Okay, maybe not HERE, but elsewhere, I’ve heard rumors of Spring.
In places were Spring really exists…
That means that all those critters are gonna start making appearances in your neighborhood, looking for food and frolic.
Lots of families are out scouting locations for their new ISBU home in the woods. That’s a great way to spend time with the family, learn about your surroundings and then find that “perfect place” to drop your boxes.
Here in Montana, we’re seeing more and more bears every year. We have grizzlies in Missoula County. While little bears look cute and cuddly, their parents are anything but. They’re serious thousand pound hunks of “Bite-yer-butt-off”.
You need to stay clear of them, unless you’re either crazy, or Chuck Norris.
Ten Ways to Avoid Bears While Camping
(Baselines swiped from the Boy Scouts. I just added my two cents worth.)
If you are traveling through bear country, you can follow these ten ways to avoid bears:
- Move food away from where you sleep! Keep your cooking areas and sleeping areas separate (100 yards or so is the rule of thumb). Ain’t it bad enough that your “better half” sounds like a bear when she sleeps? You wanna tempt the real thing? I didn’t think so.
- Find a tree and a rope… and then use the limbs. No! Don’t hang the neighbor kid who won’t shut up or gather firewood. Hang food and items with strong odors (ie, toothpaste, bug repellent, soap, etc.) at least 10 ft above the ground or use airtight, bear-proof containers.
- Just like home, change your clothes before you sleep. Nobody wants to sleep with you when you’re covered in mud and fire-stink. Don’t wear clothing with cooking or food odors to bed. Trust me.
- “Cleanliness is close to your alleged better half not griping at you for hours and hours…” Be clean – wash dishes, and keep people in the cooking area well away from the sleeping area…
- Life on the trail is loud and boisterous… unless you’re hunting or stalking prey (or pretty girls from the camp across the lake!). Don’t surprise bears while hiking. Make some noise! Talk, sing or shout back and forth, especially when close to rivers or streams. Remember that water sounds will drown out a lot. Don’t let the sounds of a rushing river mask your approach.
- Stay off the “rough bits”. Nobody is impressed at your alleged ability to get scoured by branches and brambles on those goat paths you’re pointing out. Travel on the established trails like normal folk.
- More is better. Duh. We all know this. Travel in a group of three or more. That way, if you do irritate a bear into pouncing, you can trip the slowest one as you run away! This, campers, is why I always go camping with my idiot brother-in-law. You need to plan ahead for some things… LOL!
- If you’re moving from camp to camp or just traveling through… travel during the daylight hours. Nobody cares if you have “acute night vision”. Nobody cares that you spent all your lunch money on Ebay buying Russian Night Optics. Bears are active at dawn and dusk and they don’t like surprises. And they don’t care what language is embossed on the headgear you’re wearing. They’ll still eat you.
- Keep your eyes open. Concentrate on the trail and your surroundings and not the rear end of the girl in front of you. Look for tracks, scat (poop, NOT music) and signs of bear activity.
- Boy Scouts are trained to “Be prepared”! Endeavor to do likewise. Study the facts and train your group before you go. Better yet, take a boy scout with you! Find one of those “know-it-all” kids and then insure he’s close enough to trip when the bear starts to charge! Hey, he’s young. He has a much better chance of evading that bear than you probably do. 🙂
Like many hikers, I’ve seen really big grizzly bears in places like the Alaskan wilds and in Montana. As a kid, we lost fish regularly to bears who thought we were surf fishing in Alaska just to feed them. Bears are pretty awesome, but they are best observed from a great distance. Mom wasn’t so awesome as we had to go back to camp and admit that bears ate our dinner. Nothing sucks as much as “Here’s your $&^%#@!! supper” as your mother throws a cold can of pork and beans at you. 😦
You’re not going to just walk up on a bear every day. Those bears easily approached are BAD NEWS. They’re either already used to people (and thus you’re just a slow-moving “bear sized MRE”) or they are sick. In both cases, you should carry your butt outta there ASAP. Spotting or encountering a bear in the wild is uncommon, bear attacks are rare and injuries or fatalities from attacks are even rarer still. But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
You should also know that most bear attacks are usually attributed to people making stupid mistakes, rather than finding bears that are “inherently aggressive”. Despite that knucklehead that had a cable show about living with bears and treating them like people… bears are bears. They walk like bears, they act like bears and they’ll KILL you like bears. They’ll kill YOU just like they killed that idiot who thought they were “warm, cuddly bundles of awesome fur” that needed to be played with. Bears won’t see you as a new playmate. They’ll see you as FOOD. That idiot got what he deserved. I just feel sorry for the bears that he got killed because they were then punished for acting like bears.
You’re in THEIR land. Respect for your location and it’s conditions is imperative to your survival. To do anything less invites disaster.
Have a great time. Just stay alert and informed. You’ll have a great time and you won’t become Purina Bear Chow. 🙂