Sit tight or move?

You’re in your tent and along comes an inquisitive bruin. Do you stay quiet in your tent or get out check the situation, make noise ? Which is safest?

Black Bear situation
If camping with others my suggestion is to get at least 2 of you up ASAP, make noise, stand tall and move around, make yourselves look big with a poncho or rain coat on with outstretched and moving arms, get a fire going, hopefully the bear disappears into the night and expect that 2 of you should be up around the campfire on a bear watch the rest of the night. If the bear was hanging around all night, break camp at first light and move. If I was camping alone I would be more cautious and probably would have pepper spray to arm myself, but still get up, make myself as big as possible, keep myself between the bear and my canoe as a potential escape route. If the bear backs off I would start a fire and expect a sleepless night tending fire. If the bear doesn’t back off or if it shows signs of agression (popping jaws), unholster your pepper spray, walk slowly backwards to your canoe, paddle out, and wait it out until you can break camp and move.

I think I have only had one bear
in camp and he sat on my tent. I was in the tent. I protested and he left.

I have seen plenty of bears in the wild but only had a couple of up close and personals…Both while walking in the woods with a canoe…Believe me you will react and the bear will too…

yes stand tall and make noise.

Moose scare me far more. They have poor eyesight.


– Last Updated: Feb-25-08 6:55 AM EST –

I worked for the Nat. Park Service in Yellowstone Nat. Park. The advice we got from the Govt. was. If approached by a bear "Show No Fear". Right! They are usually looking for food and will leave you alone if you stay out of their way. People get in trouble with Bears when they feed them. VF

Observe - Act if necessary
In the several dozen times I’ve encountered this situation in four decdes I’ve done the following.

First - I am thrilled to even SEE a bear. Cool! Then I simply watch “Berry Berry Kwietwee” - I observe to see if anything interests it. In our ultra-clean bear-country sites, ususally this is nothing.

IF it shows too much interest in something - and begins to use those monsterous claws to “investigate” my gear. I act.

GETOUTTAHERE!!! MOVE!!! GIT! HEY YOU GO HOME! ( at which point my wife usually - helpfully - informs me - He is.)

IF by then I actually have to get out of my tent - I throw stuff - Lots of stuff - carefull to always MISS the critter. It sems to me that a near miss startles more than a “that didn’t hurt so much” direct hit. Sticks, pinecones, rocks, a hail of debris. This has always worked for me.

If it shows “attitude” (you’ll know it when you see it) Keep an eye out …and move camp.

This is especially for Black bears - for Grizzly bears, I do the same - but with a whole lot less confidence.

This has always worked fo me.

Bears and tents
I had this happen to me. My wife and I were sleeping on either side with both our [small] kids sleeping in between us in our family tent. My wife and I were awakened to “lapping” sounds behind the tent. Apparently, someone forgot to get rid of some garbage properly. After a few minutes of lapping/licking the bear wondered over to the tent. It began to rub it’s body on the tent, as if he was scratching his back or side on the tent. I thought to myself, “at least he is on my wife’s side of the tent” :>] Luckily, our kids remained asleep. I wondered whether I should make a bunch of racket or keep quiet. Plus, I had my kids to think about. We kept perfectly still. The bear eventually meandered off. But, quite a hairy few moments that seemed to last forever.

Interesting discussion

– Last Updated: Feb-25-08 3:52 PM EST –

I have read a lot about advice for bears. Lots of literature says any bear (grizzly or black) in camp at night around a tent, consider it predatory and fight, yell, etc.

Dreamsofbears gave me some interesting info on how bears are curious about tents. It got me wondering if *some* nightime attacks could be a tent curious bear who was startled and attacked.

Anyway, I am definitely no expert. I would like to hear dreamsofbears commentary (for black bears). 'Ello, are you out there?

Attempted break in?
So, DuluthMoose, seems to have thought this out pretty well. Sounds like the the right course. I assume if the bruin is attempting entry of the tent you would make noise and hope it backed off enough for you to get out?

Black bear entering tent
is going after something he smells and wants. If its food you have in the tent or food smell on your clothes - bad mistake on your part. If the bear’s into carion, maybe its your reeking socks and trail boots that you should have left outside. But the smell it wants could also be you. It’s time to fight and holler like you’ve never done before to startle the bear, back it off, and give you time to get out of camp.

So what is the best route
If you hear a bear in camp at night. Do you wait and hope he wanders off, then fight if he approaches the tent? Or get out of the tent and make noise, etc. Just a thought that startling a curious bear might be more dangerous than waiting? Curious your experience, DM.

Black bear in camp

– Last Updated: Feb-26-08 3:24 PM EST –

Personally I confront them when a bear has infrequently wondered into my camps; whether it has been day or night. I think it is better to let them know you don't accept their being on your turf, rather than submit to them and not confront them and allow them to gain confidence. Confrontation brings things to a head and I'd rather be the lead on that than let the bear get the edge.

Yell, throw a rock
and if that fails, SHOOT!

if you are in bear country
where bears rarely if ever see humans, they may be curious about everything…

Just a different smell may entice them.

Sometimes they have all the sense of a two year old.

Bruin near me?
I’d hip-check 'em into the boards. :wink:


before they make a hockey puck
out of you, check this out

Bears in Camp!
I am mystified by all the posts on bear problems! One poster herein made an astute observation that he had far more fear of a Moose confrontation than a bear encounter. Skunks also can be a definite “I don’t want a Close Encounter of a Third Kind!”.

As for bears in camp at night, you need to be aware of how many, what kind, and is it a mother bear with cubs. Running out and yelling at a mother bear with cubs just might win you the “Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster”. If it is a Grizzly you might find it willing to fight to defend its territory. Most black bears will run off if confronted.

To avoid the whole situation here are some possible solutions:

l. Don’t camp in a site that is filled with

human garbage, firepits, etc.

2. Cook away from your campsite 100’ is a

sound distance.

3. Put all food in bearproof barrels, and hang

other gear 10’ out from a tree and double

hung 12’-15’ above the ground.

4. Keep anything with a significant odor in

double ziplock bags.

5. In Grizzly country I mark the area around

my campsite about 10 yards out by peeing

on the trees and rocks. Grizzlies are

territorial while black bears are not. No

study has obviously been done on Grizzly

behavior in respect to this, but I have

observed a grizzly come up to a tree

sented by another grizzly, and immediately

turn and leave the area. Don’t know if

it helps, but it psychologically makes me

feel better!

6. Don’t camp on obvious game trails whick

bears would use to get from place to place.

7. Don’t camp in forage areas like wild huckle

berry fields or near a stream filled with

spawning salmon, etc.

8. Look around for bear scat and tracks in the

place you are considering for a camp.

In Grizzly Country it is a good policy to carry Bear Pepper Spray on your belt. Be aware that many times Grizzlies will false charge to see what you do. Try not to panic and run. Hold your ground, but don’t act aggressive.

Don’t spray the bear unless they really come after you.

Bear advice
My own bent is if a Black bear is rummaging through my gear and is far enough from the tent (at least 50 feet or more) I’ll get up and say hello. If the bear were right at the tent or quite close by I’d sit quietly and wait for it to lose interest. Generally they don’t like surprises and trying to challenge one that is well within what it considers it’s comfort zone can get you nipped or swatted (although that will probably not result in serious injury).

Throwing anything at a grizzly is inviting an attack

Black bears will rub against object to scent mark them; this is particularly true of females in season.

Predatory attacks by grizzlies tend to happen at night, Black bears by day

Black bears are territorial

Black bears are mildly interested in the scent of human urine. Encountering it they will give it a good sniffing then likely urinate over it.

Perceiving danger a mother Black Bear with cubs would most likely abandon them; Attacks in that situation are a grizzlies bear trait.

Great site
Thanks for the link. That was a very well put together site.- Toddy

I never had a bad encounter with
a bear. The bears just run off. However, the encounters sure gets my heart pumping. I try to read as much as I can and run through scenarios in my head so that I’ll react correctly. I like to think back to my military days when you drilled for emergencies so that you react correctly to any situation.

I’ve been to Hyder, AK several times to watch bears fish for salmon. It’s interesting to watch the differences between the black and brown bears. The black bears are more furtive and dash out from hiding to catch a fish. The brown bears swagger in the middle of the stream knowing they’re on top of the food chain. The one thing I do know is that I’d never lay down and play dead. I watched the bears sample dead fish.

My strategy is to avoid smelly foods and keep a clean camp. I make as much noise as possible to let them know I’m around. I was thinking that I’d might even purchase a electric bear fence. They don’t weigh much or take up too much space. Here in Oregon, the BLM loans them out for running the Rogue since they have bear problems on the river. They work off of a couple of D batteries. People are careless and leave food around so the bears raid the camps.


– Last Updated: Mar-27-08 3:28 PM EST –

course of action is to take your remington 870 12 gauge with magnum slugs and a 20 inch barrel(short for inside tent) and sit there looking at the bear---if he goes away, don't shoot---if he makes a move towards you, blow his ass away. The only time I was ever confronted by one, I was out bird hunting---he(or she--couldn't tell) stood up about 30 feet in front of me---we stared at each other for about 60 seconds then he shuffled away---btw was a black bear not a grizzly---wouldn't want to shoot one but was glad I had that option.