BEARS! Help keep me safe from these godless killing machines.

I’m going camping the Porcupine Mountains this week and have been reading about BEAR! safety all week. I have my BEAR! spray and air horn.

I’m wondering how “Tony Montana” I need to be with the spray. Do I just unload on any BEAR! within the 30 feet radius?

What about BEARS! in your campsite. I read somewhere to yell, bang pots, and charge at the BEAR!. WTF? Charge a friggin BEAR!. Really?

I’m also obsessing about smelling like food. I’m worried I’ll spit some mouthwash on the ground and have a pack of raging BEARS! in my campsite. They also say not to sleep in the clothes you cook in. But I’m camping. Its not like I’m bringing my entire wardrobe. I was thinking about having some “cooking” clothes, basically a shirt I put on when I cook, and throw in my car at night. How do most people manage this?

So what is your BEAR! safety strategy?

Anything you can offer that’s not in the typical BEAR! safety checklist would be much appreciated.

Don’t forget your BEAR! whistle and your BEAR! bells. Avoid menstruating women as they are referred to as BEAR! bait.

Maybe you could invest in a BEAR! suit.

Someone’s watched a bit too much of The Colbert Report.
(he has an ongoing bit about how bears are evil terrors)

OK, those are in Michigan. The bears in Michigan are black bears, not grizzlies. This makes a difference.

A black bear, yes. A grizzly, no.

Black bears are unlikely to attack humans. Break into your car if you leave food in it- yes, they do that. Get into your garbage- certainly. But black bear attacks on humans are quite rare. A black bear is not likely to attack if confronted by a human. Most black bears that attack humans are ones that have gotten habituated to getting food handouts from humans. Obviously, you should never give food to a wild bear, and never let your children do so.

If you have stuff that smells like food (this can include clothing and even some toiletries), keep it in a bear-proof box when you go to bed. Your car is not bear-proof. Be sure to lock the bear-proof box- if you don’t, the bears can get into it. They’re not likely to attack you when you’re awake and moving around, but they are likely to come into your campground or the parking lot at night looking for food.

You’re unlikely to have any problems with bears. Relax.

Keep your campsite tidy and put all food in the car when you are done eating. If your clothes are particularly smelly with food odors then put them in the car, but otherwise I wouldn’t worry.

They’re not going to break into your car, charge you because of some mouthwash. In the extremely rare event of a bear charging you it is most likely a bluff charge. Don’t overreact by using bear spray, it’s not very effective except at close range. Make noise, make yourself appear larger by holding your hands over your head.

Your chance of having a bad interaction with a bear is pretty small. Relax and enjoy your trip.

Avoid the Castro & Folsom Neighborhood.

Oddly enough, there was just an NPR interview on this very subject yesterday (on “Here and Now”). I think the advice was to be loud and aggressive for black bears, but don’t move (or play dead) for grizzlies. If a bear is charging, spray for the feet, because you want the mist to rise into its face. The guy being interviewed wrote an article here:

But they’re so cuddly! (former resident of the Castro)

Isn’t that the ColBEAR! Report?

As for my survival strategy… all I have to do is run faster than you, OP. :stuck_out_tongue:

Lastly: You don’t have to be in the woods to encounter bears.

How about if we converted a few of them to Christianity, or the religion of your choice?

I’ve had a few encounters with (black) bears in my backpacking experience. I consider them to be about the same nuisance (and threat) as a stray dog. In the wild they tend to ignore you. I had one come into my camp while backpacking in Sequoia NP and I tossed a few rocks at it and it turned tail.

Don’t let this ruin your trip. Trust me, you probably won’t see one (and I’d count myself lucky if you did). Along these lines, there are a lot of nosey and noisy animals that come out at night. So when you hear them (and you will) don’t let your first thought be BEAR!
ETA: The menstruating woman/bear attractant has been proved to be not true.

Bear bells don’t work; you may as well ring a dinner bell. Bears react to loud noises that they are unfamiliar with. Even grizzlies are alarmed by loud noises. An air horn, a personal protection device (like a loud, shrieking alarm that is activated by jerking a lanyard: About $15 at Radio Shack.

I wouldn’t worry much about black bears unless you’re dumb enough to camp in a berry patch, in the middle of a trail, or near a river, and leave a trail of hot dogs to your tent flap. Blackies are very shy of humans unless with cubs or starving. Make a shitload of noise when you set up camp, bang your pots, blow your air horn, etc. Any self-respecting black bear within a mile will head away from you.

UNLESS: Quite often, black bears become habituated to humans and human noise, because morons leave food containers out or garbage cans unemptied, or actually feed the goddamn things, and hey, a free lunch is a free lunch. Bears will not leave a steady food source, and can become quite cranky if they think there is competition for same. Check with the Forest Service (a helpful branch of the gol-durn gubmint) about bear activity in that area.

Uh oh. I’m bringing a giant cooler with 5 days worth of food in it. My whole plan was to clean up and put everything in my car overnight. Is this a bad idea? It is a pretty “developed” campsite. (Union Bay)

That would normally be my strategy, but I’m out there by myself. Maybe when I get out there I need to make a “friend” for baiting purposes.

Everything you ever wanted to know about black bears. Far from being aggressive predators, black bears are omnivorous scavengers that prefer to be left alone and unless habituated to humans will tend to avoid people at all costs. I’ve hiked pretty much the length and breadth of California and a fair portion of the Olympic Peninsula, and have seen bears maybe a total of a dozen times. The most problem I’ve had was when a bear grabbed the pack that I left on a picnic table while investigating a campsite. I forced it drop the pack and back off by shouting and throwing rocks. The bear (who was doubtless after the peanutbutter and honey sandwiches in the top compartment that I had intended to eat for dinner) seemed more discouraged than dangerous.

Bears can be a nuisance when it comes to food, so it is a good idea to keep food and scented items in a sealed container. I use the Bear Vault but there are other options. Although an older practice was to suspend food from a line over a branch, it is often difficult to find a suitable tree and rig the hanging line, and frequently a determined bear can figure out a way to get it down anyway. I would not leave food or scented items in the car, as a curious bear may damage it trying to investigate. I’ve never subscribed to the “separate clothes for cooking and camping” notion, but then I generally cook something like couscous and eat tuna out of a package, so I’m not cooking up ribs and bacon.

Frankly, I think marmots are a bigger pain in the ass, and raccoons are more determined. However, as far as I can tell, bears to not follow any specific deity or religious faith, so at least one part of your description is accurate.


I just made my reservation and my campsite is in an apple orchard!! It is the middle of a pretty developed campsite though. I picked one in the center (#71 Union Bay) so the bears might choose to terrorize someone else before they got to me though. On the other hand the campsites around me are larger ones for RV’s so my little tent might seem a little more convenient(for a bear more like peeling a banana than breaking a hard shell).

It is a little refreshing to learn that black bears are the wussies of the bear world.

I feel pretty confident about running into one in the wild. I would actually like to see one. It’s what happens when I’m asleep that worries me, though I know I obsess about it way too much. I spend half time worrying about it and half the time laughing at myself. Since I’m going alone I don’t have other experienced campers to read and feed off of.

Bear with me, but if you truly find camping and baring yourself in an area with bears, nay even the bare notion of bears unbearable, even just barely, then either practice you right to bear your bare arms against the bears or just grin and bear it.

Of the several times I’ve come within sight of a black bear, about 90% of them immediately hightailed it into the woods. The two timess they didnt were a cub in a tree and a mother and cubs walking along on the other side of a creek and they headed away from me, but didn’t run. Bear bags, yes; hang everything that held food. No food in tents. Other than that, you’ll be fine unless you’re in one of the places that’s known for problem bears. My experiences were all in or around Shenandoh NP, where there’s a large bear population but they’re still pretty shy around humans.

**Bear! **
***Bear! ***
**Bear! **

It’s not even a word anymore. D:

Thanks. What about frozen food?
And for the record I do recognize how extremely unlikely a bear attack is, and how they are fearful of humans. It’s mostly the irrational carnal fear of what happens when I’m asleep in my tent that I’m trying to dampen.