Can you imagine waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and finding a wild animal in your campsite? Are you the type of person that would respond, “Awww!” or “AAAAAAAH!”? Either scenario is not exactly welcome when you’re not prepared to be faced with such a situation, which is why we put together some tips for keeping wildlife out of your camp.
Keeping wildlife out of your camp not only helps you; it actually helps wildlife stay wild and not learn to depend on human interactions for survival. Being a good steward of the outdoors means protecting yourself and your camp from a wildlife invasion!
Secure food up and away
This technique is simple, but you’ll need to pick up some supplies and create a strategy. First, seal all food in airtight freezer bags or durable sealable plastic containers so food smells are not enticing wildlife. For the bear bag, you’ll need a sturdy duffel bag or stuff sack with handles made of strong nylon or canvas. Hanging your bear bag from a tree is a great strategy, but you’ll need a good length of rope to be able to hoist it out of wildlife’s reach. A 75-foot length of rope should be sufficient to lift the bag 20-25 feet above the ground.
If you hang your bear bag, make sure the tree you choose is a significant distance from camp so that any curious wildlife doesn’t make a sudden appearance in camp. The bag should also be hung a good distance out from the tree so bears and other wildlife can’t just climb the tree to access your cache.
You can also stash your bear bags under scrub and bushes well away from camp. Bears see poorly in the dark, so if there’s no odor to lead the way, it’s unlikely they’ll stumble upon your bags. Just be sure to remember where you stashed them so your methods don’t turn against you!
Bear boxes are not cheap, but they’re a wise investment for keeping wildlife out of your camp. All food odors that would entice bears and other animals are completely masked, and should a bear decide to have a go at one anyway, it won’t get far due to the box’s incredible strength and durability.
Design your camp footprint
Your camp footprint will have everything to do with keeping wildlife out of your camp. Think of your camp layout as a baseball diamond: Your tent is home, your kitchen is first base, your food storage is second base, and your washing area is third base. If space allows, each base should be at least 200 feet away from the other.
Home base (your tent) should be upwind of your cooking area. This will keep any food odors that may be hanging around the cooking station from wafting in the direction of your tent, which could lead hungry wildlife down the wrong trail. Never, ever keep food in your tent, and be sure all food garbage is properly disposed of and cook/prep surfaces are clean.
If you are camping in an area where you will have to pack out your garbage, bag and stow it exactly the same way you do for your food. This includes any kind of sanitary products you use as well. Nothing is absolutely fail-safe when it comes to nature, but an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of keeping wildlife out of your camp!