Bear Country Camping

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by Blaise W, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. Blaise W

    Blaise W Been here awhile

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    We don't have much of a bear problem down here in Texas, other than Big Bend that is. It's not a real problem there either since there are few around. Up north in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, etc., that's a different story. On my recent trip we only camped once, at Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument, but there were signs posted warning of bear activity in the area. I didn't get a lot of sleep that night, and neither did my son who was set up next to me. We also passed close to an area west of Yellowstone where a camper was recently pulled out of their tent, killed, and eaten. Other campers nearby were attacked at the same time by several other bears traveling with the sow who was responsible for the fatality.

    My question is, for those who camp in such areas regularly, what do you to get a good nights sleep? I know the odds are against having any encounters, but then some have had several in close succession. I keep bear spray handy, but if you are in your sleeping bag, inside your tent, and it's pitch black when your are grabbed from outside, what good is it going to do. You'll never get a chance to use it, even if you can find it! Is there an answer, or do you just play the odds and try to put it out of your mind.
    #1
  2. Minisquatch

    Minisquatch Been here awhile

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    Find the tent furthest away from you an put hot dogs under it. :D
    Seriously, store food outside and away from your tent and wash any food or fish smells off of your person, leave your dirty clothes outside the tent especially if you have been cooking. A clean camp is a safe camp. And it never hurts to "mark" nthe trees outside your camp to let the bears know you are there.
    #2
  3. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Most of us that camp in bear country are still around.:D I think your odds are pretty good unless you do something utterly stupid.
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  4. Flashmo

    Flashmo Whatever...

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    You won't keep the bears away...bears are bears...

    Keep a clean camp and 95% of your problems are taken care of. Cook away from the tent, store food away from the tent, brush your teeth away from the tent, apply deodorant away from the tent, keep sweaty riding gear away from the tent.

    ...make sure you can run faster than your riding partner...if you have one.
    #4
  5. bikerfish

    bikerfish flyfishandride

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    common sense, don't sleep in clothes you cook in, don't keep clothes, food, toiletries, etc in your tent. use food lockers where available. I camped for a few nights last year off the beartooth hwy, LOTS of warning signs. we were the only people in the campground. we used the food lockers and used common sense. no bears. we DID have bear spray if it was needed, but I think the trout slayer ale did a better job of letting me get a good nights sleep!
    #5
  6. oldmanb777

    oldmanb777 Just say NO to socialism!

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    All good ideas. I just make sure NO smelly stuff that a bear might think is tasty. That includes all toiletries. Use the bear containers, and keep a clean camp. I would also say that plenty of human order will detract most bears. They would like to avoid you more than you want to avoid them. Personally, I know of only a few bears who prefer peper on thier on thier meal.:rofl
    I have been trying my best to train the bears in my state to go after only the ones who have that funny 1 star on thier lic plate. But again they seem to prefer less peper.
    #6
  7. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

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    Be nice to us Texan's as part of your state was once part of OUR COUNTRY. We an always take it back. Easily.
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  8. jimmydeanh

    jimmydeanh Been here awhile

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    I do all that stuff away from the tent, about 15/20 yards, but I'm just curious how far everyone else does:ear
    #8
  9. Sport

    Sport Been here awhile

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    All good information regarding the smells that attract bears but despite the external precautions that can be taken, bears are bears so something small, accessible and of high caliber comes to mind...just in case.
    #9
  10. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter

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    I sympathize with your fears------------I've lost many a night of sleep worrying about bears and hearing noises.
    I've had nights I just couldn't shake it.
    It's really no fun when that happens---------but I don't let it stop me from going.
    In BC and Alaska me and my buddy packed bear spray--------never used it.
    And in the states my buddy carries a loaded 40 caliber automatic on his hip.
    Makes me feel a lot better-------we've been traveling out West mostly and it's been legal in those states.
    He's been asked twice tho to take it outside where they served liquor-------as that is illegal.
    Just a couple weeks ago we got pulled over for having our headlights off and his gun was right
    out for all to see----------I'm sure the officer had to see it----------he never mentioned it.
    So a gun is a possibility for you here is the states------the ones it's legal in-------I have no idea which ones that is.
    I know he's carried it in Idaho, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.
    That's where we seem to hang out-------that's where all the best riding is in the country.

    And looky here: this mean old grizzly ate somebody----along with his Gerber LMFII survival knife and can of bear spray.

    [​IMG]

    BigDog
    #10
  11. dutchjohn

    dutchjohn Adventure Touring

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Isn't it ironic that the food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever?

    Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to "PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS" because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.
    :rofl:rofl:rofl:rofl:rofl :rofl:rofl:rofl:rofl:rofl
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. aquadog

    aquadog Dude Buddha

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    As others have said, keep a clean camp, cook away from the tent (say, 100') and better yet, consider cooking early, riding a bit further and then pitching camp. Nothing in the tent but a water bottle and bear spray, no food whatsoever, no toiletries. Don't camp on what is clearly a bear trail, or where there is recent and plentiful sign - you'd be surprised how oblivious some campers are. I remember seeing a steaming pile that the urine was still draining away from. I decided to carry on as if I didn't know I'd just disturbed someone taking a dump...it's very unlikely you'll have a problem using common sense.
    #12
  13. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Maybe, next, we can discuss "where did Texas come from"? :D
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  14. Blaise W

    Blaise W Been here awhile

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    Ok, you got me. Some pretty good ones came from Kentucky....and never left.

    Food, toiletries, etc., all stay away from the tent at night, but I typically don't keep my riding clothes or boots remote. It may be all I have to wear! If you are eating dehydrated food prepared with water from your jet boil I wonder if that would be an issue? And, does someone make unscented deodorant and toothpaste? I'll have to look at that.

    Another thing to look at is a Ruger "Alaskan", 44 Mag. It looks like it is directed straight at defense against big game, up close and personal like. I seldom carry a weapon on my rides though I have plenty, in a number of calibers. Next time up north though, I think I will carry one of those Rugers and just hope that it never has to be used, and if it does, that it works. Meanwhile, this may be just as dangerous....[​IMG]
    #14
  15. Merlin III

    Merlin III Mean SOB

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    When was the last time you had one of those trying to get in your tent at night? Some bears do look for trouble. Moose are only a problem during rut season and when a mother is with calves.

    Here is another thread on the subject: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=767847
    #15
  16. Merlin III

    Merlin III Mean SOB

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    I had a black bear in camp once and it is unsettling. This was my best advice in the referenced thread:
    "Prevention is the best cure. Camping in groups, maintaining best practices with food, making noise to warn bears of your presence, and carrying bear spray. Using a large tent as opposed to a backpacking-one man tent is also wise. Bears have been known to grab the whole tent with the person in it. A larger tent with you sleeping in the middle of it may give you an extra second or two to cock that 45 and get one shot off.

    As far as defensive weapons go, the Forest Service did an analysis and determined that, by far, bear spray was much more effective than firearms.

    As for camping at campgrounds, I would definitely get a site in the middle of the campground or near the ranger's residence if there is one. The more people around between you and the bear, the better your chances are. :lol3

    Here is another good site: http://www.udap.com/safety.htm
    __________________
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  17. Blaise W

    Blaise W Been here awhile

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    Yes, agree. This bull was right behind a cow with her calf. They trotted on thru, but the bull stopped for some threat consideration. He watched for about thirty seconds, then turned and trotted on thru the camp.
    #17
  18. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    You stated anecdotally that a 'camper was recently dragged from his tent and eaten'. Define 'recent', with the drama around bears that may have been 5-10 yrs ago. Lose the hyperbole and it was more likely that the bear was looking for food, opened the tent, screaming panicked camper, defensive bear, dead camper. Unlikely he was eaten.

    There is a web site that details every bear attack in North America. My Google isn't working right now, or I would find and post. The gist of what I gleaned is that; 1) Attacks are few and far between, 1-2 deaths per yr in all of N America. 2) Many are provoked, directly or indirectly.

    Bears will go to unbelievable lengths to get a tiny morsel of food. In Glacier Park, serious bear country, even water bottles are required to be stored away from camp.

    Do what ever makes you feel safe.

    Safety is an illusion. You are riding a motorcycle...danger, duh.

    I live in Idaho, have worked in the woods. I carry no active defence for bears. By the time you see a bear, they are often to close to do anything if they did turn aggressive. Most are running as soon as they are aware of a human. Try not to surpise them. They do get preoccupied when feeding, so it is possible, while riding a quiet cycle, to round a corner and see a bear. I hammer the brakes and let them move off. That is usually at a dead run in the opposite direction. They are very fast.

    I surprised a black bear a couple weeks ago. Rounded a corner onto a fair straight section. A bear about 50 yds away, casually walking down the road. He stands up, wheels around and bounds into the brush. I didn't even have time to brake. Fast. I rode up to the spot where he jumped off the low side of the road, but he was gone. He was probably out there watching me, smelling the cookies on my breath. :lol3
    #18
  19. Merlin III

    Merlin III Mean SOB

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    Here is the list of FATAL bear attacks up to 2010.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_bear_attacks_in_North_America
    #19
  20. Blaise W

    Blaise W Been here awhile

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    Here is a link to one attack this year, and a search will find a number of others, in Arizona, Canada, Alaska. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/montana-bear-attack_n_1891308.html

    Right before my trip this year I heard on the news a story about a sow killing one man and her cubs attacking two other campers, all in thier tents I believe. Turns out this happened in 2010, and the bears were captured later and euthenized. Nevertheless, it's unsettling, and there are stories about increased bear attacks in Yellowstone. I'm not particularly worried about something like this while in a campground during the day, but I will readily admit to being worried while sleeping in my tent. Predatory attacks are still unusual, but they do happen. Get over it is the best advice I can give myself.
    #20