Removing fish scent in Bear country.

Unscented toothpaste
I read that you can make toothpaste out of baking soda and water. That should be scent-low, if not scentless. Or you can brush with a salt paste.

You might learn from us if you listened.
Maybe you have raised an issue with no actual substance. If you have hung your food properly, or stashed it away from camp, then why do you think the residual fish odor on your hands AFTER you thoroughly wash them is going to be a problem? If you have specific examples, let us know.

Unfortunately, there are a few bears who will try for food in a tent whether they smell something or not. That’s a rare but real problem.

Good idea. I wish the ammonia were
more persistent.

How about the boats?
Caveat: I am not an expert on either bears or fishing, not even close.

But I did one time read somewhere a warning to keep fish away from your canoe when you are catching 'em. The author wrote that if you let the fish rub against the side of the boat or lay in the bottom of the boat, the smell will stay on the boat and possibly attract a bear. Right, better attract them to the boat than to your hands. However, when a bear gets to something that smells good but then doesn’t look like food, don’t they sometimes open them to see where the yummy smell is coming from? Just something I read somewhere.

I did once encounter a big racoon that dragged off a wooden crate for no apparent reason. The crate had been on many trips, and we theorize that sometime in years past somebody cleaned a fish or otherwise prepared food on it.


For what it is worth:
Not fishy, but similar.

Years ago in norhtern Quebec, (in heavy bear country) we had a bear tear into our tent in the middle of the night. Luckily I was able to scare it off by banging a couple of pans and shouting like hell.

We had all the food stored away from the tent, and couldn’t figure out why until in the morning when we questioned the kids and could only come up with the fact that the night before one of them had a couple of marshmellows in a hooded sweatshirt pocket and then ate them, but slept with the same sweatshirt on.

If you heard some of the stories that the rangers in the Arctic National wildlife refuge related, you might think a little different.



ANY smells will attract
Any smells that your dog would sniff, so would a bear. Bears are curious and will check out any smell that may or may not pan out to be food. Even bear spray is not to be used lightly. If you end up having to spray a bear for safetys sake, you MUST leave the area entirely, as the residue will then ATTRACT bears to come check out the strange smell.

These are just 3 of the most recent events in Anchorage, our black bear population is getting larger all of the time all over the state.

I take bear encounters very seriously, when you are out in the wilderness, you are in their territory, you are prey. To use products and treat your food, garbage and camping habits lightly is inviting a bear encounter which you may or may not be able to control.

In the last 6 years since I have taken up boating, (in many different forms), I have seen more bears than I have in my entire life, and I have lived and camped in Alaska all of my life. In the words if Hill Street Blues:

Be safe out there…


Probably the bear tore in because
the bear had found food in tents before. It is not necessary for such a bear to smell food in order to break in.

Yeah, I have to spray a bear in the
middle of the night because he is trying to get into my tent. Now I’m supposed to leave the area entirely. I don’t think so.

Perhaps, you could learn something.

– Last Updated: Jul-22-08 4:31 PM EST –

Instead of poo pooing someone who obviously has some knowledge in this area.

bear food smell

– Last Updated: Jul-22-08 4:47 PM EST –

Another tip we use in bear country: cook and eat a hundred yards from your tent, and do all your cooking and eating in your rain gear. Then put the rain gear in the food bags that you hang, so you don't bring cooking and eating smells into your tent or campsite. You could always do the same with fishing--fish in your rain gear and put it in the food bags. Of course, when it rains in the middle of the night and you need to go outside, you do end up wishing the rain gear wasn't a 100 yards away. Oh well.

Not obvious what knowledge she has.
All three articles have nothing to do with the issue of whether a bear will tear into a tent because of small traces of food smell. They only serve to get people so scared of bears that they will do anything, no matter how obsessive-compulsive, to make sure bears won’t attack.

My point is this. You clean fish. You wash your hands, but when you smell them, there is a tiny bit of residual fish odor. You are afraid a bear will detect that low level of odor and tear into your tent. But, we haven’t seen any evidence that bears tear into tents because of tiny residual odor. Now, if you roll in the fish entrails, and then climb in your tent, that is another matter. Bears DO tear into tents if past experience tells them that food might be inside. In bear areas where I have camped (Quetico), problem bears are shot. That is the solution. Worrying about a little residual hand odor only costs you sleep.

Dave, go over to the Paddlers
Discussion Forum, and you will see a tale of guys who were spooked by a bear, abandoned their empty, food-free tent and went far away, and then when they returned, the bear had torn up their tent. A perfect illustration that the bear’s previous experience, not food smells, can be the cause of tent destruction.

You might at least admit that you do not know whether a residual bit of fish smell on your hands would even attract a bear.

You miss the point entirely
I don’t care.

The entire reason for this thread, was getting ideas for removing fish scent while wilderness camping. That’s all.

If you want to debate whether it’s a valid question or concern, start your own thread.

why “email direct”?
Then the rest of us don’t learn anything! :frowning:

Only to try and stay on topic
It’s already morphed beyond it’s original intent.

Save a fish, eat a beaver!

in my experience
discussions morph all the time on the internet. You get a Andy_Szymczak reply (helpful), you get a g2d reply (not). That’s the internet. I’ve come to accept it. You can ask Andy to e-mail you directly, I hope he’ll share with us all. Seems less exclusive, more helpful that way. And don’t worry too much about threads digressing. It happens all the time. You said it yourself: You asked the 2nd, follow-up question. It’s a good question. I’m just hoping to see the reply. Have a nice trip! Sounds like it should be fun–if you’re not eaten by bear! :wink:

my question is this
Why, g2d, do you think a bear would discriminate between a “residual” scent and–what can only be its opposite–a “non residual” scent? Either the bears smells it or it doesn’t. Either it investigates or it doesn’t. You are right, we don’t know the bear’s motivation, but I’m not interested in Stanislavsky right now. Given the the natural link between bear and food, the OP’s query (how to remove fish scent in bear country) seems reasonable.

you seem to be investing a lot of energy in g2d’s education over the internet. Good luck with that! :wink:

Agreed, but
sometimes the original intent is completely lost, and it was something of interest.