scouts-l Mail Archive for July of 2000: Re: Women camping hints (bears)
Fri Jul 14 2000 - 09:57:58 CDT
In a message dated 7/13/00 7:53:41 PM Mountain Daylight Time,
> Jim or any others, could you add any thoughts on camping with young
> women who are having a menstrual period in bear country?
We heard this wive's tale many times in our many years of living camping in
Alaska. The experts say menstruating women are in no more danger than the
rest of us.
The key to safety in bear camping is to keep a clean campsite, properly store
food, cook some distance away from sleeping areas if possible, properly store
or dispose of waste, and avoid areas which smell like rotten meat (a bear may
have cached a carcass nearby -- and he's watching you).
BTW, when camping with a dozen noisy Scouts, it's hard to find a bear (or any
wildlife for that matter) when you really want one. Some experts recommend
hikers and backpackers attach a bell to their packs to warn bears of their
approach. Singing or talking is probably as effective, but needs to be as
constant and tireless as a bell. Thus warned, bears will usually sneak away
long before you see them (unless they're watching over a cache).
BTW #2, in Alaska, I always prohibited my Scouts from having their own food
cache (candy, etc). I insisted on having all food in one place so we could
store it properly. (Even a hungry squirrel can do a lot of damage to a
backpack containing munchies.) I even emphasized this to the parents so they
could help me enforce the rule (cooperation was, unfortunately,
unpredictable). We returned to our campsite one afternoon after being away
for a couple of hours. Upon entering his tent, one of my Scouts came
face-to-face with a black bear with a mouthful of jerky. Both boy and bear
made a safe but hasty and noisy exit -- in opposite directions. I immediately
(and, um, sternly) reminded the troop of the rule about personal snacks. Ya
shoulda seen the stuff come out of those tents!
BTW #3, to a bear, a rifle shot can sound like a dinner bell. In some parts
of Alaska, bears have learned to associate rifle shots with fresh meat. Ya
gotta keep yer eyes open while dressing out that deer or moose. Let him have
that meat (unless ya have a bear tag).