Bear country hygiene

8:50 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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Any ideas of best option of laundry soap to use prior to heading into bear country.

9:02 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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Laundry soap? Laundry soap? Are you heading into the back country or to a party? Oh, wait, you are taking gifts to the bears. Nice of you to think of your hosts! Bears love soap of all kinds - laundry, bath, facial, gels, bars, powders, liquid. They will gather from miles around and eagerly seek it from you (and your pack).

9:05 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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Hey Davidhagsr,

I use hunters 'Scent Away' and like it, some people use baking soda.

Here is a link to the product on the Cabela's website, they are one of numerous retailers that carry it or something similar.

I should have added - After a few days in the backcountry your clothes are going to be full of human odor even after washing them prior to leaving.

10:19 a.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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Was just looking for new ideas on nutrilizing odors pre trip but aren,t we a little pompus. I was probably hiking before you were born. Have raised 7 children and am finally getting back to the trail. Thanks for the input.

10:20 a.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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trouthunter , appreciate the info , baking a soda sounds great, thanks

10:46 a.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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A couple of points, first, no hassle intended, but, BillS here is about as experienced and knowledgable a "hiker", etc. as you are ever likely to encounter. I know of exactly ONE other poster on forums of this nature, whose advice I place such value on. So, perhaps you might realize that he is not and was not trying to be ...pompous..., simply realistic.

Baking soda washing works, BUT, the crystals CAN remain in your clothing and it hurts like hell when your warm, sweaty legs rub against your woolen pants which are impregnated with said crystals....even on a November deer hunt in cold BC...ask me how I know......... well, being a "geezer", I have learned the HARD WAY!!!!

I have a great deal of working bear experience and I use the goop that TH suggests constantly and, it DOES seem to help. I wash my clothing, my ancient, battered carcass and some of my gear with this and highly recommend it. I like the "Hunter's Specialty's" pearlescent green liquid type and have used it for over 20 years with complete satisfaction.

I DO NOT, btw, EVER wash ANY of my gear with ANY laundry product.

10:58 a.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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While in Alaska a couple times I found the best deterant is my own urine. Like the way animals urinate around their ranges I have found it works to do the same around my camp. I try to aim as high as possible on trees, logs, bushes and rocks to get the scent into the air as well as possible all around my campsites.

Often the most dangerous bears are those used to man. In the wilds most bears will stay away from you because they are wild and don't associate us as food sources.

Always keep you camp clean and dont leave food especially any with strong odors out for long. Hang or use bear cannisters when possible. In Alaska trees are often not tall enough to hang anything in.

12:35 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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...BillS here is about as experienced and knowledgable a "hiker", etc. as you are ever likely to encounter. I know of exactly ONE other poster on forums of this nature, whose advice I place such value on. So, perhaps you might realize that he is not and was not trying to be ...pompous..., simply realistic.

Actually, I was mostly joking, though Dewey is right - bears are in fact attracted to anything with scents, including most soaps. The other side is that way too many people getting out into the woods and hills want to be as clean and fresh-washed (body and clothes) as when they are in town. Hey, you are in the woods! A little dirt and sweat never hurt any backpacker, and certainly not life-long dirtbag climbers like me. As for your hiking before I was born, I seriously doubt that. I'm even older than Dewey by a bunch of years (and even older than a friend who lives in New Mexico and claims to be "older than dirt"). No, wait! I am younger than Jack Benny, and he said he was 39. So I must be no more than 29. But "pompous"? No, I can't be. After all I am a member of the Ancient and Dishonorable Disorder of Curmudgeonly Geezers, among whom Pomposity is Forbidden.

Main thing is don't worry about it. Just keep your hands clean, especially when preparing and handling food and always immediately after relieving yourself in the woods. Purell and other alcohol-based hand sanitizers work well for this.

Gary is basically correct. Most bears will avoid humans, unless habituated. As long as you follow LNT principles, including storing your food and other smellables (including the clothing you wore when cooking) using bear canisters (required in some areas), bear boxes (installed in certain areas), or use bear bagging (works in most other areas); and do your cooking and cooking cleanup at least 200 feet from you sleeping area, you are unlikely to have problems with bears. There are habituated bears and a few problem bears, of course. But more people die in the backcountry from lightning or from hypothermia each year than from bear attacks.

Gary, I was aware that many animals marked their territory. But this is the first I have heard that humans can mark their territory and bears will avoid the area. Somehow, the picture this prompts, even for an old codger, is, well, ......

2:11 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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I started doing it when I was in Yosemite in the winters and did it in Denali Park Alaska. I have actually seen a bear in the Gros Ventre Wilderness come to my tree marker and turn around and go back the way it had come. My dog when with me will mark the same places I do which may be confusing to the bears I am not sure.

7:02 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks very much to all.

8:26 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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SOMETIMES. bears will avoid an area that is marked with human urine and another technique is to use "anhydrous" ammonia fluid, which does seem to work quite well, BUT repeat BUT, there is NO absolutely "failsafe" method of totally preventing Grizzlies, in particular, from coming where you do not want them to be, so, hygiene and hanging is still a damm good practice.

If, you can take a dog and are a very active bush person, invest in a good Karelian and that little ball of terror will run off any bruin that comes acallin'. I was just at another dogshow last Sat. to complete purchase of a third Rottweiler to live with me and the probable top Karelian breeder in North America was there. I would have one if I still worked on the remote fire L/Os, but, they will attack Rottweilers and are not really "city friendly"...someday....

8:30 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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One thing I take along on extended expeditions is "baby wipes". These help keep those areas that tend to get dirty quickly cleaner. Adventure Medical Kits and several others these days make a large, roughly hand-towel size of these that is a non-perfumed alcohol wipe. The alcohol evaporates fairly quickly, leaving no odor. The ones made for use on babies pretty much all have perfumes, so read the labels. You do, of course, have to store the used ones in double ziplocks and pack them out, and store them with the other smellables.

8:50 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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Bill, Gary, Dewey

Hi Guys. I too use the pee high on the tree method. You simply locate the obvious paths to your campsite and there are obvious scent marking trees and you pee high on them so when the bruin comes along he has to raise up to find the top of your scent and he thinks "woah that is one big dude" and then he pees and leaves. I have camped in the home territory of big wild bears and they allow me to be there if I do this. Its about dealing with them on their own terms, be careful though unless your nose is sensitive enough to be sure who else has marked that spot. Be sure to get all of the scent trees surrounding your area and at least 100 to 150 feet out from your camp.

Anybody who was hiking before Bill S was born is a centurion.

Jim S

2:39 a.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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Hunting Alaska the unscented whipes are very popular amongst myself and the hunters I know personally. Plus they are relatively cheap. Any laundry type detergent or anything scented for that matter is a no-no. I keep a urine bottle in my tent with me and needless to say it does get "recycled" the next morning for marking my territory(High on trees & on the ground) just to be on the safe side.

I have found this to work w/raccoons as well. Sometimes the raccoons scare me more than the bears do. They can do quite a bit of damage to your gear/site and at times are relentless.

Hey TH- great suggestion on the Scent Away. I use it and it does well.

10:31 a.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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I have a friend who lives in the Teton Wilderness all summer and see's lots of Grizzlys, she has never had any problems with the bears in over 30 years of hiking and camping all month from May to October. I have been out with her once or twice. Once we had a big boar griz come to within 200 feet of our camp and when it caught our scent it ran in the opposite direction.

I have been bluff charged by a couple of young griz in the Wind River Mountains.

In Alaska I have seen many brown bears in Denali Park who kept their distance after seeing me. I have actually hiked along side bears in Denali that stayed a few hundred feet ahead, behind or beside me with no problems.

2:08 p.m. on February 6, 2010 (EST)
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Penguins Sports Wash works great on any high tech clothing I own, even takes ploy pew out. I recommend it to many customers and friends and have yet to hear a bad comment. Buy the 20 oz bottle better pricing. There is no sent after washing, then again Bears may not like me.

One very important thing is to keep a clean camp. If you use an exciting site look around for sings of other's bad house keeping.

Spend sometime researching bears you will find good information as listed in the above posts and more, stay away from the wild adventure dare devil stuff and you will have a good understanding of Bears ??

When taking my wife or I solo carrying Bear spray does give a piece of mind knowing it's handy. I have never had to use it. Yes I have had Bear encounters, all remembered, always raising my hart rate, ether out of excitement or fear I don't know. I would not give up any of the encounters.

Remember your a guest out their.

2:26 a.m. on March 17, 2010 (EDT)
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Bring an Ipod and play Brittany Spears, scares them away every time.

10:00 a.m. on March 17, 2010 (EDT)
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I bet Heidi Motag's album would work pretty well, too.

9:53 p.m. on March 26, 2010 (EDT)
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Try some bagpipe tunes like Highland Ladie, or Black Bear. Sure to work,


Keep your stuff clean and scent free.

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