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  1. #1
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    Default Safer to sleep near shelters or away from them?

    I was told that if I slept near a shelter that I would be more vulnerable to bears as they "know to come there for food" rather than sleeping away from shelters, is this true? Also, if a bear is sniffing around your tent at night, do you just stay quiet and pray or do you attempt to scare it off by making some noise or shining a light? Thank you. Sorry for the seemingly stupid questions, this will be my first section hike and I would like to make it back to my children alive!

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    Generally, the camp areas that have the most use (shelters) have the most food aroma around them. That's where the critters are more likely to be, from squirrels to bears. Just my humble opinion but bear scare is way over rated.

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    Registered User Sir-Packs-Alot's Avatar
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    I agree Pingus - I think the bear scare is overratted as well - the scariest thing really is from the bear's side of things - not ours. If they become too much of a nuisance and have to be euthanized that is.... it's a scary situation for the poor creatures that are just fast learners and finding the highest calorie content they can - where they can. Obviously - concentration is an issue for an animal that's got a sense of smell 2,300 times better than ours - and is smart ... ie - odds less likely to see a bear away from the shelters (especially at busy times of year). Just use approved campsites please!

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    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Unless you tie a dead chicken to your foot or sleep with a lot of candy in the bottom of your sleeping bag... the bears are more scared of your hiker funk.
    Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.

    Woo

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    I agree that much of this is overblown, but I would like to know what to do if the situation arises. I only plan on using approved areas, but I am trying to decide to camp near or away from shelters. I appreciate your advice. Thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TSWisla View Post
    Also, if a bear is sniffing around your tent at night, do you just stay quiet and pray or do you attempt to scare it off by making some noise or shining a light?
    Scare it off.

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    In most NF along the trail you are allowed to camp where you please. Just practice LNT. If a bear finds an easy source of food he will return. If you really want to minimize chance of an night time encounter eat before you camp for the night, less smell. If a bear does come around shout, clap your hands, bang pots & most likely it will run away. It even works with the pesky bears in parks out west. Normally enough easier food for them to find.

  8. #8
    Springer to Elk Park, NC/Andover to Katahdin
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    Quote Originally Posted by TSWisla View Post
    I would like to make it back to my children alive!
    According to the National Center for Statistics, 1980-1983, for every death caused by a black bear, 17 deaths are caused by spiders, 25 deaths caused by (from) snakes, 67 deaths from dogs, and 180 deaths from wasps and bees. On average, fewer than three people are killed every year by the more than 650,000 black bears in America. Surprisingly, Black Bear mothers rarely attack humans when defending their cubs.

    You have a 60,000 times greater chance of being murdered than being killed by a black bear.
    I am not young enough to know everything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthMark View Post
    According to the National Center for Statistics, 1980-1983, for every death caused by a black bear, 17 deaths are caused by spiders, 25 deaths caused by (from) snakes, 67 deaths from dogs, and 180 deaths from wasps and bees. On average, fewer than three people are killed every year by the more than 650,000 black bears in America. Surprisingly, Black Bear mothers rarely attack humans when defending their cubs.

    You have a 60,000 times greater chance of being murdered than being killed by a black bear.
    Good intentions, but a bad use of statistics.

    80% of United States citizens live in cities where there is virtually no interaction whatsoever between humans and bears. A small fraction of the population goes backpacking, and that small fraction spends a small fraction of the year going backpacking, and that small fraction of time may not even be in bear country.

    On the other hand, spiders, dogs, wasps and bees are everywhere. Snakes are less prevalent, but they're in a lot of cities too. Most of those are even kept as pets.

    I don't think anyone has put together halfway decent statistics for the threat of dangerous types of interactions.

    One statistic that I think is useful enough is that there has never been an attack by a black or brown bear on a group of four or more adult humans, so I think sleeping in a shelter would be safe. A bear may still walk right up to the shelter and steal a pack and food, but it probably wouldn't attack.

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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthMark View Post
    According to the National Center for Statistics, 1980-1983, for every death caused by a black bear, 17 deaths are caused by spiders, 25 deaths caused by (from) snakes, 67 deaths from dogs, and 180 deaths from wasps and bees. On average, fewer than three people are killed every year by the more than 650,000 black bears in America. Surprisingly, Black Bear mothers rarely attack humans when defending their cubs.

    You have a 60,000 times greater chance of being murdered than being killed by a black bear.
    I believe you on the attack piece but what about bears scaring a person to death. I couldn't handle waking up to a bear "mouthing" any part of my body or messing with any of my stuff at night. It would scare me to even realize that a bear was just hanging around.... I'm not alone in being "freaked out" by bears am I? I'm fine with bears seeing me and running away. I not a fan of trying to scare one away and it not acting afraid of me.

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    Just sleep with earplugs, and get over the fear of bears.

    Even a mouse, will sound like a bear to you in the leaves at night near your tent.

    Bears only want your food, if anything. Cant say I blame them.

    If I had to eat grubs, berries, and whatever else I could catch or scavenge, Id kill for a snickers.

  13. #13
    Registered User prain4u's Avatar
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    I would say there is a difference between being awake--and seeing a bear near camp. (Yes, make noise---hoot and holler. Make a racket).

    HOWEVER, if it is night time and a bear is sniffing right outside of your tent/tarp/hammock, I think the strategy has to be a bit different. I invite you to think like a bear for a moment. It is dark out. You are sniffing around for food and SUDDENLY something makes a loud noise and flashes a bright light in your face (temporarily blinding you). It is just a natural reflex for almost any animal to swipe theirr paw at the "thing" that just scared you and flashed a bright light in your eyes (or to get defensive/retaliatory in some way).

    Thus, if the bear is RIGHT outside of your tent/tarp--a more subtle and gradual approach of making noise or bringing on some light would probably be in order--as opposed to a sudden and startling approach.
    "A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world." - Paul Dudley White

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    Registered User Old Hiker's Avatar
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    I only heard a bear sniffing outside my tent one time in 500 milkes and that sound stopped everytime I quit whipping my head back and forth, trying to figure out which side of the tent it was on. Turns out it was my beard scratching across my sleeping bag.


    Never saw a living bear in 500 miles : from 29 Feb to 18 May, Springer to Thomas Knob shelter, less time off for injuries. Saw a couple of piles of scat, a few places where rotten logs had been clawed apart for grubs, saw LOTS of pictures, but no real bears.

    Decided not to worry.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthMark View Post
    According to the National Center for Statistics, 1980-1983, for every death caused by a black bear, 17 deaths are caused by spiders, 25 deaths caused by (from) snakes, 67 deaths from dogs, and 180 deaths from wasps and bees. On average, fewer than three people are killed every year by the more than 650,000 black bears in America. Surprisingly, Black Bear mothers rarely attack humans when defending their cubs.

    You have a 60,000 times greater chance of being murdered than being killed by a black bear.
    Have to agree with SouthMark on this one. I was hiking in SNP last July, and walked up on a mother with two cubs. They were about 75 yards away, we both saw each other at the same time. The mother turned and ran away from me, and the cubs shot up a tree lightning fast. They stayed there for about a minute, mom made a grunting aound, and the cubs came down and ran away with mom.

    As others have stated, I too believe the fear of black bears is overrated!! Brown bears or Grizzlies are another story.

  16. #16
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir-Packs-Alot View Post
    Just use approved campsites please!
    The only time you need to use "approved" campsites on the AT is in certain states, state parks, and in the Smokies (shelters). LNT rules apply for other sites.







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  17. #17
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    The only issue with bears are hikers not caring for their food properly. And campfire pits and shelters with trash. Alleviate this and the bear problem is gone.







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  18. #18

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    I have been "attacked" by a bear. It was my own fault. The approach people take for granted is that we are in their space. Respect it and they wont mess with you. Black Bears typically will go where a good food source is, shelters, campsites near roads and such and then have to be removed or put down because of us. If you get scared at the thought of a bear just hangin around, then dont turn on a headlamp in the middle of the night.
    Quote Originally Posted by HikerMomKD View Post
    I believe you on the attack piece but what about bears scaring a person to death. I couldn't handle waking up to a bear "mouthing" any part of my body or messing with any of my stuff at night. It would scare me to even realize that a bear was just hanging around.... I'm not alone in being "freaked out" by bears am I? I'm fine with bears seeing me and running away. I not a fan of trying to scare one away and it not acting afraid of me.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blissful View Post
    The only issue with bears are hikers not caring for their food properly. And campfire pits and shelters with trash. Alleviate this and the bear problem is gone.
    Wow that sounds like something a Ridgerunner would say

  20. #20

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    ......
    Quote Originally Posted by Sir-Packs-Alot View Post
    Just use approved campsites please!
    huh?

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