camping in bear country

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by 69Desert300, Apr 2, 2017.

  1. PNWet

    PNWet Been here awhile

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    If they're referring to bear spray vs. shooting it, yes, shooting it might just piss it off.

    In theory, the 15' variety should be effective but it probably doesn't give you enough time to deploy the spray, for the bear to register it doesn't like whatever it is that you did to it, and then for it to stop any advance. If the bear is charging, at 15', the bear's momentum might just carry it into you. An extra 20' more than doubles the time for all of these reactions to play out.
    #21
  2. Dewey316

    Dewey316 Been here awhile

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    THIS. Being smart and knowing your camping system in bear country is the best thing you can do. I have camped in bear country a lot over the years, both black bear and grizzly. I can also say that, I have had issues with bears before, which is one of the ways you really learn what you did wrong, and also what to do if or when you do end up with an actual bear.

    I will also add, I have never once carried or used bear spray, even in Alaska. Some people swear by it, if a bear has made it within 15-20 ft of me, I have messed up, and it is time to make a lot of noise, stand by ground, and try to be big.

    Here is my system with the motorcycle.

    1) I have a "smelly" pannier, and a "camp gear" pannier. Anything that will need to be locked, hung or handled in any way that won't be in the tent with me, gets stored in that pannier.
    2) I establish where I will hang or secure things, that is location 1 of the triangle
    3) The first thing I set up is my cook area, the "smelly" pannier gets put there, this is point 2 on the triangle, 100 yrds sidewind location from point 1.
    4) 100 yards upwind is where I set up camp, the other pannier with my tent/bag/pads/chair/etc all go there.

    All of that is done after first checking around for SIGNS of bear activity, and looking for things that are likely to attract bears. Setting up camp in a berry patch in bear country vs an open area with no natural food source, just use your brain and make smart choices.

    For some of your questions from above.

    What I hang. Anything smelly that is not my own scent. That does include chain lube, tire kits, etc.

    What I don't hang, dirty clothes and things that smell like me, honestly, I think the real human smell and BO dirty underwear etc, in my tent will do more to keep a bear away from me as a person than attract one. Bears don't particularly want to interact with humans, it just happens with we end up in the same place, or with the same food source. Others may disagree with me, but I have never worried about my boots, or dirty clothes or things that smell of me being in my tent or camp area. But anything artificial that isn't my clothing or needed for sleeping, does.

    Things that you eat in, you have to pick and choose how you handle this. I once spilled beer on my jacket, and absolutely put the jacket with the scented stuff and hung until it was washed, most of the time, i wouldn't eat in things I know will be in my camp. This is a, once again use your head, and make the safe and smart choice about it at the time.
    #22
  3. White Raven

    White Raven Adventurer

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    l prefer banger not directed, but above myself. Not wall spray but beam, hope not facing wind... The best is bring someone don't like that can't run with you, ha....
    #23
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  4. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    There is always this option, although I hear killing a grizz in a National Park will cause a shit storm of paperwork to descend upon you. Heck, just the cost of enough ammo to become proficient would cost more than a case of bear spray. A lot more fun, though (practicing, that is).

    [​IMG]
    #24
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  5. beernbikes

    beernbikes n00b

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    [​IMG]
    #25
  6. beernbikes

    beernbikes n00b

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    I would go with the MK9. It's not that much to pack and is effective at a longer range than a smaller MK4.
    [​IMG]
    #26
  7. raynchk

    raynchk Adventurer

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    Rode a bicycle from Prudhoe Bay through California to Puerto Vallarta a few years ago. Bought bear spray in Alaska but only used it on some crazy dog that wanted to eat me when I rode by. Missed him with the spray, but it was close enough, he quit chasing me. Most of the people I met on the bicycle ride agreed bear spray was just 'seasoning' if the bear decided to eat you. I have a yellow plastic bear canister that's a pretty good idea, although a little big. Doubles as a camp stool. Down here in Florida, raccoons are the problem. Vicious, crazed, rabid little creatures that can be really pesky and fearless in developed camp grounds.
    #27
  8. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority

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    ANYTHING with an odor is a likely target for investigation by a bear. How far a bear will go in their investigation is the unknown. If you are not cooking you have a huge head start on your camp not being a target for investigating. Northern Wyoming, Northern Idaho, and Montana have the big Griz but they commonly will avoid humans. Most of the bad encounters with Grizzly bears in the lower 48 are hikers that have surprised the bear.

    #28
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  9. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

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    Expandable foam...

    No bear experience, but every time I see a thread like this I think expandable foam insulation would be a friend. Not that I would want to get that close though.
    #29
  10. CaptUglyDan

    CaptUglyDan Been here awhile

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    Yeah, Take that across the border into Canada and see what happens, Unless it says "Bear Spray" on it you'll have it confiscated and very likely given the 180 back to where you came from at a minimum.
    #30
  11. TheDrifter

    TheDrifter Adventurer

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    Keep anything with an odor in a sealed container (and not in your tent).

    Bear will eat strange things (raw sewage, grease, etc) so best not to take chances with lube, toothpaste, or other personal hygiene items.

    Dirty clothes should not be a terribly worrisome issue, providing you haven't spilled food stuffs on them, as they're covered in human scent.


    I might have a container (maybe a saddle bag or tail case with a bag liner inside?) and a length of rope to put all your stuff in and hang a good distance from your tent. Saves having to carry a special can (though, it won't be airtight for scent, but....).


    As for pepper spray, try to get a can of the foam, rather than just spray. The foam works much better in windy areas.



    The recommendations I've made are based upon the time I spent working around coastal brown bear in Alaska, not inland grizzly, so take it for what it's worth.
    #31
  12. Bugzy

    Bugzy 2014 VStrom DL1000a

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    That video StrongBad posted was informative and funny too, lots of good information in there. The point that came across to me clearly was to have the bear spray on you at all times, which I am guilty of not doing. I didn't want to spend the extra $10 for a holder for it, so just left it in my top box, or carried it into the tent at night, I never thought to pull it out when I went off to brush my teeth or use the washroom, and since there was no place to carry it, I often left it on bike when I went out to look at something or take a picture, silly for sure.

    I am still buying the small bottle of the stuff though, about 7.9oz or 225 gm. The large bottle seems like it would be cumbersome to carry, so hopefully the small one is enough.

    I see my last bottle has expired, so ordered a new one with a shoulder harness.
    #32
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  13. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority

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    My background as a Geologist coming out of Idaho State along with years of living and working all over Idaho, Montana, & Wyoming has given me years of camping in bear country. I live in Southern California but own land in Southwest Montana adjacent to the Mt. Hagen Wilderness. While working for the mining division for JR Simplot in the Caribou National forest our orders were to leave the area for 24 hours anytime you saw a bear. Never saw any. We had a trailer we lived out of out on the lease during the week and commuted back to town on the weekends. We returned one Monday to find that the trailer had been completely destroyed by a bear. I don't remember ever hearing of anyone on a motorcycle having an issue. When camping in bear country with SWMBO I have a small air horn I put in the tent along with a can of bear spray. I really don't want to be spraying bear spray in my tent with me in it and if one comes around my tent I think it would be worth a try to startle it with the horn.

    I personally think that most of the bear issues come from surprising the bears while hiking. Even the NOLS vid seems to deal mostly with encountering a bear by surprise on the hiking trail. For that reason I keep a can of bear spray in my "kitchen pannier" and one in along with the tent. I don't see a reason to carry one on my person

    My "kitchen pannier" gets either hung in a tree or placed in a bear box. Hanging a heavy pannier is not always an easy thing to do in western forests. It seems like finding a branch that extends out far enough that is also high enough just isn't that easy to do. Nothing worse than finally getting the rope over the branch only to find that the weight of the pannier bends the branch too low to the ground! I use a small pulley (block) that I throw over the branch and then run the line for the pannier through that, making it much easier to pull the pannier up. Note that the first thing that comes out of the kitchen pannier is the bear spray!

    [​IMG]
    #33
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  14. bikerfish

    bikerfish flyfishandride

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    All good advice here, been camping in griz country for years, never had an issue. One thing I may mention though, you say your going in May? Lots of roads in the high country may still be closed, depending on how much snow they received this winter. Hell, it's still snowing in places out there, and will for a while still. I camped in the snowy mountains in Wyoming in LATE JUNE one year, found a Nat forest campground, picked the only site that had a picnic table sticking out of the snow, and had to set up my tent IN the snow. ranger came by and said it was technically closed, but told me to enjoy my evening all alone up on the mountain! I got drunk and built a snowman. Have a good trip, it's awesome country out there!
    #34
  15. otherTRAILBOSS

    otherTRAILBOSS Adventurer

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    Supercorsa tires aren't conducive to dirt roads, and as such I'm left with no option but to use established sites when in parks. When I'm anywhere that bear are a known issue I prefer to first find a yurt/cabin/structure. The best prevention is a hard separation from you and the bear. It's certainly not as adventurous, but the idea of being fucking eaten doesn't sound fun either.

    Failing that, or when I'm hiking/camping on foot, I prefer a couple methods to keep me safe.

    1. Clean camping. Cook and clean immediately, with anything that can possibly smell of the process stored up and away from the tent. Cannisters aren't particularly reasonable for motorcycling or hiking, so I like to hang my stuff in a sealed bag well away from the tent.

    2. As previously mentioned, take your dookies far from camp. I do pee nearby.

    3. We try to keep a low fire burning at night. Not always a deterrent, and not always an option in some areas, but every little bit helps.

    4. This is a big one for me... I carry (and regularly train with) a .454 Casull Raging Bull revolver loaded with 360gr Buffalo Bore. Relying on spray, horns, or any other non-lethal means of protection is taking a big risk. Non-lethal methods can and do work, but when a hungry/angry bear walks right through that stuff you're not going to want your last line of defense to be your feeble little hands and a camping knife. Prepare for the worst and your odds of survival will increase dramatically.

    Go big or go home!
    [​IMG]
    #35
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  16. CaptUglyDan

    CaptUglyDan Been here awhile

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  17. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority

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    Being eaten by a bear simply doesn't happen in the lower 48. It is a fantasy to believe that while sitting around your campfire a big mean Grizzly bear will charge in with the intent to eat you. You may surprise a bear while hiking which will trigger an attack or a bear may come into your camp looking to investigate the yummy smells (that he smells but you can't). But a bear does not stroll into or charge into a camp with the intent of death and destruction of everything in the camp.

    The big mistake is confronting the bear and putting yourself in the position of having to defend yourself against the bear. If a big Grizz comes into my camp, I will NOT attempt to confront it in any way, I will retreat and hold off on using any deterrent unless charged while retreating. If you have put yourself in the position (weather you knowingly did or not) to have to defend yourself against a Grizzly, you are fucked and a pop gun, no matter how big, is not going to statistically improve your survival chances.
    #37
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  18. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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  19. otherTRAILBOSS

    otherTRAILBOSS Adventurer

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    The eating statement is hyperbole, clearly. I'm all for avoidance at all costs. This isn't an ego thing. But when it comes down to brass tacks and a confrontation is unavoidable, a firearm and the training to use it effectively is going to be better than bare hands. You're welcome to carry bear spray, fog horns, rabbit's feet or whatever else you'd like. Unless you can meet an apex predator with some form of lethal force when confronted, you're guaranteed to die if your bear spray fails. You might still die after shooting it, but your odds aren't going to get any worse.
    #39
  20. Dewey316

    Dewey316 Been here awhile

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    This is something I tend to disagree with. You have to be realistic about the scenarios that you will actually have a bear encounter. I have had several encounters with black bears over the years, once while actually camping, where a bear ended up in my camp. Here is the common theme of all of them, the bear was curious and smelled something and had ACCESS to something. As soon as the bears saw and heard me, they turned around and wandered off. Every time. The one where the bear was in camp, I had been away from the camp for a period and came back to it rummaging. Even with it getting to my food, seeing and hearing me was plenty for it to leave. That is the honest, real world, likely case that you will actually have a bear encounter. This type of interaction happens, and there is now reason to be scared of it. Be prepared, be smart, and know how to handle that situation with confidence.

    Now, the scary scenarios are different, the way those happen are: You find yourself having walked or hiked into a spot where you find yourself between a mother bear and her cubs. This is the scenario where you will encounter an aggressive bear. This type of encounter isn't going to happen sitting around camp, it just isn't. A large majority of even this type of, are preventable, be smart, make noise while you hike in bear country, make it clear that humans are coming, and don't surprise the bears.

    [edit] I'll add, what you don't want to do is kick in the fight or flight response in the bear, it is about just being calm and letting them know that another large mammal is there, and they will decide to bugger off.
    #40