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Grizzly Bear Deterrents while Backpack Camping (increased safety while sleeping)

daltrix99

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Montana
Hey folks! Experienced backpack hunter here in Montana and Idaho, often in pretty serious Griz country. I don't plan on not doing this any time soon, but every dang year there seem to be more and more serious Griz incidents in or near my hunting areas. In the last ten years my hunting crew has sprayed one angry sow with cubs, thrown a compound bow at a Grizzly in chaotic close-distance self-defense (it worked), and we have lost a cow Elk to a Grizzly.

It's time I think about boosting my camp defense, particularly while sleeping, and while solo. For better or worse, I am way less concerned when with a buddy or two, but we should probably boost our defenses as well. Current tactics in order of effectiveness:
  1. hanging food in trees far from camp
  2. sleeping with sidearm and spray ready
  3. sometimes sleeping with earbuds in so that my ignorance of sounds outside the tent magically keeps me safe
  4. peeing in a circle around my tent as a force field
In all seriousness, is anyone doing anything that makes them feel particularly safe while backpacked into Griz country? Electric fences, other deterrents? Thanks!
 
Along with number 1 on your list, keep a very clean camp and don't, under any circumstances have any food or snacks in or near camp, it's easy to forget that granola bar in your pack.

Also if you have meat, or a bloody pack, keep it far away from camp.
 
I don't know if this is a deterrent per se but our campsite had a cliff on one side, very large down tree on two other sides making it one way into the tent and only one way out. If the grizzly wants to get in, definitely can but only from that direction. Did have one walk on the outside while in the tent but he kept going. I did feel more comfortable knowing the tree was in between us and the griz when it was that close. Maybe only 10-15 feet away. Mostly just making it harder to get to us. Mentally helped kind of like your magical earbuds.

We do have 1,2 and 4 employed as well. Have also lost a cow elk to a griz and cubs. Same trip. Have not had any other encounters though...thankfully!

I am actually hesitant to go back to that area and won't go by myself anymore because of that experience.
 
Maybe replace (or compliment) #4 with a ultra light bear fence!

I've heard some pretty good things about these.

 
I don't know if this is a deterrent per se but our campsite had a cliff on one side, very large down tree on two other sides making it one way into the tent and only one way out. If the grizzly wants to get in, definitely can but only from that direction. Did have one walk on the outside while in the tent but he kept going. I did feel more comfortable knowing the tree was in between us and the griz when it was that close. Maybe only 10-15 feet away. Mostly just making it harder to get to us. Mentally helped kind of like your magical earbuds.

We do have 1,2 and 4 employed as well. Have also lost a cow elk to a griz and cubs. Same trip. Have not had any other encounters though...thankfully!

I am actually hesitant to go back to that area and won't go by myself anymore because of that experience.
Campsite selection when considering griz safety vs what we typically look for is a great point - totally different criteria. I like the idea of using natural barriers to camp entry, maybe even some make-shift tree walls if we have the time or know we’re going to be in one spot for a while.

I’m less excited every year about our grizzly spots too, and probably won’t do much solo camping in them, if any.
 
Maybe replace (or compliment) #4 with a ultra light bear fence!

I've heard some pretty good things about these.

That looks great. I’ve looked at these but hadn’t seen this particular brand. Might have to happen.
 
That looks great. I’ve looked at these but hadn’t seen this particular brand. Might have to happen.
The price is pretty good too. Runs on AA batteries or a powerbank.

It's my understanding 8 AA batteries is equivalent to 2500 mAh. I typically bring 1 20, 000 mAh powerbank for cell phone, zoleo, and headlamp if needed. Adding a 10,000 mAh for a bear fence wouldn't be an inconvenience at all.
 
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To the extent possible, I try to make food or meat stash locations glassable. I will also arbitrarily arrange some flagging or similar on top of meat/food bags, such that I can tell if it's been messed with.

You'll never be able to mitigate the random encounter risks. I put most of my mental and physical effort into situations where somethigng I'm returning to could have been "claimed".
 
The price is pretty good too. Runs on AA batteries or a powerbank.

It's my understanding 8 AA batteries is equivalent to 2500 mAh. I typically bring 1 20, 000 mAh powerbank for cell phone, zoleo, and headlamp if needed. Adding a 10,000 mAh for a bear fence wouldn't be an inconvenience at all.
Yeah we bring powerbanks and I have a Dark Energy solar panel so we'd be good to go.
 
To the extent possible, I try to make food or meat stash locations glassable. I will also arbitrarily arrange some flagging or similar on top of meat/food bags, such that I can tell if it's been messed with.

You'll never be able to mitigate the random encounter risks. I put most of my mental and physical effort into situations where somethigng I'm returning to could have been "claimed".
Great advice here, I need to think more about these tactics
 
In all seriousness, is anyone doing anything that makes them feel particularly safe while backpacked into Griz country?
Not helpful while archery hunting, but the biggest deterrent is noise. As you backpack hike continue talking, singing, arguing, just talking loudly to the griz. They want to see you less than you want to run into them, so they move away from you. Keep anything with any odor away from wherever you sleep. Bears have incredible sense of smell ... from miles away! A griz can smell a little capped tube of toothpaste tucked way in the bottom of your pack, so stow it up high or in bear proof container far away from tent.

We encountered what's shown below every day during a seven day backpack trip through the Thorofare of Yellowstone and Washakie Wilderness, an area with a dense population of griz. We never did even see a bear.

Griz track.JPG
Large fresh bear scat.JPG
 
My buddy made this little "bear fence" after shooting an elk in a high grizz area this past Sept. The idea is that you hear the bear knocking sticks over and be able to gram your sidearm or spray.
1B733438-3863-4865-A1CC-9725592A8024_1_105_c.jpeg
 
Not helpful while archery hunting, but the biggest deterrent is noise. As you backpack hike continue talking, singing, arguing, just talking loudly to the griz. They want to see you less than you want to run into them, so they move away from you. Keep anything with any odor away from wherever you sleep. Bears have incredible sense of smell ... from miles away! A griz can smell a little capped tube of toothpaste tucked way in the bottom of your pack, so stow it up high or in bear proof container far away from tent.

We encountered what's shown below every day during a seven day backpack trip through the Thorofare of Yellowstone and Washakie Wilderness, an area with a dense population of griz. We never did even see a bear.

View attachment 311036
View attachment 311037
Good advice and I have a pile of images just like this! But yeah like you said, can't really operate that way during bow season.
 
I have heard mothballs are a deterrent.
Who wants to carry mothballs.

More than a handful of times I have byvied on a ledge. One way in.

I also have set camp above treeline paying attention to prevailing wind such that my sent is blowing away from the direction I suspect bears might be hanging...scent blowing off a cliff band.

Mostly keep a clean camp.
I also don't secrete the attitude the woods belong to me.😉
 
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