Is my worry about dangerous animals unwarranted?

Discussion in 'Boondocking' started by jcrew6311, Sep 21, 2017.

  1. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

    Feb 24, 2015
    I've always been under the paranoia that you have to keep an ultra clean camp site in order to keep animals away. I get the concept, but after being with a family who camps in the forest where bears live in az for 4 weeks straight, I noticed they weren't concerned about it at all. They left plenty of food out, cooked/uncooked, a trash can next to their trailer, and said for 25+ years they've been going there and have never once seen a bear. Now maybe they're less fearful because they're hunters w equipment vs me who is not a hunter nor do I have any weapon, but I was wondering if it's really all that warranted to worry about this issue? We only camp for about 2 days right now.
  2. gladecreekwy

    gladecreekwy Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2016
    I've been camping in NW Wyoming for 25 years. We have more bears in this area than anywhere in the lower 48. We have never had an issue with bears in our camp. However, we are very careful about food and trash. Leaving this stuff out, especially at night is asking for trouble. Why take a chance? Also when a bear gets into human food it's as good as dead. Just because nothing has ever happened to those folks it only takes one time to really image.jpeg ruin your day
  3. bearman512

    bearman512 Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Albuquerque NM
    IMHO stop worrying!
    I have been boondocking in NM,AZ, and CO for over 30 years. I have only had 1 bear come through camp and she was just curios. This was a remote camp on west mountain near Capitan NM Lincoln National Forest "Home of Smoky the Bear"
    Honestly I have had more problems with Raccoons and Foxes than Bears.
    We also have a very large population of Wolves in the Gila NF which borders AZ and have encountered them traveling within 100 yards of camp.
    I would be more concerned about the Sasquatch on the Mogollon Rim than anything else. ;)
    JoePAz, NMroamer and gladecreekwy like this.
  4. NMroamer

    NMroamer Active Member

    Apr 21, 2016
    Albuquerque NM
    It is Smokey Bear, he does not have a middle name.[::)] Jicarilla's are good place to boondock now that the Forest service kicked the miners out.
  5. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    We keep a clean camp as habit - trash is not left out, we take it to the dumpster. In most places, we do leave our cook stove out, but in some areas, those are required to be put away. Our food has been kept in the tow vehicle since tenting days, except when we're actually cooking. Now that we have the TT, most of the food is in there, but snacks, etc. are still in the TV.
    We keep a clean camp not just becasue of bears - in the areas we camp the ravens, foxes, squirrels, raccoons, etc. are on the search for food. We've seen ravens take apart a foam cooler, bags of charcoal, clam-shells of muffins and the like on several occasions.
    In one of the campgrounds we've used for years in CO, there have been bear issues on and off through the years. Now they have bear resistant dumpsters which have helped. (The last season before those were installed, the hosts had rigged up a system of 2 x 4s, ratchet webbing,etc.) We asked the hosts one time about "clean camp" since we could see a site that kept a turkey fryer and huge jug of oil sitting out all the time. I was informed the bear had bitten off the cap of an oil jug. Why they were not required to put things away was not clear. We figured the bear would head there and not our site, but would have wanted to be the next campers staying in that site.
  6. f5moab

    f5moab Retired from the Federal Government

    May 7, 2013
    Somewhere in Idaho
    I keep a clean site wherever I camp; however, where you camp makes a big difference. If camping in ID/WY or MT, I highly suggest you keep a clean site; put the food away in a safe approved container (vehicle, bear box, etc.) and you will most likely not have a problem. If in southern UT, AZ, NM it is a bit different. I still suggest putting the food away, but those little black bears in those areas are a lot different than those larger blacks and the notorious browns in the northern states.
    Even Moab UT can have the occasional small black bear head into the desert areas, coming down from the Lasal Mtns, and generally, just yelling at them will get their little black butts moving. However, I would never try that with a larger black or especially a grizzly in the northern states. For those cases, I use bear spray and it works.
  7. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    In camped Allegany state park in NY and some tenters got a visit by smokey the bear because they left a trashcan out. So it does show you need to keep a clean site at the very least just to keep the racoons from getting into mischief. I had a squirrel chew a hole in a hard plastic tub to get into the food while we were away and a little black and gray bandit in the evening run off with some goodies because of said hole. So to say I now keep all food and trash in my TV. Just because you don't see them, doesn't mean they are not out there. Yogi Bear does not forget where to find picnic baskets, so we have to make sure he doesn't get the taste first. For the safety of the wildlife and other guests to the park.
  8. CamperChrissy

    CamperChrissy Active Member

    Nov 25, 2016
    Chicago suburbs
    I recently camped at a Jellystone full of people just outside of St. Louis and one night we left a small bag of trash out on accident and a raccoon came within 10 feet of us to try and get in it. So we are much more diligent to keep a relatively clean camp, even though the worst thing we have to worry about is raccoons! I agree with the poster above, only takes 1 incident. It may not ever happen to you. But it might. Your friends have just been lucky. Are you willing to take that risk?
    JPBar likes this.
  9. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2013
    When I was younger I tent camped on trails off of the Kangamangus highway in NH. Not many people camped up in the woods. We never took any precautions for bears and I never saw a bear while camping. We were a bunch of kids partying in the woods, food and coolers everywhere. We still cleaned up when we left. Now that I camp in campgrounds in NH we see bears almost every trip. A lot depends on if the bears are used to people and peoples food sources.
    Solo camper likes this.
  10. tfischer

    tfischer Well-Known Member

    We went camping last weekend, and screwed up... left a cloth "duffle bag" with some of our dog's supplies under the front bunk of the camper. This included a bag of dog food, and his medication that he has to take twice day to prevent seizures.

    Got up the next morning and it was GONE. In a panic, we looked everywhere. Couldn't remember leaving it outside but also couldn't remember putting it away. There was no evidence of animals on the campsite, and I'm a fairly light sleeper and would have been sleeping right above this.

    Since the dog is supposed to have a medicine dose in the morning, my wife called our vet (luckly we were only camping about 45 minutes away) and ordered up replacement set of pills. My boys had alerted the neighboring campsite's kids that if they saw the bag to let us know, and started looking in the nearby woods.

    About an hour later, right before my wife was ready to drive into town, one of the 'neighbor' kids came over with the bag. It had been dragged deep into the woods. Ironically they had opened the zipper in a non-destructive way, and chewed a small hole in the ziplock of dog food, leaving everything else untouched.

    tl;dr: put EVERYTHING away including all food and trash. You probably won't get eaten by a bear if you don't, but you don't want to give animals a reason to mess with your stuff.
  11. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

    Aug 8, 2015
    DFW, TX
    Personally I think it is just a good habit to have. Even if you do not have a bear visit, all the other critters that can and do come through the site, get into stuff and make a mess can still ruin a perfectly good trip. Besides, if you leave stuff out and a raccoon or something gets into it and scatters it around in the process chances are good you are not going to be able to find all the trash, and now you have contributed to leaving a mess in the area. I also think that as more people get out to nature and do not follow simple guidelines you run the risk of adapting wildlife to human foods. In the case of bears, as pointed out earlier, once that happens the bear is often removed, sometimes permanently. I would hate to think that I was somehow part of the reason that a bear had to be put down like that.

    That being said - I have never camped in bear country, I don't boondock and I have no desire to do it either. State Parks and the like are my chosen destinations, and about the only thing I have to worry about there are raccoons.
  12. sgip2000

    sgip2000 Member

    Jun 16, 2010
    Hillsboro, OR
    I'm more concerned with Raccoons and Squirrels. They are sneaky little buggers. Bears usually make their presence known.
  13. DiamondGirl

    DiamondGirl Active Member

    Jul 2, 2016
    AZ Aliner
    I dry camp along the forest roads or at campgrounds all over AZ.

    As the others have said... it’s good practice to keep a clean campsite. We prefer to keep it clean by not inviting TROUBLE whether it’s a bear or others.

    Keeping a clean campsite also makes packing up easy at the end of your stay.

    Happy Camping...[ALPU][PUT]
  14. mccusaf

    mccusaf New Member

    Sep 13, 2017
    I had a raccoon bite a hole in a water jug, I was surprised about that one!
  15. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2017
    Maplewood, MN
    One animal that no one has mentioned is the skunk. These little guys can wreak havoc on unattended food and garbage. These little buggers aren't bashful when they come visit at night and they can open up a food or garbage bag with little effort. They are also very efficient at spreading your stuff in all directions.

    And you can't yell at them to shoo them away!! [XX(]
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
    bearman512 and DiamondGirl like this.
  16. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    . Well if you find someone drunk enough they would sure try. We had to hold one of our friends back when she discovered a skunk investigating the locked food trunk. There was nothing else out so we figured it couldn't get into much trouble. Sure not enough for us to get skunk spray on our tent. My friend may not have cared at the time, we sure would have.
  17. Bowman3d

    Bowman3d Active Member

    Apr 13, 2015
    LaLa land
    We had a bear come through our campsite one night while we were sitting around the fire. She could careless about us as she was making her rounds raiding trash cans. Spoke to some tent campers the next morning. Asked them if the bears bothered them. They said their muffins that they left on the table(which was barely 3 ft from their tent) was gone but they thought it had been racoons. I would be cautious about bears but not overly worry about them.
  18. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

    Oct 15, 2006
    Graceville, Florida
    I have never had a problem with wild animals, except maybe coons and they are just a pest I have always thought that (and know) I am safer out in the woods than in a city. We do not have the grizzlies down south but do have black bears and feral hogs. I do not keep an extra clean site, (except when we leave) but keep the food put up to keep the pests out of my campsite. The wildlife is the least of my worries racoon are our biggest problem, We have had them open a cooler and help themselves (my coolers now have hasps and locks) in the Okefenokee Swamp they will almost get a plate and sit down at the table with you :) but are relatively harmless.
  19. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

    Jun 17, 2014
    Raynham, MA
    We had an incident with a Skunk. It was nosing around our trashcan (We were still awake, and just moved far away while we waited for his curiosity to wear off).

    Since that night, when we goto bed (or inside the Popup/away for extend time) the trashcan goes in the car, or get's emptied.
  20. roybraddy

    roybraddy Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2016
    King George, Virginia
    Was tenting up at Wichta Mtns WIldlife Refuge at Camp Doris in OKLA one weekend and this one night was noticing the camper a couple hundred feet away from me was turning his outside lights on a few time and making noise with his truck bed tail gate opening and closing.

    My tent bed was the off floor type and I could see straight out the tent window when laying on the bed. Then all of a sudden I see these two tails go by window haha... It was two raccoons looking for food.

    I'm guess that was what bothering the other camper.

    Camping at CAMP DORIS in a wildlife refuge sure has lots of strange things including Buffalo wandering around. You have to really watch where you step at night making a midnight pee run on a tree hehe... There was also the big mountain lion wandering around at night...

    I was tent camping here in Virginia with my kids tent setup in the camping spot away from us. We was out hiking around one day and came back to camp and my son-in-law had a note from the Park Ranger warning him about leaving trash out haha... Got busted by the Ranger haha... Most we see there was deer but there is Bears there too...

    We was Tent camping at ELKMONT TN one year and apparently one Tent Camper had brought out a bunch of BBQ wings from Gatlinburg to munch on. A bear got into his tent that night and he was found dead the next morning. Got to watch what you do for sure...

    There always the humor thing where the man and the wife was coming down the trail and a bear started running after them. The wife says why are you running so slow I know you can run faster then that. The guys says All I have to do is just run a bit faster than you... hehe Probably didn't get any dinner that night hehe...

    Was POPUP trailer camping on the Blue Ridge Parkway one weekend in Virginia and wife wakes me saying ther's something outside the trailer. So I get up and go outside. This was early winter and it was really cold. I walked around the trailer and didn't see anything out of normal. Then I heard the noise too the wife was talking about. Turned out it was another POPUP camper down from us snoring away like crazy...

    Roy Ken
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017

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