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Thread: bear in the camp!

  1. #1
    Member Ripface's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default bear in the camp!

    So a couple questions here...
    For those of you who have been visited "in the night" by bears, what actions did you take? Did you stay in your tent, grab the gun and wait for it to go away? Did you make noises to try and scare it away from inside the tent? Did you go back to sleep (not likely, I know)? Did you get out of your tent, and if so, what did you do then?

    Also, are they loud when they come into camp? Are they easy to hear/noisy? I sleep like a rock two feet under ground. I've done a ton of camping, but none up here yet, and (knocking on wood) so far I haven't had to deal with a bear in my camp.
    "Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer, Odyssey

  2. #2
    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Anchorage, Alaska, United States


    Grab me lucky rabbits foot and hoped he did not join me in the tent.

    I stayed in the tent and grabbed my gun and remind still.
    Living the Alaskan Dream
    Gary Keller
    Anchorage, AK

  3. #3


    They're only noisy when they knock over stuff or start ripping. Otherwise you might not know they were around. Years ago on the West Coast we had a blackbear sow with two cubs come to the edge of camp where we had some deer hanging from a meat pole, along with hearts and livers in a bucket of water. Mom woke us up when she tipped over the bucket. We got up, fired a shot in the air to chase her off. One cub went up the tree at one end of the meat pole and the other went up the tree at the other end. Mom looked up at the cubs, looked over at us, then turned and started snacking on a hind quarter. She didn't call the cubs down till she ate her fill, and she sure wasn't about to leave while the cubs were overhead in the trees.

    Browns and griz come through camp all the time up here, but we're anal about clean camp, no smells and a cook area away from sleeping areas. No problems at all with the bears passing through, simply because they can't smell any reason to stick around. Had one subadult sit among ice chests of fish for a while with no idea what was in them. The only time we've had problems with brown bears was in areas where lots of people had been before. They usually taught the bears how to break up a camp, and you had to work pretty hard to keep them from doing yours, even if they couldn't smell a thing.

  4. #4
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Eagle River, AK


    Summer of 1997, young and foolish, on the banks of the Newhalen river with two guys up visiting from Florida. Between 10 and 11:30 pm I get cornered upriver by a feeding bear out of sight of everyone else. After a few very close run-ins (<5 ft.), I finally get behind the bear and back up to the bluff where everyone (20 people, 8 tents?) is camped. The other fellas there build a big fire and pull out their arsenal, assuring me and my friends that they'll stay up all night to keep bears out of camp. Around 1 am I finally crawl into my tent alone, with the two florida boys in a tent next to me. Sleep......

    Around 3 am I wake suddenly. As I always do in a tent, I listen very closely to determine if there was a noise that woke me. I don't hear anything at first, except for the distinct silence telling me that the "camp guards" had actually gone to sleep. I am not happy about this, but I try to go back to sleep. However, before I can start to drift back to sleep I start to notice the sound of gravel underfoot. Within a few minutes I can make out the distinct sound of 3 seperate bears within 15 yards of my tent. They're rustling around in the brush and obviously getting into some people's bags and coolers. Our stuff was ~100 yards away, but obviously the other people didn't think that was necessary. Oops. Within a few moments one of the bears is right against my tent, and soon he is pressing his muzzle into the rain fly and sniffing to see what is inside. I can see the perfect outline of his nose as he investigates my green orb.

    At the time I should point out that this foolish young lad (me) has chosen to come to Illiamna during the height of the sockeye run without a firearm. Knowing that bears were in the area, my grand idea was to make a pile of rocks by my head and to bring a pan - yes, a pan - into the tent with me to make noise with.

    After smelling the tent for a few moments, the bear takes a step back. During all of this time I have been as silent as possible, as without a weapon there is little I could do in my own defense. Suddenly it becomes absolutely, positively silent. I know that I didn't hear him walk away, but I can't tell where he is. 30 seconds pass, which seems like 30 minutes...... Suddenly my tent collapses on me and hundreds of pounds of bear lands on my leg. Silence was no longer an option. As the bear jumped on my tent I let out a yell that is probably still reverberating through that canyon. I then banged my rock and pan with such fervor that the cast iron pan now has a significant dent in it. Luckily, the bear jumped off and moved away from the tent. I got out of the tent, woke my two buddies up (they somehow managed to sleep though the commotion), and proceeded to throw rocks at eight different bears that wandered into our camp over the next two hours.

    We were supposed to stay one more night, but my mother flew over and picked us up early, as the weather was closing in on Lake Clark Pass. That night the guy camped on the other side of me was mauled, but not killed. It turns out that these guys had two tents - one for food, and one for sleeping in. After finding the food, the bears of course equated tents with easy food. They didn't attack the man after seeing him, but simply bit into the tent. A few days later someone in town went and killed 5 or 6 of the bears. It was a sad situation, actually. I have no qualms with hunting bears, but it's a shame when they have to be killed "in defense of life and property" when the real fault lies with careless humans. And yes, I was one of them. I had no business camping right above the river. There is plenty of camping a mile away at the airstrip, which is what I do now.


  5. #5
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    Eagle River/ Juneau


    Its a bit different but when I worked at a lodge on the talachutnai bears would always try to get into our cabin so as everyone was busy arming themselves hoping to shoot a bear (in defense of life and property because they were too cheap to just buy a tag) I'd get up yell at the bear and start towards it, it would always run before I could get to the door.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  6. #6


    that said, we had a blackie come into our camp and start rummaging, mom yells to dad GET A FLASHLIGHT! dad says I CAN'T TURN IT ON!.....well that was enough to send the bear packing, upon finding the flashlight it was obvious that dad was never gonna be able to turn on a bottle of ketchup.

  7. #7


    A friend and I had a bear run through camp in the middle of the night near the Arnklin river ( not sure of spelling) south of Yakutat moose hunting. I heard it knock over the coleman stove. Grabbed my 454 Casull and yelled at it . We could see a black blob run off and hear it going through the trees. Got up and yelled at it and started the little generator we had for charging our radio's and plugged in a single light bulb to it. Took my rifle and laid it along side of the tent side and put my pistol nearby and slept lightly the rest of the night. Makes for great reflection after the fact but not as amusing at the time.

  8. #8


    He joined us in the tent, stupid hunting partner and food. Bear shot with my .45 Auto. Tent was wiped out. I also have a different hunting partner.

  9. #9

    Default Bear in Camp

    Woke up in the middle of the night on a Brooks Range sheep hunt and realized the tent was being used as a scratching post by a griz. With a rifle in hand, we unzipped the door and yelled at him. He took off on a run and we didn't see him again after that. We didn't want him hanging around as we had meat in camp. His itch was apparently worse than his hunger because he hadn't bothered the meat. On the same trip, we had a wolverine in camp. He enjoyed a few bites of prime sheep meat before we scared him off. Great memories!

  10. #10
    Member jdb3's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Petersburg, Alaska


    I've had several encounters over the years. The most memorable was on Septermber 15, 2001. We were wondering why our outfitter had not come to move us to our moose camp. We had been successful with the caribou and they were a late picking us up (9/11 had occurred while we were in the bush). About midnight the cow bell we attached to our meat on the meat pole started ringing so we got up to investigate. There was no sign of an animal but one of the bags was opened and on the ground. We figured it was probably a fox (we had seen some in the area). The only meat pole was a scraggly tree about 12 feet tall and we had the meat as high as was humanly possible. We resacked the meat and went back to bed (big mistake).

    About 30 min later the bell sounded again. We got up and the entire new bag was missing. Well we are up for the night. There is no firewood anywhere so all we have is our flashlights. After about 15 min we hear something moving in the dark. When we shined our flashlights on it we see two large animals but can't make out what they are in the light. We talk to them and finally I fire off two shots in front of them without much of a result. The major result is that a horible roar comes from somewhere in the dark. Bob thought I had gut shot one of the animals. What it was, was momma wondering where her two wayward sub-adult cubs had gone and she was sure someone had tried to kill them.

    The cubs, being teenagers, couldn't understand what the big deal was but did go back to momma. We spent the remainder of the night very much awake. At about first light they moved off after giving us another roar, no meat was left when we found the meat sack. That next day we scrounged all the available wood within one mile and that night we were able to keep a fire going all night.

    The following morning our outfitter arrived and took us to our next campsight. We were to tired to ask and he never explained why he was two or so days late. We did not find out what happened on 9/11 until the 25th when we returned to town. Jim

  11. #11


    Quote Originally Posted by B_M View Post
    .....The other fellas there build a big fire and pull out their arsenal, assuring me and my friends that they'll stay up all night to keep bears out of camp. Around 1 am I finally crawl into my tent alone, with the two florida boys in a tent next to me. Sleep......

    Around 3 am I wake suddenly. As I always do in a tent, I listen very closely to determine if there was a noise that woke me. I don't hear anything at first, except for the distinct silence telling me that the "camp guards" had actually gone to sleep......
    Lucky you.

    A gang of men shooting centerfire rifles and large bore handguns at noises in the dark are a whole hell of a lot more dangerous than a bear.

  12. #12
    Member Montana Native's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default Bear vs moose, I won!

    Some years ago, I drew a coveted moose tag in Montana. The area I picked was my last choice, but I managed to find two small bulls running together. I took the larger of the two, now the work began. After packing the hind quarters to the truck, I can back to find a beautiful grizz (blondest one I'd ever seen) claiming the rest of the carcass. I fired my rifle next to the critter in hopes of scarring it off. All I managed to do was to get bluff charged, "whoofed" at and had a pissed-off bear. A few shots of the 44 did encourage the bear to run away. Run away he did, but only after grabbing the moose from where I quartered it, and ran a good 40 yards with the moose in his clutches. He eventually dropped it and I quickly recovered the rest and laid claim to the animal.
    All's well that ends well, right? After a week of hanging to age the meat, I was skinning the front shoulder to find a broadhead and 1/2" of arrowshaft just under the skin and into the shoulder. Needless to say, gangreen consumed both shoulders & neck. Should have let the bear keep it?
    Respect what you do not own but are privleged to enjoy, Mother Earth thanks you...


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