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  1. #21
    Registered User ggreaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randall_mcduberson View Post
    I can't help but notice the large number of posts regarding campsites being closed due to bears. I think Strategic put it perfectly that it is not so much an issue of the bear eating your food or attacking you, but rather the bears seeing it as a food source/opportunity. I, for one, could not care less about your food. After all, it is YOUR food, not mine. But if campsites that I want to use are being closed due to bears seeing them as a potential food source, and the solution that is being suggested by the people who's job it is to manage these areas is to hang my food, then I will hang my food.

    I think this is an issue of problem framing. Are you trying to protect your food or are you trying to reduce impact and prevent the attraction of animals to campsites. The question may change your answer. Perhaps a bear canister is the solution to your problem?

    I congratulate everyone who has never lost their food to a bear. I am sure you are responsibly controlling your food and trash in order to minimize your impact. The unfortunate thing is that some are not responsible, and see you keeping your food in your tent as an excuse to not hang their own food. This isn't the root of the problem, but that does not make it any less true.

    I find "it is how I have always done it" to be a lazy answer to this. I will admit that change is difficult, and I am rarely surprised but still frustrated when people do things solely because of convenience.
    If there was a "like" button, I would have pressed it.

  2. #22
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    We thru hiked last year. Hung our food every night, or used Bear boxes where provided. One night in a shelter we hung from the rafters, because of warnings everywhere about flying squirrels getting into bags hung in trees. Our food was important to us, and I didn’t want to share it with mice or bears. As far as sleeping with it in my tent, I think it was less that I was afraid of bears, as I just didn’t want the hassle of being awaken in the middle of the night by one trying to get into my tent for my food. My sleep was important to me too...

  3. #23
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    We thru hiked last year. Hung our food every night, or used Bear boxes where provided. One night in a shelter we hung from the rafters, because of warnings everywhere about flying squirrels getting into bags hung in trees. Our food was important to us, and I didnít want to share it with mice or bears. As far as sleeping with it in my tent, I think it was less that I was afraid of bears, as I just didnít want the hassle of being awaken in the middle of the night by one trying to get into my tent for my food. My sleep was important to me too...

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Not true.

    Do not confuse issues.

    Your food is always safest with you.

    You, on the other hand, are theoretically safer with your food somewhere else.

    These are two totally different things.

    Several years ago Mountain Crossings kept a tally when the bear problem was at its peak at Blood Mountain. The tally at one point was was something like.... Food lost when hanging ... 78. Food loss when sleeping with it...0.

    Another truism... A poor hang, is worse than no hang at all. They hang has to be darn near perfect to be bear resistant. Good trees are hard to find.
    This is my point. A poor hang is bound to create problems, Most hikers are not capable of hanging their food in such a manner to prevent it being taken by a bear. A review of bear activity will show that bears do not take food that is next to a person. I've seen many bears take food from bear hangs. I was at Black Mountain in 2011 and I advised my fellow campers not to hang their food and was ignored. The bears took their food from the trees and I just shook my head. My belief is that a hanged food bag is a invitation to the bear to take the food. Sleeping with your food is not an invitation for the bear to harm you. In my research I've have found no incidents of bears harming the hiker sleeping with their food. So the one's that say hang your food need to look at the history of bear incidents and reevaluate their advice.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredt4 View Post
    This is my point. A poor hang is bound to create problems, Most hikers are not capable of hanging their food in such a manner to prevent it being taken by a bear. A review of bear activity will show that bears do not take food that is next to a person. I've seen many bears take food from bear hangs. I was at Black Mountain in 2011 and I advised my fellow campers not to hang their food and was ignored. The bears took their food from the trees and I just shook my head. My belief is that a hanged food bag is a invitation to the bear to take the food. Sleeping with your food is not an invitation for the bear to harm you. In my research I've have found no incidents of bears harming the hiker sleeping with their food. So the one's that say hang your food need to look at the history of bear incidents and reevaluate their advice.
    If you believe it is perfectly safe to sleep with your food, then what do you believe is the primary cause of bear attacks?

    Is a bag hung 10 feet off the ground and 10 feet from the trunk of the tree sufficient?

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    In my research I've have found no incidents of bears harming the hiker sleeping with their food.



    what about the people who had bears harming them or enter their tents who claimed they didn't have food with them while they were sleeping?

    i can think of three right off the top of my head without thinking---the kid in a hammock in hazel creek, this years Thomas knob tent, and the guy up at Spence field in a tent.....

  7. #27
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    I've only been reading about hanging food for a few years but the one thing I have never seen mentioned is a direct side effect of hanging food vs keeping it in your tent...odor control. Hung, your food smells are almost certainly going to be broadcast over a large area if there is any air movement.
    On the opposite end of that spectrum, food in a sack or container, in a back pack, in a tent on the ground is inherently less likely to broadcast its odors as far and wide. My take is food in your tent is more likely to get the attention of rodents etc than bears.

    The only thing I'm sure of it is the only sure solution is to not bring food...brought to you by the guy with 9 days worth in his pack

  8. #28

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    Bears are going to smell your food, hung or not. Using "odor proof" sealed bags will help, a little, but bears have very, very keen sense of smell.

  9. #29

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    If there is a cable, pole, box, etc., I use it, otherwise I sleep with it in my tent.

    A few times like in SNP or a real remote place I wasn't sure about I did hang a bear bag, but I am not confident in the quality of job I did (tried the 10 foot up an 10 foot out, but who knows).
    The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
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  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    If you believe it is perfectly safe to sleep with your food, then what do you believe is the primary cause of bear attacks?

    Is a bag hung 10 feet off the ground and 10 feet from the trunk of the tree sufficient?
    What is the primary cause of bear attacks? That's an interesting question. I can tell what it isn't, food storage, proper or improper. An interesting article I've read, but wasn't able to relocate, in 2011 discuss the issue. No incidents were found to lead to bear attacks from the garbage sites to less obvious sites. The article discussed the rarity of incidents given the possibilities. Most attacks involved people who worked or otherwise intentionally involved themselves with bears. I note that no AT thru-hiker has ever been killed, or injured (pretty sure about this) by a bear. A few hikers have been killed nearby but it's a very small portion of the one's killed. If you examine the ones killed it's a few children and as I stated before persons intentionally involving themselves with bears, plus a couple of women. I believe the number is less than 1 per year. For hikers the result is that it's extremely unlikely that one will be attacked by a bear. So food storage is not about safety for the hiker. It's about controlling bear behavior. Now given this your concerns are not relevant. As to the question of a bag that's hung 10' by 10' is it sufficient. I will only observe that I've seen bears defeat many such hangs, though most are not as well hung. The reality is that most hikers can't or won't hang in such a fashion. I question the reasons for encouraging hikers to continue to hang when it's given that the hang will be defeated by the bears. A cable, bear box, bear pole can be and are very effective. But a food bag hung in a tree is not effective. Food kept by your side is effective. Food placed in a tent when you are not in the tent is not effective. As many have noted on this thread many hikers have been sleeping with their food. I don't see a slew of incidents of them being attacked by the bears. Most AT hikers, at least after the first couple of months, probably sleep with their food. Perhaps their telling us something about the non-existence of bear attacks. A more interesting question is in the following post, "what about the people who had bears harming them or entered their tents". As noted in most such incidents no food was kept in the tent or otherwise involved. Perhaps the bears didn't know someone was in the tent. Perhaps their keen sense of smell wasn't a factor. As to the incident of the kid in the hammock I believe the bear wasn't looking for food as much as it was thinking the person was it's food. Anyways it's a rarity in any event which I'm not able to explain.

  11. #31

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    Food in a tent is not effective, it's a higher stakes gamble. You are gambling that the bear will be afraid enough not to overcome it's urge to get into the tent, after your food. The bear does not want to kill you, it wants your food. Having done both, hang the bag and sleep with the food, I have realized these are not the answer. Bear cans are the answer because there is no wiggle room. There's no hang judgement and no worries about being injured by a bear determined to get your food you are sleeping with. Just put the food, toothpaste, et al in the can and lock it.

    A little something about researching these incidents, from personal experience. The Forest and Park Services are not going to post when a bear gets in to someones tent. Usually you find out second hand and it's often not posted all over the Internet. They stick to the rules established, hang your food or place it in a locked container.

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by randall_mcduberson View Post
    I can't help but notice the large number of posts regarding campsites being closed due to bears. I think Strategic put it perfectly that it is not so much an issue of the bear eating your food or attacking you, but rather the bears seeing it as a food source/opportunity. I, for one, could not care less about your food. After all, it is YOUR food, not mine. But if campsites that I want to use are being closed due to bears seeing them as a potential food source, and the solution that is being suggested by the people who's job it is to manage these areas is to hang my food, then I will hang my food.

    I think this is an issue of problem framing. Are you trying to protect your food or are you trying to reduce impact and prevent the attraction of animals to campsites. The question may change your answer. Perhaps a bear canister is the solution to your problem?

    I congratulate everyone who has never lost their food to a bear. I am sure you are responsibly controlling your food and trash in order to minimize your impact. The unfortunate thing is that some are not responsible, and see you keeping your food in your tent as an excuse to not hang their own food. This isn't the root of the problem, but that does not make it any less true.

    I find "it is how I have always done it" to be a lazy answer to this. I will admit that change is difficult, and I am rarely surprised but still frustrated when people do things solely because of convenience.
    Beautifully explained!

  13. #33
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    Most attacks involved people who worked or otherwise intentionally involved themselves with bears


    ill disagree..

    the two fatal attacks that we have had, one in GSMNP and one in cherokee national forest, one of those was a lady on a day hike...

    the other was a kid who's family was having a picnic.......

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    ill disagree..

    the two fatal attacks that we have had, one in GSMNP and one in cherokee national forest, one of those was a lady on a day hike...

    the other was a kid who's family was having a picnic.......
    Notice that I didn't say all, just used "most". While you may disagree the truth is still relevant. Most attacks don't involve hikers but perhaps you wish to see it all all the attacks involved hikers. Your perception only clouds the issue. Most people say that you shouldn't sleep with your food because they see the issue as you do. But once you see the issue as it really is then one can understand why hanging is a bad solution.

  15. #35
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    This is from an actual experience conveyed by a backpacker I came upon at a shelter. For a couple of miles, I had been seeing signs about bear activity at nearby shelters. It was raining when I came upon the next shelter and there was a backpacker sitting by the fire ring in his raincoat. I asked him if he had stayed at the shelter the previous night and if he had seen any bear activity. He told me that he had not seen bear activity at the SHELTER, but the previous night, he had stayed in his tent on the ridge a short distance back. He said that a bear had tried to get into his tent. I asked him where he had his food, and he replied, "in my tent." The look on my face must have conveyed my surprise at what I considered an unwise practice. So he offered, "well, what are you gonna do? It got to my site late, after dark, so I didn't hang." I thought, "you do ANYTHING but that" (keep your food in your tent), but I didn't say anything. The guy seemed a little shaken by the experience. My own thinking is that an bear encounter like the one he experienced presents a significant danger. I've always hung my food (PCT method), and will continue to do so. My order of preference is bear box (provided at the shelter), bear pole, bear cables, PCT method. Only one time when I had none of these options, I stashed my food bag (with Opsack) a distance away from my tent under a log, covered with leaves and duff. The night was without incident.

    I go along with many of the other comments that you are protecting against (in this order): a bear threat to you personally, creating a bear problem for others, endangering the bear, losing your food.

    Sometimes when I see the tuna can hangs in a shelter, no bear boxes, cables, poles, or signs warning of bear activity, I will hang my food in a shelter (though I'm still a little wary, especially when alone). But I would NEVER sleep with my food in my tent.

    I'd be curious to hear from those who have lost their food when hung if they used the PCT method. I consider that method to be adequately safe, and try to use the recommended 12 feet high and 6 feet from the trunk of the tree. I certainly can relate to the difficulty of finding a good bear bag limb, though.

  16. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    what about the people who had bears harming them or enter their tents who claimed they didn't have food with them while they were sleeping?

    i can think of three right off the top of my head without thinking---the kid in a hammock in hazel creek, this years Thomas knob tent, and the guy up at Spence field in a tent.....
    Who up near Thomas Knob had a bear enter their tent?

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoRoads View Post
    Sometimes when I see the tuna can hangs in a shelter, no bear boxes, cables, poles, or signs warning of bear activity, I will hang my food in a shelter (though I'm still a little wary, especially when alone). But I would NEVER sleep with my food in my tent.
    This is where I get confused -- and please do not take me as being snarky or argumentative; this is a genuine question: what is the difference between hanging your food in a shelter vs. keeping it in your tent?

    As for myself, I know full well that my hanging skills are near zero, and I believe that a poor hang is worse than no hang at all. I use an Ursack/OPsack combination. Most of the time I sleep with my food in my tent, however if I'm in an area with known or obvious bear activity (or if I just have an uneasy feeling), I tie my Ursack to a tree. On the couple of occasions when I've stayed in a shelter, I've put the sack up the pole out of respect for the others who were there and adamant about hanging their food.
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  18. #38
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    Bear encounters are just like people encounters- you have no way of knowing what you'll get. If you want to be "protected" by statistics, you have nothing to worry about. If you want to be sure you are not the lottery winner, you might not want to keep food in your tent. I'll admit to be being one of "those" guys, despite having a bear try to abscond with our cooler/food at Canaan Valley campsite.
    Woken in the middle of the night by(I thougth) some idiot rifling thru an ice filled cooler across the loop road, I tell my worried wife its not a bear(she wanted to have bear spray, but even the management said not needed) only to exit our BA CS3 and be facing a 200lb bear with its paws on our cooler on the picnic table less than 15' away. I froze for a second then manned up and yelled and waved my arms...it trundled off knocking the cooler off the table. We later that day,saw the bear cruising around the perimeter of the camp site and finally heard that the Rangers had scared it off with rubber bullets. Needless to say my wife has never let me live it down, but that having been about my 5th close encounter with bears(Whistler and Snowshoe multiple times) I'm a bit jaded. So I go with the flow- hang if available, box if available and camp with it when there is no reported activity.
    I feel there is no reason for either fear nor ignoring the possibility of being unlucky, if you can mitigate the small risk, why not? If not, being fearful is the wrong state of mind for LD hiking and camping, the odds of a very unpleasant bear encounter are less than that of being injured, assaulted or other bad situation. LNT aside, we are intruding into their habitat, and as such we can only do so much when we choose to disrupt nature. I can see the very act of hanging as training some bears to out wit our methods, yet its statistically more effective than leaving your food out. Many answers, none perfect.

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoRoads View Post
    This is from an actual experience conveyed by a backpacker I came upon at a shelter. For a couple of miles, I had been seeing signs about bear activity at nearby shelters. It was raining when I came upon the next shelter and there was a backpacker sitting by the fire ring in his raincoat. I asked him if he had stayed at the shelter the previous night and if he had seen any bear activity. He told me that he had not seen bear activity at the SHELTER, but the previous night, he had stayed in his tent on the ridge a short distance back. He said that a bear had tried to get into his tent. .

    I'm just going to point out that if a bear actually tried to get into the tent, the bear would have succeeded. No doubt the bear was curious sniffing around, maybe testing to see if the person was awake or willing to defend the food. But the fact is it wasn't willing to confront a person to get it.

    Without a doubt a bear will take food that it thinks it can get without confrontation by human. They will Bluff to get you to abandon food and packs and back away. They will sneakily take things that are just feet out of your reach. It's not that it's "in a tent ", its that it is under control of a person , and they must be willing to fight that person for it.

    Shortly after the blood Mountain issues, a couple of females camped together a little ways past Neel Gap.
    They pitched their tents together , put their food in one, and slept together in the other. They posted on here from trail for help when the bear ripped up the other tent and took the food. They left in night and hiked 2 miles back to neel gap. The next day they came back with food and they found that the bear had ripped up their gear they had left behind as well.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 05-27-2018 at 12:58.
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  20. #40
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    Dead on MuddyWaters, bears(especially mature ones) are very opportunistic and unless they are sick or otherwise not normal, avoid confrontation. One merely has to observe the many videos of hunters in their tree stands who are "visited" by bears to realize they are not into confronting but are curious and when young, not yet experienced enough to know to avoid humans.

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