[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[pct-l] new cheap bear can

I have hiked in Philmont, Yellowstone, and the Sierra. My opinion is you
need to test your can in the Sierra, not Philmont or Yellowstone. When our
Philmont ranger showed us how to hang food in Philmont, the reaction of the
3 scout leaders was the same - a  Sierra bear would have those bags down in

You mentioned that a fire ant would find crumbs that a bear wouldn't smell.
We were told by a  Yellowstone ranger this summer, "A wolf has a sense of
smell one million times better than humans, and a bear has a better sense of
smell than a wolf."  We have been told by Philmont rangers and Yosemite
rangers that we should not use soda bottles to carry water. They say the
bears can smell the soda on the bottles even after repeated cleansing with
baking soda and many fillings with water. If the fire ant can find a crumb,
I believe the bear can smell it.

I agree that sealing food in a plastic bag does not hide the smell. I
thought using a bag in my Garcia bear canister was to keep the canister
clean, not to hide the smell.  I am not sure the sealed can will contain all
the smell. Even if it does after you open the can once and handle the food,
you will leave food smells on the exterior of the can.

The bears in the Sierra do not rely exclusively on their sense on smell to
find your food. We have seen cars destroyed because they contained a plastic
spoon, a napkin, or some other item the bear associates with human food. The
bears are now associating certain models of cars with food. They routinely
break into these cars just because so many people have left food in that
model of car. They know backpacks contain food. They know campsites contain

I believe one thing we have going for us is that bears dislike the smell of
humans. I know they can smell backpackers in campsites. Get out there and
work up a sweat.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bruce Warren" <warren@valcourplantation.com>
To: <pct-l@mailman.backcountry.net>
Sent: Sunday, November 10, 2002 9:22 PM
Subject: [pct-l] new cheap bear can

This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
[ Picked text/plain from multipart/alternative ]

Thanks for your input. Looks like I am going to be driving out to
Yellowstone and doing my own tests just like I did in New Mexico.

I never leave my pack out alone, the squirrels and the coons and the ants
will get it. It's either on my back, next to me as I cook, or in the tent.
When I sleep, everything goes into my tent, including me, my pack, and two
stealth cans with all my food, firstaid, toiletries, kitchen gear, and
trash... i.e. all smellables.  The only thing I leave out is the camp
towel/bib I wear to catch any food slobber. I wash it and hang it on a tree
some distance away to dry. These habits were developed to keep out the fire
ants, not the bears. Fire ants will find a spec of food a bear would never
detect. A lot of folks think a plastic bag seals in odors, and can't figure
out how the bear discovered their food. (The Garcia folks ship a plastic bag
with their can.). No plastic film stops odors.

At the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, about 800 bears share 125,000
acres with 30,000 backpackers each summer. They are second only to
Yellowstone bears in their quest for human food. One of the manned remote
cabins used to store and issue backpacking food had the siding ripped off
one night by a hungry black bear, another cabin had the front door smashed
in. They shot the bears and put an electric fence around the cabins,
energized at night.

When Yellowstone bears start attacking tents that emit only the smell of a
stinky hiker, it'll be time to start shooting some bears.
And we will all be carrying an ultra-light electric fence rig to set up
around the tent each night. But the ants would still come!

Bruce Warren

...When in doubt, gas it!
PCT-L mailing list