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A bear walked into my camp…


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  • #3800194
    Joe Gaffney
    BPL Member

    @j_gaffneycomcast-net

    I was backpacking solo in Yosemite, next to Laurel Lake. I don’t think there was anyone else camping by the lake. After dinner, I cleaned up my campsite and stashed the bear can about 100 ft away.

    In the middle of the night, I woke up because I could hear a bear sniffing around my tent. Actually, all I could hear was his exhale – no steps, no paws, nothing. I didn’t have anything interesting with me in the tent (smelly socks?) so I felt safe. What would you do?

    – Huddle in your sleeping bag and not make any noise (that’s what I did)?
    – Yell and thrash around in the tent?

    I’m not afraid of the black bears in Yosemite, except for the mama bears. But, if they’re startled, they may lash out. I don’t need to see that.

    #3800195
    Robert Spencer
    BPL Member

    @bspencer

    Locale: Sierras of CA and deserts of Utah

    I probably would have yelled “get outta here bear!” in my most intimidating voice in an effort to scare him away. Maybe not the correct response, but I think that would have been my in-the-moment decision after hearing the breathing at close range.

    #3800199
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I don’t think I posted this before.  I set up this trail cam at night when I’m camping next to my car.

    One night while I was sleeping in my tent:

    YouTube video

    You can barely see the bear walking by my truck.

    I didn’t wake up so I did nothing.

    Occasionally I’ll hear something and yell out “heyyyy” or something, then go back to sleep.

    #3800200
    Todd T
    BPL Member

    @texasbb

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    I think I’d make at least one attempt at an intimidating yell, then stay put and watch the show.  Rationale:  I’m no match for the bear, whether I try to intimidate or not, but a good yell *might* startle him into leaving instead of ripping into the tent out of curiosity.  Or it might not, in which case I’m right back where I started.

    #3800201
    Glen L
    Spectator

    @wyatt-carson

    Locale: Southern Arizona

    We had a bear walk into camp in Yosemite too, maybe 30 or 35 years ago. Had another bear walk into our camp far away from any campground on a high peak in Arizona 45 years ago. Gets the blood up. lol neither cared about yelling and the last one didn’t care about softball sized thrown rocks which we did to that Arizona bear.

    #3800202
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    It’s a black bear, not a brown bear.   Genetically, it’s never been the dominant thing in its range – There were grizzlies (and short-faced bear), then humans and grizzlies, and still humans around today.  30 generations of being in an NP doesn’t undo literally a million generations (5 million years divided by 5 year generations) of genetic selection.

    As an inexperienced teenager, I cowered in my sleeping bag.  For the last 40 years, I yell at them, throw rocks, run at them brandishing a big stick, etc.  I don’t need bigger muscles than them, I just need to be a better actor.

    #3800223
    DWR D
    BPL Member

    @dwr-2

    I’ve had then brush up against the tent wall (6 inches from my arm), rummage in my empty pack, rattle the pots… I just rolled over and went back to sleep… had it happen several times…

    #3800255
    jscott
    BPL Member

    @book

    Locale: Northern California

    Oh geeze in Yosemite and Ansel Adams I’ve had a lot of bears stroll through my campsite–almost always when there are other people near by. My food is always well stashed and the bear heads towards more promising campers. When I camp alone or in more remote places seeing a bear is far less likely. The bears know the routine and so do I: no food out and available, no interest. So I’ve stopped worrying about them. I know they come by at night but don’t hear them or think about it. Nothing’s gonna happen.

    There was one exception to all of this, but it was due to a number of extraordinary  circumstances including hikers hanging their packs in trees. Too long to relate. And even then, nothing bad happened except the hikers lost their foods and had their packs ripped.

    #3803394
    Brad W
    BPL Member

    @rocko99

    For all animals I have had sniff around my tent, dear, Mt. Lion, bobcat, fox, weasel, mice, rats-If they don’t move on after an initial sniff, I hit the wall of my tent and that is usually enough to make them scurry away. I did have a bobcat require 5-6 bangs a few minutes apart. I wasn’t afraid of them doing anything, just don’t like the sound of sniffing right next to my head.

    The only animal I did nothing about was a bison on Catalina Island. Just listened as he slowly checked out the tent and moved on.

    #3803417
    John S.
    BPL Member

    @jshann

    Not sure if this one was posted here..about two months ago.

    YouTube video

    #3803429
    Paul Wagner
    BPL Member

    @balzaccom

    Locale: Wine Country

    I don’t think I’ve ever “roared” at a bear like that!  I just tell them to go away it a forceful voice.  Those bears did not seem menacing to me, they seemed like they were just used to using that trail, and were a little surprised to meet another species on the way.

    #3803436
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    great video

    the bear seemed curious more than anything else

    I would also pick up rocks and sticks

    #3803439
    Jon Fong / Flat Cat Gear
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    A singler bear, notan issue but it looked to me to be a mama with 2 cubs.  That right there would make me highly concerned.

    #3803442
    Terran Terran
    BPL Member

    @terran

    How do you get past?

    #3803451
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    yeah, how do you pass a bear?

    I’ve encountered deer on the trail and they went off trail, around me, and then back on the trail again

    #3803465
    Jon Fong / Flat Cat Gear
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    I am guessing that i would make loud noises while backing up.  Then look for a way off trail in order to clear the path and would continue to make noise.  In general, bear will want to stay away from people.  But bears with cubs are unpredictable.  Any other thoughts?

    #3803469
    jscott
    BPL Member

    @book

    Locale: Northern California

    Read the bear body language. After the initial bluff charge by the bear, where the hiker backed off fast, the bear seemed satisfied that the hiker was not a threat. There was no head down/rocking from side to side with drool/clacking of teeth that characterizes a higher level of aggression.****

    the hiker retreated, as was wise, given the presence of cubs. Then, the mother bear followed at a distance after establishing dominance and the hiker continued to retreat. I agree that at this point the bear seemed more curious than threatened.

    The bear seemed entirely unimpressed by the ROAR of the hiker, which probably only re-established for the bear that it was dealing with a wimpy human opponent. Personally, I would have gently and slowly backed off while not making eye contact and speaking in very low, soft reassuring tones. I doubt that any human’s voice will intimidate a bear. Our voice may reassure a bear that we’re not a threat to their cubs. Especially if we slowly back out of any confrontation. (exactly the opposite of what I do once my dander is up on this forum…hmmm….).

    ***I’m speaking about myself, not the bear. I have excessive tooth wear and neck issues from posting on this forum.

    #3803486
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I encountered this bear in the Enchanted Valley in the Olympics.  When it saw me it stood up on this tree and scratched vigorously.  I think it was trying to scare me.  I just backed up and left.  I think that was as far as I wantedto go anyway.

    They closed that area to camping a few days later because that bear was being too aggressive, but no one was ever hurt.

    #3803489
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    We had a half dozen bears around camp one evening. Though never more than 2 at once.

    #3803492
    jscott
    BPL Member

    @book

    Locale: Northern California

    Phillip…cooking in your lovely tent…with grizzlies all around? Are ya sure about that?

    I may be wrong! I haven’t been to Alaska and it certainly worked out well for you.

    Hiking mostly in the Ca. Sierra, I’ve found that bears know the rules if you do. In other words, don’t leave food around unprotected and bears will move on. I’ll boil water and add it to a freeze dried dinner away from my tent. I don’t like simmering food for a half hour or more in bear country; certainly not in my tent. However, again, your video is wonderful and it looks like you had a great time. Merci!

    #3803498
    Terran Terran
    BPL Member

    @terran

    Bears don’t want your food. They have plenty of their own that they are accustomed to. They don’t run to danger. They tend to avoid it.

    #3803507
    Jon Fong / Flat Cat Gear
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    Bears (particularly those who have had many encounters with humans) can be opportunistic eaters.  When packing on weight before hibernation black bears can eat up to 20,000 calories per day.  With that kind of requirements, it become “catch as catch can”. If they can intimidate a human and sneak away with a few hundred calorie snacks, they might.  It’s all about the risk/rewards.  In the Sierras, cooking in your tent is a bad idea.  Alaska?

    #3803518
    Alex Wallace
    BPL Member

    @feetfirst

    Locale: Sierra Nevada North

    “In the middle of the night, I woke up because I could hear a bear sniffing around my tent. Actually, all I could hear was his exhale – no steps, no paws, nothing.”

    Same here, twice! Once in Desolation Wilderness near Lyons Creek and the second time in Yosemite NP near Illiloutte Creek.

    The first time it was very loud and woke me up from a deep sleep. Kind of like a long forceful “huff.”

    Second time, same season and only about a month apart, I was just starting to doze off and heard the same noise, albeit not as loud, and thought, “Again, you’ve got to be kidding me!”

    Both times I sat up, shouted “Yah, go on now git,” and clapped my hands. Seemed to work, but the bear in Desolation Wilderness returned about a half hour later. Same thing, made some noise, and it went away, thankfully. Regardless, very unsettling since I had my two kids, ages 10 and 6, with me at the time.

    #3803704
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Lovely video Philip! Glad you showed the simple critters too – starfish, etc. So much beauty! Did you have an electric fence? Also how much did the ginormous pack weigh with woodstove and chimney?! What a respite in the rain.

    I am also in Alaska, but not near the big brown bears Philip has; we have little grizzlies and also big black bears. I never cook or eat in my tent, and store my food a good 100 yards away in a bear canister. But I don’t have the comfort level with bears Philip has. Happy to keep them at a very good distance. Here, if I heard a bear near my tent at night, I’d probably just listen and keep my bear spray at the ready. If they didn’t move off in a fairly short time, I’d wake up camp with a shout and get us all to help move it off with lots of voices and zippers and general noise. At least that would be my thinking, but I’ve not had it happen, yet.

    #3803779
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    We bring an electric fence if we think we will leave camp set up and unattended for any period of time. When we know we will be around camp we don’t bother, and that was the case on that short trip.

    If you know your local bears pretty well, you can tailor your degree of precaution accordingly. In remote parts of the Kodiak Archipelago where the brown bears are totally wild, and hunted, we know our mere presence is a sufficient bear deterrent, and while we remain vigilant we otherwise go about our day normally. But if we went to a new area and did not know what to expect, or thought we might encounter problem/habituated bears (near villages or popular areas), we would behave differently; e-fence, more careful about food smells or other attractants, etc. Anytime you are not quite sure about what critters you are likely to find, defaulting to bear country best practices is smart and prudent. On my solo trips through coastal Alaska, I do cook in camp (freezer bag meals) and keep my food/trash with me, but my attractant ‘footprint’ is reduced compared to what I showed in that video. If I were at a popular camping spot on the mainland where the bears might be habituated and bolder, I’d take more extensive precautions along the lines of what has been mentioned earlier.

    Cheers

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