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We love camping, don’t you? However, if you’re camping in bear country, you’ll have more to worry about than mosquito bites and leaky tents. Although it’s possible to camp in bear frequenting areas, you’ll need to take some extra precautions for your safety and the bears.

Bears love campsites – there’s so much food on offer that bears lose their natural inclination to fear humans, so believe it or not, seeing bears lurking around your site isn’t that rare of a sight.

If you want to reduce your risk of a bear encounter and keep yourself and the bears safe during your trip, keep reading for some top tips on keeping bears away while camping.

How To Keep Bears Away From Your Camp

How to Keep Bears Away From Your Camp_1

It’s not always possible to avoid bears when you’re camping. This doesn’t mean that they’re going to invite themselves into your tent (remember, most bears are scared of humans!), but they may still be in the area.

Here are a few things you can do to protect your camp and reduce your chances of a bear encounter:

Choose Your Camp Carefully 

Before you set up camp in the great outdoors, take some time to assess your surroundings. There are a few tell-tale signs that bears might be frequenting, including:

  • Marks and scratches on trees
  • Bear tracks
  • Bear scat
  • Rivers or streams with fish
  • Animal carcasses

If you see any of these, it’s a sign that bears have been near your camp recently. So it’s best to keep moving and find a spot further away from all traces of bears.

Use The Right Storage 

Bears are nothing more than hungry animals. If you’ve packed food and other scented items (even deodorant, perfume, and cleaning items), they should be stored away properly so that bears can’t get to them.

So we’d advise using plenty of smell-proof containers, and if you can, it’s best to keep those containers far out of the reach of bears, such as in a car, van, or camping locker.

If you’re backpacking, this might not be an option. So, invest in a quality bear canister and keep your items OUT of your tent. Bear bags and ursacks are also an option.

Keep On Top Of Garbage 

When you’re camping, you’re going to produce waste – fact. However, don’t wait hours to clean up after yourself if you’ve just eaten a meal.

The smell of your food will attract bears and could encourage them to come straight to your campsite. Clean up after yourself straight away.

The same applies to food packets – don’t leave them lying around on the ground, and DON’T leave them in your tent.

Dispose of them as soon as possible. If you’re able to burn packaging, this is strongly advised.

If not, you should be keeping your garbage safely secured in a bear canister or another form of bear storage.

The Bear Triangle 

If you’ve never heard of the bear triangle, allow us to introduce you to the concept. It might just save your life!

The bear triangle is a concept that encourages you to set up your campsite efficiently, keeping anything that can attract bears well away from your sleeping area and main campsite.

As you can imagine, the setup is in the shape of a triangle, with your shelter and sleeping area being the top point of the triangle.

Your cooking area should be 200 feet from your tent to your left. To the right of your tent should be your food storage, another 200 feet away.

This method also recommends keeping your food kept in a high place, such as in a tree – preferably, 12ft high and 6ft away from the tree.

Ideally, the wind will be blowing straight down the middle of the triangle so as not to disperse the scent of your food and belongings.

What Smells Do Bears Hate? 

What Smells Do Bears Hate 

Keeping your belongings secure and setting up your camp correctly is the most effective way to keep bears away from your campsite.

If you want to take things a step further, you could try and introduce other smells to your camp – the type that bears hate.

There are a few smells that bears aren’t too sweet on, including ammonia, citrus, and pine-scented products.

If you want to secure your camp even further, you can try filling a bucket with ammonia or a scented cleaner. Remember that these products can harm wildlife, so you should use them with care.

Will A Campfire Deter Bears? 

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that your campfire will deter bears. If you think about it, bears are often positively reinforced when they approach the fire, as they can reap the rewards of leftover food and grease.

Although bears are afraid of humans, they’re also naturally inquisitive, and a fire is likely to draw their attention.

What To Do If A Bear Is Outside Your Tent 

If you find a bear outside your tent, that fight or flight instinct is going to kick in. So before you make any rash decisions, here’s what you should be doing to keep yourself safe.

  • Stay in your tent: Unless there’s food in your tent, a bear is unlikely to come in. So your best option is to stay sheltered in the tent until the bear has finished sniffing for food and leaves.
  • Make noise: Bears like to avoid humans, so although this may seem risky, making noise could encourage them to move on. Speaking loudly may be enough to get a bear away from your camp.
  • Use bear spray: If the bear isn’t shifting, it may be time for tougher action. If you have a bear spray with you, spray it upwind and aim it at the bear. A good bear spray will contain capsaicin, which should get your bear-friend moving away pretty quickly.

Final Thoughts 

The thought of encountering a bear out in the open is terrifying. If you’re camping near bear country, you may feel vulnerable and exposed, but it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to have a close encounter. There are several ways to protect yourself and keep bears away from your camp.

Remember: leave immediately if you’re scouting for a camping spot and notice any signs that bears have been frequenting the area. Your best defense is assessing your campsite and setting up far away from bears.

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