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Thread: Bear Proof Cooler

  1. #1
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    Question Bear Proof Cooler

    Guys who has solved the bear proof cooler for rafting. Are there any bear proof boxes that will house a large 128 Qt or other cooler and fit in a frame?

    Does and electric fence modify the food storage rules for Katmai?

    Do you guys put your food inside bear proof containers inside a non bear proof cooler......sound like a hassle.

    Seems like someone would make a bear proof cooler for us fools, I guess they know we are too cheep to pay $900 for one.

  2. #2
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Bear-proof coolers

    Montana,

    Good luck on this one; the containers I've seen are too small for what most of us bring. It appears that there are no larger ones. Your best bet is still the electric fence. And a large-caliber firearm.

    No sense being paranoid about the bears here, by the way. In over 20 years of bumping around the Alaska backcountry, I've never had a problem. And I've placed my tent directly on top of brown bear tracks on salmon streams many times.

    So don't be too paranoid, but do be prepared.

    Regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Red face What about the regulations?

    Thanks Michael, I agree on the fence, firearms and temperment.....but what about the regulations?

    My understanding is Katmai requires certifiied bear resistant food containers.......and having a fence & firearm does not exempt you from this regulation.

    By the way.....I hate it but in the long term.....this regulation will save lives.......a bear that gets food from a camp is a hazard for every floater that happens by......

    I guess at this point we have to put up with dinky expensive containers or purchase a bear resistant dry box that will accomodate a cooler.....I found a guy in Montana who makes them for $250.
    http://www.bearcountrycamping.com/

  4. #4
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Bear-Resistant Food Containers in Katmai

    Montana,

    I know you are required to use BRFCs in Brooks Camp, but I don't know if that requirement extends to the entire park. CHECK THIS LINK to order a copy of the Park's regulations for additional clarification. The information is probably on their website, but a quick look did not reveal such a requirement. They SUGGEST the use of BRFCs, but I could not see where they required it.

    Just to reinforce what I said earlier about too much worry about bears; your grizzlies in Montana have very different temperaments from the Alaska bears, in a general sense. I have not had on-the-ground experience with Montana grizzlies, but I have read many times about how aggressive they are. I just don't see that with the Alaska bears in most cases. It is rare for a bear here to take an aggressive approach to people, unless they have become habituated by poor practices on our part. This would include things like leaving fish lying around on the bank, careless handling of food, etc.

    Good luck on your trip!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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    Default Give em a call

    I'd ring up the folks at Katmai Park. Ask for one of the rangers (they have the best info on what is/isn't legal and what does/doesn't work). Have your questions written out so get it all answered. If they direct you to the website (they like to do this) tell them you have read the site and still have some more questions. Also, depending on where you are going, a firearm may be restricted. But, the largest problems I have heard of is at Brooks Camp and that's a gong show full of brown shirt feds and actual paid "hazers" In other areas during salmon season...the bears want fish more than people food, and are largely disinterested in us. I camped in a very very very beary area for more than a week last year in Katmai (we had a fence) and camped a decent distance off the river, and the brownies never came within 100 yards of camp. They were too busy packin it in. Clean camps are key...and the fence helps you sleep at night a little better, knowing you will definitely hear em before they start licking your stove and are actually in camp. If you're floating, a fence is key to keep your rafts from gettin chewed. We didn't even bother with a cooler, we had one or two nights of frozen meat, then used dry goods to keep the smells down.

    Michael, I'd camp on bear tracks but let's not confuse this with an outright bear trail, I'm okay with them passing close by...but I'd rather not invite them to walk right through camp. Wide open gravel bars (if found) put me at ease since I can hear em crunchin across and it also gives them room at the brushline to avoid coming anywhere near camp.

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    Default Bear Proof Containers

    I worked on the coast of Katmai for 2 summers and we had a semi-permanent camp there. We used electric fence and inside that we had 55-gallon and 30-gallon locking-lid barrels for food storage. For a raft trip, I would leave the electric fence at home.
    Is the cooler vital? If not, I would consider getting 1 or 2 30-gal steel barrels with locking lid for rafting. Used properly, they are as bear-proof as you will find, they are not too heavy, and they were only 40 bucks or so. Get the Lever-lock lid for ease-of-use. We picked them up in Anchorage but I'm sure that you can find some in Helena or Bozeman. Check the Hazmat suppliers, these drums are used for storing hazardous wastes.
    I have also heard of people gluing styrofoam (for insulation) to the inside of these with mixed results. Anyway, a cheaper option.
    Oh yeah, I said I WOULD consider one of these but I picked up an army-issue steel locking box for 20 clams that I use for food storage on raft trips up here, works great!

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    Default Thanks guys

    Thanks for tips.....you Alaska guys are tough........had lots of folks tell me they don't use coolers......man us Montana guys are pussies.....I've never been without one......course we drink beer non-stop cause we don't usually have to fly it.

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    Red face Bear Resistant Recommendations vs Regulations

    You guys are correct there are recommendations but no general regulations yet for Bear Resistant Containers in Katmai.

    I confirmed this with King Salmon Visitors center.
    Regulations were proposed in 2005 but have not yet been implemented.

  9. #9
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Angry recomendations

    I float in the Katmai every year. I have never used Bear proof containers. I have never had a bear get into my stuff in the Katmai either.
    I am floating rivers that are full of Salmon and see bears everyday.
    Why would they think they need to start stupid stuff like bear proof coolers etc. as required?
    I suppose they forget to ask people that actually frequent the area and live in it for weeks at a time.
    Think tanks of well meaning Rangers that sit behind computers in Brown clothes. Thats it,,,,,,
    I have used the electric fences before, but never had a bear try his luck.
    At least not on the Katmai region....
    I have had bears up at Tustemena lake try to get thru my fence, but he yelled loud enough to wake everyone up and hauled butt...
    I had a Japanese Photographer and his wife staying up their last year, and they had enough visits in 24 hrs that they asked to be removed from the area,,,lol
    One time I had a young brown bear over on the Peninsula smell my moose meat near camp... He was just walking up river looking for Salmon,, and smelled fresh Meat.. he came in close and wanted to get some fresh meat pretty bad...
    We chased him off , but I knew that night he would be back...
    So,,, I took my heavy weight Garbage bags and put the moose meat in them. Tied the tops off water tight, and put the meat in Dry bags..
    Made them water tight, and put a good rope (30 ft) on the bags..
    Tossed the bags in a deep hole in the river and sunk the dry bags full of Moose meat under 4 feet of water
    tied the bags off to a good tree and cleaned my raft and gear of any blood...
    Put the Electric fence around the raft and coolers away from my tent, and slept like babies...
    I hate to legislate laws because people are careless... Its better if we just let the bears have their way with the cheechakos and then the wilderness is free of them,,, Timmy Treadwell and those kind are why those think tanks try to make up new rules and laws..
    I hope common sense will stop them from making such a rule..
    My brother was in Yellowstone last year, and they have so many crappin rules for back country travel that its just stupid...
    Just let mother nature cull out those that aren't supposed to make it anyway...,, Think about it,, those kind are not up grading the Herd, (Human kind) anyway... We are a welfare state aren't we,,,
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  10. #10
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Talking Note to Max-

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskacanoe View Post
    I float in the Katmai every year. I have never used Bear proof containers. I have never had a bear get into my stuff in the Katmai either.
    I am floating rivers that are full of Salmon and see bears everyday.
    Why would they think they need to start stupid stuff like bear proof coolers etc. as required?
    I suppose they forget to ask people that actually frequent the area and live in it for weeks at a time.
    Think tanks of well meaning Rangers that sit behind computers in Brown clothes. Thats it,,,,,,
    I have used the electric fences before, but never had a bear try his luck.
    At least not on the Katmai region....
    I have had bears up at Tustemena lake try to get thru my fence, but he yelled loud enough to wake everyone up and hauled butt...
    I had a Japanese Photographer and his wife staying up their last year, and they had enough visits in 24 hrs that they asked to be removed from the area,,,lol
    One time I had a young brown bear over on the Peninsula smell my moose meat near camp... He was just walking up river looking for Salmon,, and smelled fresh Meat.. he came in close and wanted to get some fresh meat pretty bad...
    We chased him off , but I knew that night he would be back...
    So,,, I took my heavy weight Garbage bags and put the moose meat in them. Tied the tops off water tight, and put the meat in Dry bags..
    Made them water tight, and put a good rope (30 ft) on the bags..
    Tossed the bags in a deep hole in the river and sunk the dry bags full of Moose meat under 4 feet of water
    tied the bags off to a good tree and cleaned my raft and gear of any blood...
    Put the Electric fence around the raft and coolers away from my tent, and slept like babies...
    I hate to legislate laws because people are careless... Its better if we just let the bears have their way with the cheechakos and then the wilderness is free of them,,, Timmy Treadwell and those kind are why those think tanks try to make up new rules and laws..
    I hope common sense will stop them from making such a rule..
    My brother was in Yellowstone last year, and they have so many crappin rules for back country travel that its just stupid...
    Just let mother nature cull out those that aren't supposed to make it anyway...,, Think about it,, those kind are not up grading the Herd, (Human kind) anyway... We are a welfare state aren't we,,,
    Max
    Max,

    I wish you'd quit beating around the bush and just tell us what you think!



    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  11. #11
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Talking Hey Mike

    I made the mistake and made my post after having to do a repair on the Sewer out valve on the Atco trailer here at work,,LOL..
    that always stirs Emotions,,,lol
    Nothing like fixing a sewer line to get a guy going...
    please forgive ...
    but really Mike,,, One time I was out in the Katmai.. I was floating a river that would eventually take me from the Katmai into some state land where we could hunt for Moose... I met a couple of these young Cheechako Federal employees Sitting Wet and cold on a gravel bar along the way...
    To talk to them was like talking to a 5 year old that thinks he knows everything.. or even worse a teenager that does know everything..lol
    I found very little they had to say of interest or of any value.
    They seemed to suppose because they had a Berkley edumacation in bla bla blaaa.. that they had a good Grasp...
    We ended up taking them down river after they lost their raft to a sweeper strainer combo....... They swore they could not avoid it.. but magically I never encountered the same problem when I came thru..
    For the next day, We get to hear how it should be done.. and this study and that study, and Dropping names on me of supposed very important people within the outdoor Federal National park Community...
    I got them down to a place a cub could come in and pick them up and called on the Satellite phone for them to be picked up...
    I have never felt that warm fuzzy feeling that our Parks are in good hands.
    Not enough Common sense people involved ....or that want to be involved in there Think Tanks...
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  12. #12

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    AKcanoe, yeah, I use BRFC's all the time up in Alaska. You views of them don't surprise me abit though. Not very popular or used in AK,for sure. I remember one time when I was waiting for some luggage to catch up in Illiamna and was sitting around the pilot's lodge with about 4 guides and the pilot. Out of the 5 people only 1 even knew what my stack of brfc's were. They give me peace of mind that I don't have to worry about the food in the bush or creating a habituated/problem bear. Small price to pay, in my opinion.

    And they work like a charm too. My bro and I were backpacking in Denali NP and my bro got charged and chased off while cooking dinner by a griz. It tried for about 10-15 minutes to get into our brfc's before it gave up without success. It stayed in camp for about an hour looking for stuff while we sat up on ridge watching the show from above and wanting to go to bed as it was around 1:30 am.

    Say what you want but it is neither stupid or naive to use them. It's just one extra layer of protection for yourself and the bear, in my opinion.
    Last edited by indyjones; 03-01-2007 at 22:16.

  13. #13
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Coolers on hunts

    I use two 48-quart coolers on almost all of my float hunts and have never had trouble. The air charters prefer them over dry boxes because the corners are rounded and less likely to damage the aircraft. I prefer them over BRFCs because I can bring regular fresh and frozen foods without worrying about space or spoilage.

    They're also handy for back-hauling a small amount of meat for out-of-state hunters.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
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    Default

    Has anyone tried Clorox or Pinesol? I live in bear country and while I always keep my place clean others around me don't. I would clean my subsistence fish and meat at the house and then was down the tarp that was on the floor of the garage with either Clorox or Pinesol mixed with water. Only bear situation I had was with a couple of 2 summer bears that just got kicked out by mom. I had 10 Kings stripped and in the smoker and all they wanted to do was play with my buoys and buckets.

    I shared this with a friend of my daughters who had bears getting in the garbage every night. He started spraying a Clorox mixture and only had trouble when he for got to spray that night...

    I also had a bear help skin the skull of my moose that I had at the lodge and after I poured Clorox on it never came back. Anyway just my experience. Hope it helps.

    George

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    Default

    Here's an idea you might consider...http://www.headstrongpacks.com/

    Very popular among the wilderness canoeing crowd.

  16. #16
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Bear Lunch Pail

    Quote Originally Posted by FLGator View Post
    Here's an idea you might consider...http://www.headstrongpacks.com/

    Very popular among the wilderness canoeing crowd.
    Gator,

    I believe a brown bear would have no trouble ripping the top off that plastic barrel and using it for a frisbee while the cubs snacked inside the barrel...

    But that's just my take.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  17. #17
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Good topic...

    Protecting your food. There aren't always trees to hang your food from and all.

    Clean camp seems all that's needed to keep bears out of camp for some. When they have 4 or more people in camp, I figure that has something to do with their "luck". It seems conflicts with bears are uncommon for groups of 4 or more. But don't there seem to be folks who just never get pestered by bears? The Chosen Few.

    Last year, Denise Grant told us about a guy who had a bear get into his tent one year, then the next year into his raft - on a different river I think. Maybe something he did - or not?

    Electric bear fences: seem a good bet anymore. Weighing as little as 4 pounds (or less), they're buying a lot of people peace of mind in the Alaskan outback these days. We started putting a fence around our food tepee last year. So far so good.

    Also saw a product, the Ursack (http://www.ursack.com/), basically a Kevlar bag that keeps rodents and bears from getting any reinforcement from raiding your camp - or that's the idea. Handy for backpackers at least.

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    Check out Yeti coolers. they are pricey but they say they are bear proof. they have them at Sportmans warehouse up here for around $300 for a 120 qt i believe. http://www.yeticoolers.com/categories/Tundra-Series/

  19. #19

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    Best way to keep bears away? Buy a bear tag, the bears seem to smell them a long ways off, and stay away.

  20. #20
    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mdhunter View Post
    Best way to keep bears away? Buy a bear tag, the bears seem to smell them a long ways off, and stay away.
    Isn't that the truth !!!!!

    RR
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    Perfect Practice makes perfect !!!!!!!!!!


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