Human and bear encounters are more frequent these days, especially as human habitation extends into the wilderness, but it is still considered to be fairly uncommon. For the most part, those who encounter bears are either camping or hiking. Hikers tend to be more prepared, but camping is a different story.
The best way to keep bears away from your campsite is by never giving them a reason to be there in the first place. That means looking for signs before throwing down stakes, minding where you cook versus where you sleep, and choosing your food wisely.
There’s more to it than that and we will cover all of the general tactics you should employ when setting up camp, especially in an unfamiliar area. Bears are carnivores but they’re also foragers, which is why your food, cooking it, storage, and carrying is more important than anything else.
Store Your Food The Right Way
That means eliminating the smell by storing it in an air-tight container. A bear can smell and track a scent anywhere between 20 and 40 miles. That’s an 80-mile diameter if you drew a circle around where you are camping. If you care to do the math, that’s 5,027 square miles of territory.
All it takes is one, curious bear to be inside that circle. Of course, wind and weather will have an effect as well, but it doesn’t change the fact that bears have an incredible sense of smell. Purchase “No Odor” bags and use a Bear Canister for storing or trashing your food.
Lastly, keep your stored food or food trash a minimum of 100’ away from where you are going to bed down for the night.
Clean Everything Well
It’s not enough to store your food in airtight containers and place them well away from you. Whatever you eat on or whatever utensils you used to eat need to be thoroughly cleaned as well. The whole idea is to simply remove the smell so that there is nothing to attract a bear, whatsoever.
Look for Signs Before You Settle into Camp
Bears leave signs, such as tracks, scat, and claw marks on trees. Humans leave signs as well, such as bear warnings.
- Animal carcasses are potentially bear kills
- Digging marks
- Claw marks on trees are territorial in nature
Bears don’t wander in a straight line, which means if you come across bear droppings (scat), it’s highly likely that there is a bear in the area. Bears like to claw up trees for a variety of reasons but it’s mostly a territorial thing to ward off other males. Keep your eyes out for these signs and move on if you see them.
Consider a Bear Fence
Last but not least, if you are seriously worried about bears, strictly follow the things that we mentioned above and follow up with a bear fence. It’s nothing more than an easy-to-set-up circle of wiring that attaches to a battery.
If a bear walks up and rubs against the wire, it will give him an irritating pop and he’ll likely choose to find food elsewhere. The most important thing, when it comes to avoiding bears, is vigilance. Pay attention, clean up after yourself, seal your food, and store it well away from camp.