Distance Between Bear Eyes Outdoors is Commensurate to Size

The Further the Eyes…

Touch your eyes. Not too hard. 😛 How far apart are they? There’s this principle that the space between your eyes is commensurate to the size of your body. How far apart are the eyes of a mouse? Yeah. Like really tiny ’cause they’re tiny. Right? How far apart are the eyes of an elephant? So in the outdoors, the further apart an animal’s eyes, the bigger the animal.

Nick was raised outdoors, in the wilds of Oregon. He was comfortable in the backcountry because he grew up in the Pacific Northwest woods. I grew up on a farm in Indiana.

Nick and I were backpacking in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness. There are parts that were old-growth Douglas fir forest and other parts mountainside meadows.

It got dark. We had on our headlamps. My beam was kind of kind of weak. But Nick’s beam he was bright. He was hiking behind me. And we came into this meadow. The trees opened up, and out of my peripheral vision, I see something glimmer. So I turned to look, and all I can see, looking back at me in my ambient light, is two eyes reflecting the light.

They were 12 inches apart.

I immediately grab my .45 pistol and aim it right between the eyes.

Nick was like, “What are you doing?”

“Nick,” I said. “Look over there where I’m pointing.”

So Nick turns. As his headlamp shines over there, the beam landed on the largest… cow you ever saw. A cow. Apparently, some cattlemen had a grazing permit nearby.

Well, I’m a Hoosier farm boy–and relieved–so I holster my gun. But Nick has never been this close to a cow in his entire life. Nick freaks out! He starts shouting, “Shoot it! Shoot it! Shoot the cow. The cow!”

And there’s like 20 cows out there in this meadow.

I’m not gonna shoot a cow.

“How we gonna get out of here?” Nick wants to know.

“We just walk,” I say. “The cows move.”

Nick’s doubtful. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. You just stay close behind me, and we’ll walk through.” I’m from the Midwest. Cow tipping is our reputed pastime. A cow always looks at you like you’re the first person it has ever seen in its entire life. Then they spook and take off in every direction as we pass. But in this alpine meadow, their hooves thump the duff like thunder.

And Nick was crouched low, following close behind me all the way.



If you were to run into a bear, do not run. Stand still. Run and you send a screaming message to a predator’s adrenal gland that you are potential dinner. Here’s the data backed pro tips experts agree on…

  • Be still and see what they’re going to do. Chances are, they’re going to give you a chance to leave.
  • If a grizzly bear charges you, it’ll most likely veer away. This is your invitation to leave (and change your underwear later). Slowly and carefully back away until you’re well out of sight.
  • If a grizzly touches you, lay down and play dead, in the fetal position, hands behind your neck.
  • If a grizzly continues to contact you, or if a black or polar bear charges you at all, fight back. You should have bear spray. Use this. Put any object available between you and them. Have a gun? Shoot it repeatedly.
  • Your best defense is bear spray. Even the .45 semi-automatic I carried would have been risky. If attacked, I would have had to empty the entire clip to stop a grizzly that size.

Click here to check out a study of bear survivor Todd Orr in Outside Mag! Seriously, you gotta see this.

2 thoughts on “The Further the Eyes…”

  1. So happy, this came right to my inbox for the first time – something is working! Read the last one about personal responsibility and am happy to say I’m going over to Jasper to a meeting with the Governors committee on the Beautiful Buffalo. Someone needs to keep an eye on this thing:)

  2. Thanks, Rain!! Glad to hear something …and somebody is working. 😛 I’m doing what I can, working with some nonprofits in our area to make some engaging content. …and tellin’ stories ’bout bears. 😀

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