I wouldn't worry too much about bears. Usually by the time you see them they are long gone, that is unless you come upon some cubs and get between them and mom then even the spray may not be enough. All the bear encounters that I have had here in Colorado they run away as soon as they saw me.
Now if you want to pack a firearm then you need to pack one that will do some serious damage and not just piss them off. The usually means something in the .44 mag and up and the best thing to carry is a 12 gage pump loaded with slugs. As far as the law about packing a firearm when scouting go ahead and do it, no problems.
I never have carried bear spray, either hunting or scouting. You can open-carry a loaded firearm (rifle, pistol, shotgun) legally on National Forest land and BLM land. Use caution on SWA lands if you plan on scouting those. Often times those SWA are off limits to people during certain times of the year. Be sure to check the local regs of the area you will be scouting. These days being accused of poaching while scouting is becoming a secondary concern. Unfortunately with all the illegals coming up here and planting pot on National Forest land the state police and game wardens might be a bit more numerous and more suspicious of anyone out there carrying fireams and poaching might be the last thing on their mind. Just be sure to exercise common sence if approached by lawmen while scouting when armed. Before certain people started planting pot in the National Forest lands I never came across any law enforcement officers out in the bush while scouting. Only ever saw them on some of the back roads. Rarely ever come across any recreational type people either, except for maybe the occasional diehard fisherman. Now, in light of this recent phenomenon that's taking place in the high country lately I also worry much more about my own safety. All the more reason to carry a firearm. I'm even concidering an AR-15 or AK-47 to carry while scouting.
From the books that I have read, there is a lot of importance in knowing every nook and cranny of your hunting territory as well as the animal that you are hunting. So scouting as much as possible, just walking the land, will give you a good idea of what's around the corner or what's on the other side of a hill. Which can be very beneficial.
Making your own maps of human and deer trails, and different types of foliage such as group of pines,...