Backpack camping in white mountains nh

6:15 p.m. on May 26, 2019 (EDT)
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So for the past two years me and a few friends have been going to the white mountains in new Hampshire to backpack camp off of the kangamangus highway we have a spot just far enough away from the road as permitted to light a fire (half a mile i think) we cook on a small portable grill what are the chances that we attract animals such as bears or another predator while were awake partying and cooking? We make sure everything including trash is sealed in a cooler before going to sleep.... we've never had an issue before but my dad has gotten into my head just wondering how many cases a year people are attacked while camping i guess? In New Hampshire 

11:27 p.m. on May 26, 2019 (EDT)
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When dad says getting attacked by a bear does he mean an actual physical confrontation? You are much more likely to get accidentally shot by a hunter, or injured/killed by a tree limb falling on your head, or a bunch of other potential dangers.  If your dad is worried about you physically getting attacked, tell him to stop being a Dorothy - lions and tiger and bears...

But a bear may come into camp for your food.  They unusually do this at night, most of the time people don't even know they were visited, unless you left something out within reach that smells like food.  In that case they can make a racket trying to get at the source of the scent.  But they are after food, not you, unprovoked attacks by bears on humans are exceeding rare.

If a bear does come into camp, give it room, don't make eye contact or quick movements.  You can try making noise - those pocket air horns do the job.  You can carry bear spray, but most folks who dealt with black bears consider this excessive.  Once the bear gets hold of food or anything else, it considers it now own that item; definitely do not challenge his ownership.

Prevention is the best remedy.  Place your kitchen and food larder a good distance from camp and each other.  Imagine a triangle, with each point either being the tent, the food larder or the cooking area.  The points of that triangle should be 100 yards from each other, so says various texts on the subject.  Personally I have never practiced this in black bear country.  I do cook in camp.  But I keep a clean camp, wash my dishes outside of camp, and place my food larder about a 30 second walk from camp, stored in bear canisters or hung in a tree where bears cannot get at it.  Other stuff you need to treat accordingly are your trash, lotions and other scented items.  I know my camps have been visited often over the years, but I never had food stolen or equipment damaged.  

Lastly, bear proofing your camp is more about the bear's long term well being than your personal safety.  They really do not want to pick a fight with you.  If one visits, both of you will survive the encounter, provided you don't do something stupid, and you will have a story.  But if the bear gets food from you, he'll be well on his way to becoming a Yogi, conditioned to consider humans as creatures they can steal food from.  At some point this leads habitual encounters by the bear, at which time the rangers have to deal with him, often killing him to preclude a future physical confrontation with humans.  So don't be a dofuss and inadvertently end up feeding a bear.  Get a bear canister or learn how to implement a bear hang.   


6:56 a.m. on May 27, 2019 (EDT)
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Specific to your question about bears in the Whites: There are bears everywhere there and they can smell you and your food no matter what you do. Most of them are real bears and are afraid of people. The campground bears or other bears that have been ruined by human contact are not afraid. Camp far away from the campgrounds that dot the Kanc, at least a few miles, and you should be able to avoid those.

As you've seen, even poor food handling like leaving it in a cooler can be just fine so long as the bears are scared. Run into one of those ruined bears and you'll find that "Hey bear" "Hey bear!!" and even "Hey you &%$*in bear!!! &@*&!!!!!!!" won't make much difference. They don't want to eat you. They just know people carry food and if they can scare you away they can have it.

Whether you sleep with your food or hang it doesn't really matter to the bears in NH. The real ones will fear you and the ruined ones will try to push you out of camp even if your food bag is hanging off in the woods because they associate camps with food. Stick with real bears and you'll continue to be fine. Run into one of those ruined bears and you'll remember it for a while I can tell you from experience :)

8:45 a.m. on May 30, 2019 (EDT)
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They are around.  Don't sleep near your food or trash.  Trash in a cooler can be opened by a determined bear.  I have been visited by 4 different bears in Oregon while we were still awake in a large group with a fire going.  They were the "ruined" campground bears that Lonestranger mentioned above. 

I camp with dogs and they are my first line of defense. 

Campground bears are much less common than they used to be. 

February 20, 2020
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