Hiking and Camping Safely in Bear Country

12:06 p.m. on October 19, 2009 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "Hiking and Camping Safely in Bear Country"

Whether you hit the trail for a day or a week, entering the land of grizzlies and black bears comes with great responsibility. Assure a safe trip by taking proper precautions, respecting bears’ space, and having a firm grip on how to handle yourself.

Full article at https://www.trailspace.com/articles/hiking-and-camping-in-bear-country.html

5:11 p.m. on October 29, 2009 (EDT)
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"When in Bear Country: The Actions of Dumb People are the Cause of Smart Bears!"

The difference between the 'intelligence' of the bears at Philmont Scout Ranch and the National Parks is phenomenal.
The way we do 'Bear Bagging' (using bear cables strung between two trees) at Philmont, is similar to the illustration above, you could never get away with at a National Park such as Yosemite, because the bears would get your food and it would be illegal, you must use bear canisters in Yosemite.

This is entirely due to the training of the Crews by the Philmont Rangers, and the Crews actually following through with the training.

In normal 'non-tourist' wilderness locations using the above illustration may work just fine, and it usually does, it all depends on the bears.

But when you come down to the root cause of 'smart bears', it is not a 'bear-problem' it is a 'people-problem', or closer yet... 'problem-people'.

12:52 p.m. on November 10, 2009 (EST)
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Wow! Excellent and very detailed information! Thanks for the great article

2:27 p.m. on April 7, 2011 (EDT)
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I'll second that, and I have read this article several times to refresh myself.

9:53 p.m. on May 4, 2011 (EDT)
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great article

11:45 a.m. on May 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey Gizymil,

Just reading some bear threads and noticed the bear article you posted.

Coming up on a year anniversary for that article and my frind was just up in Yellowstone, hiking and came across a Brown Bear with a big cub.  Her with friend backed away quickly, having noticed the bear and the bear noticing them at about a 50ft range.  They backed away quietly and quickly without running. Not turning until out of view and then getting out of the area very quickly.

What upset me the most is that they did not report this to the Ranger Station so as to make Ranger and other Hikers aware of a bear in the area and possibly prevent an encounter that could have a human bear contact and following negative measures.

Running away from most (carnivore or omnivore) animals does seem to have a high level of intrigue or trigger effect to make it a game of chase for.........  .

10:13 p.m. on May 23, 2012 (EDT)
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This post describes a food hanging technique that eliminates many of the basic problems inherent in the hanging method described in ther article.

Ed

2:46 a.m. on May 24, 2012 (EDT)
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That's a great note Ed, thanks.

12:32 p.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Callahan said:


Running away from most (carnivore or omnivore) animals does seem to have a high level of intrigue or trigger effect to make it a game of chase for.........  .

'Fight or flight'. If you startle any animal (bear, bison, deer) the same reflex kicks in. What happens next depends on how the animal judges the risk.

I was once told by a ranger that a bear's idea of a good time is chasing something that's running away, kind of like how we would think of playing tag.

6:36 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
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We are all familiar with hanging food, clean camp, etcl.  Having lost count of bear encounters around 100, I would offer this advice.  Most people encounter difficult bears on the trail, not necessarily at night.  Make noise when you travel, and make more noise in and around dense vegetation.  Carry bear spray, be alert, know what bears eat so you can tell when you are in bear habitat.  If you are trained in firearms bring one as a last resort.  See the affect of the warning shot on the pissed off sow in Alaska under the Paddling Section.  Understand that there is tension in the woods in the spring when bears become active, and in the fall during "hyper- phasia" when they are trying to put on weight for winter.

Realize that there is an awful lot of bear country that has nothing remotely to do with National Parks.  Wild bears are more honest when they haven't been trained by a bunch of clueless tourists.  Black bears occasionally become predatory and should never be dismissed as "friendly." 

 

12:32 p.m. on July 22, 2012 (EDT)
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I have started putting my cooking pot & utensils in my bear canister, but if I also need to put the stove & fuel in there, I'm in trouble.  It's a challenge to get just the food in there!

10:27 a.m. on July 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Bheiser1,

I have never used a bear canister, but it is a good idea.  Why would you bother to put the stove and fuel in there?

5:22 a.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Given this is all about avoiding bears from getting at us:

Does anyone know if there is a bear canister large enough to sleep in?  Yea, "plastic bubble camping" - I can see this catching on...

As for my cooking wares and eating utensils, I have no problem leaving them out.  They are so clean and free of odor causing contamination that you could eat off them.  Really.

Ed

10:51 a.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Bheiser1,

I have never used a bear canister, but it is a good idea.  Why would you bother to put the stove and fuel in there?

 

Ppine, I haven't put my stove and fuel in the bear canister... My comment was a reference to the suggestion in the article that this should be done. I suppose this is a precaution in case one has spiattered food on the stove and fuel can while cooking.

I have started putting the cooking pot and utensils in, though, as well as the pot cozy, because I've noticed they (especially the titanium) retain odors from my food when washed with cold water.

11:45 a.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
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I like the idea of not sleeping anywhere near all food related equipment.  For places with a high density of large bears, some people have gone to an electric fence which is solar charged and very portable.  It is used mostlyby geologists, other scientists, professional hunters, etc.  It could be useful for backpacking in areas like Denali.

12:06 p.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Yeah, I try to keep my "kitchen" away from my sleeping area.

This is one reason I don't like camping in established sites.  You never know where the previous occupants might have prepared their meal, spilled food, etc... and in heavily used areas with established sites and other parties camping, it's harder to spread out to separate things that way.

1:58 p.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
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ppine said:

I like the idea of not sleeping anywhere near all food related equipment.  For places with a high density of large bears, some people have gone to an electric fence which is solar charged and very portable.  It is used mostlyby geologists, other scientists, professional hunters, etc.  It could be useful for backpacking in areas like Denali.

 Interesting that you mentioned the fence. I spent an evening with an ATC trail crew last fall and they had brought an electric fence for their group camp (first time I had seen one in the backcountry); the black bears in the Smokies had zero trouble getting past it. There was one little bear that got zapped and irritated but pushed forward instead of running back and got inside the perimeter. It was a 10 person camp and they were making large one pot meals mostly; I think that led to much more food odor and missed scraps etc...

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