Food security

Glenn MacGrady

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For ultimate security, there is always this thread:

 
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I’m mostly worried about hanging my sack high enough that Calibos can’t stab it and unleash giant scorpions upon me in my tent.

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Most of my canoe tripping has been in northern Canada, on open tundra or in sparse, spindly spruce near tree line. Virtually no opportunity to hang food.

snowdrift021.jpg

Our approach to protect ourselves, and our food, is to separate our cooking area (See Kathleen, far right), our tent (See far left), and our food (See red canoe, centre). We never take any food into the tent. The cooking area is pretty far removed from the tent. At night, we store all of our gear, including food, under the overturned canoe. I keep my .308 rifle in the tent at night. I think I am far enough away from the canoe, that the bear won't associate the tent with the food. Yet, I am close enough to the canoe that I can hear any potential disturbance at the canoe, and can scare away a potential bear with a warning shot. I can't afford to lose much food on a 3-4 week trip.

Most of our food is double garbage-bagged within Duluth-style canvas packs. We have never suffered any food lost to marauding bears. So far so good. We are back out on the open tundra this summer. We'll see.

There: back on track with the original intent of this thread.
 
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Most of my canoe tripping has been in northern Canada, on open tundra or in sparse, spindly spruce near tree line. Virtually no opportunity to hang food.

View attachment 130422

Our approach to protect ourselves, and our food, is to separate our cooking area (See Kathleen, far right), our tent (See far left), and our food (See red canoe, centre). We never take any food into the tent. The cooking area is pretty far removed from the tent. At night, we store all of our gear, including food, under the overturned canoe. I keep my .308 rifle in the tent at night. I think I am far enough away from the canoe, that the bear won't associate the tent with the food. Yet, I am close enough to the canoe that I can hear any potential disturbance at the canoe, and can scare away a potential bear with a warning shot. I can't afford to lose much food on a 3-4 week trip.

Most of our food is double garbage-bagged within Duluth-style canvas packs. We have never suffered any food lost to marauding bears. So far so good. We are back out on the open tundra this summer. We'll see.

There: back on track with the original intent of this thread.
Yep. We did the same on our Snake River trip but had even wider spacing.. Getting up in the am we perused the sunrise...and a grizzly chowing down on our food. The food was separate from the cooking area so we gathered pots and made a racket. The grizzly must have had NYC genes. He ate some bagels and nothing else. He did not like the percussion of pots
 
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There’s advantages and then not to hanging. I love paddling through deep forests, that’s where I find My enjoyment. I guess that I’m lucky to live and play where I do, we do have tall trees reaching 80’-90’-120’, mostly forest trees. But, I do have plenty of birch, red pine, beech, ironwood, and oak that have limbs that’ll hold my gear. If need be, I’ll have more than one hang kit.

I tend to pack fairly light, food being the majority of hang weight. So, for me I’ll still hang my canister and bags until I’m in a situation that requires otherwise. Which, who knows, could be 2022 or could be 2042

As for my suggestion on 3:1 and 5:1 and the Marrison system mentioned by yknpdlr, I still think they’re valuable. If not for hanging, then rescue. If not for rescue, then for the garage. If none of those, then to impress someone. These DMM Recolver carabiners have helped me and gear navigate canopies numerous times. Worth looking into.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Cliff Jacobson, wilderness paddler extraordinaire, has been preaching for 50 years that hanging food is a waste of time and probably foolish. And, moreover, that the only reason governmental authorities recommend or mandate hanging is NOT because it can save YOUR FOOD from bears, but because it may save YOU from bears if your food stays far away you.

He summarizes the arguments made in his many books in this blog post:

 
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I've always taken issue with Cliff's recommendations. The issue he avoids is people's behavior, and the learning abilities of bears. Bears in popular areas get into food primarily because the people don't store their food correctly, especially early on the human-bear interaction sequence. People hang their food in some fashion that is easily thwarted by a bear (e.g. food hanging well in reach of a bear, or on the ground as Cliff recommends). That bear is significantly rewarded for doing this, and so the motivations of the bear are drastically increased. The bear learns that stuff sacks (e.g.) contain a lot of food, and so the bear will investigate all stuff sacks it comes across, whether through olfactory or visual stimuli. And the bear will try harder the next time it comes across human food because there is a huge reward if it's successful. Each time the bear learns something, and becomes more adept at overcoming people's marginal techniques. That's why in many heavily-used areas (the Sierras, especially) pretty drastic measures are required to keep bears away from people's food. At one time there were bear poles, or bear cables, and due to the sheer masses of people, some of whom hung their food within reach of bears, these techniques were no longer effective. With the high density of bears and people, there were lots of rewarded bears, and the bears learned some pretty extravagant techniques to obtain hung food (i.e. kamikaze bears, where the bear would jump down upon the hung food from above). There were lots of opportunities for bears to learn, and learn they did. So now bear resistant food containers are required.

In heavily used areas, bears are more adept at obtaining human food because they are presented with more opportunities, and bears learn. The higher the frequency of bear-human interactions, the greater protections are needed to prevent food conditioning (you get "smarter" bears). Cliff's recommendations are effective based on a frequency distribution/probability of people and bear interactions. Fewer interactions (e.g. less used areas by either people or bears) allow less elaborate methods for food protection. You can get away with meager food protection methods in areas where there are few bears, or where bears avoid people. Any food protection method is effective if bears aren't around (and thus keeping a clean camp is important--you don't want to draw in bears that would otherwise stay away). If a bear stumbles across one of Cliff's stashed bags, it's going to investigate and probably eat everything. And then it learns a) food bags have good stuff, and b) maybe there is more out there. Even if the bear doesn't find the other stashed bag during Cliff's stay, it increases the chance the bear will find a bag if the next group stays there. Bears learn, and with more opportunity, the quicker they learn. Cliff's techniques won't work in heavily used areas--bears associate camps/people with food, and they'll investigate. In more remote/less used areas, his techniques might work, simply due to the probability of interaction between bears and people and the presence of naive bears.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
 
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I have always had a lot of respect for Cliff in the past.
He states: "Today’s freeze-dried foods have near zero moisture content (you add the water) and are sealed in odor-proof mylar foil. It’s doubtful a bear can smell through the foil, but it certainly can smell you—and your hands where you handled the package." ..."Bears have learned that where there are people, there’s food. It’s the smell of humans that brings them in, not the nearly odorless freeze-dried food." Yet then he goes on to say that bears associate the smell of humans with the presence of food. The bag he places on the ground in the woods would smell the same as the hanging bag, wouldn't it?

If Cliff thinks that mylar packaging with freeze dried food has no odor, he has never seen a demonstration of search dogs in action. It is claimed that bears have an even better odor detection capability than dogs. All packaging has an odor, if not from what is inside leaking the odor, it is from the outside of the package itself from factory odors on the package from when it was made. I was on an Air Force transport flight several years ago in the Pacific. When we landed in the Philippines, a drug sniffing dog and handler came aboard and sniffed everyone's bag. It alerted strongly on one airman's bag. The MP opened the bag to find sealed canned food inside, which was shown is what the dog alerted on. Like many countries, you are not allowed to bring random uninspected food into the Philippines.
 
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Well, I'm not sure about our bears, but they seem to be a much more timid lot then the bears you guys are describing. We shoot them regularly too, even for minor infractions, such as repeated nocturnal sneak attacks on our garbage cans locked in our garages. So when a bear sees a fella waving a stick with a hotdog on it over a fire, Pavlov's system of conditioned response kicks in; human with stick go bang and kill. Bear goes away. In my neck of the woods in Northern Ontario, the first clue that tells us that you are not from here is if you hang your stuff in a tree. Nobody does that up here, and my Indigenous chums would get quite a chuckle if they saw someone doing that.

However, I'm sure things are different in other places, so I defer to the custom of the country and local experiences.
 
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I researched food protection systems and techniques and am convinced that approved hard sided bear resistant containers are the most effective practical food protection system for my tripping style. I single portage and my trips are about 8 days.

I think capacity is the number one issue people have with approved hard sided containers. I have learned to compact my food so capacity was not a primary issue for me. The transition from soft bag to hard container was easy for me and the resulting peace of mind made it worth the effort.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Aside from the hanging issue, Jacobson does have a related recommendation that makes sense to me for group paddling in true wilderness: Distribute your food into more than one, if not several, packs and put them all in different locations away from camp. That way, you won't lose all your food if the bear finds and eats one pack, or if you lose one pack in a canoe dump.

I don't see any reason to hang if you are using a truly bear-proof vault or even an Ursack. Just attach it securely to something immovable like a tree so the bear can't move it away while fiddling with it.
 
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Mems response holds the key.. The folks in his area shoot them regularly.. The bears in some Provincial Parks do not associate man with getting shot. Neither do the bears in New Jersey( who are outright disrespectful of humans) . If bears are exposed to guns they smarten up. Otherwise they are arrogant little b'''s
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Mems response holds the key.. The folks in his area shoot them regularly..

Yes, and I'm sure that's why native peoples didn't have much trouble with bears in their villages. Any bear that would enter a village was surely met with a large gang of strong, young hunters chasing after them with spears, arrows, knives, tomahawks, rocks, war whoops, and often a bloody death that other bears could hear and smell.
 
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Like Glenn, I use the odor-proof bags and Cliff's stash method. If you put odiferous food in the tree without any odor control you are just inviting a nice long scent trail in any breeze. And of course bears climb trees easier than I can walk. And squirrels live in the trees. Not sure why I'd put my food right in their house.

I take the point that odor-proof bags (or even sealed freeze-dried foods in foil bags) may not prevent a bear from smelling your food if they get within a few feet or yards of it, but the absence of perfection is besides the point. The old joke about not needing to outrun the bear, just outrun your hiking partner? Same goes with odor control. Just make sure your food gives off less odor than the campsite of the guy a couple of miles away.
 
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Well, I'm not sure about our bears, but they seem to be a much more timid lot then the bears you guys are describing. We shoot them regularly too, even for minor infractions, such as repeated nocturnal sneak attacks on our garbage cans locked in our garages. So when a bear sees a fella waving a stick with a hotdog on it over a fire, Pavlov's system of conditioned response kicks in; human with stick go bang and kill. Bear goes away. In my neck of the woods in Northern Ontario, the first clue that tells us that you are not from here is if you hang your stuff in a tree. Nobody does that up here, and my Indigenous chums would get quite a chuckle if they saw someone doing that.

However, I'm sure things are different in other places, so I defer to the custom of the country and local experiences.
Then there's always the idea of stuffing a large, white cat into the food pack....
 
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