We know that camping will be one of the most appealing outdoor activities to join and connect people with many of you. During your camp, you may encounter many wild animals, such as rabbits, deers, or raccoons. However, bears are among the most dangerous animals and you may want to learn how to keep bears away from campsite.
For your information, many reasons intrigue bears coming near your surroundings. If you don’t practice bear safety principles well, you may end up with tragic consequences. The bear safety principles include ways to handle when dealing with encounters and ways to store food.
Knowing your concern, we’ve included in this article some bear safety tips and tricks on how to prevent bears from entering the campsite and ways to appropriately stock food.
Let’s dive into the article and let’s see what we’ve got for you!
Firstly, we think you need to know some bears types you may encounter when hiking or camping in bear country.
For your information, according to our research, we’ve found out there are three species of bears that you may encounter. And they are black bears, brown-grizzly bears, and polar bears.
However, the chance of encountering polar bears is unlikely; therefore, we will concentrate on black bears and grizzly bears.
Types Of Bears
Firstly, a black bear is considered the most popular bear in North America. For your information, its habitat is in approximately 50 states in the US. Cool, right? No wonder why people consider it the most common one.
Moreover, they are known as cautious and deceptive bear species that are friendly and adaptive. And they are the smallest among the three bears types we’ve told you.
In our opinion, the black bears will be the easiest ones to handle when encountering them. However, you should still be careful since it is still many times bigger than you.
We know that when hearing the name, you surely know that their furs color will be black. However, that’s not the case. You can still see them in brown fur or even blond.
Their common places to live will be the woods that are rich in shelter and food.
According to our research, a grizzly is by far one of the most dangerous bears species. Therefore, that’s the reason why many people are frightened when seeing them.
For your information, they have two subspecies. They are the Alaskan brown bear and the grizzly. You can see them in the picture down here, respectively.
Below here, we will tell you some features to help you distinguish these two.
Alaskan Brown Bear
The Alaska brown bear is larger than a grizzly for your information, making them the largest one in the brown-grizzly bear subspecies.
Moving on all four limbs, it has a shoulder’s height of 4.5 feet. Huge, right? We know that some of you will be surprised with this measurement, so do we!
All grizzly bears are smaller than Kodiak, that’s for sure! As we’ve mentioned before, while the Kodiak’s shoulder height is 4.5 feet, the grizzly bears’ shoulder height is less than 1 foot. We think that’s a considerable difference amount. Yet they are still both dangerous to all people.
In general, these two bears have only one common point is that their natural habitats. They can often be found in Alaska, North-Western US, and Western Canada. We have to emphasize that brown-grizzly bears are the most aggressive ones. Therefore, you should do whatever it takes to avoid this wild animal kind.
After knowing typical bears species in North America, you may wonder that how you can identify them. We know you may face difficulties with the task because many bears you see are huge, aggressive, and have almost identical fur colors.
Therefore, this section may be a bit confusing to you; however, keeping this knowledge in mind still be beneficial to you in the future.
How To Spot Bears?
For your information, the most distinctive points you can use to determine bears kinds are the sheer weight and the shoulder height.
As we’ve mentioned before, black bears will be the smallest type. The Kodiak and the grizzly will differentiate from each other with the shoulder height.
Moreover, brown-grizzly bears live more in open spaces than black bears. That’s why we’ve emphasized to you that they are relatively more dominant and hostile.
One evidence we can show you to prove the powerfulness is their huge shoulder hump, allowing them to dig to look for underground roots and other edibles.
Now, we move to the more exciting part is to research bear behaviors. We understand that most of you will not be familiar with this knowledge; therefore, we want to help you get to know some valuable pieces of information.
Bears Do Not Hunt People
Many of you may misunderstand that bears are always in predatory behavior, trying to attack people at all costs. However, it is entirely wrong. Bears instinctively avoid humans no matter what.
Therefore, if you see bears camping at your campsite, it means that some outside factors attract bears. It could be the food odors, which are the most common causes attracting the bear. And there is not only the food odor cause but also some factors that we will discuss later in this article.
How Bears Express Their Curiosity
Standing On Its Hind Legs
Many of you assume the bear standing on its hind legs shows aggression; however, it just indicates curiosity. Bears are relatively curious, and when they do this, they want to know what’s going on in this place. You shouldn’t worry too much about this.
Not Aware Of Their Surroundings
Like we’ve mentioned before, bears tend to concentrate on investigating things or scents that are intriguing. Therefore, they may lose a sense of reality and be less aware of their surroundings.
To avoid surprising the bears, you should make your presence known, but not with the screaming or startling the bear; otherwise, you will end up in tragic consequences.
We do not want that to happen; therefore, we will introduce to you in the next part how to make your presence felt without scaring the bears.
This misunderstanding is also in many people’s minds. People simply assume that bears are marking their territories, and by camping in bear country, you will face bear attack.
However, this belief is excruciating. The truth is no place will be considered as a territory for bears. The bears are not territorial at all. You should know that they are most functioning from sunrise to sunset. Remember this time.
On the above, we’ve talked about bear behavior in general; however, in this section, we will talk about the specific behavior of two bears types: the black bear and the brown-grizzly bear.
Black bears are professionals in climbing activity, and you can often spot them in higher branches. Moreover, they tend to avoid humans because of their shyness.
On the other hand, brown bears do not climb well like black bears, but they still can climb if they want to do it.
Moreover, brown bears are more aggressive and powerful; therefore, they have tendencies to put themselves into some bear attacks to protect themselves.
Those are some bear behaviors that you should know about to broaden your knowledge and to find ways to push the bears away from your campsite. Now, we think that you should know the main reason that attracts bears at the beginning.
What Attract Bears At First?
For your information, bears who develop the link between campsites and food are more likely to become violent.
They want food, and they don’t let anyone prevent them from getting food. The scariest thing about these bears is their unpredictability. Therefore, you need to be careful to identify which food attracts these bears.
You shouldn’t just think about regular foods like something edible to both humans and animals. There are some edible foods for bears that you may be surprised to know about them.
Here’s a list of some potential foods for bears. You may consider some as camping supplies, things you can’t live without while going camping.
Like we’ve said before, human food or pet food is the most abundant food source among other sources. Some bears even eat tinned drinks that you haven’t opened. They even eat the garbage. Not too surprised, right?
These types of things will confuse you; you may ask yourself why some bears eat this food. However, the bears consider them edible food; therefore, it shouldn’t concern us too much.
Here are some things that the bears may be interested in them:
- Your cooking tools, including pots or some silverware
- Your cosmetic products, such as lotions, serums, and so much more
- Your insect repellent sprays
- The toothbrush and toothpaste
- The frying oil
We know these things are essential to you during your camping; however, you should tackle some ways to keep them away from the bears. It is not only dangerous to you but also harmful to those bears. Keeping these supplies away from the bears will be beneficial for both you and them.
Now, you’ve known basic knowledge about bears and what attracts them. Therefore, we will move to a vital part, some ways to keep bears away from the campsite. In this part, we will divide the situations and give you solutions related to those situations.
Ways To Avoid Bear Encountering
Like we’ve mentioned before, you should always make your presence known, but not by screaming or startling the bear. You should do it while maintaining a reasonable distance. And the most effective way is making noise.
You should be loud in any way you want, maybe talking to your companions, singing some songs, and so much more.
In our opinion, the best way is to add the bear bell to your backpack. In this way, you are making noise through your hiking; therefore, allowing bears and other animals to know your presence and stay away from you, or just keep a reasonable distance from you.
Don’t Bring Your Dog With You
In many cases, your dog can protect you from many dangerous situations. However, it will be a bad idea to bring your dog to the bear country.
Right the moment your dog starts barking, the bears will be likely to go crazy and start attacking right away.
Therefore, you can bring your dog anywhere you want, but not the bear country. It will be dangerous for both you and the dog.
Never Approach A Bear
During your hiking, the worst thing you can think of is to approach a bear. We have to warn you that it’s a stupid decision you will have ever made. Some people may want to take a picture of these bears, but it is also an impulsive behavior.
Especially when you see a bear with its cubs, do not try to come near them. The mother bear will feel threatened and will attack you to protect their children.
You know that when the maternal instinct kicks in, no one can stop the mother, especially the mother bear.
Go With Somebody Else
If you don’t want to be attacked by bears, do not go hiking alone. Bears may re-consider if they see two or more people, while with one person, the bears will attack right away.
Carry With Yourself A Bear Spray
According to our research, people consider bear spray as one form of deterrent. You should not step into the bear country without carrying this spray, keeping you safe.
You can add the bear spray to a belt; therefore, there’s no worry that you can’t appropriately bring the spray.
This spray will create a fog to allow you to keep a reasonable distance from the bears, even keep them away from you. Cool, right?
And you don’t have to concern that the spray may hurt the bears forever; this is not the case. It is also an environmentally friendly pepper spray. You can conveniently use it.
One thing to remember is that the spray has to be the bear spray; otherwise, it will have zero effect on the bears, leading you to dangerous situations.
Sometimes, although you have taken all these steps, you can’t just exclude the situation where you will encounter the bear. Therefore, below here, we will show you some ways to keep bears away from your campsite.
How To Keep Bears Away From Your Campsite
Here are some ways you can use to keep bears away from the campsite:
Choose A Suitable Campsite
We know that the last thing you want is some bears approaching your campsite; therefore, choosing a location boring to bears is necessary.
According to our research, we advise you not to choose a location near berry patches and lakes. It is the bears’ favorite area because these are their natural food sources. Therefore, you should always camp far away from the water and the food sources.
The next step is to check if there is any sign of bears’ activities. Here are some signs you should pay attention to them.
- Animal carcasses, increasing the chance of meeting predatory bears and other predatory animals.
- Bear tracks or the claw marks on the tree are the signs you should pay attention to protect yourself. The claw marks indicate this is the bear’s territory, and they will not welcome anyone invading their areas.
- When seeing the grizzly bears digging something, you should go straight away and don’t look back.
- Bear droppings are also the sign showing that they were here.
In general, you should camp in a bear proof shelter, which indicates no dangerous sign of bear approaching. Or else, you should move your tent as soon as possible.
Set Up The Bear Triad Campsite
This setup campsite way is by far the most excellent tip for keeping bears away from campsite. This setup includes the triangle build around your campsite.
There are three areas that you need to focus on, sleep, maintain food, and cooking. You should arrange your sleeping area in the corner against the wind. The food storage area and the cooking area should be in two remaining corners, in the direction that the wind is blowing.
Finally, ensuring that every corner’s space among each other will be about 92 meters, which is equivalent to 100 yards.
Say No To Savoury Dishes
As some of you may not know, bears are more sharp-nosed than humans; therefore, choosing the right food is another tip to keep bears away from your campsite.
If specific food smells good to you, it also smells good to other animals. The bears are no exception. Therefore, you should remove the fish, meat, and beef to make steak.
Suitable Food Storage
Suitably storing food will help you avoid a bear encounter. An easy way is to store food in a container putting in your trunk. However, there are still some other food storage areas we want to show you.
Many of you may not know, many people consider bear hang as a more reasonable-price food storage option than other expensive options. You will have to hang a bear bag.
All you need is a suitable tree. You have to make sure that the branches you select have to be slightly fifteen feet tall and four feet out from the trunk. You ask us what is the purpose of this? Simple, you just don’t want the bears to touch your edible food, and they will face difficulties if they intend to do it.
One last thing to remember is that you should choose a no-one-used tree because the bears may remember if they’ve tried to approach a tree to take the food. And the tree will just not be effective anymore.
If you are new to this, this video could be a great help to you:
The bear tube is effective when it comes to keeping the food out of the bears’ sight.
For your information, this tube is compact, lightweight, varies in a wide range of sizes, making it super convenient for you to bring it with your backpack.
You may ask us how we can put the tube in the backpack; however, it only weighs two to three pounds; therefore, we think it shouldn’t be a problem for you.
Moreover, a tube can store the food for one person in 6 days. Relatively long time, right? That’s only the average number; however, if your demands change, you can still search for your ideal tube. There will be many models available in the market, don’t worry too much!
You should remember to put the tube about 100 yards out of your tent’s sleeping area. It is the best solution for you!
Use Odor-Proof Bags
If you are in car camping, this recommendation will work best for you! With the two above solutions, it is more suitable for backpack people without any car. However, with car camping, you may think your car or RV will protect you.
We have to tell you that bears can break the window and enter the car if they sense anything strange. Therefore, you should always pack things in odor proof plastic bags and fully roll up your window.
In general, this solution may be suitable for most campers; however, it is more appropriate for car campers.
Clean Up The Food Scraps Right Away
After dinner, you shouldn’t hesitate to clean your cooking area right away. The more time you let the scent long in the air, the more likely it will intrigue the bears. And we are sure that you don’t want the situation to happen. You should clean all your cooking supplies and cooking utensils.
Moreover, you shouldn’t clean your dishes near the triangle campsite; instead, you should do them away and in the direction in which the wind is blowing. Bears can smell things from a very far distance; therefore, please be careful!
More importantly, we advise you not to bury the food scraps; instead, you should put them in odor proof bags and dump them later. You may put it in the trash can, but it has to be bear-proof.
You shouldn’t burn your leftover food, as well. If the fire does not fully destroy the food, the scent remains in the air. Bears can smell it and come to your tent. Therefore, we do not recommend this way.
Keep Smell Away From Your Tent
Change Your Clothes
Some of you may find it strange; however, the bears can smell the scent of your dinner meals in the clothes. Scary, right? Therefore, if you still wear that clothes, you should only stay in the cooking and storage area.
Once you step into the sleeping area, you must change your clothes. It is a must if you don’t want to deal with a bear encounter. Make sure to change the clothes far from your bear proof tent and store them in a suitable place. In your tree trunk or your backpack, it is up to you!
We know that you must feel overwhelmed with the bear, you may ask yourself: “why can it smell many things?”. And toothpaste is not an exception.
According to our research, we see there are some solutions that we want to share.
Some back-country campers choose not to bring any toothpaste at all; simply brush their teeth with water.
Some choose to bring baking soda because it is free of scent; however, you should still do it far away from your tent.
Some may still use the toothpaste but try to swallow it. We somehow do not recommend this method; because it may have negative health effects in the long term.
If you want to use an outdoor bathroom, you should choose a place that will be slightly from a 300-feet distance from the water source. And then you dig the holes whose depth is below 8 inches.
About the toilet papers, we highly recommend you put them in odor proof plastic bags and place them in your bear tube or the bear bag. You can dump them on your way home, don’t be too pressured about this situation!
And some women will have their period during the trip. The best solution for them right now is to use non-scent tampons or sanitary pads. Like the toilet paper, you should put the pads in the odorless bags and place them in your bear tube.
Finally, if you don’t want your period to start during the trip, simply take some pills to stop your period. We think this solution will bring comfort to you without worrying about the bags.
Here’s our final solution, and it is the most intense one.
The bear fence is the 6000 volts barrier around your triangle for your information.
Don’t be scared that it will kill the bears; instead, it will just warn the bears not to come closer.
This fence is for all three bear species; however, it will be more suitable for polar bears and grizzly bears. This fence will only make the black bears more aggressive.
Now, we will move to the part to show you how you should behave if you encounter a bear.
How To Behave When Encountering A Bear
When encountering a black bear or predatory bear, you should always remain calm to not try to approach them.
The main reason for many bear attacks is because people are turning back and running from the bears. For your information, this behavior will provoke predatory behavior and cause them to chase and attack.
The best thing you can do is maintain a reasonable distance from the bears, slowly back away. You want them to know that you are a human, not their potential prey. You should keep your arms out at your sides and slowly wave them back and forth while you speak softly.
You shouldn’t make direct eye contact with the bear. What you need to do is keep your eyes on them.
Make Noise And Make Yourself Large
Like we’ve mentioned earlier, you should always make noise to allow the bears to know that you’re here. In this way, they will avoid and maintain a safe distance from you. Generally, a bear does not like humans. Therefore, they usually disappear before you see them.
We’ve advised that you should always go hiking with a group. Do not go hiking alone. That’s the first step in making you larger in bears’ perception. Moreover, if you go with your children, you should put them on your shoulder. This posture will not only prevent them from running but also help you look bigger.
In general, if the bears keep approaching, it’s time to use the bear spray. Please learn to use this spray when you enter bear country; otherwise, you’re pushing yourself into danger.
And finally, here’s something you can do while being attacked by the bears in the bear country.
What To Do When A Bear Attacks You In The Bear Country?
With this type of bear, what you should do is lie on your tummy or place yourself in a cannonball posture and play dead.
A grizzly bear will simply smell you or bite you briefly before becoming bored. You should use your hands to protect the back of the neck. Moreover, to preserve your major organs, you should roll to your tummy as rapidly as possible if the bear tosses you over.
As soon as the bear sees you as a non-threatening object, it will go away. You will be safe again.
On the other hand, with black bears, the only thing you can do is scare them away. If you are with other people, form a group to defend yourself.
In some cases, if a black bear keeps approaching, you should use your bear spray to prevent this bear attack.
The best distance between you and the bear is 30 feet. If the bear is closer to you than 30 feet, it is dangerous to use the spray. If the bear is further than 30 feet, the spray may not be effective.
Finally, the best thing to do is fight over the bear and do not play dead, and try to attack their eyes and nose. Once the black bears feel the serious intention, they will back off.
We hope that after this article about how to keep bears away from campsite, you will learn some basic knowledge about bears and how you should deal with such bears in different circumstances.
Encountering bears will not be a fun, playful experience. Even if you are safe after encountering them, you will still be a little shaken because of this encounter.
However, if you do not know how to handle the situation well, you will drag yourself into dangerous situations and end up with painful consequences.
Anything can happen but with our bear safety tips and tricks, we hope it will help you reduce your fear and chances of meeting the bears. Even if you encounter them, you still have sufficient knowledge to deal with them and return happily to your triangle tent. Do not hold a deterrent camping attitude.
Now, it is the end of the article. See you in our next articles for more valuable knowledge of different aspects of life. Thank you for staying with us through the entire article. We wish you a happy enjoyable hiking journey.