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Thread: night time bear encounters?

  1. #1

    Default night time bear encounters?

    On another forum I read about someone's sleepless experience with a black bear. Apparently, it smelled something in his campsite that it liked and hung around the tent from nightfall until around 4 a.m. At first the hiker dealt with it by running outside, yelling, and clapping his shoes together, but later he just cowered in his sleeping bag, hoping it would go away if he kept quiet.

    What do people think would be the best action to take, aside from preventative campsite cleanliness? One forum user with a similar experience said they tried bear spray, but accidentally sprayed themselves within their tent. Another said that building a fire was the way to go. Personally, I think I'd want to keep watch outside with a gun. It would be a crummy way of spending a night, but I can't think of a better way of protecting loved ones when something big with teeth is prowling around the campiste.

    This scenario has me thinking that my dinky little LED flashlight wouldn't quite cut it. I've never thought of installing a "tactical" light on a gun before, but now I can see how it would be useful. I wonder if bright chemical lightsticks would be practical, too; they seem like an easy way to make a campsite visible.

  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Big campfire and big gun. Not much else you can do but wait.

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    The problem with bear spray is that the bears like the smell of it. They don't like it sprayed in their face, but if you spray it on the ground, or on your tent, etc., they will want to get close and roll in it. Not a very good long term deterrent.

    The big fire is probably the best plan, but I'm not sure I want to be the one to go out in the dark looking for more firewood.

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    Member COtoAK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    The problem with bear spray is that the bears like the smell of it. They don't like it sprayed in their face, but if you spray it on the ground, or on your tent, etc., they will want to get close and roll in it. Not a very good long term deterrent.

    The big fire is probably the best plan, but I'm not sure I want to be the one to go out in the dark looking for more firewood.
    Exactly.
    Who is going to want to get close enough to a bear just so that they could make it angry by spraying it into their eyes?

    Burn your trash.
    Store your food in a bear can.
    http://www.ultralightbackpacker.com/bear-cans.html
    Lurker.

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    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by COtoAK View Post
    Exactly.
    Who is going to want to get close enough to a bear just so that they could make it angry by spraying it into their eyes?

    Burn your trash.
    Store your food in a bear can.
    http://www.ultralightbackpacker.com/bear-cans.html
    I'd probably have to send my condolences to the bear if it got too close to you!

    grin

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    Building a big fire is a good idea. Until you realize you have to go into the trees/ brush to get wood with a BEAR waiting for you!!

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    doesn't really work for backpacking, but in camps with more gear we usually left a lantern going over by the food/kitchen area...could easily pick out a target if midnight snackers came raiding!

    There are some motion activated things that might make a difference too lights and/or noises - I always thought about taking one of those solar powerd, motion activated flood lights out and putting it on a pole overlooking the food/kitchen area...never got around to blowing the $70 or whatever they cost to try it out...

    electric fence is probably the best solution and one that can even work for a backpacker (expensive, but the lightweight kits come in at only a few pounds right?) The cabins I know of that installed them years ago (8 or more?) have not had a single bear incident since...used to be at least one every year or two. Also have seen them used by people I know that raise birds and rabbits - bears were sniping a snack here and there - not after the fence went in.

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    Member akjw7's Avatar
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    oh and a much cheaper and more versatile option than mounting a tactical light is to get a surefire flashlight - you can pick up a G2 for under $40 - buy a couple extra batteries the high output lamp assembly and keep it in your gear along with your LED light or headlamp. When you need to see what is going bump in the night it will amaze you. If you really think you'll shoot using it you need to learn a technique and practice using it. There are a couple different methods of holding a sidearm and flashlight at the same time...

    I guess if you have a few extra piles of cash lying around a high-tech night vision system would be cool! Just practice better firearm safety than the chick in "28 weeks later"! (military doctor uses a nightvision rifle scope to guide two kids through a dark tunnel - by looking through the scope at the kids and telling them where to step!)

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    Default Fire Fire

    I would say the best bet would be fire. just takes a being prepared. Boy scouts 101 u should have extra fire wood to get u through the night any way. there is no such thing as to much fire wood. just wondering did this encounter happen up here or in the lower 48. i could not imagine just layin in my bag waiting to get munched. I would be out of the tent whooping and hollering till i could not make a sound. don't like the idea of being a bear burrito all snuggled up in my bag.

  10. #10

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    I don't remember the name, but awhile back I saw a small portable motion activated bear alarm. It's kind of like those motion activated camera boxes for hunting, but it sets off an alarm instead. Of course it would only provide security for one area, and not a 360 degree perimiter. I think it was around $30. It may at least let you know something is in the area.

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    I would put an electric fence around my tent since I need that time for sleep. Staying up and tending a fire is not my idea of a good night in camp.

  12. #12

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    It looks like the guy in the post was in Aspen; here's the link to the original story: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-...468/index.html

    A few of the responses on that forum have strange suggestions, like throwing hot water on the bear or using firecrackers. I have no idea if guns are allowed where he was.

    I'd feel a little strange carrying around an electric gadget to ward off bears, like a fence or alarm. If sensor/alarm technology ever gets down to cellphone size I'd consider it, but when I'm hiking I don't really like carrying items I probably won't use. I also have to wonder what an electric fence would do in the rain...? I hate to think of the times when I've woken up with my tent in a puddle.

    In the meantime I think I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing: cook away from camp, keep all food/soap/etc. in the canister, and don't camp in places with obvious animal traffic like trails or berry bushes. Maybe I'll go as far as buying a Surefire like suggested, and also install some tritium sights on my gun. Curious bears at night might turn out to be one of those things I'll have a plan for "just in case".
    Last edited by Wolfeye; 12-20-2007 at 17:23. Reason: grammar error

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    Bear fences work great for field camps. Sleep can still be a challenge when there are curious bears around - when you here that "woof!" in ther middle of the night you still have to go check/repair your perimeter! Aggressive proactive (ie daylight) hazing of any bear that doesn't show natural fear of humans is probably also wise and helps set the tone when darkness falls.

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    Just because animals show curiosity toward a camp doesn't mean you're in danger. I enjoy being close to the animals. If I didn't want to experience nature I wouldn't be out there. I'm the intruder, not them. It's their house, I'm just visiting.

    If you get uncomfortable and you want to move a bear away? Take a couple of road flares with you. Midnight camp visitors don't like the noise, smell, or unnatural light. Assuming you didn't camp near their food cache they'll be happy to leave. The light will help you see, and flares make good fire starters even in the rain.

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    Member akjw7's Avatar
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    no issues I'm aware of with electric fences in rain...in fact I think you need some moisture in the ground as it's part of the circuit? If I remember right, gravel bars or other really dry ground require some different wiring setups?

    There seem to be quite a few websites around, found one with a complete kit listed at 2lbs.

    Like I said my only experience with them was around cabins and once at big wall tent camp that was left unatended for a week...

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    Default thoughts...

    Great question, hard to answer. My thoughts are,

    1. Surefire M6 flashlight. 500 leumen and it works. On the Goodnews this past Aug I had a brown bear 25 feet from the tent, shined the light in his eyes and he hauled butt. I also had a Marlin guide gun 45-70 and a Smith and Wesson Model 500. Glad the flashlight did the trick though.

    2. www.electrobearguard.com , an Alaska company makes electric fences. They have one model that will work on gravel bars, the regular models will not as there is lack of moisture in the gravel to provide a good ground. Heavy at 20+ pounds though. The UDAP fence, sold in Montana I believe is 3 lbs or so, but as mentioned may not work on gravel river bars. http://www.udap.com/

    3. A Canadian company sells alarms "Critter Gitters" or similar that sound off when the passive infrared is tripped. Not sure about quality as I have not used one, but the price is decent. They also sell a trip wire system with optional siren. Perhaps too heavy for mobile camps at 20-30 lbs. http://www.margosupplies.com/canadian1/index.html

    4. If money is no object, check out this high end passive infrared system from Sensor Security in England. Sold to military and bodyguards on details, this system is highly mobile, weather resistant, and of the highest quality. Makes a zone of protection the size of a football field and has a hand held reciever that tells you what transmitter was activated. I want one, but the price is prohibitive. Take a look at the Stealthguard system listed under products here http://sensorsecurity.com/index2.html .

    5. Wear earplugs and hope for the best.

  17. #17

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    Estes rocket motor igniters, a few screaming pop bottle rockets, 9 volt battery, and a clothes pin, You can make your own trip wire.

    You can use the strobe pots and know what side they are coming from.

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    Member moose-head's Avatar
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    I wouldn't be sleeping anyway so I'd probably sit by the fire with my 338 close and roast s'mores...wait...no s'mores

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruger01 View Post
    I don't remember the name, but awhile back I saw a small portable motion activated bear alarm. It's kind of like those motion activated camera boxes for hunting, but it sets off an alarm instead. Of course it would only provide security for one area, and not a 360 degree perimiter. I think it was around $30. It may at least let you know something is in the area.
    Might as well add a defibrilator. To get my heart started again after a squirrel sets off the alarm.
    Finally, Brad Childress is GONE!

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by MNViking View Post
    Might as well add a defibrilator. To get my heart started again after a squirrel sets off the alarm.
    Good point! I agree!

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