Dec 21, 2012 at 7:35 pm #1297266
Just a curious thread.
Has anyone had the food stolen by animals in the backcountry? If so, what food, what animals, and where were you?
This fall I went to the Grand Canyon. Everywhere they talked about how ravens, mice, and ringtails are bad at the established campsite in the canyon. I went prepared. First night, not a single hint of problems. 2nd day, I was at the Hermit rapids at the Colorado river. I decided to go ahead and make my big meal at lunch instead of later. I had checked the area around…not a hnt of animals. Lunch was a Alpine Aire one. I boiled my water and poured it into the bag and sealed it.
While waiting for the meal to hydrate, I went to go take a quick picture of something just a short way…less than 100 feet from my site. I came back and immediately noticed that my bag was gone. I looked around and finally noted that a squirrel had dragged my whole meal into the heavy brush…and was having lunch. I could see it but couldn't get to it without getting terribly scratched up. I tried throwing things at it. But really did want to actually hit the animal. It moved away once. Probably realized that I wasn't coming any closer to it.
I was like…oh great…because I stupidly walked away from a meal…even for just a few minutes…this squirrel is going to think that it can just steal dehydrated meals from anyone here.Dec 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm #1937320
Your Alpine Aire wasn't the first, I'll put money on it. He probably has a favorite.
You didn't see any Grey Jay/ Robber Jay birds? I can't remember their name right now (I think its a persons name) Those things are serious. They'll swarm when you stop for lunch, finding that perfect branch so they can swoop right down on your food the second you take a step away from it. Their perch will be far enough you can't 'catch em', and close enough they'll beat the competition from their buddies.
I've had one land on my sammich, take a bite, and fly away. I stood in a pool of incredulity. How rude- he easily could have landed on my hand. Now I got some crazy bird's toe cheese on my PBJ. …still ate it. (pre bird flu)Dec 21, 2012 at 8:21 pm #1937327
– -K.T.- –Participant
i've had a bear in my car with me unpacking ten feet away. Raccoons going through my stuff, not food. Squirrels on picnic table while we seated at it. They're all brazen. Deer in camp at dinner time. Even heard of two legged animals making off with contents of bear canisters.
Be mindful. Watch your stuff. Hard to get a replacement anything in the backcountry.Dec 21, 2012 at 8:32 pm #1937330
No, grey birds I. The canyon…did see some on the rim.. Only birds I saw at the bottom of the canyon was these tiny….like < 3 inches birds with a dash of brilliant blue… They were flittering around trees by the rapids.
You had a bear IN YOUR CAR? WTH? What did you do?
Btw…yes, I was happy I had brought an extra days worth of food.Dec 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm #1937347
– -K.T.- –Participant
Oh the bears at Whitney Portal like to watch you unpack to see what you brought them to eat. We just yelled and it left. Didn't get any tortillas either.Dec 21, 2012 at 10:29 pm #1937352
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
Way back in 1992 or 93, I went to the Grand Canyon from Boulder. I was with a friend I have known since 3rd grade. The ranger at Phantom Ranch came over and gave his lecture about the "night watch". We scoffed when he left but went ahead and put some of our food into the metal boxes provided. However, I left most of my food for the hike out the next day in the top pocket of my pack. It must have been a raven who opened the bag. It was not chewed through but rather unzipped. The end result is that we were young and got into a fight because my friend said he wouldn't share his remaining food with me (of course he would have but it was one of those dumb stubborn arguments friends get into). I decided not to walk the short distance to the ranch canteen and instead had little food for the hike out.
Funny that most of these stories happened in the Grand Canyon.Dec 21, 2012 at 11:41 pm #1937361
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
Many years ago (in the Rockies), I had a black bear clean my cook pot for me. We had just finished cooking dinner when it began to rain heavily. We quickly divided the dinner into our bowls and ran for cover under a nearby tree. By the time we looked up a black bear was licking out our cook pot. It was a good lesson and has taught me to be very careful about storing my food away at all times because there was no sign of a bear and if we had left our food bags lying around, I'm sure they would have been taken. What surprised me is that it just appeared out of no-where… but I suspect he had been watching us and waiting for an opportunity to grab something. It didn't seem to be in a hurry to run off though, it just licked out the pot, sniffed around and left (and thankfully ignored us completely).Dec 22, 2012 at 3:09 am #1937366
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
I had a raccoon drag my food bag off somewhere. Luckily it was just an overnight.Dec 22, 2012 at 5:08 am #1937377
@sschloss1Locale: New England
FYI, there are no gray jays in the Grand Canyon. Out west, you'll only find them relatively high up in the mountains.
And the OP's thieving squirrel was probably a rock squirrel. The ones at Ooh-Aah Point on the S. Kaibab trail are the fattest and most brazen animals I've ever seen in the wild. They'll walk right up to your bag and try to get into it while you're sitting next to it. Still, how can you blame them? They're so damned cute.Dec 22, 2012 at 6:58 am #1937383
@mikefaedundeeLocale: Under a bush in Scotland
Many years ago, i carried in a six pack of beer for an overnighter on a hot summer weekend. I was about 6 miles from the car. The tent was pitched, and everything left inside, apart from what i needed for my day hike. The last thing i did was place the six pack in a cool, slow moving river pool. I placed a heavy rock on top for extra security incase the current picked up.
So i set of on a big day, climbing a few peaks, with many thousands of feet of ascent. Decending the last peak, i could see my tent below,
I arrived hot and bothered and headed straight for my treat. My mouth was salivating as i imagined the cold brew trickling down my throat.
Some bas***d had taken them! :-)
That's the only time i've ever had anything taken in many decades outdoors.Dec 22, 2012 at 8:43 am #1937402
Okay, probably was the human kind ….but imagine if it was a bear! I have heard that they can open can without spilling a drop ….some bear wobbling off while thinking…..geee I am feellllin. GoooooodDec 22, 2012 at 10:45 am #1937424
@filsingerLocale: Pacific Northwest
Have never lost food to bears but have had occasional rodent, squirrel , and crow issues. In the 60's and 70's I was careless with my food storage and would carry salami, cheese, and cornuts allowing grease to end up on my pack and shelter which led to rodent chews in my nylon gear. Pikas, deer mice, wood rats, kangaroo mice, beechy ground squirrels and other mystery chewers left their mark on my gear. Today I am a lot more careful about keeping food odor off my gear. A deterent trick I used years ago to keep rodents at bay was to make an offering of a little tobasco sauce on a small amount of peanut butter. I recall in the movie "Never Cry Wolf" the biologist was so overrun with voles he started to eat them and scream like a wolf which seemed to deter the little rascals. Bear canisters are a better approach.
HootDec 22, 2012 at 10:53 am #1937426
@simauliusLocale: Bohemian Alps
I watched through a spotting scope while about a dozen ravens lined the tarp-covered bed of a pickup truck. The brains of the bunch ripped the tarp wide open and the frenzy began. So cool to watch these birds fly off into the distance while carrying bags of chips, buns and what looked like brats. Surprising that no one in the parking lot at Old Faithful either saw this or tried to stop it… Geyser-heads! Hmmmph!Dec 22, 2012 at 11:04 am #1937429
Never Cry Wolf! ah I love that movie- haven't thought about it in 20yrs. Thanks for reminding meDec 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm #1937439
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Cliff-top Lookout in the Blue Mountains in Australia. Sue and I sitting on a tourist park bench admiring the view in the late afternoon. Snack time, and I had this big bar of special nougat a daughter had given us. So I cut it in half and gave one half to Sue.
She put it down beside her on the bench and looked away for JUST A SECOND while she picked up a water bottle from her other side. Whoosh! One Currawong, one flying pass, no nougat bar any more. Sue was … upset and furious!
By now the bird and the bar were over the cliff edge and down a few hundred feet, somewhere in the trees. We watched her nougat bar sail down there. No chance of recovery.
The worst bit was that I had to cut my half of the bar in half again …
CheersDec 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm #1937440
On the first night of a hike from Tuolumne Meadows to Reds Meadow, we camped at the uppermost meadow in Lyell Canyon, just below the jump above treeline (and below the tarn that's up higher). We were a party of four, backpacking with a combination of styles: the old-schoolers had hauled in some actual canned food and pancake mix, and two of us had planned out Mtn House and Alpineair meals. Ah, but the primo meal that first night after banging out some miles with heavy packs was genuine spaghetti with marinara and sausage we'd packed in, frozen in a #10 can, with french bread. Anyone who knows what a number 10 is has an idea of the feast that ensued, and in the morning we were headed to summit Lyell before dropping down toward Island Pass.
As we ate dinner, over in the clearing by the cliffs on the east side of the creek, a large bear cruised by the creek. It never really looked right at us, but we knew there was no way it hadn't smelled the garlic, tomato and fennel. So, after dinner, we scrubbed everything well at a site about 100 yards from camp, and then clambered up some trees on two sides of a gully, extending a taut line between them and suspending all our food bags and cooking pots about 15' above the floor of the gully. We *expected* Yogi to return and were confident he's never reach this. A Kodiak would have to tip-toe to reach this thing.
That night, the skies opened and there was a torrential storm that included lightning strikes on the rocks adjacent to us. At one point, sand/particles hit the tent I was in, and it was a gnarly night with little sleep. Certainly, not a night for anyone or anything to roam about. When the storm finally broke at about 5am, we clambered out of our tents, bleary-eyed, to assess one another and comment on the storm. After a few minutes, we joked about how we hoped our food hadn't been hit by a lightning strike to the big aluminum pot we'd suspended and how not even Yogi himself would have been out last night.
It was brisk, so I pulled out the XGK and we decided to saunter down and draw lots for who had to climb the cold, wet tree on one end to drop our taut line. Imagine our surprise when we came around a tree and saw our line, taut alright, but suspending only open-ended sacks. There, on the ground was the aluminum pot and some bitten Alpineair foods (you know, those wheat noodles were too gross even for bears), but completely missing: an entire box of Bisquick, two large cans of Vienna Sausage, all the Mtn. House (stroganoff as I recall), all the jerky and dried apricots, all the trail mix… We were cleaned out.
There was no sign of flour on the ground, so we deduced that Yogi and his cohorts had been there before the storm let up. The trees we were tied to didn't even flex under our weights on the way up and the line was undamaged.
We concluded that Yogi was Mrs. Yogi and that she had escaped from the circus after learning the skills to have the two kids stand on her shoulders. 30 years later, I stand by this analysis!
There was no such thing as a cell phone. Our "ride" from Reds Meadow wasn't expecting us for a week, but she was still in Tuolumne Meadows that morning and not due to leave until the afternoon check-out. We packed as fast as we could, and bolted for Tuolumne, hoping Mom didn't decide to pack up the camper early and head down to Mono Lake with my little brother. The packs were somewhat lighter…Dec 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm #1937465
We stayed a night at salt creek campground near the ONP and during the day we saw a wayward teenager scoping us. We laughed, had some beers, left all of our bear canisters out and went to sleep. In the morning they were both gone, we were dead sure the kid had pinched them for resale (berikade-money). Thought through all of the options and decided we should at least look at the base of the cliff (ocean shore) about 50 feet away from us. Sure as sherlock the raccoons had rolled the canisters off the cliff onto the rocks below, probably to try to break them.
They are smarter than you are!Dec 22, 2012 at 3:38 pm #1937472
@bookLocale: Northern California
Back in the eighties, during an El Nino year, Tuolumne Meadows finally opened just before the fourth of July. I didn't know what I was doing and brought snowshoes for a hike in to Sunrise. Solid snow began almost immediately. Anyway, I luckily met up with another solo hiker who brought us both safely just past Sunrise to the junction with the jmt. There used to be two bear poles there. Just after nightfall, two kids came into camp. One hung his entire pack in a tree. The other hung his entire pack from the bear pole that I and my new friend were not using. this pole had a slight bend in it.
A bit later we heard a bear climb the tree, followed by a large crash and an even larger roar. That was the first pack down.
A bit later the bear stood up on his hind legs and started pushing against the bear pole. This went on for about half an hour. He was grunting and huffing the whole time. Eventually the pole went over (!). This was a pole encased in cement at its base. And that was the end of the second pack.
The two teenagers were camped about fifteen feet from all of this action and never made a peep. Jack and I were about fifty feet away and kept throwing branches on our small fire and yelling, but to no avail. It was pretty intimidating.
Interestingly, the bear never pushed against the pole that held my food and Jacks'. I think that he must have tried to push the other pole over before and knew that it might go with more effort.
Jack wrote a note on the fallen pole the next morning and we all got out of there.
I think that this was unusual behavior from a bear that was hungry because of the late snow pack.Dec 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm #1937474
The coatimundis in Costa Rica are the worst food bandits I've come across. This is one wandering around on the highway. They're part raccoon, part mini-bear, part anteater, and completely cheeky. They tend to hang out in packs of 4-10.
I was camping at a National park in the Guanacaste area. The ranger had me park at a lot, then walk 200 yards with my gear to camp on the beach. He told me to keep my food in the truck at all times, except right when I wanted to eat it. Coatis, you know…
I scored the primo tent site, right on the beach. I enjoyed a happy hour sunset with a couple of beers, then decided to walk to the truck and bring some food back for dinner before it got dark. I set the day pack (food) on the picnic table, and then saw the last dying color of a spendid sunset. I decided to take one final photo. I was away from my food pack for maybe 45 seconds, and when I returned, a pack of maybe 6-7 coatis had ripped it to shreds, scattering the contents 20' in every direction. They were madly scarfing everything that wasn't in a can–bread, sausages, chips, granola bars, cookies–everything. I went ballistic, chasing them around and around, madly swinging my machete. They all stayed 20' away from me, continuing to chow down when I wasn't trying to behead them (I wasn't even close to hitting one–they're quick). My dinner was a can of Vienna sausages, a tin of sardines, and a Pepsi, with the machete close at hand. I was livid at those crafty suckers, and I wanted to murder every one of them. When I told the ranger about it the next day, he just laughed and said, "I told you, Senor."Dec 23, 2012 at 5:35 am #1937594
Bogs and BergsMember
We were in an extremely remote part of Newfoundland, no trails, let alone campgrounds. After hanging the food bag, we walked down to the pond. Then we noticed movement back at the campsite, and watched through binoculars (well out of rock-tossing range) as a crow sat on the branch holding the food bag. It sized up the situation for a few seconds, then pulled up a loop of the rope with its beak. It stepped on this loop, pinning it against the branch, and pulled up another. Until it had our food bag. One neat pass with the beak opened the bag, another opened the ziploc containing our bacon, and Crow's supper was served. (It left the plastic in the food bag, being a Leave No Trace crow, apparently.) When we got back and retrieved the bag (a light daypack) we discovered that Crow had used the zipper, and the bag was fine. Just baconless.Dec 23, 2012 at 6:46 am #1937611
@nickbLocale: Los Padres National Forest
About a decade ago, I did a ~4 month road trip up and down the east coast of Australia. We did a handful of multi-night hikes over the course of the trip and spent the balance of our days camping in car campsites (holiday parks). The holiday parks always had a surprising amount of wildlife around them, from snakes and giant spiders to bats and birds and koalas. But two funny food thiefs stand out…
One night camped out somewhere in the Green Mountains/Lamington NP, we were sitting in our chairs behind our car parked on the edge of a large park-like lawn area. It's totally black out and besides the area immediately around us that was lit up by our headlamps and lantern, we couldn't really see much. At some point while eating dinner, we happened to look over our shoulders and see dozens of pairs of little silvery eyes reflecting back at us from all over the field. Oh, just a bunch of cute little wallabies. No big deal, so we kept on eating. Every once in a while we would take another look over our shoulders to see what they were up to. They'd still be out there… Just watching. And waiting. Suddenly, we were ambushed by a couple of them that bounded right through our camp and grabbed parts of our meals right off the plates in our laps before just as quickly vanishing back into darkness. Their raid was a success. They managed to get away with our baked potatoes and corn on the cob!
The other food thief we encountered was in a campground up in Arlie Beach getting ready to hop a ferry out to one of the Whitsunday Islands to camp for a few nights. We were sitting under a patio structure where the camp kitchen and picnic tables were located and eating dinner. A little possum was hanging around and would climb up the posts of the patio cover and scamper along the beams overhead. From this overhead vantage point he could see what everyone around the table was having for dinner and thereby select his next victim. He'd set up just above an unsuspecting camper and hang down off the beam like a monkey. The moment somebody would absentmindedly raise any food item high enough to be within his reach, he'd stretch out there and grab it right out of their hands and then just as quickly climb up out of reach and enjoy his latest plunder. Seemed like this little critter had perfected this act over the years and was by now a first-class food bandit. Getting outsmarted by these little buggers was infuriating!Dec 23, 2012 at 11:14 pm #1937853
OMG…..there are some great stories in the thread. Several of them made me laugh out loud!Dec 24, 2012 at 12:05 am #1937858
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
After writing my story above, I vaguely recalled that my hiking partner snapped a shot of the thief. Found this photo in an old album… a bit fuzzy but maybe his hand was shaking. This event goes back more years than I remember… that's my old Grasshopper stove that the bear was pushing around! Time flies when you are having fun.Dec 24, 2012 at 2:58 am #1937867
I was acosted by two turkeys (animal type) at Bright Angel campground some years ago. The turkeys were making rounds on all the campers in search for food.Dec 24, 2012 at 4:47 am #1937870
Once, on the day after Christmas, I woke up at 2 a.m. to got after the last piece of pie and found my brother, leaning on the kitchen counter, with you know what kind of grin, scarfing it down! Worst kind of scavenger in the world!!
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