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4keys
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07/06/2020 08:10AM
To start with, yes, I know they are not bear proof.
We used to hang our food in a pack, but recently switched to a blue barrel . Generally I don't over worry about bears, although this year I am seeing a lot of posts on bear issues in the area we plan on going to in 2 weeks. So...
1. Do you hang a blue barrel, or just stash it?
2. If you stash, do you do it nearby, far away, in camp?
3. Do you remove the barrel pack before stashing ? (To make it a little harder for the bear to drag it away)
4. Do you wrap the pack straps around a tree or a seperate rope, again, in hope of slowing down the bear until you can try to scare it off.

Thanks for any info!
 
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AmarilloJim
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07/06/2020 08:42AM
I take mine out of the pack and stash just outside camp so I can hear if anything is getting into it. I'll hang if I'm really worried about bears (Knife). I always take my food with me on day trips.
 
Northwoodsman
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07/06/2020 09:00AM
I hang mine at night and when away from camp. I keep it tightly closed up when in camp.
 
tomo
senior member (75)senior membersenior member
 
07/06/2020 09:06AM
I stash the barrel nearby, with the harness on. I don't tie it to anything....
 
07/06/2020 09:18AM
I stash mine well out of camp and most of the time I do tie it to a tree but not to snuggly that it aids a bear in leveraging. I tie it mainly to buy myself time to hear
a ruckus and hopefully chase bear off before he carries the barrel away to feast. I take it out of harness before stashing for 2 reasons. 1. I don't want the harness ripped to shreds if a bear does find it. 2. The harness is more likely to hold cooking odors.
 
unshavenman
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07/06/2020 09:21AM
For my 30L barrel I actually carry it an an insulated food pack and the rest of the space in the pack holds my kitchen and such. When in camp the barrel gets stashed a bit away from camp (typically up the path by the throne somewhere).
 
Mo63021
member (16)member
 
07/06/2020 09:52AM
Mostly we have stayed on island campsites in the Q, but this year we went to Lynx Lake and I had made a new food barrel instead of renting one. Total cost was apx. $50 and we would wrap a steel cable around a setting of three trees and around the barrel, latching it to the eye bolts that held the shoulder straps. I do not have a photo that shows what we did this trip but we always try to keep a clean camp and very, very seldom have leftovers that need to be buried, (none of this trip). Fish guts and such are always cleaned away from camp and placed on a rock for the Eagles to eat. We would most likely hang the barrel in the future between two trees if the bears were noted around our planned lakes. I know bears can swim to island camps as we had a bear on Horseshoe Island in Moose lake our very first trip, in 1974!!
 
Jaywalker
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07/06/2020 12:07PM
I have usually taken mine out of the pack or harness so there is less to grab, and I secure it to a tree using about a 6 foot piece of climbing tubular webbing with loops on each end and a carabiner. Like Minnmike mentioned, I try to leave it a bit loose so the bear doesn’t get leverage. I usually find a tree close by but away from the fire ring and my other gear. I’d prefer to know if the bear is trying to get into it in hopes I might be able to drive it off.
 
cyclones30
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07/06/2020 12:24PM
We take ours out of the harness at night and I use a bike lock cable w/ climbing carabiner to attach to tree away from camp. If we're going on day trips, we usually take it with us if we're in "bear areas" or gone all day.
 
scotttimm
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07/06/2020 12:53PM
cyclones30: "We take ours out of the harness at night and I use a bike lock cable w/ climbing carabiner to attach to tree away from camp. If we're going on day trips, we usually take it with us if we're in "bear areas" or gone all day. "
+1. I'm thinking of adding a bell to the handle of mine this year, to let me know if something is trying to get in...
 
07/06/2020 04:20PM
scotttimm: "cyclones30: "We take ours out of the harness at night and I use a bike lock cable w/ climbing carabiner to attach to tree away from camp. If we're going on day trips, we usually take it with us if we're in "bear areas" or gone all day. "
+1. I'm thinking of adding a bell to the handle of mine this year, to let me know if something is trying to get in..."


Buy those cheap clip on fishing bells and clip them to the harness should work.
 
mjmkjun
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07/06/2020 04:24PM
I also will put a bear bell on the handle of my 30 L blue barrel this year. The lid is always clasped shut unless I am in the act of cooking. I don't walk away unless it's clasped shut/sealed. I leave it in full view of the camp area. (a stool) Never had a bear/small critter problem yet. If I'm situated on a hill then I'll tie to a tree so it doesn't get batted around and end up rolling in lake. I also wipe it down end of the day with a wet wipe/soapy water in case of odors transfer.
The harness is removed whenever I finish setting up camp. Am not providing a handle for it to be picked up by big teeth and carried away.
 
mjmkjun
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07/06/2020 04:24PM
oops. double posted.

 
CoachBigD
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07/06/2020 07:20PM
that strip of metal used to lock that latch has broken on mine. I had a cotter pin in mind as a replacement. Any more effective ideas out there?
 
07/06/2020 08:43PM
If I stash it in the woods, then I walk it out of camp, strap it to a tree with a bungee and pile pots on top of it. I don't generally take it out of the harness. If I hang it. i use the best set of trees for hanging that I can either in camp or out. I leave the harness on.
 
Jaywalker
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07/06/2020 09:31PM
CoachBigD: "that strip of metal used to lock that latch has broken on mine. I had a cotter pin in mind as a replacement. Any more effective ideas out there?"
Go to any hardware store and ask for a safety pin. It’s not like the small, pointy ones - it’s perfect. Safety pin
 
4keys
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07/06/2020 09:31PM
It sounds like everyone does it a little differently. As no one mentioned any incidents, I'm guessing everyone's method has worked for them (so far anyways). As we will be going through Seagull /Alpine I will probably have to do it all, I'd hate to lose my food on the first night.

I'm also thinking about keeping some basics like granola bars in a seperate small opsack and hanging it away from our barrel, just so we have something to eat if a bear does get into our barrel. Does anyone else do that?

Also, I'm wondering what to do with the food when we double portage? At some point the food will be alone. I guess just stashing it near the trail is the most practical.
 
07/06/2020 10:06PM
Stash the barrel(s) variable distance—just the barrel no pack
 
LarryS48
member (45)member
 
07/07/2020 03:28AM
I take mine 50 -100 yards from camp and fasten the hip belt around a tree at ground level. The bells several people mentioned sound like a good idea. As for the metal pin to keep the locking ring locked, mine didn't have one. I found an old clip used to hang a shower curtain does the job.
 
geotramper
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07/07/2020 07:17AM
We hide our barrel out of camp. Harness stays on. Generally we try to find a spot away from trails (human and animal) and in fairly dense cover. We avoid cliffs and shorelines. No tying to trees.

We don't use the barrel as a table or chair so as to prevent it from getting smells on the outside. Food on the inside is packaged in lots of plastic bags to help with reducing those scents. Cook kit goes in the barrel along with the food.

We hide the barrel during the day as we would overnight if we are leaving camp.

We did this on SAK this year and had no issues.
 
mjmkjun
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07/07/2020 07:28AM
I don't understand hiding but that's just my quirk, I'm sure. That would be one big black bear boar to rip thru the thickness of my blue barrel in minutes. Probably has been done but for the average black bear, it would take lots of biting and clawing. I'm bound to notice when it's in view.
 
Jaywalker
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07/07/2020 08:58AM
4keys: "It sounds like everyone does it a little differently. As no one mentioned any incidents, I'm guessing everyone's method has worked for them (so far anyways). .... “

I think the so far is key. After a few trips with no incidents we tend to get confident in our process, but chances are most of us have not had a bear actually try very hard to get our food or even at all. Perhaps, if regular bear food is short in supply, we will learn a few new lessons. Those of us using blue barrels know there have been at least a few cases of them getting chewed, though I still (as of today anyway) think it is unlikely. Ursacks may not give up the food, but it can get chewed up and drooled on, and we even had a case last year I think where one of our members lost a bear vault when the bear rolled it out of camp and it was not found. Short of giant steel boxes with locking doors, most of us are playing a game of probability.
 
jfinn
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07/07/2020 09:55AM
Short of giant steel boxes with locking doors, most of us are playing a game of probability. "

I agree is is a game of probability. I dislike the "I haven't had a problem" statement. I have left food by accident in a pack and didn't have a problem that time. Do I want to do that on the regular? No. When there is a problem because of lazy or careless/reckless actions (or lack of) you not only have a trip that could be ruined, but also a bear. If we are playing a game, why not stack odds in your favor? If the food isn't hung with the the 10x10 minimum standard, then everything else SHOULD use as many precautions as possible and to me they should all be used.
#1 Clean Camp
#2 Reduce or remove odors (op sack or liner inside of barrel)
#3 Reduce familiarity (not in a tree pinata style or by the fire grate/food area)
#4 Create Noise/alarm (Bells are easy and cheep)
#5 Reduce Accessibility (Vault, blue barrel secured, Ursa Sack tied)

I no longer hang. I find that suitable locations often too hard to find. The Ursa/Op Sack combo suits be very well but I understand the blue barrel fan group. Just put the food in a liner of some type that can reduce or remove odor, keep it clean, put a bell on it and secure it to a tree.

Lastly, I once had a bear carry away a rubbermaid tote in CA. That bear woke me up when it was in our neighbors site, but I slept through it carrying the tote almost 50 yards. Don't count on waking up without an alarm system.
 
IndyCanoe
senior member (99)senior membersenior member
 
07/07/2020 10:32AM
We use the blue barrel but I still hang it with a pulley system that we had prior to purchasing the barrel. Probably unnecessary based on the experience of others but I try to stack probably of success in my favor. I cringe at the thought of ending a trip early because we lost our food to a bear.
 
unshavenman
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07/07/2020 10:42AM
Jaywalker: "CoachBigD: "that strip of metal used to lock that latch has broken on mine. I had a cotter pin in mind as a replacement. Any more effective ideas out there?"
Go to any hardware store and ask for a safety pin. It’s not like the small, pointy ones - it’s perfect. Safety pin "

Yep, that's what I replaced mine with as well. I have two of them, one for use and one for a backup. They get taped to the inside of the lid.
 
GreyWolfMN
member (15)member
 
07/07/2020 11:40AM
Interesting discussion. It almost sounds like the bears have figured out that blue barrels=food!

I actually had been thinking about making the move to a blue barrel since campsites are getting destroyed in recent years and finding a suitable spot to put up a rope high in 2 trees is becoming difficult.

I guess I'm old school. I hang the food packs well out of reach of a bear. Been doing that since 1970 and have been lucky so far. Even when a nearby campsite was being rained all night, ours was untouched. We keep a clean site, all food is in double ziplocks, never turn our backs to the food pack, and always take it with whenever we leave the site during the day.
 
Grandma L
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07/07/2020 06:59PM
AmarilloJim: "I take mine out of the pack and stash just outside camp so I can hear if anything is getting into it. I'll hang if I'm really worried about bears (Knife). I always take my food with me on day trips."
+1
 
07/08/2020 05:13AM
If I could trust the blue barrel I would just stash it off the beaten path not too far away. I use a bear canister because I never want to end a trip early. I can guarantee people have bear in campsites more often then they think. I’ve never had a problem except having to dodge bear poop. Haha!
 
mjmkjun
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07/08/2020 06:16AM
Nobody wants to have to cut a trip early due to loss of food cache, that's a fact. Kudos to all for the strategies made. Adjustments and fluidity is key in the Game of Outwitting. There is that hard fact of bears paying a terrible price when they inconvenience campers/canoeists' food supply. I'd never make a report of a bear raiding my campsite. The standard protocol is too twisted. In a nutshell, Go into bear country to camp but if a bear bothers a location much USFS will kill it so it doesn't inconvenience others. Twisted, I tell you. One wonders how many bears will be left in the BWCA........say in 25 yrs?
Apologies for the stray on subject.
 
PaddleAway
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07/08/2020 09:58PM
Maybe we're the exception but we leave the barrel in the middle of our camp at night. We prop our paddles against the handles, leave something metallic on top, & leave it on rock (if available which it usually is) so that if something messes with it, it'll make a serious racket & be only seconds away from getting out to it.

I don't know about everyone else, but I sleep hard enough that if a bear hits something 50 years from my tent, I'm never going to hear it!
 
07/09/2020 04:35PM
I also stash my barrel(s). As far as I am aware I have never had a bear in camp in over 13-years of BW trips. Been using barrels for 8 of those years now and I just find a big bush somewhere out of site and tuck it away for the night. Im sure at some point a bear will find it and eat me out of a trip, but that can be true of hanging.
I have heard stories of bears knowing which trees are the hanging trees, so they check out that tree, and if there is nothing there, they just move on to the next site. I have no idea if that is just a "bear tall tale", but it kind of makes sense to me.
 
coffeetalk
member (10)member
 
07/23/2020 03:02PM
I remove from pack and stash. Tie to a tree or whatever with cordage and one of these inline. It's loud as hell, loud enough to wake me and probably everyone else on the lake, but hopefully loud enough to scare the bear off. Worth the vulgar disturbance of the peace to potentially save a bear's life, in my opinion.
 
07/23/2020 03:25PM
coffeetalk: "I remove from pack and stash. Tie to a tree or whatever with cordage and one of these inline. It's loud as hell, loud enough to wake me and probably everyone else on the lake, but hopefully loud enough to scare the bear off. Worth the vulgar disturbance of the peace to potentially save a bear's life, in my opinion."

I wonder if it would scare a bear away when it tripped one of these?
 
TipsyPaddler
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07/23/2020 04:29PM
coffeetalk: "I remove from pack and stash. Tie to a tree or whatever with cordage and one of these inline. It's loud as hell, loud enough to wake me and probably everyone else on the lake, but hopefully loud enough to scare the bear off. Worth the vulgar disturbance of the peace to potentially save a bear's life, in my opinion."

I do the same with the same device when I use a blue barrel. I bought the hot pink one. The sonic alarm and a couple yards of light “trip wire”cordage weigh next to nothing.

To the following question I can’t say if it would scare a hungry bear away as I have never had a bear issue with a well stashed blue barrel.
 
coffeetalk
member (10)member
 
07/23/2020 04:33PM
lyontyl: "coffeetalk: "I remove from pack and stash. Tie to a tree or whatever with cordage and one of these inline. It's loud as hell, loud enough to wake me and probably everyone else on the lake, but hopefully loud enough to scare the bear off. Worth the vulgar disturbance of the peace to potentially save a bear's life, in my opinion."


I wonder if it would scare a bear away when it tripped one of these?"


I wonder as well. I hope so. It scares me. It scares my cats. It does not scare my gun dog.
 
4keys
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07/23/2020 09:57PM
So we just spent 4 nights on Ogish. All the food was in vacuum packed bags or zip lock bags, and if it had a strong smell like jerky, dog food, garbage, was also in op sack bags, then put in the blue barrel. This was put off trails, in brush, tied to a tree near but not in camp. No bear problems, but I didn't expect any there. ( we also hung a small pack of dog food that wouldn't fit in the blue barrel in ziplock and opsack bags in a different area, no problem there either).

For our last night we moved closer to the EP and spent the night at a site on the southern side of Alpine. By then everything fit in the barrel. My husband buckled it to a tree 5 feet off the toilet trail, clearly visible. His opinion is that no matter where it was, a bear would be able to smell it if he was in the area. I wanted it in a less obvious place, especially as we found a pile of garbage not far from the toilet. But as it was our last night I didn't argue too much. Nothing happened overnight but I don't know if there was a bear nearby or not, so I can't say which of us was right!

 
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