Bear in camp

Vandy321

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Anybody had a black bear in camp? Best way to handle it?

Was up scouting the past few days...2nd trip in a row I've seen a hefty black bear up at 12k Ft. Just as I'm ready to crawl in my bag for the night.

Was glassing and eating my dinner as the sun went down yesterday...he came across a field about 1/2 mile away, nose in the air (he was downwind) and looking for what I told myself was my delicious backpackers pantry lasagna. Are their noses that good, from that far away? I lost visual on him in the trees at dark, still heading in my direction slowly.

I cleaned up and hung my food 50 yards away.

Had a terrible night sleep (call me a wuss) but every crack of a branch or rustle in the grass was, in my mind, mr bear coming to find his dinner.

He never showed (that I know), but it begs the question. Best way to handle a bear in camp, at night? Be quiet, hope it leaves? Or make noise, shine a light? Talking black bears only.

I sleep in a no door/no annex floorless. Carry a pistol with hardcast.
 

MTSasquatch

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Had a black bear in my elk camp last year. Sun was setting and I was getting things prepped before I got my elk taken care of to be compliant with the area food storage order. Heard what I though were footsteps in the snow. Those footsteps were from a black bear. I look over and see it standing all over my elk, which was 12 feet away. I had taken off my binoculars, which also had my bear spray on it. I grabbed my rifle and started letting that bear know it was on my elk. It couldn’t have cared less. Probably yelled at it for 5 minutes until it wandered off. It stuck around camp too. That was a fun night in camp. Some other hunters were camped nearby too. Heard some gunshots in the middle of the night after my little run in.

while your question was specific to black bears, black bears and grizzly should be handled the exact same in camp. Carry your spray at all times, defend yourself while you’re in your tent or shelter, and store your food and attractants in a bear resistant manner at all times. A bear that comes into your camp is a not-messing-around bear.
 
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Vandy321

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I carry hard cast bear spray... had myself wondering last night if they'd typically spook at a warning shot. Then again, if I wake up to his head inside my tent, not sure he gets a warning.

Is the general rule of thumb to not leave the tent if you hear one walking around camp? Or do you make some noice, turn on a headlamp, etc?
 

dreamingbig

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Never had a black bear in camp. My dad had a grizzly in camp last year in MT while he was inside an Alaskan guide cabelas tent. A shotgun and buckshot saved him from harm during the encounter.

1st bear encounter in 40+ years.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Amasaback

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Jul 21, 2020
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Was talking with some very nice tourists (From the east coast) not long ago and they were curious about my bear spray. They wanted to know how much to apply and if it needed to be all over the body to repel bears. While it didn’t laugh in front of them, I have been laughing to myself since. Sincerely easy to see how they misunderstood it. I did tell them how to use it and told them that if a grizzly was charging it can also be used in the face of your fastest friend.... they seemed bewildered by that.
 

Bubblehide

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Go buy some pool chlorine tabs and spread them around your camp perimeter. When they get a little ineffective, you can take a piece of sandpaper to them. It is a good idea to put them underneath your truck also. I put one at each corner of my truck on the undercarriage. It works great. But the tabs will become ineffective after a couple weeks, but that light sanding perks them right up in effectiveness. For my pack in camp, I take one in a ziplock bag and break it into pieces and spread in around the perimeter of my camp; only reason is because I had 2 camps slightly torn up. Once by a 400+ pound bear (I harvested him) and the other by cubs. Damn curious creatures.
 

MTSasquatch

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Anybody had a black bear in camp? Best way to handle it?

Was up scouting the past few days...2nd trip in a row I've seen a hefty black bear up at 12k Ft. Just as I'm ready to crawl in my bag for the night.

Was glassing and eating my dinner as the sun went down yesterday...he came across a field about 1/2 mile away, nose in the air (he was downwind) and looking for what I told myself was my delicious backpackers pantry lasagna. Are their noses that good, from that far away? I lost visual on him in the trees at dark, still heading in my direction slowly.

I cleaned up and hung my food 50 yards away.

Had a terrible night sleep (call me a wuss) but every crack of a branch or rustle in the grass was, in my mind, mr bear coming to find his dinner.

He never showed (that I know), but it begs the question. Best way to handle a bear in camp, at night? Be quiet, hope it leaves? Or make noise, shine a light? Talking black bears only.

I sleep in a no door/no annex floorless. Carry a pistol with hardcast.
Bears noses are immeasurably proficient at detecting and sorting out scents and odors.
Think of it like this- you walk into a house where someone is baking a vanilla cake. You will smell vanilla cake. If a dog walks in, it’ll smell vanilla, sugar, egg, flour, butter. If a bear walks in it’ll smell vanilla, sugar, egg, flour, butter, and the pepperoni pizza you had baked a week ago.

They are curious, that’s how they learn to acquire food resources. If it learns to acquire a food resource, it will never forget how it did that. If it hasn’t encountered a person before and smells you, it may come investigate to learn what you are. Often, they’ll learn this via exposure when with their mother or siblings as cubs or subadults, but not always. But as with everything bear-related, they are all individualistic and can have their own behaviors and idiosyncrasies that can be unique to each individual.

I have had to move camp more than once because of black and grizzly bears that are too curious for my comfort. Makes for a poor night sleep and waste of half the following day moving camp and taking an afternoon siesta. That’s hunting in bear country. My experiences are unique to Montana, but I wonder what some of the Alaska fella’s experiences are considering they also have lots of bears (although in the lower 48 we have to deal a bit differently in certain regards because of our grizzly being protected by ESA)? I’d like to hear from AK Troutbum on this!
 

AKBorn

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Just my thoughts, probably worth what you paid for them... 😀

Have done about 12 -15 flyout moose and/or caribou hunts in AK since 2002. We typically see bears, albeit not many blackies the past several years- too many griz in Unit 20 where I hunt now.

Never had a bear poke its head in or against the tent - but if it does happen, I think the time for a warning shot has passed. If I pull the trigger at that point, will be shooting to kill.

If we see a grizz within 1/2 to 3/4 mile of camp, we typically try get its attention to let it know we are there, and that we know it is there. To this point all of the grizz have run off once they see us or get our scent.

The most exciting was back in 2013, just after finishing a couple of ribeye steaks for dinner. I heard rocks clattering along the creekbed of the creek we were camped near, and looked up to see a young griz hauling ass in search of a steak. Dove into the tent and grabbed my .338 and my camera. He ran by at about 30 yards or so, didnt like the look of the 2 guys stabding there with rifles, and kept on running across a small stream and up over a ridge nearby. Coincidentally, 2013 was the last year I brought steaks into camp for the first night's dinner lol.

I sense that the Western terrain and cover provide opportunoties for more close-up encounters than my AK hunts, I have not hunted Kodiak or Southeast, and steer clear of alder patches when walking if possible - no visibility and a pain to walk through with a pack.

I will say there were times when I was more worried about being stepped on by a passing moose, than about bears. Moose like ro go where they want, and sometimes dont care if there is a camp there or not lol.
 

black dawg

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sw mt
Had a terrible night sleep (call me a wuss) but every crack of a branch or rustle in the grass was, in my mind, mr bear coming to find his dinner.

He never showed (that I know), but it begs the question. Best way to handle a bear in camp, at night? Be quiet, hope it leaves? Or make noise, shine a light? Talking black bears only.
Don't worry about all the little noises in the night...…..bears are really quiet......and can be nearly silent if they want to be.
 

Sourdough

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but I wonder what some of the Alaska fella’s experiences are considering they also have lots of bears
So far my record is (7) Seven Alaska Coastal Brown Bears in camp all night. One sow with two cubs and another sow with three cubs. Each using a different entry point. I would chase one group out of camp, then the other, back and forth all night long. Had five clients and a camp helper to be responsible of. I hope that record is not ever exceeded.

I have had them sleep with their body against the tent and snore loudly. Stab them with my elbow, and they rollover.

Had one on top of me in camp for about (10) Ten minutes, likely longer. Huge Brown Bear.

Had them walk up to (5) Five feet of me when I was naked on the shore of a lake bathing and washing clothes (without a firearm).

Had Grizzly lay just outside the cabin door for a week, would follow me everywhere I went during the day that week.

Had them play with the tent ropes, like it was a musical instrument.

Had them eat and sink the Zodiak Mark II tied down in camp.

Had several camps totally destroyed while in camp.

Been bear bit once, but not bad.

Have hit them with canoe paddles......sticks......rowing oars.......gun barrels........pushed them away.

Regularly walk nonchalantly right through camp, as if we were not there.

Shot about seven with the muzzle against the bear when shot was fired.

Shot about 6 others that ran over me, after they had been shot (I was never hurt, only knocked down).

I'll think of other events. If you live with bears, especially on the Alaska Peninsula it gets interesting sometimes.

Of course my neighbor and friend was mauled to death about ten days ago, in our backyard.

Speaking of yards........most days they are in the yard, or buildings. Yes, they eat buildings, and anything else they damn'well feel inclined to eat. Often they just lay down, put their head on their paws, and watch what I am working on in the yard.
 
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JLane330

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Feed them potatoes and enjoy their company :) I know of some hunters that did this and thought it was great. Or, buy a bear tag and enjoy the opportunity?
 

AKBorn

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So far my record is (7) Seven Alaska Coastal Brown Bears in camp all night. One sow with two cubs and another sow with three cubs. Each using a different entry point. I would chase one group out of camp, then the other, back and forth all night long. Had five clients and a camp helper to be responsible of. I hope that record is not ever exceeded.

I have had them sleep with their body against the tent and snore loudly. Stab them with my elbow, and they rollover.

Had one on top of me in camp for about (10) Ten minutes, likely longer. Huge Brown Bear.

Had them walk up to (5) Five feet of me when I was naked on the shore of a lake bathing and washing clothes (without a firearm).

Had Grizzly lay just outside the cabin door for a week, would follow me everywhere I went during the day that week.

Had them play with the tent ropes, like it was a musical instrument.

Had them eat and sink the Zodiak Mark II tied down in camp.

Had several camps totally destroyed while in camp.

Been bear bit once, but not bad.

Have hit them with canoe paddles......sticks......rowing oars.......gun barrels........pushed them away.

Regularly walk nonchalantly right through camp, as if we were not there.

Shot about seven with the muzzle against the bear when shot was fired.

Shot about 6 others that ran over me, after they had been shot (I was never hurt, only knocked down).

I'll think of other events. If you live with bears, especially on the Alaska Peninsula it gets interesting sometimes.

Of course my neighbor and friend was mauled to death about ten days ago, in our backyard.

Speaking of yards........most days they are in the yard, or buildings. Yes, they eat buildings, and anything else they damn'well feel inclined to eat. Often they just lay down, put their head on their paws, and watch what I am working on in the yard.
Was really sorry to read your post about your friend...have they had any luck locating the bear that killed him?
 

Sourdough

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Oct 23, 2013
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197
Was really sorry to read your post about your friend...have they had any luck locating the bear that killed him?
They killed four. Still waiting for DNA results. Three Sow Black Bears and one sow Brown Bear.
 

mxgsfmdpx

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Black bears in Camp is super common in the sierras where I spend a lot of time. Most of them time you won’t hear them coming in and out and will sleep right through it. They are amazingly quiet.

Something to note. 9/10 black bears are going to run off as soon as you unzip your tent. They are super skittish and will run off quickly. If you do end up with a pesky bear in camp pay attention to the bears actions and look around for cubs. The cubs usually go up trees as their first defense mechanism once you start yelling at mom to get out of camp. Mom won’t leave if cubs are up in trees at camp. Something most guys forget to think about and it’s happened to me twice now.

Just turn your light off and be quiet for a while. The cubs will come down and leave with mom after a few minutes of dark silence. Make sure you hang your shit up like you’re supposed to and they will stroll through and leave after a while. Black bears aren’t there to “eat you”. They are scared of you. Relax and get some sleep and take care of your junk in camp.
 

TX_Diver

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For those of you guys with a "truck camp" i.e. big cooler of food what do you do with the food/stove during the day? It's not really feasible to hoist a cooler up a tree. Backpacking I've hoisted a stuff sack up a tree a ways from camp. In the past in WY, UT, and NM I've never had issues but it's always in the back of my mind.

Is this why Yeti and other's claim to be bearproof? I haven't justified the cost of one to myself but that could help make the argument...;)
 

MTSasquatch

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Messages
204
For those of you guys with a "truck camp" i.e. big cooler of food what do you do with the food/stove during the day? It's not really feasible to hoist a cooler up a tree. Backpacking I've hoisted a stuff sack up a tree a ways from camp. In the past in WY, UT, and NM I've never had issues but it's always in the back of my mind.

Is this why Yeti and other's claim to be bearproof? I haven't justified the cost of one to myself but that could help make the argument...;)
Yes you can buy bear resistant coolers. Pay attention for the tag/certification as bear resistant by the IGBC (interagency grizzly bear committee). Doesn’t mean it’s bear proof. Means it’s bear resistant. They all have to get tested and certified in order to carry the seal and to be kosher on national forests here in Montana. Doesn’t have to be a yeti either. There are about a dozen companies now, with 3 times as many coolers, that are certified bear resistant. Heck, even wal mart brand sells a variant that’s certified. Don’t forget to put a lock or a tight bolt on it, otherwise it won’t work.

I have two and leave them locked shut and cable locked to a tree or my truck if I’m out on a day hunt or am using my truck as a basecamp. I’m more worried about some a-hole stealing that cooler while I’m out than a bear getting into it. Around Montana you have to store food in a bear resistant manner on all national forests, so it’s just something we’ve always had to deal with. The cooler isn’t the only way, it’s just the most functional, especially for storing/hauling meat during the season.
 

TX_Diver

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Yes you can buy bear resistant coolers. Pay attention for the tag/certification as bear resistant by the IGBC (interagency grizzly bear committee). Doesn’t mean it’s bear proof. Means it’s bear resistant. They all have to get tested and certified in order to carry the seal and to be kosher on national forests here in Montana. Doesn’t have to be a yeti either. There are about a dozen companies now, with 3 times as many coolers, that are certified bear resistant. Heck, even wal mart brand sells a variant that’s certified. Don’t forget to put a lock or a tight bolt on it, otherwise it won’t work.

I have two and leave them locked shut and cable locked to a tree or my truck if I’m out on a day hunt or am using my truck as a basecamp. I’m more worried about some a-hole stealing that cooler while I’m out than a bear getting into it. Around Montana you have to store food in a bear resistant manner on all national forests, so it’s just something we’ve always had to deal with. The cooler isn’t the only way, it’s just the most functional, especially for storing/hauling meat during the season.
Im not in grizzly country but people stealing it seemed like more reason to just stick with a cheap cooler and a keeping it in the shade. But it does seem like it’d be worth evaluating.
I have some yeti stuff that I won in a raffle and it’s great but not sure I can justify the cost of even the rtic version as compared to other things on my gear list. Good info though and I’ll keep that in mind. Next antelope hunt a cooler that keeps ice a little better would go a long way!
 
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