Protecting Food from Bears

  1. GPS1504
    We all have our go-to places in mind for when the SHTF. Mine just so happens to be in the woods. Every survival situation that plays out in my head plays out in that particular place in the woods. Ultimately, that place may wind up being unsafe or inaccessible when the time comes to use it, but if it is safe, it will be high on my list of places to go. While there, I hope not to encounter competition for space or food, but that very well may happen. The biggest competitor that concerns me, however, is not human. It is a bear.

    If you have spent a lot of time painstakingly organizing the perfect food stash for TEOTWAWKI, the last thing you want to do is lose it to a bear. With a sense of smell 30 times greater than that of a human, Yogi is going to know you have food. He will also try to get that food, so you are going to have to take precautions to keep him from getting to your treasured food items.

    Hiding food in a vehicle may seem viable but is not recommended. Bears, in addition to being curious, are very strong and can literally pry your car door away from the rest of the body, opening up an access space. If a bear gets into your vehicle and eats all of your food, not only are you going to be hungry, but you are going to have some real issues with your vehicle after the bear damage is done.

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    If storing food in a vehicle is unsafe, it should go without saying that storing food in your tent will not work either. In fact, you do not want to have food or cook food within 100 or so yards of your tent. You also do not want clothes smelling like recently cooked food in your tent. All of this can result in an uninvited late night visitor and that is just plain embarrassing for everyone.

    Some campsites offer bear-proof storage lockers or bear cannisters, but there is no saying you'll be at a campsite or have someone running the place to point out such things. If you find one, recognize what it is, and if it is operable, use it. Otherwise you will need another plan.

    Hanging a bear bag is a good avenue to explore to keep food safe. There are different techniques to hang your bag, but if done successfully your bag should make it through the night unharmed. To hang a bear bag, you need to select a tree (or two) a few hundred feet away from your camp. You will need rope and a heavy item such as a rock. Tie your rope firmly to your rock and find a branch that is at least 20 feet off the ground and strong enough to support the weight of your bag (but not the weight of the bear as you do not want a bear climbing the tree and making his way out on a limb to grab at your food).

    Method 1:

    Throw your rock/rope combo over the tree limb you have selected. Fasten one end of your rope to your bag and hoist it until it is 15 feet off the ground and 10 feet away from the trunk of the tree. Take the end of your rope and anchor it to the truck of another nearby tree or similar heavy object and you're done.

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    Method 2:

    This method requires two trees of equal or similar size that are at least 30 feet apart. Start by anchoring one end of your rope to the trunk of tree #1 then throw your rock/rope combo over a branch in that tree that is 20 feet off the ground. When your rock comes back down, you want to leave some slack in the rope before tossing the rock/rope combo over a branch that is also about 20 feet off the ground in a tree close by (tree #2). Before you pull the rope taught between the two trees, attach your bear bag to the middle of that section with a carabiner. Tie an overhand knot, creating a loop, and hook your carabiner in place, then hook the bag to the carabiner and lift. Pull the slack down over the second tree branch and tie off the line back to the trunk of tree #1 and you're done.

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    While hanging techniques for bear bags many vary slightly, the goal is to get the bag hung out of reach from the ground or another tree. Remember, to a bear everything with a scent is food, be it toothpaste or tortillas. Keep yourself and your food safe from bears by removing temptation from the ground and sending it to the sky.

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