Hiking and fishing...tent or no tent???

Discussion in 'Camping, Hiking, Cooking' started by Mike Ediger, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. Just out of curiosity I wonder how many people here have actually had a negative encounter with a Bear or Cougar? I don't need to know if you saw one but has anyone suffered damage from a Bear while present? Had a mock charge or real one?

    Ever had a Bear go after your food or camp? Were you there?

    Just curious if maybe some of this stuff isn't taken to literally.

    I have had 3 BB take fish off my line in the the Queen Charlottes. Minimum distance about 15 feet. I have had one BB in the QC set up right behind me, about 6 feet and Wuff when I hooked a Silver. (no i didn't know it was there until I did a 6 foot high 180 :eek:)

    I have had to leave Salmon streams in BC and Alaska because of Brownies and Grizzlies, but not because of their actions but my sense of fear.

    Twice I Have had to shoot Grizzlies that charged me or my horse with evil intent. No apologies for that.
  2. Jc, I have had to get up and tighten other hammocks, but I've not had to tighten my Hennesy Hammocks in the middle of the night. On multi-night trips I might need to tighten them every couple of nights but I've never had the sagging problem with them. http://hennessyhammock.com/

    It takes a while to figure how to get any tent, tarp, hammock set-up tautly, find the correct space (ground/tree), adjust it for the weather, etc. but you're right, it's really just a matter of preference and experience level with a particular shelter. I'm a bit of a gear head so I have and use a variety of shelters. The downside is some only get used a few times/year so there is some set-up inefficiency as I re-familiarize myself with each ones idiosyncrasies but unless it's nasty weather, that's part of the fun for me.
  3. www.hennessyhammock.com/
    As for line tightening, I've never had to worry about it.
  4. Yep. Ten years ago last September at Shelter Creek Alaska, a tent camp on a small estuary roughly due west of Homer across Cook Inlet and below Lake Iliamna. Three partners and I rented the tent camp for a week from an outfitter who provided everything except food. One welcome feature was a large nylon rope cargo net that could be hoisted 20 feet up from a plank lashed between two conifers.

    We went fishing up the creek our first full day there and returned at lunch to find that a runt male yearling grizzly had shinnied up one of the trees and hooked the net with a claw and proceeded to chew a volleyball sized hole in one of our three coolers - the one with all our steaks, chops, sausage and chicken.


    My elk hunter cousin-in-law was so pissed he fired a warning shot at the bear who was standing about 75 feet away. That scared him off - temporarily.

    One night we awoke to hear him thrashing around in our camp. Three of us in our boxers confronted him: one holding a flashlight, the other our .45-70 and the third pounding on a frying pan with a hatchet as we watched him no more than 20 feet away trying to climb up the tree and mug our net again for another meal. In the morning we found evidence of his foraging in a roll of paper towels with a huge bite mark.


    There were plenty of other bears around, but that one runt hassled us every day and night. He eventually gave up on trying to snag the other coolers and took to shadowing us as we fished, snorting and false charging when we played fish and rushing us as we cleaned them to eat - for breakfast, for lunch, and for dinner, five days in a row. I don't mind admitting that he nearly scared the shit out of me on more than one occasion when he'd show up unexpectedly and act all aggressive-like. We all gave him plenty of room.

    That's him in the shot below on the far bank across the creek early one morning.


    Fortunately, he was mostly show and little go and would hesitate when we'd whistle and shout at him or bang some rocks together. Once the initial fear and the novelty wore off, he became a daily feature in an otherwise incredible adventure.


    And how was the fishing you ask? Pretty good if I remember right. We were too preoccupied most of the time.

  5. I've seen many, many bears in the field. I have seen and heard many, many bears on the KP. One false charge in Ontario. One bear came into my camp at night, sniffed around my tent. He (or she) very delicately put its paw up to the nylon, as if to see if he material would make a nice, lightweight rain jacket, and poked a few claws through it. I calmly said, "Now go home Mr. Bear" and the bear left.

    When I was guiding in Canada many decades ago I also took 45mg of benadryl every night for allergies. With 45mg of benadryl a bear could carry you off and you would only be mildly aware of it.
  6. I'm sure I'm not the only one on the board who has spent (nearly) sleepless nights hanging in harnesses or butt bags on the side of a cliff a thousand feet off the ground, but the experience really doesn't provide much to offer in a discussion of lightweight shelters while fishing in the mountains. I don't know anyone who has been through it who would recommend it!
  7. Give me Yogi and Snagglepuss anyday, sleeping on the side of a cliff 1000 feet up I just don't get.
  8. regarding the issue of hanging your food when the trees are nonexistent or just tiny from the altitude you can go to r.e.i. and buy a "bear vault" it's just as it sounds, a super tough plastic container that is impossible for a bear to open and it does a great job of masking the odor of food. I've used one the last two years and though they are a little heavy it is worth it's weight in gold, no more walking around in the dark on the side of a mountain looking for a place to hang your stuff sack and worrying about it all night.
  9. Freestone,

    Thanks for the links; I'll check them out, altho it's not like I need any more gear. The Ursack is interesting, but it looks like it's not approved in restricted bear country. Looks like it's half the weight (with the aluminum liner) of the anti-bear containers the NPS is requiring in some areas. I think the odor-masking bags might have the real merit for keeping food safe.


    I've had bears around, but thankfully they've been well behaved or just run away. I carry pepper spray and hope I never need it. Last year a big blackie on the Skeena nearly turned itself inside out running off when I surprised him and yelled at him. It's decidedly unpleasant, but part of wilderness adventure includes the remote possibility of becoming bear scat.

    I've seen a cougar just once, but had the erie feeling something unseen was around a couple times when hiking alone. I speculate that if one actually wants me I won't know what happened.

  10. Generalized response to thread content?

    This is really difficult for me to comprehend: Why would you cut the handle off of your toothbrush, spend 200-300 bucks for Titanium cookware, buy a $300.00 16.1 ounce tent/tarp/shelter or hammock to shave ounces of "pack weight" and then spend $65.00 on a 7# pound "Bear Vault?" (I don't know the actaul price anymore)

    If car camping, horse packing, quad-running or something where weight is not an issue it makes a bit more sense -- but on a backpacking fishing trip? I think not.....! Personally, I would rather pack a 2 1/2 pound .45 or a .44 magnum (or even a 12 gauge if I'm really expecting trouble!) than a heavy, bulky "Bear Vault that has only one purpose!"

    To me these sorts of choices are obvious - to others, obviously not - so as usual, we each have to evaluate our own needs and make choices accordingly.

  11. JC,

    I agree. I've invested in some lightweight hiking gear - ultra-light Thermarest, 2# tent, 2# backpack, pocket rocket stove, titanium cookpot, etc. The previous lightest bear-proof container is 3# and doesn't hold much food. Plus I read that the NPS is requiring them at a number of places, like Ozette.

    From a weight and utility and efficiency perspective, a .44 magnum at a little over 2# beats a bear-proof container hands down. The .44 mag is more expensive however, but cost isn't usually the deciding factor among lightweight hiking afficianados.


  12. Regarding the other issue brought to light in this thread is the Bear/Cougar thing: That’s apples ‘n oranges!

    Bears are not generally stealthy ambush hunters, cougars are. Brown and Grizzly bear in Alaska/Canada are very different than black bear in the lower 48. They Will stalk and kill humans, particularly if wounded by a human hunter (aka, piss-poor shot!) but also just for the hell of it!

    Human contact with black bear are usually sudden surprises to both parties and 99.99% of the time are non-confrontational with the bear being as anxious to get the hell out of there as we are! At night or in an unoccupied camp a black bear may snoop around looking for an easy meal or is just being curious.

    Cougar are totally different. Rarely will you ever see one, especially if it is stalking you. I have only seen one in fifty years + in the woods and could not tell for sure if it was stalking me or not. The only reason I saw it at all was the hair on the back of my neck stood up and the skin from my scalp down my neck and down my back got all tingly. I turned around in the saddle very quickly and just caught a glimpse of the cat as it magically melted away not to be seen again by me. And believe me I became quite alert for the rest of the trip - and since as well. Interestingly, the dang horse didn’t even sense the cat! I often stop and check my back trail and both sides. Some may refer to this as paranoia – I refer to it as, “useful survival strategy!”

    I think it’s been said before on this forum and other places, “Never, ever run from a cat as that will definitely instigate an attack! Stand your ground and make yourself as big as possible by flaring your coat, raising your arms to your sides or over your head, all the while yelling, “BACK OFF M/F OR YOU DIE!”

    But as said earlier, you will not likely ever see the cat that will kill you with one bite on the back of your neck. Perhaps a nice, tall backpack that covers the back of your neck may be a deterrent, I don’t know. I’ve worn lots of nice, big, tall backpacks and have never been attacked yet – so it must work, right? Or maybe they just got a whiff of the Hoppe’s No. 9 that I probably reeked of…..???

  13. Ain't that the truth!!! There are hundreds upon hundreds of them up there - I've never seen so many bears in such a small space as I did in the QCI's, and apparently the Charlottes are home to the biggest average size of black bear, though I don't have anything to substantiate that claim.

    I'm not sure why you think this is the case... I've stood less than 50 yards away from a few big blackies that have come down to the river to do some fishing of their own! I'd never actually seen a bear scoop salmon out of a river before, except on tv - and man was it something to see!

    Either way, bears as some people have said are just a part of the experience. Be bear aware and you'll probably be fine.

    Regarding tenting, I prefer a tent to a tarp/sleeping bag combo, simply because bugs are one part of the "experience" that I'd rather not have to deal with when I'm sleeping! lol

  14. Unless it's the cold season, if your going lite:
    Small tarp and bivy (w/bug net), long johns, shorts (w/zip on legs), fleece pants and sweater, probably a light jacket. No other clothes (other than a hat and/or stocking cap) and no sleeping bag. Throw a sit pad and your day pack under you inside the bivy as insulation. I also like a poncho ground cloth but can do without if I'm packing waders or a floating device and need the room. Hike in shorts and capilene - dries fast. Fleece for later. You'll probably want a jetboil and some dehydrated food and of course most of the 10 or 12 "essentials" along with perhaps a flask for sunset.
    I haven't read all 7 pages so most of this has been suggested probably. But this is my minimalist list.
    Think you're way too concerned with critters. Add some bear spray if you like, or stay home.
  15. JC

    Well put.

    But then Black Bears are second only to Whitetail Deer in attacks on humans in North America. They are first in causing Death and traumatic injuries.

    Probably because there are so many of them and people tend to take them for granted.


    I have seen BB fishing in the Horsefly a couple of times but never in the QC. I have seen, and had, them take live fish off of lines and away from fishermen but never actually jump into the River and try and grab a fish. They will go into the River but only seem to watch and never quite figure out what to do when they see a fish.

    But that's just me. ;)

    PS My picture is a Cuttie out of the Yakoun River.
  16. Yep, I had completely forgotten that important statistic, Gator. Always wondered tho if it was the result of careless hunters approaching what they assume to be a dead deer or idiot tourists feeding cute little "Bambi!!":rolleyes:

    Jc (....we've sure gotten off the subject this thread started with haven't we....?)
  17. Happens a lot during fly-tying season!

  18. That is pretty funny, and so true.
  19. With the quality and lightweight tents, packs, and other gear these days I don't see why a person wouldn't use a tent, although the right hammock could be a better choice in some cases where there isn't a lot of ground to pitch a tent.

    My understanding is that Black bears are less predictable than grizzlies (browns are grizzlies) and are more prone to actually hunt/attack humans. On the other hand, you might have a chance against a BB. With a grizzly you have to play dead and hope for the best if they actually attack you. I've never had a close BB experience but had a few fairly close (>25 yds) grizzly encounters while guiding in SE AK. They seemed to want to be left alone. We always carried bear spray or sometimes a 12 gauge with sabot slugs, I always wondered if one of our portable boat horns wouldn't have been the most effective deterrent ...

    Bear canisters are increasingly being required and the park service lets you borrow them. You can return them at a different ranger station than you borrowed from for loop trips. If you were fishing near a lake or deep water with no trees to hang your food I suppose you could submerge your food in a waterproof bag for the night. Sounds crazy but it just might work... or perhaps it's time for my tired brain to go to log off.:hmmm:

  20. not to keep beating a dead bear but.........my bear vault weighs 2 lbs. and i can get a weeks worth of food in it, i only take it if i'm going to be camping above 5000 ft. where trees of any size are hard to find.The idea of carrying a gun around with me while hiking in washington state seems bizarre.

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