View topic - To hang or not to hang??

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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2019, 2:31 pm 
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Joined: February 10th, 2008, 4:41 pm
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Never hang.
I do use the metal food caches at Provincial parks because those are the rules.
On long trips I have a blue food barrel and I keep it in camp.
If a bear is going to eat my food I am going to fight back.
Bear spray works.
Lots of bears both black and grizzly out here in BC.
Never had any trouble from either species in a long career of working and playing in the wilds.


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2019, 4:36 pm 
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Location: Manitoba
I don't hang my food.

Mostly my food remains in food packs or barrels on the ground in camp.

I do use metal food boxes if they are available at campsites. This represents approx. 10% of my camp out nights.

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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2019, 5:10 pm 
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... so the guys got carried away last trip and we ended up with eleven pounds of potato chips and junk food that obviously wouldn't fit in our blue barrel :o :o :o :doh: :doh: :doh: :oops: :oops: :oops: . This we put into a dry bag and hung ... mostly to keep the mice and squirrels out.

We used to hang our blue barrel too (if our chippies weigh 11 lbs, you can imagine our b.b.) though we have a rope with a pulley on it that we tossed over a hefty limb, then lowered, threaded the barrel rope on, re-raised and tied off, then hoisted the barrel ... protected the tree and made the hoisting easier.

For the last 5 years, we've simply tied the barrel to a tree a 30yds from the nearest tent, and not between any tent/hammock and the canoes, with pots and pans on top as an alarm. So far so good.

I have to admit though, the few times I've solo-ed, I've found hanging my olive barrel/food barrel to bring me a little extra level of perceived assuredness as I'm nodding off to sleep in my bear taco.


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2019, 6:00 pm 
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Bear lockers certainly are a convenience but not entirely secure. There are a few on the coastal route in Pukaskwa National Park and we learned of a shortcoming the first night. Our food was in a blue barrel and we just put the barrel in the locker. Next to the barrel was the 3 or 4 l bladder of non fine box wine which was to be our libation for two for a week or 10 days.
Next morning the bladder was chewed.. The mice must have had some hangover. Mice can get in a 1/4 inch opening.. We were less than amused especially when I could not find the coffee....

If you want to hang feel no shame.. Its your trip and you have to do what makes your trip comfortable and fun.


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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2019, 11:22 pm 
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I haven't hung a food bag in twenty years and we paddle with excellent grub. All the meat gets vacuum packed and frozen and the coolers are fairly thick walled and have exterior latches. I try to pack meal portions ahead of time, so once something comes out, it doesn't go back in. Leftovers usually sit in the pot on top of the canoe/table til morning, then get folded into the eggs. Dry, non-perishables go into a dry bag. Coolers and bags get closed up for the night, but that's it. Don't ever particularly worry about anything beyond that. Have paddled this way for twenty years all over the east - from Bloodvein to Bonaventure, duChef to Nantahala. Only critter in camp encounter was we once had a raccoon get into some english muffins because someone forgot to close up the drybags. And that was at a crap campground right near a major road on a heavily trafficked river. My old Newfie used to paddle with me and having him in camp probably helped, but we've been dog-less for a few years now. However, we are usually up fairly late ourselves, so our shenanigans probably dissuade some visitors, too. The one place I worried a bit was on the duChef - one night we stopped at a site where, from all the tracks in the sand, it looked like there had been a black bear convention the night before. But, knock wood, that one lone raccoon on the James has been our only troublemaker.

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PostPosted: January 27th, 2019, 9:44 pm 
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I'm probably going to ruffle some feathers with this post, but I do usually hang my food. Let me preface by saying I do most of my camping in the Algonquin backcountry, so my thoughts are specific to this.

First of all, I think the article referenced is pretty stupid. He has six "arguments" to not hang your food.

1. You probably suck at it
2. It's often impossible
3. It's time consuming
4. It can cause injury or death
5. It's rarely effective against a determined bear
6. More user-friendly options exist

The "you probably suck at it" and "it's time consuming" are the stupidest of these reasons, because these are 100% human dependant, they're not inherent to the actual efficiency of hanging food. If you suck at it, get better at it; if it's too time consuming, make time for it. You probably sucked at a j-stroke when you started paddling, but I'm not going to write a blog post "6 reasons not to use a j-stroke" and have the first reason as "you probably suck at it".

The "it's often impossible" can be accurate but not always. Again I'm talking about Algonquins backcountry, and I'd say 90% of the time I'm at a campsite, it's absolutely possible to find a good branch. I don't always hang my food, and some of the times I don't are when indeed there is no ideal spot. But you shouldn't include this as an argument to convince people not to hang their food, because yes, a lot of the time it is possible.

It can cause injury or death. Seriously? You're going camping in the wilderness, portaging a canoe over your head for several kilometers along uneven, rocky, muddy, slippery terrain. You're paddling in hypothermia-inducing water temperatures during offseason camping. Your only shelter while you sleep between your head and a falling tree is the thin sheet of fabric from your tent. You're surrounded by chance of injury or death at every point of your trip, but you're worried about throwing a rock over a branch?

Now, #5 and #6 I think are valid arguments. Even a proper bear hang might not stop a determined bear from getting your food, and there are other alternatives like tying an Ursack to a tree. Does this mean you shouldn't do a bear hang? Not really. It's just making it clear that bear hangs have their limitations and aren't 100% effective.

My personal opinion is that you should do whatever you can, within reason, to get closer to that 100% effective mark, even though you'll never actually reach it. If I have the choice between leaving my food on the ground, or having it hover 15ft off the ground and 10ft from any branch/limb, I'm going to choose the latter. Will it for sure stop a bear from getting my food? Nope. But it will add one extra layer of difficulty and bring me one step closer to that 100% effective mark.

And to user Wilsauceez, yes I am one of those people that occasionally hangs my day clothes with my food, depending on certain variables. I do this because it's a very marginal amount of added effort but is one step closer to keeping a scent free campsite. Of course I acknowledge that his has its limitations as well; you'll have the smell of dinner on your breath, there could be garbage at the campsite from previous campers, etc. But the very little bit of extra effort that it takes to put my clothes in my barrel will still bring me one step closer to that 100% effective mark. Your ignorant sarcasm about might as well hang your tent and sleep on the ground naked is a terrible example for newcomers to the community who I personally believe instead should be getting the advice "do whatever you reasonably can to make it more difficult for animals to get to your food.", and that includes hanging your food, when possible. I'm not going to tell someone that they absolutely need to hang their day clothes with their food, but I'm also not going to shun them for doing so.

At the end of the day, my belief is this:

Bears exist in the Algonquin backcountry.

Bears (and other animals/rodents) would happily eat your food if they have access to it.

Hanging your food and taking other preventative measures will make it difficult for bears and other animals to get access to your food.

Don't expect to have a 100% animal-proofed campsite, but if you can get to 70% instead of 40% with a little bit of extra effort... then put in that extra effort.

If there are no suitable branches around, it's ok not to hang your food, but at least tie it to a tree or bring it away from camp, etc.

If you want to sleep with your food in your tent/vestibule, go for it, but I'd personally never recommend that to someone inquiring about best food storing practices in the backcountry.

Don't hide your food/barrel under an overturned canoe; if a bear takes notice of the scent and wants to get your food, don't make him destroy your only means of transportation.

If you're using a scent proof container/bag for your food, don't hang your pots and pans on the outside... that completely defeats the purpose of the pack being scent proof. Use a bear bell or something similar instead.

If your food bag is simply too heavy to hang or you think you're going to destroy the branch, then it's ok not to hang it.

If you just want to take your chances and not hang your food because black bears in Algonquin probably won't stumble upon your campsite anyways, and if they do, they most likely won't create any danger, then go ahead and don't hang your food.

If you're noticing the trend, I'm not trying to preach that you should always hang your food... but don't use "you probably suck at it" and "it's too time consuming" as excuses not to do it. If there are legitimate reasons, and yes there often are, then don't hang your food. But if it's reasonable to do so, then do it. And if you're able to include other scents with your food (ie. sunscreen, bug spray, and if you so please then even your day clothes), then go for it. Your camp will probably never be completely animal proof, but it's worth the effort to at least decrease the odds of an animal getting to your food if the situation were to occur.

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PostPosted: January 28th, 2019, 9:24 am 
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If you want to hang your food then go ahead. It's an accepted practice. As practiced in most of Ontario it is not an effective practice but it is accepted. A common reason why it is not effective is that not everything is hung, including that list of stuff you included in the line "And if you're able to ...".

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PostPosted: January 28th, 2019, 2:17 pm 
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I think the motto "If you're going to do something, then do it well" applies.
After some trials and errors I learned to hang my food well, even a heavy 30L barrel. Then I did more reading on the subject and decided to stash my barrel well instead. I am not being flippant. No matter what you choose to do with your food you may as well get good at it, and keep consistent with that excellence. Having no animal encounters is not absolute proof I've done anything well, I might've just gotten lucky. Repeatedly. Ha.
Food handling and storage are very important tasks on my trips. I like being lucky, but I'd rather be good. I pay a lot of attention to this. My choice of foods also plays a part. An increasing proportion of dry and dehydrated not only decreases weight and volume for my declining ability to portage, but has also greatly increased the ease of cleanliness in my camp kitchen and storage. All this fastidiousness has probably done more to critter proof my camp than any hanging decisions. But that is just my opinion.
If the day comes when I'll opt to a food sack over a barrel, I'll go back to hanging. You can't do too many things well. Until then I'll continue to be an annoying clean freak around camp, and long after.


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PostPosted: January 29th, 2019, 5:37 pm 
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I actually liked the article.

I only hung food when paddling with my parents as a kid. Looking back there's no way the bags where hung correctly lol.

If a determined bear comes into my camp looking for food, I want the chance to scare it away. I keep my food close to and sometimes in my tent. If a bear managed to get a hold of my food and eat it all, I would say that is a potentially life threatening situation depending how far out in the wilderness you are. I rather have a chance to scare it...My dog is a deterrent as well.

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PostPosted: January 29th, 2019, 5:43 pm 
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I have seen people get hurt by bears while eating in their tent. In a heavily used park I would never keep food in the tent.

You can scare the bear away perhaps with you separated from your food too.

Dogs and bears do not mix too well sometimes. Mine would bring try to make friends with it.She always did with porkies and tried with a moose.Friendship was not reciprocal.

Dog off leash seems to be particularly a bad idea.. Barking dog can be a deterrent.. There are pros and cons but the weight is against

https://www.orvis.com/what-to-do-in-a-b ... h-your-dog


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PostPosted: January 29th, 2019, 8:02 pm 
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With all due respect, the TrippyThings critique takes the article arguments heavily out of context.
"because most backpackers don’t backpack often enough to get the requisite practice, most bear bags are hung really poorly" - there's nothing "stupidest" about this argument, this is just a fact. Paddlers practice their J-stroke for years - do you know many who practice a bear hang? And so on.


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PostPosted: January 29th, 2019, 10:20 pm 
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No disrespect taken, you're disagreeing with me just like how I'm disagreeing with the article. I'm just trying to voice my opinion so people reading the thread can see both sides of the argument, then they can choose what resonates best with them.

But a few things I would question / clarify...

1. How does the author know that backpackers don't backpack often enough to get the requisite practice? This sounds like a big assumption to me, especially considering backpacking in general is a much larger market than canoeing.... "do you know many who practice a bear hang", I actually agree with you on this, but that's my point. It shouldn't be acceptable to say "paddlers practice their j-stroke for years" but not apply the same rule to backpackers hanging their food.

2. The "stupidest" comment I made wasn't regarding the fact itself, e.g. that backpackers don't practice hanging their food and therefore it's hung poorly, it was regarding the fact that he's trying to make arguments against doing x process, but the arguments aren't factors of x (food hanging), they're factors of y (human effort). That's why I did agree with some of his other points, just not those.

Really, the point I was trying to make is that just because you're not good at something or don't take the time to learn it, doesn't mean you shouldn't try to get good at it, and take the time to learn it. Hanging your food is a relatively straightforward task to learn and I think the author is disregarding the fact that it only takes a little bit of practice to do it properly.

And as most people on these forums are mentors and resources for the lurkers and newcomers to the community, I just think there should be a stronger mentality of 'put the effort in to learn the skill'.

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PostPosted: January 29th, 2019, 11:42 pm 
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littleredcanoe wrote:
I have seen people get hurt by bears while eating in their tent. In a heavily used park I would never keep food in the tent.

You can scare the bear away perhaps with you separated from your food too.

Dogs and bears do not mix too well sometimes. Mine would bring try to make friends with it.She always did with porkies and tried with a moose.Friendship was not reciprocal.

Dog off leash seems to be particularly a bad idea.. Barking dog can be a deterrent.. There are pros and cons but the weight is against

https://www.orvis.com/what-to-do-in-a-b ... h-your-dog


That article lost me in the first sentence which is ridiculous. When we venture out in the wilderness we are in a bears home. To wish for no encounter is absurd. It's going to happen sooner or later.

I take my dog on almost all canoe trips. We have had a number of bear encounters and they have all been positive.

Let me also state that I rarely camp in Algonquin and the places I go generally the bears are very wild and not habituated to humans...generally.

While a poorly trained dog can prove a nightmare in a bear encounter, a well trained and EXPERIENCED dog can prove extremely helpful and IMHO better than a banger, spray, and most definitely a gun. I chose my dog and breed based on my canoe adventures and while learning takes time, it is possible to have a predictable well behaved dog during a bear encounter.

One such example is "Sam" and this dogs brave story can be found with a search on myccr.

A much bigger concern while travelling with a dog are porcupines and skunks.

The dog will behave as well as it is trained. It takes a huge amount of time and effort and while my dog is still learning how to canoe camp...so am i.

I also think leashing a dog is wishful thinking. How do you climb a cliff on a portage with a dog leashed to you and a heavy canoe on your shoulders...that's a recipe for disaster and one I very quickly learned does NOT work.

Sam

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PostPosted: January 30th, 2019, 10:26 am 
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TrippyThings wrote:
... I just think there should be a stronger mentality of 'put the effort in to learn the skill'.


This is a valid thought but don't overlook the corollary which is that if Ontario Parks seriously though that hanging food was essential for bear safety then they would 'put in the effort' to establish bear cables at an appropriate distance from campsites to be effective. This was happening in western parks like Banff back in the 80's.

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PostPosted: January 30th, 2019, 12:09 pm 
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Splake wrote:
TrippyThings wrote:
... I just think there should be a stronger mentality of 'put the effort in to learn the skill'.


This is a valid thought but don't overlook the corollary which is that if Ontario Parks seriously though that hanging food was essential for bear safety then they would 'put in the effort' to establish bear cables at an appropriate distance from campsites to be effective. This was happening in western parks like Banff back in the 80's.



We do see these cables in select locations/lakes, and they do advocate food hanging throughout their online resources. I’m referring specifically to Algonquin since I’m not as familiar with all of the other parks. I think it’s just the unfortunate reality that their resources are limited so they decide to take a reactive approach with installing cables (when disturbances becomes a recurring issue), and a proactive approach by providing the information/recommendations online.

I like to follow their recommendations and at least advocate to other campers that food hanging is a good practice to follow, when possible.

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