Bear Food Ediquette While Camping Question CO

12:16 a.m. on April 28, 2008 (EDT)
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I just moved to Colorado and want to do some backpacking this summer. I am thinking of getting one of the bear containers to store my food in when camping. I am curious though about other food ediquette while hiking in the backcountry. Is it ok to keep food in your pocket while hiking?, like trail mix and maybe dog kibble for the dog. I am assuming that with a bears great sense of smell they may be attracted to my clothes even if I empty the food out of my pockets when we bed down for the night. Anyhow, you can see where I'm going with this, if there are any tips for how to carry and consume food in the backcountry I would appreciate it. Thanks

9:38 a.m. on April 29, 2008 (EDT)
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Except for very populous areas around campgrounds, Colorado doesn't have a significant black bear problem. Bears that have been 'trained' to eat human food will wait until the food is unguarded or they think they can bluff their way in.

Black bears will not hijack you on the trail. But at night food smells are an attractant. The snacks you had in your clothes (assuming no longer there) will more than likely not be as attracting as the normal cooking and eating odors left over. If they enter your camp, they pretty much know what they are looking for. In the Sierra a prominently displayed bear cannister is sometimes all you need. They know it is not worth the effort to check out the place. They play the odds like any other savvy shopper.

The main critter you have to worry about are rodents and other small vermin. They will tear your pack apart looking for the food that had been in there. Leave your pack completely open with pockets unzipped so they can satisfy their curiosity quickly and move on to the next possible food trove.

Don't sleep with any food that is not in you. Either hang, or more properly in your case, lock up all the stuff that is editable/smellable. Dirty socks are about as attracting to them as they are to you.

Make sure your dog is under control at night. I've seen dogs go out after a bear, too late determine it is bigger up close than far away, and come running back to owners with a very upset bear on its tail. Most dogs don't understand bear etiquette at all. Keep your kibble in closable bags and not loose in your pockets.

In the Sierra where there are a large group of habituated bears, most hikers carry stuff sacks of food in their packs which they (are supposed to) store overnight in secure boxes provided by National Parks. They all are also to have a bear cannister with them, even if bear boxes are provided.

I saw a day pack disappear in a second when the owner was probably 50 feet away from it. I looked over saw the pack, reached for mine to go sit by it to guard it. By the time I got up to move toward it, it had gone. I didn't see the culprit!

Unattended food is up for grabs and considered theirs. If you have it on you while hiking or are cooking and eating it, raids are very very rare. But if one wants to join you for dinner and can't be dissuaded by shouts and clashing pans, let it sit at the head of the table while you retire to the reading room. That is a bear to be reported to whom ever is concerned about such happenings.

Cars are routinely broken into in the Sierra. At some parking lots you are ticketed by the rangers if you leave ANYTHING visible. Shopping bags, empty beverage cans, gum wrappers...anything. The bear can slip the latch on a pickup camper back faster than you can with a key.

Have fun out there. Consider a bear sighting an opportunity to see something most in the world haven't. If you don't really do anything dumb, the bear won't either. If bears were a significant threat to humans, you can pretty much rest assured they would have been taken care of generations ago.

Its just that they are an empty stomach on four legs. raccoons are a lot more destructive and meaner.

1:25 p.m. on April 29, 2008 (EDT)
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speacock, you forgot about marmots. Second only to raccoons in finding and taking food, though not quite as smart, plus they hang out above timberline where you can't hang a bearbag. I watched a gang of them at Boulder Field (campsite on Longs Peak) - they would go after a pack, and while the hikers would move to protect that one, a couple of others would head for another temporarily unattended pack. They kept doing this until they would get into one of the packs and could make off with some of the food. I was passing through Boulder Field on my way down (day hike to the summit and back from the Longs Ranger Station), and of course, most of the hikers were on their way up, having left their packs unattended. I tried to help the half dozen folks still in camp, but humans are no good against a couple dozen marmots using diversionary tactics.

Take your bear canister with you when above timberline in the Rockies - for the marmots, not the bears.

4:12 p.m. on April 29, 2008 (EDT)
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Even worse are "Neotoma Cineraeus", aka the Bushytailed Woodrat and usually called "Packrats" as well as various terms hardly suitable for a respectable venue such as this.

I had one so tame on Natal Lookout in 1967, that he had a regular dinner spot where he got my salted leftovers just after dark every night. It kept him from moving under the pre-fab LO shack as when they do that, the stench in high summer will just totally make you barf....and they are far too cute to shoot, no matter what they do.

These little suckers and Marmots, especially "Caligata" are quite common in sub-alpine areas here in BC and can be tamed to be enjoyable little companions on a five month solo stint on a lookout. But, they WILL steal ANYTHING and can eat you literally out of house and home!

3:27 p.m. on April 30, 2008 (EDT)
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Quote:

I saw a day pack disappear in a second when the owner was
probably 50 feet away from it. I looked over saw the pack,
reached for mine to go sit by it to guard it. By the time I
got up to move toward it, it had gone. I didn't see the
culprit!

It sounds like you're making a case for using a bear canister even on day hikes. I've been wondering about this. Even on day hikes, every time I stop and set down my pack, whether to scout about taking pics, take a dip, or whatever, I wonder if a bear might find my day pack with my lunch and snacks.

I guess I'll start carrying my bear canister even on day hikes ...

5:32 p.m. on April 30, 2008 (EDT)
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bheiser gets paranoid and says

Quote:

I guess I'll start carrying my bear canister even on day hikes ...

Well, it depends on where you are going (and how large that "extra food" one of the 10 Essentials is.

99% of the time (probably more), the canister for a day hike is way overkill. True, if you are hiking around Yosemite Valley or around human-accustomed grizzlies in some of the Canadian NP, you might want something heavily armored. But most of the time, all you need is to use a little common sense.

Kind of reminds me of a friend who, back in the 1960s, got paranoid enough about traffic risks that he and his wife started wearing racing helmets for normal driving on the LA freeways, as well as installing full racing harnesses. In part, he was inspired by my having full harnesses in our Cooper and later in our Porsche, both of which we used for what are now called "performance rallies". They gave that up after a couple years when they got stopped 2 or 3 times by the CHP who were a bit suspicious of the intentions of someone driving around looking like they were about to go street racing (except we don't see any of the "sideshow" participants with any safety gear, which says the CHP was maybe overly suspicious).

Anyway, for dayhikes, canisters are overkill, except in very rare instances. If you are careful about not going away from your pack and with what you put in it (and how you pack to avoid food smells), you shouldn't have any trouble. Maybe when you are taking a dip, you could just carry a 50 ft length of cord and bear bag the pack for the hour or so.

10:39 a.m. on May 1, 2008 (EDT)
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Bear canisters don't mask or lock in the smell of the food inside. The purpose of a bear canister is twofold. First, to protect your food from being eaten by a bear (and numerous other critters as previous posters have stated). Second, to hopefully condition the bears into believing they can't get food from human campsites because of their inability to open the canisters.

You can buy liners for a bear canister that are supposed to lock in the odor of your food so bears can't smell it. That helps with the first purpose of the bear canister. But the second purpose, the training of bears, requires that bears find the canisters and then learn that they can't get food from them. So technically, you would want to remove any odor sealing liner from the canister when you stash it at night.

I have great doubts about the validity of the second purpose of a bear canister. I think the wildlife managers are hoping the canisters will train a generation of bears and then subsequent bruins will not bother to attempt to get food from campsites. I just don't think that will work. I think the 3rd generation of bears will just start exploring campsites looking for food anyway. So bear canisters will only serve the function of protecting your food from being eaten by a bear, in which case using the odor sealing bags at night will help to keep the bear from finding it in the first place.

11:55 a.m. on May 1, 2008 (EDT)
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There are few moments more unforgettable than opening your bear bag, which you dangled from a tree the night before, to be greeted by a well fed little critter that you just woke up .... generally they're NOT in a great mood (chocolate hangover, perhaps?) ... back East "mini-bears" (AKA Chipmunks, racoons and grey squirrels (althogh the racoons tend to rip the bag apart rather than sneaking in throgh the hole at the drawstring) are expert at this tactic.

As for bears, again, back East, hanging the food bag seems to be enough, except for the well trained Black bears along some Southern sections of the AT.

I've encounterd bears, both in the East and the Rockies and have always found the experience to be rewarding (even when one bruin managed to make off with a weeks food, leaving me with a very "empty" feeling as I plodded back to my car) -the wilderness would seem empty without bears. My brown bear encounters have, I'm happy to report, been from a fair distance, maybe because I tend to hang everything with a food scent on it (including the clothes I cook in) with my food, maybe it's because I'm a lousy cook and my food doesn't appeal to them.

But look at it this way, from the bears point of view, you're a food source. Imagine yourself hungry, driving through a town - you pass a diner and the smells come wafting into your car - your natural reaction would be to stop and get some food. Same applies to the bear - only you're the greasy spoon chef - they're hungry - they smell food - they come in to eat.

When I was at Philmont 35 years ago I watched a rather shocked scout from another crew emerge and run away from his tarp - a few minutes later a bear emerged - having found the candy bars the scout had (against all warnings) taken into the tent with him. Yeah, it could have been tragic if the scout hadn't abandoned ship, but at 14 years old it was some of the finest comedy I'd seen to date!

11:59 a.m. on May 1, 2008 (EDT)
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nogods thinks that

Quote:

wildlife managers are hoping the canisters will train a generation of bears and then subsequent bruins will not bother to attempt to get food from campsites. I just don't think that will work. I think the 3rd generation of bears will just start exploring campsites looking for food anyway.

Not quite correct. You are correct that the bears will continue to explore campsites, as long as there are people like the ones who were in the same campgrounds Barb and I stayed in near Tioga Pass last Aug and Sep (leave stuff out, fishermen who have their string cooling in the water next to them, etc) and dumpsters that have food dumped in them. Bears (especially blacks) are very curious and intelligent, besides being basically empty stomachs on legs. The place you are slightly in error, at least as far as the land managers and rangers I know and work with, is that the bears will (and have) learn that a bear canister in the camp means that they can't get into it (the approved ones that have been tested anyway), so they will not linger around such areas. The land managers are well aware that the bears will not decide that it is useless to investigate human campsites. It is well known that if you leave the canister open or food out, the bear will find it.

The hope is that if people learn to use canisters and bear boxes (the welded, thick steel permanent kind in established campgrounds) religiously and properly, the pickings will be slim enough that the bears will learn to seek better and easier sources elsewhere. Canisters and bear boxes are not magic - people have to use them properly and not leave food out. Unfortunately from what I continue to see, a large number of people do not read or listen to the instructions. To repeat just one of the examples, at the campground we used as base camp for climbing around the Tioga Pass area last year, despite signs and bear boxes at every campsite, most campers were leaving food unattended, leaving ice chests out on the tables full time, leaving the fish innards out after cleaning the fish, and leaving fish stringers cooling in the streams right next to the campsites. They were also leaving their garbage sacks at the campsites instead of walking the 20 or 30 feet to the dumpsters, and even when they did go to the dumpsters, they often did not close them securely.

In the backcountry, some supposedly long-time experienced backpackers still insist that their old approach of keeping the food in the tent or bear bagging is safe enough (even though Yosemite, Inyo NF, and Kings-Sequoia NP bears learned how to get at bear bags years ago). Some leave food cooking or out in preparation for a meal while walking to the stream to get water or otherwise unattended. As long as these practices persist, the bears will know that humans are a big dinner bell.

Land managers know this, and try to inform campers, as well as issuing expensive citations. So far, it has met with minimal success. Personally, I will keep all food (including the easily recognizable food containers, like cans, boxes, ice chests, etc) out of sight or in the bear boxes. This has worked well, even when campsites within 25-30 feet have been raided. Best example of this was a recent basecamping trip where the 4 sites of us who were using bear boxes and were careful to stay with the food being cooked and eaten were untouched, while every other occupied campsite in the campground was raided (12 of them) - ripped tents, ice chests opened, and one car broken into.

9:04 p.m. on May 1, 2008 (EDT)
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What part of my statement do you think is not correct?

I know that the part about the goals of wildlife mangers is correct, at least for the bear canister requirement for the Adirondacks, because I'm know the content of the rationalization printed in the NYS Registar by the DEC prior to enactment of that rule. It is as I have stated. If you have some other source for other areas I'd like to look at it.

The second part of my statement is debatable but to date there have been no successful re-trainings. If you know of any I'd like to fget the citation to them. Based on past behavior, much of which you described in your post, bears are likely to continue searching for food in places they belive it might exist. When they smell food stored in canisters they are going to be attracted to it.

1:00 p.m. on May 2, 2008 (EDT)
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When you said that the land managers are "hoping the canisters will train a generation of bears and then subsequent bruins will not bother to attempt to get food from campsites.", you are not correct. The land managers are more realistic than you give them credit for. They well know, as I said, that bears are curious and intelligent, and they will continue probing all possibilities to get food. They also know that any success in encouraging the bears to spend most of their efforts other than campgrounds and backpackers packs are dependent on people following safe practices, which many of the campers just will not do. The hope is that with more education of the campers and other users of the parks and backcountry (emphasis on *users*, which means people, not bears) the number of negative bear-human encounters will be reduced (not eliminated, but *reduced*).

It is really hard, maybe impossible, to educate a large number of the people who use the campgrounds, backpack, and even the people who have cabins in bear country. Last night, I was at a presentation on "Light Backpacking" in which the presenter advocated bear bagging in Yosemite backcountry, despite the requirement to use bear boxes in the developed campsites that have them and bear cylinders in other areas and a strict prohibition against bear bagging. His statement was that "I have never had a problem with bears" in something like 20 years of backpacking. He suggested the UrSack for those worried about bears, despite the Yosemite backcountry permit offices displays of photos of UrSacks that had been ripped open by bears. What would it take to convince someone like this if photos and videos of the bears getting at bear bags, breaking into cars, and breeching UrSacks carry no weight? Yes, bear bagging and UrSacks seem to be effective still in much of the US, but not in much of the Sierra.

I mentioned the incidents in campgrounds I have used in the past couple of years. These campgrounds had posters at every campsite and the rangers came around every day to talk to all the campers. Yet, despite that and the issuance of expensive citations, every one of those campgrounds had people losing food to the bears every day, with one of the days seeing all but 4 campsites (all of us climbers who frequent Yosemite) being raided.

In the past couple of years, the bears in the Lake Tahoe area (and other areas with a large "summer cabin" population - many are also used in winter as "ski cabins") have been breaking into the cabins and raiding the refrigerators and pantries. The bears seem to look through the windows until they spot a refrigerator, then break into the closest door.

No, the land managers are realistic enough to know that you will never train the bears, and probably not the humans either, to eliminate negative encounters and get the bears to stick with all natural food sources. All they can do is educate enough people to reduce the number of encounters.

But, politically, you are probably right that you can't publicly say "reduce". You have to promote the program with statements like "eliminate" and "train the bears". And your statement that there have been no successful re-trainings is correct. That's why the land managers know that all you can hope to do is reduce the negative encounters.

Yosemite for decades has tried labeling the bears, trapping them, and releasing them far from the Valley and Tuolumne. They used a "3-strike" approach. First offense was for the bear to be released at the northern border of the park. Second offense was south of the park. Third offense was in Kaiser Wilderness and near Wishon Reservoir. Even at the most distant location and different directions, the problem bears are finding their way back to the Valley and Tuolumne, sometimes in as little as 3 or 4 days. There are, by the way, some videos of bear break-ins on the Yosemite National Park website.

1:24 a.m. on May 3, 2008 (EDT)
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Quote:

Anyway, for dayhikes, canisters are overkill, except in
very rare instances. If you are careful about not going
away from your pack and with what you put in it (and how
you pack to avoid food smells), you shouldn't have any
trouble.

Actually, Bill S, I respect your opinion when you suggest using a bear canister on day hikes is "overly paranoid", but I am beginning to disagree with it. Your text, which I quoted here, illustrates my point exactly. '

When I stop along the trail, I don't want to feel I need to "be careful about not going away from my pack". When I stop, I may well want to scramble down (or up) a steep embankement - to reach a pool - to take pictures - to dig a latrine... and usually in these circumstances I'd rather not lug along my pack.

But you're right, I *could* lug along the pack and not let it out of my site. I guess it's a matter of trade-offs... convenience vs a couple extra pounds in the pack.

If I'm half a day out on a hike, I'd be pretty upset to get back to my pack from such a scramble and find it torn to bits and my food munched on by a bear (or other hungry creature).

1:59 a.m. on May 3, 2008 (EDT)
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thanks for the info. I got a garcia bear canister. So about how far should I be setting this from my tent. I'm guessing around 100 feet. I am thinking you just find a little nook or bush somewhere and leave it on the ground correct?

Are black bears skittish or afraid of dogs?

Any other insight into bear etiquette in the rocky mountains would be appreciated.

9:14 a.m. on May 3, 2008 (EDT)
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One thing I NEVER do is leave my pack beyond arm's reach when solo hiking anywhere here in BC and for a couple of serious reasons. Bears ARE one and an un-expected injury such as an ankle fracture, where I will need my emerg. gear with me, is another.

Here in BC, we have 366,000+ sq.miles of landbase, much of it still remote wilderness and our bear pop. is about 25,000 Grizzlies and 200,000 Blacks. This is probably the largest concentration of bears left anywhere and they are strongly protected, carefully managed and generally loved and looked after.

So, while I will shoot one under some circumstances and do carry a purpose-built bear gun when I deem it prudent, as in the bush camps I will be setting up this coming month and during the summer, I also feel that these bear canisters are a great idea and am going to buy some for my camps where we hang stuff 20 ft. up and use the stainless cable from salmon downriggers to do so. Anything that helps bears is great with me and this technology seems a damm good idea, anywhere.

1:15 p.m. on May 3, 2008 (EDT)
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Marmots - the second plague!

There is even an urban legend of types about the 'rats' more than likely marmots, on Pikes Peak eating a baby (and if memory serves me, the mother also) back in the very early days of the mountain and humans. I suspect that is mainly to tittilate the public horror needs.

About 5 years ago, I chatted with a Sierra camper at upper Vidette Meadows coming back, wide eyed in the very early morning, talking about a bear that was essentially playing soccer with a large bear box. Tumbling it and knocking it about to get (perhaps) what was inside. There is a reason for the big chain attaching the box to something. There were two rangers spending the night lower in the meadow that were bear 'taggers'. Two of them. One looked like he was last year's captain of the college base ball team, tall, good looking; the other looked like the homecoming queen. He was the tracker, she was the shooter. They were out paint balling the bears. They said that they are no longer transporting bears out to another location as it was useless and put the bear at jeapordy of impinging other's territory or starving. She said that she had a large caliber rifle along. If a problem bear was found she was in charge of putting it down and to leave it there - off the trail for 'recyling'.

That Garcia should be put into a willow bush or in a depression, so that it is not batted too far away. It would have to be a rock you couldn't move to make it safe under it.

I have my Bearikade cannister lined with reflective tape and my address on it, in case it goes walking. I keep mine just out side the tent aways. Have NEVER had a bear in camp since it has been displayed. Haven't had a lot of elephants come through either, come to think of it.

Packers use approved bear proof paniers and are finding that they have very rare approaches by bears. The ones that take chances and are trying to cut corners are more and more carrying other unprotected food, since they figure the bears are discouraged by the panniers they are using. Time will tell.

My cannister goes with me everytime I'm over night anywhere now. Its just routine to pack it. Makes a great footstool, chair, dishwash container, smallish bathtub, etc. Makes my packs smaller since I can cram stuff in there that would usually be fluffing up the pack.

In bear country, an untrained and naive house pet is at risk. No dogs allowed in US National Parks as they don't want them endangering themselves or you or the wildlife.

1:27 p.m. on May 3, 2008 (EDT)
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bheiser says

Quote:

Actually, Bill S, I respect your opinion when you suggest using a bear canister on day hikes is "overly paranoid", but I am beginning to disagree with it.

What?!?! You dare to disagree with my inconsistent and self-contradictory "advice??? Gasp!

Well, (the Old GreyBeard mumbles in his beard, while trying to explain himself), Kinda depends on what you mean by "dayhike" and what you are carrying and where you are hiking. In kutenay's situation, his "dayhikes" are more like most people's major expeditions. The territory is much more challenging and the risks are much higher than my usual dayhikes around here (even for the same distance and elevation gains). We have lion locally (one just killed 4 goats in a local resident's backyard in a semi-rural area in a town at the south end of San Jose, plus one roaming around the Hayward area in an upscale neighborhood), but very few bears (mostly on the Santa Cruz/Monterey side of the hills). The pack I carry for these hikes is small and light enough to have with me at all times, including when scrambling at Castle Rock State Park (one of the world's premier bouldering areas, by the way, often compared to Fontainebleau in France, and where people like Chris Sharma learned to climb). Same thing in much of the Sierra for the kind of dayhikes I take there - the pack stays on my back except when actually getting a jacket in or out or a snack. The camera is out all the time, and the tripod is within easy reach to remove and hang back on me, so no need to take the pack off most of the time.

In most places I go, for a dayhike, a canister is overkill, as I said. And as kutenay said, if you are sceambling down a steep embankment where a sprained or broken ankle is even a remote possibility, you better have your pack with you with a good first aid kit (unless your partner, who should be with you if that's what you are doing, has the first aid kit). Reaching a pool? That means potentially slippery rocks, again, increasing the risk of an accident. Keep the pack with you. In most areas (NOT BC, Yellowstone, other areas where there are grizz or are known rogue blacks), you won't need the canister.

Skinny duck - 100 to 200 feet is the recommended distance for sleeping area to canister (or other storage), and a similar distance to the cooking area (it is often recommended for the cooking and food storage areas to be separated).

1:29 p.m. on May 3, 2008 (EDT)
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Oh, yeah. I have a great picture of a large pile of bear scat well above timberline just below a 13,200 pass in Colorado (Triple Pass). It puts to rest the question about the bear in the woods.

For black bears in Colorado: don't chase them; don't try to get in the picture with them; don't hit them with rocks (it hurts them just like you and you don't want an enraged 300+ pound junk yard dog anywhere near your camp); don't feed them, always make it noisy when they are close to camp (it is supposed to scare them and alert other campers in the area); always make it clear to them that you will aggressively (up a point) protect your food; don't charge them; back off when they charge you; if they have your food - its theirs - just accept the fate and get a picture for evidence. Just note, that the rangers will probably take it out on you if the bear has YOUR food.

If there is a black bear near, quietly and slowly get out your camera. It is a rare photo op you will want to take advantage of. Just don't be stupid about it. If you are eating, simply get the food out of sight and protect it or into a closed bear cannister or a pack that is on your back.

7:38 p.m. on May 4, 2008 (EDT)
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A bear canister does not prevent bears from detecting the food odors of the stuff stored inside them. So carrying a bear canister on a day hike doesn't make much sense. In fact, in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks, bear canisters are only required if you are spending the night in the wilderness

If I was cooking a meal or eating a cooked meal and a bear approached I'd be very concerned. I would assume two things. First, the bear is approaching me because it smells the food and wants it. Second, if it can smell the food it can also smell me but apparently it has decided that whatever threat I maybe to it is not sufficient to dissuade it from coming to the food. This is the point where I would unholster my bear spray and arm the triggger in case I can't dissuade the bear with noise and arm waving.

If the bear keeps approaching I have a decision to make. Should I back away from the food and let the bear have it for my safety? By doing that I am safer but the bear learns that it can get food by approaching a human with food, and in the long run that is not good. Or should I stand my ground and use the bear spray? If the spray works I'm safe and the bear learns a lesson that may convince it not to approach humans even when they are cooking something that smells delicious. Of course, if the spray doesn't work my lunch and I may both be eaten by the bear.

What is the better response in that situation?

8:53 p.m. on May 4, 2008 (EDT)
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Black Bears and/or Grizzly Bears VERY SELDOM ...eat...humans and the few instances of predatory behaviour by bears on humans are usually due to other factors. While both species WILL stalk humans, it is seldom that this results in any form of attack or contact and very few bears will do even that.

In your scenario, I would allow the bear to take my food, IF, it seemed to me that he was definitely going to do that. Spray is NOT a panacea and would probably not deter a truely hungry bear for long, I would prefer to just let the furball have my supper.

Now, IF, solo in a remote wilderness situation, where I have been many times, NO, I NEED that food and I can't have a bear hanging around, trying to mooch/steal or muscle me out of my supplies and SOME WILL TRY.

I reach over for "Thumper" and put a 300 gr. .375 Nosler Pt. in the dirt at his feet and there are four more waiting, if needed. I have dealt with dozens of Grizzlies and hundreds of Blacks and have yet to have to shoot to kill, in this situation. BUT, I am meticulous about everything to do with my campsite, including location.

"Thumper" just came home and is a custom P-64 Mod. 70-.375H&H shorty which will be my work gun on these bush projects this summer. I prefer to hike un-armed, although there are those on some backpacking forums who tell me that I am stupid for doing so, funny, 52 years of BC hiking, USUALLY sans gun and I'm still here...... BUT, when working in the bush and reponsible for equipment, supplies and sometimes other workers, I go armed and I don't mess around with peashooters.

So, best advice is to not worry too much about bears, it is largely commonsense that rules in dealing with them.

9:54 p.m. on May 4, 2008 (EDT)
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Hello nogods
Bear Spray. You have thought about standing and placing a spray can between you and a bear????? You are a brave man.
I will defer to Kutenay and his comments as he has seen many more trails than I have. Some on Vancouver Island joke that all you have done is season yourself for the bears pleasure, just as the bear bells are dinner bells for bears. Any way back to the question at hand.

I assume that when cooking that you are aware of the wind force and wind direction. You know where everyone else in your party is. You have notified them of the bear’s presence and your planned response. You as a group have already planned a rally point, maybe more than one? Nothing else that you have tried has worked. You have identified to yourself the line of last resort when you WILL discharge the canister of spray.
You feel very threatened and you discharge the canister. Now just answer a few questions.
Did you remember WHICH WAY the wind is blowing?????
Did you remember How strong the wind is blowing???
Was there any discharge of spray? Did you hit the bear with the spray????
Did you track the spray onto the bear????
Did you spray enough onto it to make it stop????
Has it turned and moved away????

You may have just sprayed a member or more of your party. That member may have breathing problems besides the ones they are currently going though. They will not be mobile. Another member of the party will have to guide them from the area. They may die from that spray. Emergency Medical Assistance may be hours/days away.

Not out of the woods yet.
Are you sucking pepper spray????? You are in more trouble and much more discomfort that you probably have ever been in. What now? Can you think of the right things to do right now to make yourself and others safe??? Can you see if the bear is still approaching?
NOW WHAT???? You may be out of spray, where are you in relation to the camp??
Is there anyone around to help?? Is there anything you can use to defend against an angry/injured wild animal that lives and dies by its claws????

All this happening very quickly. For what? Your supper????

Best response is that you back away from the stove/food while you find a sharp knife and allow the animal to eat. Notify your group members. Keep backing away until you are out of sight of the bear. Do not let go of the knife. As soon as possible report the incident to a responsible government agency. Leave the pepper spray at home, or better yet, don’t buy it in the first place.

Think about, talk about, plan this type of thing before you go into the woods to start.
I hope that you NEVER have to use this type of thing.

12:57 p.m. on May 15, 2008 (EDT)
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What about personal items, such as sun-screen, lip balm, toothpaste, deoderent etc?

My first trip into bear country, I packed away everything that had a scent to it, into my tent bag, which I hung high up in a tree on an extended branch. The bag was held about 9-10ft off the ground and about 8 feet away from the tree.

1:04 p.m. on May 15, 2008 (EDT)
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Mr Haze -
You did the right thing. Scented items like toothpaste, etc, smell enough like food that bears and other critters are attracted. Bear bag them in areas where bear bags still work, or use bear canisters or bear lockers in areas with educated bears.

December 22, 2014
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