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#104462 - 10/10/08 07:04 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: BasketballOSU]
grit Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/02
Posts: 207
Loc: Happy Jack, AZ
I'm just trying to figure out if you're from Oregon State, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Ottawa State, Oshkosh-B'gosh State....

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#104463 - 10/10/08 09:30 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: Berserker]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Berserker

Instead of tying the cord to the rock, why not put a weight into a small stuff sack and tie it closed with the cord? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

I find that the first toss is the best, after that it could take 5-10 more tries. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

WARNING <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> True <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />
If your "rock" sticks in the tree and you pull hard to get it out and it does finally come out, it can hit you as hard David hit Goliath. It could severely injure you as it will be coming very fast. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> The solution in that situation is to pull the cord around yet another tree and pull from an angle so when it does come loose, it won't be aimed at you. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> I have been hit. You have been warned <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

Use a hard finish laid cord to test the cord, rub it over a tree - does it stick enough to catch?
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />YMMV
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#104464 - 10/11/08 06:44 AM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: Jimshaw]
Fiddleback Offline
member

Registered: 06/22/04
Posts: 478
Loc: Northern Rockies
I've packed up, but haven't used yet, a smallish, mesh bag that cherry tomatoes come in just for this purpose...

FB
_________________________
"...inalienable rights...include the right to a clean and healthful environment..." Montana Constitution

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#104465 - 10/11/08 08:24 AM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: Fiddleback]
thecook Offline


Registered: 10/03/08
Posts: 541
Loc: Minnesota
I use the same carabiner with which I clip the bag to the rope as my weight for throwing the rope over a branch. Watch out for mesh bags as they may catch in the small braches of the tree and tangle to such an extent that you can't get it out.
_________________________
If I wouldn't eat it at home, why would I want to eat it on the trail?

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#104466 - 10/11/08 10:19 AM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: BasketballOSU]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Quote:

It seems like such a hassle to hang up all the food 100 ft from your camp every night, especially in areas where bears aren't super common...


Get a rat sack or a bear can. Or an Ursack - though if you ever go to areas where bear cans are required that won't help you, you'll still need to rent an approved bear can.

Leaving your food in ziplocs doesn't help. They're not odor proof at all. I have been able to vacuum pack coffee in foodsaver vac bags, which are nylon, and keep coffee odor from permeating the contents of my bear can; however, my nose is not as sensitive as a raccoon's or bear's and so I will never trust any bag to be completely odor proof - including the OP sacks they sell at REI.

You have auto insurance, life insurance, medical insurance and you fasten your seatbelt - you need to protect your food in the wilderness. I've never had a bear touch my canister but I'm certainly not about to go without it.

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#104467 - 10/11/08 04:19 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: thecook]
Fiddleback Offline
member

Registered: 06/22/04
Posts: 478
Loc: Northern Rockies
Yup...I've anticipated that. Guess I should try it out on our pines before hitting the trail...

FB
_________________________
"...inalienable rights...include the right to a clean and healthful environment..." Montana Constitution

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#104468 - 10/11/08 06:15 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: Fiddleback]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Use an adequate weight. A carabiner isn't enough, use at least a quarter pound, or the most you can throw. Its the weight that pulls the loose end down so you can reach it.
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#104469 - 10/11/08 10:11 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: BasketballOSU]
Paul Offline
member

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 778
Loc: California
I, too , find hanging my food to be a hassle. And having to pick a campsite based on the availability of good "hanging trees" is also a pain.
I got pretty good at the whole hanging process on a JMT trip years ago, but it never ceased to be a chore. And so, I have gradually come aorund to the point where I bring my bear canister on all summer trips (as opposed to backcountry ski trips, where I don't worry about my food at all), regardless of whether required or not. For me, the extra weight of the canister is worth it. I don't have to pick a campsite with a haging tree avaialble, I don't have to worry about ANY critters getting into my food, I don't have to go through the whole hanging process, and I have a nice comfotable campstool to boot. And if I want to take a little side trip I don't have to hang my food while I'm away from my pack, just take the canister out so no critters chew my pack trying to get to the food.
And yes, I will agree that a some of the bear worries are overstated. There are certainly areas where the bears have become enamoured of human food, and highly skilled at getting it. In those areas, an approved canister is the only way you are going to keep your food short of defending it every minute. But ther are lots of other areas wher the bears an neither so bold or so skilled, and will avoid you as much as possible and be very unlikely to go after your food.. If you camp and travel off the trails, this is mostly the case. But even there, I find I can't justify to myself the risk of "contaminating" a wild bear as well as the slight risk of losing my food. I can well recall the "old days" (like the 70's, say) when we didin't worry about our food, except to keep it as close to us as possible in order to deter mice and squirrels in the night. That changed because the bears are smart and they like oru food and they found they could get it. The only way to get back to the point where bears are not a nuisance is to make sure that no bear EVER gets any human food. If we could keep that up for several generations of bears, they might cease to associate people with food, and leave our campsites alone. Of course, we'll never be able to go back to the carefree days, because if we did, the cycle would start again. But we'd have less hassle from bears, and they would be better off as well. So it is critical to store your food properly, for the bears' sake. It's not about you, it's about the bear.

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#104470 - 10/13/08 10:53 AM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: Jimshaw]
Berserker Offline
member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 493
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
Quote:
Instead of tying the cord to the rock, why not put a weight into a small stuff sack and tie it closed with the cord?

Simplicity...it's one less thing I have to worry about getting "hung up" in the tree.


Quote:
WARNING <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> True <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />
If your "rock" sticks in the tree and you pull hard to get it out and it does finally come out, it can hit you as hard David hit Goliath. It could severely injure you as it will be coming very fast. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> The solution in that situation is to pull the cord around yet another tree and pull from an angle so when it does come loose, it won't be aimed at you. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> I have been hit. You have been warned <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

Good tip. I have pulled on a hung up rock, and had it pop out and come at me before.

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#104471 - 10/13/08 10:57 AM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: Jimshaw]
Berserker Offline
member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 493
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
Quote:
Use an adequate weight. A carabiner isn't enough, use at least a quarter pound, or the most you can throw. Its the weight that pulls the loose end down so you can reach it.
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />

Yeah, and if the rock (or whatever is hanging off of the weighted end of the cord) makes it over but doesn't come all the way down you can "whip" the other end of the cord, and this will usually make the weighted end come down (might take several whips) unless the cord gets snagged on the bark.

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#104472 - 10/13/08 12:47 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: Berserker]
thecook Offline


Registered: 10/03/08
Posts: 541
Loc: Minnesota
I've never had a problm with a carabiner. Of course I am the lightest full size carabiner I could find so it is definately not SUL, but coupled with parachute cord has worked well for me for many years.
_________________________
If I wouldn't eat it at home, why would I want to eat it on the trail?

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#104473 - 10/13/08 09:42 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: Hector]
BasketballOSU Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/26/08
Posts: 8
Quote:
>On the other hand, I'm not your momma. If you don't want to secure your food and you aren't camped near me (you won't be :-), that'll be between you and the wildlife. The bear you habituate to humans as an easy source of food may not thank you when the forest service shoots it, though.


Hector, just a heads up.

I certainly don't mind honest and straightforward posts like this, but it seems like several of your posts now could possibly taken as somewhat accusing and elitist to a new poster with less than ten posts on the site.

People come here to ask honest questions that they don't know the answer to. I think it's fairly reasonable that they should expect helpful responses (these have all been very helpful, by the way) without feeling like they are being judged or doing something wrong just by asking a simple question.

Like I said, not a big deal to me personally or anything, but I could see some people taking your tone the wrong way, just FYI. Thanks for the responses though!

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#104474 - 10/14/08 06:39 AM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: BasketballOSU]
Hector Offline
member

Registered: 12/20/04
Posts: 325
Loc: LA/ARK/TX corner
> Like I said, not a big deal to me personally or anything, but I could see some
> people taking your tone the wrong way

Well, I'd hope they wouldn't, and I certainly apologize if they do. I think it's better to communicate directly and honestly than obfuscate with flowers and perfumes. Only in the service of humor should one risk being castigated with the dreaded "You shore do talk a lot." However, I do hope that in making a point I don't put anyone's eye out, including mine own.


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#104475 - 10/27/08 10:53 AM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: Hector]
AUHiker Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/27/07
Posts: 11
Yeah this is one of those things you sometimes have to learn the hard way... as stated Bears are actually the least annoying critter- black bears at least- will run away 99.9% of the time from a full grown man with trecking poles waving- so the threat of them doesn't worry me... and they are very scattered out... RARE.

It's the small critters I HATE... mice are like little LASERS that will eat into your tent wall- into your pack- into your stuff sack- into your water bladder- and into your ziplock bag of breakfast food you had planned for the morning.
Raccoons are nasty and carry rabies.
Skunks well duh...

nothing is SAFE... hike out 100 yrds... tie up your bag and be done with it!

ALSO don't forget tolietries! TOOTHPASTE is like icecream to other animals.

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#104476 - 10/27/08 05:42 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: BasketballOSU]
rootball Offline
member

Registered: 06/16/08
Posts: 112
How likely - not very if you hide it under your shirt or in the bottom of your bag. Just kidding. I've only had one come into camp. It must have been the tuna smell. I was done eating and motionless against a big tree, When I heard a sound I turned around. The bear may (may) not have known I was there - but when I moved the bear spooked and crashed down a ravine and disappeared.
_________________________
For brick and mortar breed filth and crime
And men are withered before their prime

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#112276 - 03/05/09 12:36 AM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: rootball]
zach Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/09
Posts: 19
Loc: Lake Tahoe
this is an excellent thread with great information.. excellent community too i look forward to posting!

on the subject of bears/critters and food, i am planning a small backpacking trip possibly solo in the sierras in 2 weeks and havent really informed myself to a level that this thread has now provided.

i have a few points/questions though, about human scent and territory.

i plan on hanging my food at least 50-100 ft from my sleeping area, with food/water/toiletries contained at least 10 ft up with 3-5 ft between the rope and branch to ensure critters dont somehow climb down the rope onto the hanging bag. so ill need a branch about 15 ft high in order to maximize protection, which is possibly with the huge jeffrey pines in the area.

well i also plan on making a 10-15 ft diameter circle of urine (or as much as i can muster before bed) around my tent.

no one has mentioned urine yet, and i was wondering what your opinions would be on the effectiveness of having it circling your tent.

ive read that it is both a good idea as well as a myth, but im figuring at least bears (critters might not care as much) would back off from the area or lose interest in my tent/pack.

i will keep my pack inside my tent (its a 2 person tent i use for solo) and all im really worried about is food smell on my clothes after cooking/fishing and having damage done to my stuff from rodents.

i also want to know if during the winter bear activity is limited due to hibernation, and what time of year they wake up and start to look for food, because i know if i just woke up from a 3 month sleep id be hungry for anything!

well great thread/replies thanks for reading and im looking forward to any response!

cheers
_________________________
"i believe a little more weight makes me push myself to be even stronger"

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#112299 - 03/05/09 11:50 AM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: zach]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2859
Loc: Portland, OR
In re: using urine to discourage bears.

What follows is my opinion, not backed up by research at all. But it would seem to me that all urine can do is notify the bear that a human is present, or has been present recently. What the bear does with that information will depend entirely on how the bear perceives humans.

If the bear has a fear of humans, or simply a mild aversion, then it will be likely to act on those feelings through avoidance. However, in the California Sierras and some other places, there are many bears who view humans as blazing beacons marking the spot where they can find lovely human food.

Further more, because a bear has an extremely acute sense of smell, and humans tend to be pretty smelly by a bear's standards, the chances are excellent that the bear will know a human is nearby, with or without using urine to alert it.

In summation, my opinion is that urine wouldn't do squat to help you avoid bears. They'll know you're there anyway and what they do about that depends on the bear, not you.

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#112301 - 03/05/09 12:04 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: BasketballOSU]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
Originally Posted By BasketballOSU
In particular, what about areas with only a few interspersed black bears throughout a very large area, not common and no grizzlies?

What if you carry all "cold" food in ziplock bags, no cooking to release excess smells?

If you have, for example, peanut butter sandwiches, bagels, and pop tarts sealed inside ziploc bags, inside a food bag, inside your backpack, is that still going to release enough smells to attract bears to your camp site?

It seems like such a hassle to hang up all the food 100 ft from your camp every night, especially in areas where bears aren't super common...
I live in New Brunswick were we have many Black Bears, like 1 per 2 square miles, but they are very timid. Attacks are extremely rare. No fatalities have ever been recorded.

That's still alot of bears though. Maybe you should check again. Chances are they are out there. Most important thing is to not tease the heck out of them with food smells. At established camp sites and in parks, follow the rules also. With small children, the risks are higher, and the loss is more dear, so you need to take extra precautions. I hike with a large stick, keep her close, don't use any lemon-flavoured bug sprays on her, and sleep with her in a tent. I don't carry bear spray in Southern New Brunswick, though I've considered it. In Northern New Brunswick, I might.

I carry a one pound hatchet also, when with my daughter. Sounds silly in summer, but its useful for tapping a small nail and splitting deadfall sometimes in wet areas, and I sleep better at night, as the big stick wouldn't work so well in a tent. Wouldn't work so well on a bear either, but most bears down here are small anyway. I don't know, but I think the main thing with children is that bears might naturally repect protective behaviour. Keeping them close, carrying a stick, and sleeping with a hatchet might improve my posture if nothing else, and hopefully that is enough for the bears to understand. Maybe I smell different with a hatchet. Who knows?

I think keeping the smells down is a very important step.
Bears can smell through anything, but its a matter of degree.
Out of respect, if nothing else, there's no sense teasing them.
I think a wood fire helps also. Doesn't need to be big.
A couple of uses of my Kelly Kettle is enough to leave a smoke smell.
Sometimes I make a small fire also if I need to dry socks and stuff.

p.s. I hang my food when in parks, or at established campsites.
When in remote areas I don't hang food unless I'm with my daughter.
I always keep the smells down though.


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#112304 - 03/05/09 12:21 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: JAK]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
I think the first step is to take an interest and get as much local knowledge as you can of the bears in your area. Get your information from people that work in the woods, especially those that study bears for a living, but even local hunters and guides (tempered with some objectivity). Older woodsmen are very good sources of information.

Here is a very good source of information from Ontario...
http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/Bearwise/index.html

It includes educational material used in schools.
http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/Bearwise/2ColumnSubPage/196968.html

This is what I used as a local source of information on bears where I hike. I found it interesting because it discusses the impact such things as parks and apple trees and bear bait stations. We have a Spring Hunt and a Fall Hunt. Done properly, I think bear hunting changes the demographics to keep the woods safer, as it has here since Indian times. Done improperly, commercial interests, and trophy hunting, can pervert nature and make bears and the woods more dangerous. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. The past is no guarantee of the future.
http://www.unbf.ca/forestry/centers/cwru/soe/bear1.htm

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#112318 - 03/05/09 03:23 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: aimless]
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Here's an interesting twist on the urine story.

As you say bears can smell very well. So they smell more than just the fact that the urine comes from a human. Apparently they can tell if you are male or female. Female urine doesn't work apparently. This is the story going around my neck of the woods anyway.

I'm not sure there is any research on it. The original research comes from wolves. But them wolves mark their territory with urine. If they smell male urine they take that to be a territorial boundary (regardless of whether it's human or wolf urine) and pretty much respect that boundary. Female urine, of any species, doesn't phase them.

I'm a bit doubtful whether bears work on the same principle. But hey, urine's cheap right? grin


Edited by Heber (03/05/09 03:24 PM)

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#112332 - 03/05/09 06:43 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: Heber]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Heber,

I for one do sort of believe in the urine thing, I learned it from an alsakan guides manual when I was a kid. But you need to go out 100 yards and you don't need a complete circle - it was stated as thing to do in grizzly country. There are obvious trails in and out of any area. Marking a tree on each approach to my camp seems to keep my camps bear free, even in the Sierra. However if you are in a national park all bets are off.

Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#116846 - 06/03/09 12:36 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: Jimshaw]
going rafting Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 4
Loc: somewhere on a river
Originally Posted By Jimshaw
Heber,

I for one do sort of believe in the urine thing, I learned it from an alsakan guides manual when I was a kid. But you need to go out 100 yards and you don't need a complete circle - it was stated as thing to do in grizzly country. There are obvious trails in and out of any area. Marking a tree on each approach to my camp seems to keep my camps bear free, even in the Sierra. However if you are in a national park all bets are off.

Jim

I pee around the camp, too, but I drink a lot of gatorade. Is that going to attract bears?

I own a bear canister but I have never seen a bear go near it. Recently I've seen bears on trips, but not near a camp. I like to put the bear canister away from my tent, but others keep them nearby. Sometimes we put them in a depression to keep them from rolling away if a bear does find them.

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#117479 - 06/22/09 03:06 AM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: going rafting]
Pat-trick Offline
member

Registered: 06/22/09
Posts: 175
Loc: Portland, OR
I've read all these posts with great interest. This is my first post ever on the Backcountry forum <applause>. Thank you! After reading them, I crossed out Bear Vault 500, $79.95, 2 lbs 9 ounces, on my list. Instead, I'm practicing the clove hitch and the Dutch Bowline for the PCT food hang. I have rope, stuff sacks, and carabiners, so i'm all set! By the way, several folks have said to put a weight in a stuff sack instead of typing rope around the rock. Why not just put the rock in the stuff sack? The nearest weight is probably somewhere in the city and costs $17.95. Before tax. Okay, I read that somewhere, about the rock in the sack, otherwise I wouldn't have figured it out either. smile
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#118169 - 07/08/09 08:28 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: going rafting]
bigb Offline
member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 124
Loc: Maryland
I am new to the forum and got alot of info reading through these post, I have a small bear canister cause its fullproof, I hike alot in monongahela nf, WV and see bears on occasion but worry about rodents as well.
My hiking partner is a dutch sheperd which american breeders have not ruined yet, and he instictively marks the perimiter around camp after I set up, I have had coyotes around my camp (heard them fighting) but they did not come in possibly from my dog marking
_________________________
"In the beginers mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."
Shunryu Suzuki

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#118237 - 07/11/09 04:29 PM Re: How likely are bears to come after your food? [Re: bigb]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
A great deal depends on where you are. In the Sierras, there is definitely a super-culture of bears that see hikers as a major source of food.

In the Smokies, virtually all bear-human incidents occur within a couple of miles of a road. The backcountry consists of hikers scaring away bears merely with their presence.

Outside GSMNP, there are plenty of bears. But in NC, they can be hunted legally and they DO NOT stick around for humans.

Look up and down the AT corridor. Thousands of hikers hang their food bags from little cords in an open shelter, maybe 5-7 feet off the ground. The concern is to keep mice away, not bears. You do NOT have bear problems along this corridor, except maybe Shenandoah NP and New Jersey, where the maintaining clubs place bear boxes or poles at all shelters.

Out west in the Rockies, things are even more varied. When I taught for NOLS, bear protocol was a big part of every couse brief. In the Wind River range, we might bear bag or cliff hang as necessary. There was a time when we even simply consolidated food bags on the ground at a kitchen area away from tents.

In the Absarokas, just 100 miles away, we were in Brother Grizz's back yard. Here, we used the triangle method of cook one place, hang another, and camp in a third. We slept with bear spray and required hikers to change clothing if they spilled food on themselves.

In the Lemhi range in Idaho, another mere 100 miles from the Absarokas, bears were so low a priority, we simply stacked food bags on the ground. We never had so much as a nibble.

It pays to know your region. In the southeast, I'll drape my food bag where I can see it from my hammock. If something goes after it, I want to know. I've encountered black bears dozens of times in the mountains, but only twice has one entered my camp. Both times were in the Rockies, I chased them away with relative ease.

Unless, I'm in a high-impact area, I'll go for the simplest hang that will keep small critters away. That often means a branch a few feet off the ground. But particularly here in the southeast, the possibility of bears is just not worth the probability of hurting yourself launching a rock and cord into the higher branches of a tree.
_________________________
http://www.trailjournals.com/BearpawAT99/

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12/10/17 01:06 PM
How cheap can you go?
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12/05/17 07:07 PM
Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
Greetings - and a question
by valongi
Yesterday at 11:35 AM
Just found out about UCO candles
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11/30/17 08:41 AM
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Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
Plant based insulation...
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11/18/17 02:58 PM
lightest grommets to use
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