You go camping, have fun, cook a meal, sleep under the stars. Fun.
But you’re far from home, boy. You’re in bear country.
Yogi Bear will steal your picnic basket and leave. Real bears? Not so much. The American Bear Association confirms that a bear’s sense of smell is seven times more powerful than that of a dog – and is able to detect odors from more than a mile away. If your camp attracts a bear, it won’t just go away… people can get hurt.
Remember, SMELL = FOOD = THE ONLY REASON why a bear would drop in your campsite in the first place. Food is a powerful motivating force for bears, which is why getting rid of as much food-smell from your camp is imperative. Here are a few things to consider when camping in bear country.
Pick A Campsite Not Frequented As Much By Bears
Make sure your campsite is upwind of where your food and cooking area will be and is comfortably away from common bear food sources like berry patches, etc. A site that doesn’t have a bear sign posted would also be a grand idea.
Try the BEAR-MUDA TRIANGLE Technique
Create a triangular floor plan where in your tent is on one point, food at another point, and your cooking and dining area on the last point. Make sure to distance each point from each other by a hundred yards, at least. Moreover, don’t forget to make sure that you camp on the point that’s uphill from the other two points aforementioned.
Employ Bear Hangs
If the trees in the area seem fit for the job, then use a bear hang. A “bear hang” is simply a waterproof and odor-free bag where you can put your food stores in and can be hung out of a bear’s reach — while at the same time, preventing any attempts from the bear to get to it. Bears aren’t as dumb as they look, and once they get that hang (pun intended) of getting to the bear bag regardless, they will keep on doing it again.
And again. And again. And again. You get the drift.
The typical technique is to hang the bear bag at least 10-12 feet up, and around 4-6 feet away from the tree trunk, to avoid the bear from making an attempt to reach it regardless (bears are great climbers).
Maintain A Clean And Odor-Free Campsite
“Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints!”
The modern version has “Kill Nothing But Time” added to it, but that’s the last thing you want if you’re out hunting, obviously. But I digress.
Never leave any food lying around anywhere near your camp, most especially your sleeping area. And that goes as well to anything that may have even the odor of food, like candy wrappers, clothes you wore while you were cooking, etc.
Do all the cooking and eating only in the spots you designated for cooking and eating, a hundred yards away from your sleeping area. Burn any remnants of your camp feast like bones, unpopped popcorn, bread crumbs, and the other things that may emit food odor.
The previous article shows you how to cook in aluminum foil. Check it out, since cleanup and disposal is a breeze.
Choose Your Camp Grub Wisely
Bacon, butter, fish, and cheese are delicious anywhere you are, but are probably not the best foods to bring in bear country. The smell of frying bacon gets you up and about in the morning — the effect would be the same to a creature that can smell it from a mile away.
Have A Separate Set Of Clothes For Cooking And Sleeping
The smell of food cling to fabric, so make sure you have changed into your sleeping clothes after eating and before you hit the haystack. Leave the clothes with the smell of food in them in your food storage or cooking spots, and make sure to bag them in airtight plastic bags first.
Bag Anything And Everything That Smells Like Food
When in bear country, make it a habit to bring airtight plastic bags for trash disposal, and if possible, torch all the rubbish in your campsite.
As an added measure, you can utilize portable electric fences designed for bears to discourage them from entering your campsite, if it can’t be avoided. Set it around the perimeter of your sleeping area for the added peace of mind.
If you followed all the tips mentioned before, then a fence that delivers six thousand volts of electricity to any bear that touches it should help you sleep better altogether.
With that said, living or being in bear country should not deter you from enjoying the outdoors. Just remember to stay safe.