Lost paddler found

Joined
Aug 22, 2013
Messages
924
Location
Red Lake, Ontario
http://www.montrealgazette.com/trav...going+missing+three+months/9104458/story.html

My food never, ever goes in a tree, or faraway from my tent. It goes in the vestibule area. If my food is going to get gotten, I want at least a fighting chance to protect it. This man almost died because his food was taken by a bear. It is my belief that 99.9% of bears where I travel can be scared off quite easily , and if not well that'll be a chance I will have to take.

I sleep with the axe and I am (in my own mind) confident that me and an axe vs. a bear will result in me the winner.

I am not advocating for others to do this, I think you need to do what you are most comfortable doing. It is mind over matter most of the time anyways.
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2013
Messages
427
Location
Long Island, NY
That guy was lucky to be found. I wonder what else we'll learn once he can tell his tale.

Yep, I'd say your food is worth fighting for and an axe is one way of getting your point across.
 
Joined
Mar 18, 2013
Messages
30
Location
Waterloo, ON
Where you put your food at night may depend on the nature of your trip. If you're camping in Killarney for 5 or 6 days, where bears are known to frequent campsites, it's a good idea to store the barrel away from your tent, and if you lose it, you can just paddle back to the car in a day or two. On an extended remote trip, I agree, your food is essential to your survival, and storing it within earshot so you can have a chance at scaring off a curious bear is a smart move.
 
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I suspect that the guy didn't almost die because a bear got his food. It seems likely that something else happened such that he was unable to travel in his usual way. I'm interested in hearing more of the story.

As for keeping food in or near a tent - that's equivalent to asking a bear to destroy your tent. You might scare it off, but it is worth the damage? And you might not scare it off. Can you wake up, find your headlamp, turn it on, get hold of your axe, and dispatch the bear without getting injured yourself? This seems like a very low-probability proposition. To each his own, I suppose, but I'll continue to stash my food away from my campsite.
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
596
Location
Aberdeen, MD
I also tend to sleep on top of my food. On those occasions when I bring my wannagan box, I pull it up under my hammock tarp and use it to put my shoes and clothing on at night. In the Smokies, I hang, since there are convenient 'bear cables' at every campsite (required stay). I also carry a mesh bag of dog hair that hangs off the thing. So far, so good.

Still amazing they found the guy. What was he, a month overdue? Something like that, according to what I saw on Facebook.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,460
I'm waiting to hear more details. Something doesn't add up. The area he was canoeing in is ripe with fish. Surely the bear didn't eat all his fishing tackle? Why didn't he try to take off to the nearest extraction point when the problem occurred. A human can go for a long time without food, and a human can cover a lot of ground when properly motivated.

As far as bears are concerned, it's all about place and time. We've had quite a few predatory bear incidents in Northern Ontario in the last little while. However, it's not a big concern for me when I'm on a canoe trip. The places I camp usually haven't seen any human occupation since the last time I was through, so it would be almost accidental for a bear to show up. I sleep with my food barrel in the vestibule or close to the tent. If I was in a heavily used park, I would have a different approach. And then of course, I often have a gun with me.

For those canoeists who don't fish (does such a creature actually exist?), when contemplating a "ditch kit", a mandatory item should be a spool of line and some jigs.
 
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A slight digression into the world of olfaction:
I use a Bear Vault and have tested its odor-transfer qualities at home prior to a trip. I put my aromatic foods in it - mostly beef jerky and trail mix - and, leaving it open, note how much interest my dog has in it, which is a LOT. Then I put the lid on without closing it all the way; the dog still wants to get into it. Then I close the lid all the way. The dog ignores it. This suggests to me that the BV does a good job of sealing odors inside. But would I trust it to a bear? No way, since I've read that bears' sense of smell is many times more sensitive than that of dogs.

Now a comment on memaquay's comment: I am one of that rare breed of human who canoes but does not fish. I have fished in the past but am no longer interested, partly because I'm filled with such embarrassment and shame when the fish rise to my bait, lift their smug little faces out of the water and laugh at me, roundly mocking a jilted angler. The other part of not fishing is that I'm too lazy. But mostly it's to spite those damn fish.
 
Joined
Aug 2, 2011
Messages
210
Location
Scituate, RI
I also am one of those rare canoeists that does not fish. Not sure why...fishing just never held my interest. As for losing my food...well, I have never canoed so far in the wilderness that help wasn't more than a day or two away at most, so have never brought fishing gear with me. If I was, and if I had to rely on some fishing line and some lures, I'd probably starve, lol! Unless I happened on some suicidal trout. -rs
 
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I always store my food away from my campsite, suspended high on a rope and stored in a "bear proof" container. I've been adamant about this practice ever since I was younger and on a backpacking trip. One morning we awoke to the discovery of a nearby campsite's food being ravaged by a bear. These folks had to leave the mountain and pack out a lot of trash in so doing. I shared my breakfast with them because my food was kept safe, then wished them well on their return home.
 
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A few years ago I was on Disappointment Lake in the Boundary Waters. It was my friend's first night not car-camping and we had a bear in camp, probably a two-year old. I scared it off - took three tries - and we never heard from it again. Down the lake, though, two guys were out fishing when three bears - a mama and two cubs - enjoyed their open food pack and their lunch, which they'd left in their second tent, which was badly damaged in the process. It was all I could do to keep from congratulating them for setting such a nice table for the bruins.

My practice for the past several years follows what many veterans of 30+ years of tripping do: stash the food in some out-of-the-way place. Since humidity carries odors, and the cooler, denser air of evening sinks, I find a low spot for my food pack, preferably among bushes or rocks to minimize air movement around the pack. In 10 or so trips I've had no problem.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,460
Like I said, it's all about time and place. When I'm tripping, I'm usually on the water or in camp. The food barrel doesn't get into my vestibule till it's time to retire. Crown Land camping is usually different than parks. Sites are seldom used, and we often have to make our own sites out of the bush. The Black bear in the park sees something long hanging from a human, they assume it's a hotdog on a stick; the Crown Land bear assumes it's a gun.I've had several bear encounters in the bush while canoeing....I could paint you a great picture of a bear's arse as it flees in terror. I have not encountered an agressive bear in the bush yet. On the other hand, the conditioned bears in our little town are totally unaffected by human efforts to scare them. I have had several run ins in town where the bear could not be scared off. Even after being shot with a 12 guage bean bag, it was back the next night. I would imagine park bears are a lot like our town bears. When they get that habituated, its time to start thinking about "relocating" them, something that is done up here quite frequently, also know as the Triple S - Shoot, Shovel, shut up.
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
Messages
838
Well, those dang old bears are at it again! I guess they didn't read their Disney script about how cute and cuddly they're supposed to be.

Red, about the axe; goodness knows I'm a fan of axes but it seems to me at the best you've got one good swing, with maybe a 36" handle. After that it's the bears plan to grip and bite. It seems to me it would have advantages in keeping him at some distance. Perhaps with a sturdy hiking staff with a strong spike on one end. Just like a quarter staff. But with the spike for traction and bears.
Now, it's true that some of the great unwashed have been known to carry shotguns, I guess they lost their Disney script too, no PETA Christmas cards for them!!

I surely understand wanting to protect your food as well as the rest of your gear and I can see both sides of the discussion about where to put it at night. The idea of having it close will just about guarantee that you'll know if something is getting at your food. But it does seem to be a little too up close and personal what with the bear on your door step.
As my faithful dog's hips have gotten so bad that it's painful for her lay in the canoe and thus depriving me of a very dependable warning in the night, I cobbled up my "infernal machine".



It's a box with two wailing alarms and all the stuff to make it work. That blue tab pulls out and allows the contact to close. On/Off switch on top. Screw eyes to peg the box down. That little brass thumb-nut holds the lid on.



Here's the works inside. The two alarms have a sound WHeeeeeOOOooooo, very loud and awful. They are wired so that if one fails the other one keeps on working. I thought that wise in that they are made in China. The works I didn't make myself came from Radio Shack.
The sound from the two alarms is not in "step" so that when one is coming down in sound the other is going up.

I have some really old ears that don't work all that well and I can barely stand the noise, I'd imagine that some wild animal with good ears would be driven off in haste.
Most times I place the box under the overturned canoe and run those little metal pegs through the screw eyes, two on the back and one in front. I use mono fish line for the trip line. How you rig the trip line depends on where you are and what you want to do.

You see the point here is that you'd know if something was messing with your gear even if it was some distance off. As in no bears in the tent with you!

Best Wishes,

Rob
 
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It’s a good thing I read your post all the way to the end Oldie, cause I was asking myself “Why is Oldie taking a lie detector machine camping?” Is he gonna guilt trip the marauding bears into confessing to sneaking off with his gorp?
“What’s your name? What’s your address? Where were you on the 28[SUP]th[/SUP] of this month between the hours of 7 and noon?”
It’s a great looking warning device Rob. The siren would be enough to teach those pesky critters a good lesson. I stash my barrel away from camp, tied to a tree under low hanging Balsam or Spruce. So far so good. I hate hanging it, and I’ve slept restlessly with it in my vestibule. I keep an axe in my tent, but it serves as more of a security blanket than real security.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
3,670
Location
Appleton, Maine
I hope this fellow recovers quickly, sounds like he was in bad shape and lucky to be found alive. On my week or two trips, I don't travel with electronics, but a trip that long and remote seems like it would demand at least a PLB. Losing your food that far out must really play on your mind after a few days or a week.

On my trip to LaVerendrye this past August I just dropped my Duluth Day pack with all my food in it down along the shoreline away from camp and any game trails. It was a wet process getting it back every morning in the dew.
This is the day pack here in the picture. It has two waterproof Sealine bags inside with all my food for 8 days.
This is also the last campsite of the trip, it showed alot more use, as in active thunderbox, not much firewood around the site, lots of canoe paint on the rocks out front.


So after dinner I hung it in the branch you can see back above the tent in the first picture. I have also left the food out front of the tent in LaVerendrye, and also in Woodland Caribou when the campsites showed little use.

Here's the pack in the tree with a "toilette" sign too.


I'm not sure what I would have done had I been awakened by that branch breaking as a bear climbed out there to get my food. I was a days paddle from my truck, lost food was no problem, but I have had that pack forever, it's been half rebuilt once, and it means alot to me....but to try an pull it from a bear who just fell out of a tree...in the dark, by myself...she can have it.
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
596
Location
Aberdeen, MD
Seeker, tell me more about this dog hair thingy you do.

My uncle/godfather/scoutmaster, who is now in his 80s, told me once that he's never had a bear or raccoon come into a camp when there was a dog around... he always had a Black Labs along on our family and Scout trips. I have a dog, but he doesn't come to NY with me... So how would a bear or raccoon KNOW there was a dog? Brothers Bear and Raccoon must be able to SMELL the dog... So I made a fake one... I got a small mesh bag, pulled a big handful of Lab hair off my uncle's couch, and put it in the bag. This goes inside a ziplock bag (smells like old socks, actually) when not in use. My wannagan box has two drawer-pull handles, one on each side. I run a bungi cord over top of it and hook it into the handles. At night, once my food is all packed up, I simply take the mesh bag of hair out of the ziplock, pull the cord under the bungi, and that's it.

Here's a picture of the box with the black bungi... that's my tilley hat riding under it, with gumbi supervising, and my daughter in the bow.

Edit: I went and found the bag and took a picture. so there's that too now.
 

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Joined
Jul 25, 2012
Messages
838
Hmm.....re-reading about all this; if the guy can't talk, how did a bear get mixed up in this? (maybe this is a case of species profiling!! Call the P.C. police!)
Those rescue guys; didn't they have a littler? I can think of several reasons it might not be best to carry the victim piggy back.

I think I'd prefer the dog hair attached to some ears, a nose and a bark. I'm off this Sunday to look at a litter of rough collies. My good old Rose can be comfortable by the home fires.

Seeker, is Gumby your navigator?

Red, if there is any follow up story I'd sure like to read more what happened to this fellow. At the very least right now, we can say he has a strong will to live.

Thanks for these gems you discover,

Rob
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
Messages
838
Well, I'm feeling a whole lot less sorry for the puke. Only three days and he "had" to kill and eat his dog? And the quotes from the experts: "He survived because he made good decisions" nonsense, he made very poor decisions, was not prepared and the dog and he paid the price. The other "expert" goes on to describe the effects of extreme hunger; that's not what it was after only three days. And he used a rock? What, no knife, axe or gun??? I suppose the bear ate them.
I wasn't there, but I can't imagine how you could stand there with your thumb up, and let a bear destroy all your food and canoe. If the bear had attacked him that's one thing but the reports don't say anything about him being hurt from the bear.
I doubt we'll ever really know what happened, but there are too many questions how he ever got himself in that fix and what truly happened.

Hackles up,

Rob

P.S. I find it interesting that none of the "experts" speak to the importance of not eating a dog's liver, you wind up overdosing on vitamin A, very serious if not fatal.
 
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