real and Not-So-Real Dangers of Being in the Woods | A guide to smoothing it in the outdoors.


  5. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Quebec, Canada but I spend my hole childhood in the wood and never had a gun. I shot a .22 a couple of time in my life that’s it. A good pocket knife and a axe is all you need to go camping, and it’s no really to protect yourself from anything, just damn usefull. creeper are most likely to hang out down town ahahaha. Like I say all the time, there’s no safer place than a the middle of no where in the bush.

    • I’ve been in the wild with and without a firearm and have never felt that I needed one or had a real use for one – other than recreational shooting which we often do on our backwoods adventures. I suppose that my personal decision to or not-to carry is based on the situation at hand. That being said, I thoroughly enjoy firearms and shooting. I’ve been a rifleman and avid hunter for the better part of my life.

      • I wanted to be a hunter for a long time as a kid, but my dad was not one at all. I grew up fly fishing instead. I went hunting with some of my dad friend fro grouse and haires.

      • Hunting is fantastic as long as it is ethical and respectful to the wildlife (I’m actually working on a post about this type of stuff). Fly-fishing is a great sport as well. Honestly, I’d probably prefer fly-fishing over all of my other outdoor activities. The only problem I run into is the amount of traveling and time it would take away from my family. I fully expect that as my littlest one gets old enough to accompany us to the backwoods (where most of the great trout-fishing streams are in WV), I’ll try to get my whole family interested in trout-fishing and/or fly-fishing. I think it would be a great activity for all of us. Even so, I don’t think I’ll ever completely quit hunting. I took a several year break a few years back and became a nature “observer.” Obviously, I’m back into hunting these days but I never take more than I can use and try to be as ethical and respectful as possible.

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