What to do: Grizzly in camp at night

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
26
I searched around the forums and didn't come up with anything specifically on this topic. While I have some experience in Black Bear areas, this upcoming trip to YNP will be my first trip in Grizzly Country. I am pretty comfortable that I will be practicing bear aware principles (bear spray, make noise, not going alone, cook/hang food 100 yards from sleeping area, etc). However, a question I can't find an answer to is: what do you do if you hear a bear come into camp at night while you are in your tent? Do you make noise to try to get it to move on? Stay quiet and hope he loses interest? Anyone have experience in this area?
 

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Nick

Spiral out.
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,678
I'm also operating under the assumption that you're in a tent, unable to see WHAT it is. I'm interested to hear why not making noise would be preferable.
 

OldBill

Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
73
That sounds like non-defensive, predatory behavior. It may just be curious, but it calls for aggression. Easy to say, tough to do. I'd certainly start by making some noise as I'm grabbing the headlamp and bear spray. It's not just griz either that may be predatory:


Of course, I'm also guilty of traveling solo in griz country and may be overly cautious. Certain areas, like YNP and the Absorakas I would not be out solo. YMMV.
 

Outdoor_Fool

Member
.
Joined
Dec 11, 2015
Messages
1,165
@Nick I hope I didn't sound arrogant but suddenly making a ton of noise from your tent may have severe consequences. The bear already knows your tent is there and that you are in there.

A grizzly in camp is generally considered a potentially very dangerous situation. It is very unusual behavior for grizzlies to put themselves in that situation and usually, but not always, occurs if the grizzly is used to finding food there. If it's a young griz or 2, or a lone griz and you suddenly yell, it is likely going to run off. If it a female with cubs it may run off at the sound of sudden yelling but there is also the possibility that it will suddenly interpret your presence as a threat to her and her cubs. This could bring her at you in a defensive manner and could create a very dangerous situation.

I've had a few bears in my camp areas over the years, but almost all of these were in areas of really high bear density, coastal Alaska (Katmai & Kenai Fjords), and I was spending months in one camp. A couple of other times, I've heard a soft-footed animal come by me at night. As a general rule, if I wake up and hear something walking past, I quietly grab my bear spray and have it ready. Then I lay there and listen. The sounds move on pretty quickly, as expected. I recommend this response as the animals already know you are there, and adding loud noises to any wildlife encounter will typically just add confusion to the situation.
 

Dan_85

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2013
Messages
219
Super interesting and informative thread! I found myself wondering the exact same thing when I was in MT earlier this summer, my first time hiking in grizzly country. I camped alone a couple of nights in the Bob Marshall Wilderness (highest density of grizzlies outside of Alaska) and this ran through my head a few times. I was erring towards reaching for the bear spray and keeping quiet in the tent unless absolutely necessary but I wasn't really sure. I'm a firm believer in thinking that most animals generally won't mess with you if you leave them alone.

Luckily I didn't have to put my theory to the test!
 

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

ImNotDedYet

Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2018
Messages
41
I don't know what the best answer is, but I do know that Backpacker magazine said what one should do in this exact scenario in their latest issue. And that's to get out of your tent and make as much noise as possible.
 

Outdoor_Fool

Member
.
Joined
Dec 11, 2015
Messages
1,165
I don't know what the best answer is, but I do know that Backpacker magazine said what one should do in this exact scenario in their latest issue. And that's to get out of your tent and make as much noise as possible.
I looked for a link to that but came up empty. Maybe I'll see a copy at the dentists office. I'm interested in the logic of that, as it's very counter to a lot of educated advice. But as I tell my classes, every situation is unique, and you have to be prepared to change your strategy, if necessary.
 
Last edited:

ImNotDedYet

Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2018
Messages
41
I looked for a link to that but came up empty. Maybe I'll see a copy at the dentists office. I'm interested in the logic of that, as it's very counter to a lot of educated advice. But as I tell my classes, every situation is unique, and you have to be prepared to change your strategy, if necessary.
I just got my edition in the mail. I'll try to remember to look at it again tonight, although I'll likely forget as I'm packing to get outta dodge for the weekend.
 

Wyatt Carson

Desert Vagabond
Joined
Apr 15, 2015
Messages
273
A friend in Alberta who hikes and camps in grizzly county will set off what he calls a bear banger if approached and that has worked for him while others around go as far as becoming hysterical. He scoffs at hysterics but he has grown up there and is used to seeing these things.
 

ImNotDedYet

Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2018
Messages
41
I looked for a link to that but came up empty. Maybe I'll see a copy at the dentists office. I'm interested in the logic of that, as it's very counter to a lot of educated advice. But as I tell my classes, every situation is unique, and you have to be prepared to change your strategy, if necessary.
pg 107 of the July/August 2019 edition. Ty Petersburg of the Larimer County, Colorado Wildlife Manager says for black or grizzlies - make sure you leave your tent to drive off curious bruins, otherwise they may try to join you through the side panel.

I think @Bob is right on this one. If one practices bear awareness, a bear isn't ripping through a tent except on exceptionally rare occasions.
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
1,673
pg 107 of the July/August 2019 edition. Ty Petersburg of the Larimer County, Colorado Wildlife Manager says for black or grizzlies - make sure you leave your tent to drive off curious bruins, otherwise they may try to join you through the side panel.

I think @Bob is right on this one. If one practices bear awareness, a bear isn't ripping through a tent except on exceptionally rare occasions.
Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Surprising they'd publish that. Startling and chasing a 300+ pound animal, that could end you in an instant, in the darkness. Maybe an ok thing to do for black bears, but I always thought grizzlies were the ones you never do anything threatening to unless they're already on the attack and becoming predatory.
 

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top