Predators?????????

Discussion in 'Backpack Hunting' started by jeff 300, Oct 4, 2008.

  1. jeff 300

    jeff 300 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    882
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2005
    what do you do when hunting/camping at night to stay safe from wolves/bear??????? is there some standard way of doing things. i know about keeping all the meat blood away from camp. but there out running at night looking for a ezee meal. a guy sleeping in a sleeping bag sounds like one to me?????????? has any one ever had trouble with this?????????
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2008
  2. Wlfdg

    Wlfdg Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    267
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    Wolves aren't really an issue.

    Bears can be. You have to keep a clean camp, store food at least 500 ft. away from sleeping area, preferably in a bear canister and hung at least 20' off the ground and 20' out from tree trunk. You should also hang bloody clothes, toothpaste, etc. with food. Food prep area should be at least 500' from sleeping and food storage in a triangle.

    It's not a good idea to sleep under the stars. A tent seems to be a barrier of sorts. Some experts say a tarp is better because it offers an unimpeded shot for bear spray.

    You want to be as scent free as possible. If not hunting, things like cologne, strong deodorants, perfume, food smells etc.. can attract a bear. Same goes for hiking.

    Keep bear spray close at hand light bulb.
     

  3. linksmechanic

    linksmechanic Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    668
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2007
    I tend to keep a 460 s&w at hand.
     
  4. Guy M

    Guy M Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    574
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2007
    It's interesting this bear/wolf/mountain lion concern - and attacks happen often enough that it's worth being concerned.

    That said, I've hiked, backpacked and traveled the wilderness for most of my fifty-odd years with very few problems with predatory animals. One time in Alaska a smallish black bear tore into our cooking area in the night and made quite a racket banging things around, looking for food. We scared him off easily enough, we were fishing and backpacking, not hunting.

    Took these photos a few weeks ago on another fishing trip to Alaska. The presence of big bears does get my attention:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I don't recall seeing a wolf in the wild, although the possibility of that happening has become far stronger in the past ten years. I've heard them though. Quite a sound when backpacking alone or in a small group. Have come across a few cougars over the years - feel very lucky to have seen several of them in the wild. They never bothered me any, although after seeing one I do find myself looking around a little more, and over my shoulder quite a bit! Bears seem by far the most likely big predator to come into camp.

    Some fine advice already posted above. Here's a few of my thoughts:

    Travel in a group. I often violate this one - preferring sometimes to hike, ski, camp, fish and hunt alone - but am sure it's safer in a group.

    Keep a clean camp. All food, and anything else that might attract bears & such should be kept well away from camp. Clean fish well away from camp. Any clothing that has the fish scent, or blood on it should be kept away from camp if possible. Sometimes when I'm backpacking, I have only one set of clothes and I'm not really into wandering around camp naked with my clothes 500 feet away, up a tree.

    I do recall being a bit nervous after taking a nice bull elk, and getting all the meat down off the mountain and into camp. My partner slept with his .454 close to hand, and I kept my .44 and flashlight right next to my bag.

    Tent or bivvy? Somehow that thin layer of nylon that a tent has seems to provide a bit of peace of mind. When I just lay there on the ground in my bivvy bag, I do feel a little exposed. Sort of like that old cartoon showing the backpackers all sleeping in their mummy bags and two bears looking at them saying "Look, tacos!" Is the tent really any safer? I don't know, but I sleep easier in it in the wilderness. Time to time though I save myself the weight and just use the bivvy bag - particularly in decent summer weather.

    Bear spray - despite all the jokes - it has been proven effective. I've never used it, but am impressed with the stories about how well it can work. Will it always work? Nothing is "always" effective.

    Bells on my pack - if not hunting, I don't mind making some noise while hiking through bear country. Again - lots of jokes about "dinner bells" as well as pepper scented bells in the bear scat... Yeah, okay. Good jokes. Still, a little man-made noise while hiking does serve to let the bear know you're approaching - avoids surprising the bear and scaring it into aggressive behavior.

    A good stout handgun. Keep it with you. A friend of mine was making multiple trips on foot to set up his hunting camp. Came in with one load still on his backpack, and was charged by a medium size black bear in his camp. He shot the bear dead with his .45 sidearm. Was it a false charge? Was it the real thing? Who knows? He was told later by the game warden (yes he advised them that he'd had to kill a bear out of season) that there had been reports of a bear charging backpackers in that area. The backpackers would drop their packs and flee and the bear would enjoy the goodies he found inside their packs. Seems to me that the bear finally confronted the wrong backpacker!

    I've backpacked, fished and hunted in grizzly and brown bear country too and have been advised by others who frequent such country to keep a good strong handgun with me at all times while doing so. A rifle has more power, but the handgun can always be on your person. Minimum that has been recommended to me while in bear country is a .44 mag with heavy bullets. In black bear country I feel adequately armed with my .357 mag, and it's a whole lot easier to carry. I've got a .500 S&W, but it's so bulky and heavy, I don't seriously consider hauling it along while backpacking. I'm usually trying to minimize the weight I carry, not haul along S&W's howitzer. Never shot a bear myself, so I'll defer all the arguments about which handgun and bullet combo to those who have. In grizzly country I carry a .44 loaded with 300 grain bullets. Seems a reasonable precaution.

    Check in with the local ranger ahead of time. Is there a "problem" bear in the area? Might be worthwhile knowing...

    Once, hunting and just bumming around in Wyoming, I came upon a series of drive-to campsites where signs were posted, advising that tents were not allowed, campers had to have "hard side" trailers to legally camp there - the grizzly problem in that area was well documented and folks were quite concerned about the big bruins. Locals advised against backpacking in and hunting alone. I took their advice and rented a small cabin as my hunting base. Asked how the locals hunt the area, and learned that they usually go in by horseback, in a group, and that having several hunters and horses tends to discourage bear trouble.

    Hmmm. Typed too much. It's a topic that sparked my interest long ago and I've given it some thought over the years.

    Regards, Guy
     
  5. Wlfdg

    Wlfdg Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    267
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008

    I've seen wolves in the wild. It's quite a sight.
    My girl and I were just out scouting with our wolfdog a few nights ago and had a mtn.lion stalk us for 3 mi. About 500 yds. from the truck he got within 40 yds. Our wolfdog tucked his tail and began to sprint. Lions are the only thing here he is afraid of. I called him back and walked the rest of the way cocked,locked and ready to rock.

    I often travel alone in grizz country. When not big game hunting I have my dogs with me. The wolfdog is super aware of animals. More than once he has stopped a potential disaster.

    I always carry a set of clothes just for camp.

    Here's a good article bear spray. I've never had to use it but I've had a dozen or so close encounters with grizzlies. None negative, only 2 bluff charges. Both same bear,same day.
    Predator Xtreme :: Brought to you by Grand View Media

    Bells actually attract bears out of curiosity. Your voice is best.

    Glacier Park,MT rangers told me bears are afraid of people on horseback. The thought is that them being nearsighted and the size of a rider and horse intimidates them.

    Chris
     
  6. Troutslayer

    Troutslayer Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    278
    Joined:
    May 12, 2005
    I wouldn't worry about wolves.

    I've backpacked through a lot of griz country and have never had any problems in camp. Accidentally ended up about 10 feet from one last summer in the worst scenario possible. Thick cover, next to running water, wind in my face. That bear saw me, turned and went the other way. Maybe he noticed the .44 I was fumbling to draw and aim, but that was about as bad as a situation could be and he chose not to fight. I buy good quality cord from an outdoor store that is rated for several hundred pounds but still small in diameter and I'll use it to hang my bear bag high and away from camp. Just be aware. Try not to leave your kill and if you do, leave it in an area that you can visibly approach from quite a distance. Bear encounters seem to be more common in the last couple of years as the Yellowstone basin population grows and expands it's range, but I also suspect that there are more stupid people out in the woods. Have bear spray handy. You'll be in a world of hurt if you shoot a bear that wasn't really a danger to your well being, they will investigate so I recommend lethal force only when appropriate (which is almost never). I don't think bears look at us as an easy meal or there would be a lot more encounters.

    I would worry about hypothermia, trauma, and other more common ways you could die in the woods.
     
  7. CSB

    CSB Member

    Messages:
    11
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2008
    Ive never had any issues with bears and nobody I know personally has had any either. I could be very wrong but I feel like my odds of getting struck by lightning in the high country are shorter than my odds of getting attacked by a bear. Obviously if I lived in true bear country Id be concerned.
     
  8. Wlfdg

    Wlfdg Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    267
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    I would say you are right on both accounts. Getting struck by lightning up high is a real problem. Know of more than a few people who have been indirectly struck. It's rough!

    If you live in grizz country that concern is ever present. But no more so than lions, bison or moose. All 4 can wreck your day!
     
  9. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,902
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Re: Bears

    This summer in particular, there were several joggers and some on bicycles that were mauled by brown bears in the Anchorage area of Alaska. The past couple of years there have been joggers mauled by brown bears on the Kenai Peninsula near where I live. It's believed the joggers and bicyclist surprised sows with cubs in most all of these situations. Although about 5 yrs ago an older lady and her 40 yr old son were killed will jogging on a mountain trail just south of Anchorage by a bear that had a dead animal down adjacent to the trail. One son/grandson survived by climbing a tree, and was able to recount the story.

    I've hunted and trapped in Alaska since 1978. I basically never head out off the road without a firearm. I try not to do stupid stuff like camping along salmon streams in the summer/fall. I've never purchased a can of pepper spray, but I would recommend that instead of a firearm to anyone that wasn't both comfortable and competent with firearms. Pepper spray works just about all the time if you hit the bear in the face at close range with a solid blast of spray.

    I'm not going to mention wolves because I don't believe them to pose any significant risk, however as I said, I'm always armed. I've never been attacked by a bear, but I had a black bear stalk me two springs ago. He came up from down wind and when I saw him he was about 12 yds away. He continued to within about 20 feet of me looking at me and smelling as he continued his approach. I had to reach behind me to grab my rifle, and by the time I was ready to shoot he was standing broadside at 20 feet. I shot him with a 7mm RM, 160 gr Nosler AB. He ran about 20 yds and dropped. I was bear hunting at the time, taking a nap in the evening sun. I had heard a noise like a cough and about 10 minutes later when I raised my head up, I could just begin to see the bears ears and forehead coming into view just off the knoll I was lying on. Don't nap when you're in bear country unless you have a firearm at your side or in your arms. I don't know what that bear would have done if I hadn't looked up, but I'm glad I didn't have to find out the hard way.

    Anyhow, there's been good advice given by Wlfdg. But that advice is often hard to follow in Alaska, where the hunts are multiple days long and you're living off your backpack remote from any form of civilization. Especially once an animal has been killed. In many areas there aren't any trees to hang the meat in. Camping with meat nearby and some bloody clothes gets a bit more exciting. I've camped with sheep, goat, caribou, and moose meat beside my tent on various different hunts. I prefer not to, but sometimes that's just the way it's been. I try to wear Dr. exam type gloves to keep my hands clean when skinning and butchering game. I do my best to keep from smelling up my boots and clothes, but I'm never spic-n-span clean by the time I'm done.

    Night time is the worst on one's nerves, when we can't see, and they can. I always try to have a decent flashlight for shining bears at night, should I have the need. Fortunately, I never have. I always have a loaded weapon by my side. Never had to fight it out at night yet. But I've known guys who could hear the bears prowling around outside there tents at night. One guy got so freaked he fired his rifle up through the top of his tent to scare the bear away. As I recall, it worked for a while. Also left a hole through the tent.

    Some bears are curious, some defensive of cubs or food caches, some are mean, some are hungry, but for the most part, they don't want anything to do with us. Regardless of the favorable odds though, all it takes is one bad-a$$ bear to maim or kill you, unless you're properly armed and able to defend yourself. I don't let the fear keep me from hunting. I just try to keep the odds stacked in my favor in case I do bump into a snotty bear. My worst nightmare is bumping into some tiny little cubs... you know mama is nearby and won't be one bit happy. So far I've been lucky and not encountered this. A friend of mine did just 3 weekends ago. He walked past a cub brown bear and didn't see or hear it until after he'd passed it on the trail. Then he heard the cub as it moved towards the trail he'd just walked down. Next thing he heard was a bigger bear up the hill side ~ 40 yds away, off in the brush (mama). When the cub turned back away from the foot trail, he snuck past it and took off with pistol in hand. Neither bear even knew he was there until after he snuck off. He left for the day and decided to climb that trail the following day instead. He was spooked pretty good and I would have been too. If that cub had let out a bawl it could have gotten ugly real quick.

    Enough rambling. Be cautious, but don't let it keep you out of the woods.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2008
  10. Wlfdg

    Wlfdg Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    267
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    That's a lucky and determined man.

    Phorwath, To add to your buddy shooting through his tent. A few yrs. ago in NW Montana I had a eye opener. Had everything hung up about 250 yds. from the campsite. Made a game pole, 20' up, 20' out. Woke up just before dawn and my tent wall was stretched over my stomach. Grizz was sniffing me through the tent wall. I just laid still, ready to put a round in his head from about 2 in., through the tent. The best paw print was a left front an inch from my head on the opposite side of a sheet of nylon.:rolleyes: Print was about 8" across and about 8+" to the tip of the claws.
    That was my first of a dozen up close and personal experiences with the grizzled bear.
     
  11. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,902
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Re: Bears

    I'll tell you what. Some of the most dangerous grizzlies around are the ones that live in an area where hunting is prohibited. There's always a few bears that get used to being around people and eventually some of them become the most dangerous of all. Imagine if a sow raises her cubs in the near proximity of humans. The cubs are taught there's nothing to fear by the actions of the mama bear. When those cubs grow up and the sow kicks them out on their own, watch out.

    Since the annual fall bear season was eliminated on the Kenai Peninsula where I live about 7 years ago, we have more bear problems than ever. There are now more bears killed in defense of life and property than ever used to be killed during the hunting season. The best way to manage problem bears is to allow some hunting. Those bears without a healthy fear of humans will be amongst the first to be cropped.

    Once a bear loses its fear of humans a few of them will continue to push their luck living off livestock, or miscellaneous garbage, destroying property in the process, or attack someone. Most often they eventually end up being shot and killed, but sometimes not until a few people pay the price of a mauling.

    I didn't really used to care to visit the national parks in the past because you're not allowed to carry a firearm. Now that pepper spray is available, I would feel pretty safe.

    My brothers once tied a cross-pole between two large spruce trees and hung their moose quarters off that cross-pole, well off the ground and too far for a bear to reach from either supporting spruce tree. When they came back with horses a couple of days later, all the moose quarters had been ripped off the cross-pole. A black bear had evidently scooted out on the cross-pole until it could reach each of the quarters and then just hung on them until the quarters were ripped down. So try as you might, sometimes it's tough to keep your meat out of the mouths of bears. At times I just load my guns to the gills with premium bullets and prepare for Custer's Last Stand with the meat right in camp. gun) gun) gun)

    Bear season is often open anyhow, so if I have to shoot a bear it's a legal kill. In the lower 48, it would be a lot different. Hang that meat way up out of their reach!
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2008
  12. jeff 300

    jeff 300 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    882
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2005
    if you could just lay there with out shooting. i don't know how you walk around with them monsters hanging there. one cool headed person you are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! either that are you couldn't move with that vacuum you had on the ground!!!!!!!!!! either way cool headed to say the least!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  13. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,902
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Wlfdg,
    Bet that was a real adrenaline rush! I'd have put in some ear plugs and pasted that grizzly while I had the upper hand. gun) That bear intruded on your space, lacking any respect for your presence. That warrants a trip straight to bear heaven in my book, regardless of the bear's protected status. I claim priority protected status above and beyond any bears. :D