Re: Bear proofing
I've often not taken all the precautions commonly recommended. Not saying they're not good practice. For example, when I'm sheep hunting there are no trees to hang stuff in. And after I've shot and field dressed an animal and have meat, hide and skull in my pack, it's pretty tough not to smell like a Dall sheep when I'm overnighting 5 miles from base camp. I sleep with the rifle loaded and a flashlight at the ready. It does cause anxiety. There are bears basically everywhere I hunt and spike camp. I do what I can reasonably do, to prevent luring them in to my tent site for a meal. And then I try to always be prepared to defend myself if I haven't done enough.
I was hunting black bear about 6 springs ago, and was lying on my back taking a nap on the mountainside after several hours of glassing the hillsides. I would periodically lift my head up to view the openings in the alders. Around 4 pm I lifted my head and was scanning the openings several hundred yards in front of me when I saw two black ear tips come into view 12 yards directly down wind of me. I knew these belonged to a black bear, and sure enough the next thing happens is the bear takes another step or two up towards the knoll I'm napping on and his forehead comes into view. I'd leaned my rifle against a scrub branch about 8 feet away from me and my first thought was - great, I'll never get to my rifle before this bear runs off into the alders. However the bear is staring directly at me and continues to approach. Next thing I'm thinking is great, this bear could be on me before I'm able to get to my rifle. I couldn't tell if the bear was curious or evil. I slowly scooted over to my rifle with the bear in plain sight - now about 8 yards away. I got the rifle in my hands and readied it for action. The bear veered broadside to me at about 20 feet. I rather quickly brought my rifle up to the ready and the bear feigned as if he was going to bolt at these motions I'd made, but the next thing happens it squares back off with me and stares at me like a dog prepping for a fight. I'd seen enough at that point and pasted him just aft of the shoulders through both lungs. The bear jumped ahead and off into the alders. He was an average sized boar, and died within 35 yards of my position.
Just an example of what can happen in short order when a guy lets his guard down. I no longer nap without a firearm within easy reach. I'd been lying at this location for a couple hours before this bear followed my scent trail in from down wind. Still don't know what his intentions were, but I'd lost curiosity after he squared off with me and gave me the dog confrontation/fight stare. My lesson from this experience was: bad encounters with bears can happen on their terms and timing - not necessarily ours. Need to be prepared. . .
Keeping a clean camp is certainly good advice. I've tented any number of times with game meat in the immediate vicinity of my tent-camps because the options were so limited. I sleep less soundly when doing so.