Sleeping in my Xterra in bear country. Where should I keep my food?

jacobconroy

Hillbilly of Leisure
This has been on my mind lately too (ever since they caught a Grizzly down in the valley where we live). Before that it was not really known if there were Grizzlies in our immediate area because it was classified as a "corridor" and not technically a "habitat". As we all know, when it comes to Grizzly relocations...Gov'ts lie though.

I have an RTT on my Jeep and one on my trailer, When with other, large groups of people I sleep on the trailer because the bed is more comfortable. When alone I sleep on the Jeep. Last year both my kitchen and fridge where in the back of the Jeep for convenience. This year the kitchen is stored in the trailer, but the fridge is still in the back of the Jeep. And yes, I cook in camp with a chuck box.

My current thought is that I should move the fridge to the trailer, so that all food smells will hopefully be contained in the trailer instead of being directly under the Jeep RTT where I am sleeping. I could also disconnect the trailer when at camp (leaving it 30 or so feet away from the Jeep). The trailer is a heavy steel 416-type (AT Overland Chaser). I think a bear would have one hell of a time getting into that trailer, but it might totally destroy the RTT on top of the trailer while trying.

I keep bear spray on me when at camp alone and in the RTT at night with handgun. I know that a .45 isn't enough handgun for bear protection and don't want to have that argument in this thread please. ;)

Like the OP, I'm open to hearing the thoughts of others about my setup and how I might do better. I've only seen two black bears in my life in this valley and the surrounding areas and have always purposely avoided areas around us that were KNOWN to contain grizzlies. New times now. There are grizzlies here.
 

Photomike

Explorer
First don't overthink this. Bears are not waiting for you so they can attack you and take your food. I live and work in bear country and have done so for most of my life. I see lots of bears (saw 4 last weekend walk past me as I had my breakfast outside, they were not interested in Shreddies) I have never had an issue with bears attacking for food. More damage is done to vehicles each year from sheep climbing on the hood for salt or from squirrels or from rodents then bears. The difference is that bears make good news.

There are things that you can do......
  1. Keep a clean campsite
  2. Check local notices about bear activity, if you are not comfortable move someplace else
  3. Dispose of garbage ASAP - garbage is more of an attractant then food sealed in cans, coolers or containers. I would hang my garbage faster than I would hang food when in a hard sided vehicle
  4. Do not eat in your sleeping area (seeing I have a kitchen in my van I break this daily). If a tent 150% NEVER keep food in there or EVER eat in there.
  5. If you are sleeping in something soft sided use food boxes or hang your food. Now this being said only a couple places that I know have this requirement if you are in a tent trailer or a pop up truck camper. Most tent trailers have fridges in them and people keep food in them when camping all the time
  6. Keep bear spray with you at night. No good keeping it in your vehicle if you are in a RTT, tent or a trailer
  7. Leave your guns at home. Gives a false sense of security. If it is a grizzly and you shoot it with a small gun you may make it madder than scared. A wounded hungry bear is a lot more dangerous then a hungry bear
  8. A great bear deterrent is your vehicle alarm or even just starting your vehicle if you have a remote.
If you are camping outside of a campground check around before setting up. Make sure you are not camping someplace that someone just dumped 10lbs of fish guts a couple hundred feet away a couple nights before.

A couple who visited me last weekend.

523967
 

shade

Well-known member
Nice shot!
How did you manage that while fondling your gun? :)
I'm checking out your blog now.

A great bear deterrent is your vehicle alarm or even just starting your vehicle if you have a remote.
That works for enormous bulls, too.

I was sleeping in my RTT at Wistaria Provincial Park and felt something rubbing against my truck. A herd of around twenty cows and one bull were making their morning rounds. The bull looked like it weighed as much as my truck. I don't know if my orange tent made a difference, but the bull wasn't happy about me being there, and kept hip checking the truck. A few locking beeps via the remote gave him something else to think about, and he finally moved off after bellowing for a minute.

Sounded like Smaug wanted in the tent.
 
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H3LV

New member
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned electric fences for bear-proofing a camp. Their use is quite wide spread here in Alaska. They are the best solution, IMHO, and not difficult to DIY.

Full disclaimer: I am in no way connected to any of these sites.
I thought about this as well, seems pretty effective
 

Photobug

Active member
Montana Grizzly Bear Notice:

In light of the rising frequency of human/grizzly bear
conflicts, the Montana Department of Fish and Game
is advising hikers, hunters, and fishermen to take extra
precautions and keep alert for bears while in the field.
We advise that outdoorsmen wear noisy little bells on
their clothing so as not to startle the bears that aren't
expecting them. We also advise outdoorsmen to carry
pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a
bear.

It is also a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear
activity. Outdoorsmen should recognize the difference
between black bear and grizzly bear poop. Black bear poop
is smaller and contains a lot of berry seeds and squirrel fur.
Grizzly bear poop has little bells in it and smells like pepper
spray.
 

6gun

Member
Hopefully this is not too off topic but I feel it ties in enough and this seems to be where the experts are. GF and I will be exploring around Lake City, Ouray, Telluride area first week of September. My experience leads me to believe this area is well enough traveled that bears will not be a huge issue. We will be sleeping in the camper top on the truck occasionally and we will have spray and ballistic protection. How much more "Bear Prepared" do we need to be? Food will be kept in my faux-yeti, should we just hang that and be done with it?
 

shade

Well-known member
Hopefully this is not too off topic but I feel it ties in enough and this seems to be where the experts are. GF and I will be exploring around Lake City, Ouray, Telluride area first week of September. My experience leads me to believe this area is well enough traveled that bears will not be a huge issue. We will be sleeping in the camper top on the truck occasionally and we will have spray and ballistic protection. How much more "Bear Prepared" do we need to be? Food will be kept in my faux-yeti, should we just hang that and be done with it?
The times I've been through that area, I haven't even seen a bear.

Ask the locals about recent bear activity when you arrive, keep a clean camp, keep your spray on you, and you should be fine.
 

workerdrone

Fulltimer
“More damage is done to vehicles each year from sheep climbing on the hood for salt or from squirrels or from rodents then bears...”

Yeah, right on, and you can definitely add porkies to this list too!
And vultures in the Everglades - can absolutely destroy plastic and rubber exterior parts in minutes while you hike a trail or go for a canoe ride..last time I was there they had piles of blue tarps and bungees that you could wrap your vehicle in lol525376
 
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Photomike

Explorer
And vultures in the Everglades - can absolutely destroy plastic and rubber exterior parts in minutes while you hike a trail or go for a canoe ride..last time I was there they had piles of blue tarps and bungees that you could wrap your vehicle in lolView attachment 525376
That is funny, okay not really. But for a photographer that tries and finds Vultures I am probably the best defense from that happening to me.

This morning I was woken at 6 am by a strange noise on the roof of my metal van roof. A scurrying noise and tapping. Could not figure out what it was but it was annoying. THEN it started tapping on my roof vent. I lowered the roof vent to see if that would scare it and it stopped tapping till I lowered it then it started again. So then I raised it, and it stopped tapping while I was raising it then started AGAIN!!!! Then it started screaming at me... it was a Raven or a Crow. Have never had a bear that annoying :D:D:D
 

workerdrone

Fulltimer
Heh, go to the Glades, you'll find your vultures.

The blue tarps are only a delaying mechanism. I'd have paid someone to stay by my rig and shoo them away rather than try to effectively wrap the whole thing in tarp 525458

Glades are a wildlife photog's paradise if the bugs don't photobomb you too much lol 525459
 

JaSAn

Active member
First some perspective:
The US has averaged 2 deaths and 20 emergency room visits a year over the last 20+ years due to bear attacks.​
In the same time period the US has averaged 70 deaths and 750,000 ER visits a year due to dog attacks.​
Bear attacks aren't that common.

A bigger problem is bears scavenging food from unoccupied vehicles and campers. My advice is to first talk to local authorities, be it NPS rangers, Forest Service office, BLM field stations, local Sheriffs and police. They know the problems in their areas (not just bears) and how they recommend (or demand) you deal with them. Otherwise, food in bear proof containers away from your vehicle is the only fool-proof solution.

jim

P.S. If you travel with a dog, learn to read its body language. They are much more aware of their surroundings than we are.
 

Photobug

Active member
Hopefully this is not too off topic but I feel it ties in enough and this seems to be where the experts are. GF and I will be exploring around Lake City, Ouray, Telluride area first week of September. My experience leads me to believe this area is well enough traveled that bears will not be a huge issue. We will be sleeping in the camper top on the truck occasionally and we will have spray and ballistic protection. How much more "Bear Prepared" do we need to be? Food will be kept in my faux-yeti, should we just hang that and be done with it?
Are you camping in rustic campground? If in a park or established campground in heavy bear country it will have bear boxes. Hanging food is a major pain. To do it right you need to have the food so high off the ground and so far from the trunk of the tree. You won't be able to do this with a cooler.
 

shade

Well-known member
Hopefully this is not too off topic but I feel it ties in enough and this seems to be where the experts are. GF and I will be exploring around Lake City, Ouray, Telluride area first week of September. My experience leads me to believe this area is well enough traveled that bears will not be a huge issue. We will be sleeping in the camper top on the truck occasionally and we will have spray and ballistic protection. How much more "Bear Prepared" do we need to be? Food will be kept in my faux-yeti, should we just hang that and be done with it?
Are you camping in rustic campground? If in a park or established campground in heavy bear country it will have bear boxes. Hanging food is a major pain. To do it right you need to have the food so high off the ground and so far from the trunk of the tree. You won't be able to do this with a cooler.
I agree. Outside the towns, there are some private campgrounds, but I think most people just pick a spot on federal land and call it home for the night.

This is a few miles south of Silverton. Why would I want to pay for a campground when this is free?

 
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