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Backpacking in Bear country

I have never backpacked in bear country before. What should i be aware of before heading into bear country? The trip in going to be in north geroga. somewhere between 1 & 1/2 to 2 weeks on the appalation trail. all 80 miles of it in georga

The bears I've seen in N GA have been pretty docile, they've run on the slightest noise. I'm kind of the opinion that since they can pretty much eat all year around they're not walking around half cocked in the pissed off position. But I wouldn't try to pet one either, they deserve & demand due respect. A pack of fire carckers ought ot be enough to scare them away.

Hiking in GA I'm more worried about wild boar/pig than bears.

Don't run, don't turn your back on them and never look 'em in the eyes.

You hang food, yes?

Bears are usually mellow about you being there - as compared to some scrub jays in the trees as you pass through.

They are, unfortunately, infinitely hungry. Not for you (you are not their type) but what you have with you. Its a lot more tasty than you. So the strategy is not to let them get it or want it. They are more like big racoons or a large stomach on legs.

For them not to get it usually means you have to get it out of their reach -- from the ground as well from the sides. The smarter bears can get a hang down easily if it is tied off at the tree. Best in savy bear country to either bring a bear proof cannister (a pain in the back), or do a double hang. You can find out how on the net.

The next important thing is to be clean. If the bears are really pesky, best to cook and clean in one end of a large triangle (100 foot on the side?), sleep in one and hang food in the third.

Don't take food along into the tent with you or try to store in a pack. If fact leave the pack wide open with zippers and pockets undone for the ultimately curious. They truly think that all food is theirs and it is no fun even trying to take food away from a junk yard dog let alone a determined few hundred pound bear.

Don't leave your day pack unattended (or your large pack for that matter) while you try to capture a National Geographic level sunset on your camera. It may be the last you see of it is the tail end of a bear heading home with the goodies.

Bears are shy and will leave your camp if you make enough noise. Don't throw stones to hit them. Nothing like having an irate bear with a stone bruise and knowing who did it.

Your chance of having a true encounter with a bear is extremely rare. That's why they make the news when it happens. If you see a bear simply be quite and slowly go for the camera. Its a sure thing photo op.

Just don't go stupid on us and try to get a close up of the two of you.

If it approaches you have two choices. You can leave (your stuff behind) or you can just sit there and make noises. You stuff is not worth fighting over. You WILL loose.

More than likely if there are bear in the area you might hear them in your camp at night. If you have cleaned up and left nothing for them to eat, you might be able sneak a candid pic of them. Or just go back to sleep.

I have had more damage by birds and rodents than ever by anything bigger - except a desert fox.

Hello TJW,
My experiences of bears was on the PCT, but "bears is bears" so this link on a bit of bear advice may be of interest/help to you!

Cheers, George.

We do not have bears in So.Cal. (there are bears in the Sierras behind Sequoia and Kings Cyn) .. but there are cougars and they will jump you. I've had several eye-to-ey encounters and so I do carry a piece in my pack. Problem is they like to jump you from behind and bit your spinal column. One jissed at me (ears Back) from a shelf not long ago (maybe October) and one did a jaw-drop (surprise) abut a year before that. Had coyotes parallel me for a quarter mile then leave. Mostly I am afraid of rattlers -- six kinds of them and all bad. Bears -- do put the food in a tree and so not eat or smear food debris around where you bed down. Eat early then go on for a mile or two to bed down.

pjpitt claims:
"We do not have bears in So.Cal"

Ummmm, having lived in SoCal for a number of years when growing up, I beg to differ with you. It wasn't named Big Bear Lake for no reason. True, you rarely see or hear about them. But the San Jacinto, San Gabriel, and San Bernardino mountains and on up to my present area more northerly do have the odd bear or two wandering around. There aren't enough to bother with taking the precautions you need to take in the Sierra (except that many of the precautions work for raccoon, squirrel, mice, and other smaller critters).

The bear population in Calif appears to be on the increase in the coastal ranges. We have been having them appear in urban areas several times a year in the Santa Cruz and Monterey areas and on down through Big Sur to San Luis Obispo. For the most part, you will never see either bear or mountain lion. But if you know what to look for and where to go, you can find plenty of sign. Last time I wandered the off-trail backcountry of Greyback (12 years ago), I saw both bear tracks and scat.

But, neither bear nor mountain lion are significant dangers for the most part in Calif. They tend to avoid humans except when bothered or when the food situation gets desperate. The last bear attacks I know of in SoCal were Aug 1993, 2 incidents within 3 days in the San Bernardino Mountains, involving yearlings who had apparently recently left their mother. It seems likely they had not yet learned to find food on their own. The injuries in each case were minor.

October 24, 2020
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