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


Well-Known Member

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.


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…..???



Fly Addict
On the Queen Charlottes Black Bears are as thick as fleas on mongrels ass.
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 have never fished the Charlottes and not had a Bear within less than 100 feet at least once a day. Sometimes, many more and much closer. They don't catch there own fish like Blackies do sometimes in the Alaskan Islands but only seem to scavenge.
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


David Loy

Senior Moment
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.

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

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.
Sleeping (a drunken sleep actually) on the banks of the chena river near fairbanks, I woke to find grizzly tracks all around me as a bear had circled me quite closely during the twilight that passes for night up there. (I didn't wake from my stupor till a jetboat came by at about 5AM.) Once in a tent I had some animal, bear or deer I guess nudge me from outside. I was on my brother's side of the tent quite quickly! Near Illiamna my buddy and I repsonded to a pilots midnight cries for help with a bear as he had placed his sleeping bag in a game trail. Exiting the tent that night with a brown bear somewhere outside was no fun at all. A tent is definitely in the way when you need to respond quickly. I have had many experiences with skunks and lean-tos. In hindsight we were very lucky not to get sprayed. they came every night, a whole friggin family of them, and by the third or fourth night of sleep diprivation we started throwing things at them to chase them off. My current preference is a large tent which converts to a screen tent, plenty of room, plenty of visablilty, only some mesh between me and the stars, and I was able to watch that black bear wander around just after daylight in relative comfort. course that thing weighs more than my whole pack used to, but I can't get comfortable on ensolite anymore anyways. I have noticed over the years that things like bugs, scorpions, and fortunately, so far, non-poisonious snakes will seek out the proximity of a nice warm human in a sleeping bag for shelter.

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.
Huh, that's weird! I guided out of Naden Harbour for a few years earlier in the decade, and we'd spend many any evening heading down to the local rivers to unwind after a day of guiding. It was great, because the rivers we fished were untouched except by us guides and the local loggers.

Spent many an afternoon later in the season, when the salmon (mainly pinks) would come in and the bears would be sharing our fishing holes with us. Watching them scoop out fish was amazing, as was watching them pounce like kittens chasing a ball of string.

The most impressive thing was when one bear would be in the prime "fishing" spot, and a bigger/more senior bear would decide he wanted to fish there instead. They'd battle it out, and you could almost feel the ground shake when they'd go at it. Totally wild!

Your experiance in the QC is much greater than mine. I've only been there 3 times. Twice for Silvers and once for Steelies.

It is a wonderland of Sea Kittens though. :thumb:
Before this thread dissapears for good I just wanted to thank everyone for their thoughts. If you are willing to spend the money on a good light weight tent there seems to be very little reason to go without one. Not sure what I will do, but I do appreciate all the imput.
Thanks again,