Bear Aware

Cottonwood BLM 004
Our camping neighbors in Cottonwood Arizona

One of the most enjoyable adventures in the summer is to go RVing and camping. Whether you are traveling to the ocean, a lake of a national camp ground the weather is usually perfect for most activities. There is nothing quite like sitting outside till the sun goes down taking in all the sites and sounds of our fantastic planet.

The sight, sounds and sweet smells of the wilderness seem to stir your soul. Chirping of the birds, the babbling of the  brook near by, or the mournful sound of the Loon cruising the still waters calling for its mate in the distant as you settle in for the night.

The night is eerie quiet compared to the noise of the city. No horns, no sirens, no lights. The lack of noise is almost deafening, you lay in your sleeping bag listening so hard for any familiar sound, but nothing.

As you begin to drift off something startles you out of your twilight, a sound? a movement? What was it? All your senses are tingling with anticipation. What is happening, your heart pounds so loud it seems  to drown out everything.

There’s a movement again, but what is it? A creature of the night waiting to tear your tent to shreds with you inside? Your heart leaping out of your chest, you strain so hard to hear.

Another movement this time just outside your tent, a grunting sound and then…….. a tearing sound, the stars are suddenly visible showing the outline of a large black shape………….the flash of teeth and claws.

You try to scream but nothing, something touches your arm and you scream as you bolt upright…………a voice says what’s wrong honey. It’s not the bear its your wife, you were dreaming and screaming like a little girl.

Mr Ranger

The Park Ranger had definitely made his point about being careful with your food and trash when there have been Bear sightings.

In the late summer and fall, bears will  migrate from higher elevations where food sources such as berries and water sources have dried up. Bears will travel to lower elevations and valley bottoms where food is more plentiful.

National parks and camp grounds may be frequented by bears at this time of year searching for food. For this reason it is important to secure trash, food and even pet food in air tight containers to not attract bears.

Although an adult black bear is quite capable of killing a human, black bears typically avoid confronting humans when possible unless a food source is available.

Most grizzly bear attacks result from a bear that has been surprised at very close range, especially if it has a supply of food to protect, or female grizzlies protecting their offspring.

So the moral of the story is to be bear aware, there are not too many things worse than having an unwanted visitor in your camp. They normally show up during the night when everyone is asleep. A lot of destruction and even injuries or worse.

A bear will often return to a source of food in other words if it has found trash or something to eat in a camp ground it will return looking for more. As happened  to me and a couple of buddies on a fishing trip to a remote lake in British Columbia.

The location was La de Roc about 8 hrs north of Vancouver just east of 100 mile house (I believe the name came from a marker during the gold rush days 100 miles from the terminus of the paddle wheelers on the Fraser river).

Bear in camp

It was Sept. and the summer vacationers had long since departed, there were a few fishermen camped along the lake. When we arrived  the camp ground owner/operator warned us that a bear had pushed in a window of a 5th wheel to get to a cooler.

He suggested we keep our food and trash inside our rig. At the time I had a mid size class-C motor home, I am very glad we were not tenting. The only camping spot available next to the lake shore was a  remote one on the edge of the forest.

We launched the boat, parked the motor home at our spot and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon of fishing, until the sky opened up releasing a torrent. Fortunately the boat had a canopy providing some shelter. We motored back to shore, started a camp fire set up a shelter and settled in for an evening of chatting and refreshments.

My buddies and myself hit the sack early, tired after the 5 hour drive, a few wobbly pops and a tasty dinner of hot dogs. The rain had quit shortly after our heads hit the pillow. I was the last one awake, this was confirmed by the chorus of snoring coming from the other two. I was not far behind them.

It could have been minutes or hours later, when I was awaken by what seemed like a jolt to the side of the motor home. I was sleeping in the back of the motor home in the corner bedroom, my wife and I usually shared. Just above the bed was a mid size window with horizontal blinds that bang against the window when traveling a rough road.

The banging of the blinds is what probably woke me. They had not settled from their sway before another jolt rocked the motor home causing them to bang on the window again.

Before we went to bed my buddies and I after a few beverages plotted on how we were going to deal with the marauding bear should he be careless enough to come to our camp. We agreed that if one of us heard something wake the others and we would deal with this nuisance.

Another jolt ……I hollered as manly as I could, ( not like a little girl …..honest), to awaken my comrades, no response. Another jolt rocking the motor home more violently, I hollered, OK SCREAMED again, still nothing, this was getting scary.

I was certain it was the bear and he was trying to push in the window. What was I going to do if the bear came in through the window and found me instead of the cooler.

I jumped from the bed stubbing my toe on something in the dark, after hurling a few choice words, I flicked the light switch and grabbed the first things I saw to make noise. They just happened to be a glass and a spoon, I pounded the spoon against the glass. The tingling sound filled the motor home like a wedding reception.

I glanced over my shoulder at my buddies, one was awake looking at me with a cheesy smile as the other one turned over and started to laugh at the sight of me in my underwear with glass and spoon in hand. I guess it wouldn’t have been funny if they had heard the bear or if I had been dressed in a suit and attending a wedding.

The commotion of the lights and my manly hollering, must have scared the bear away. I tried to explain about the bear through the laughter but they were having none of it, apparently I had a bad dream and scared myself.

After the laughter subsided and a quick scan of our camp with the flashlight from the door of the motor home, which actually caused a slight resurgence of chuckles, I retreated to my bed. All was quiet and the chorus of snoring soon resumed but not for me.


Morning came and I ventured out to survey the area of my bedroom window, sure enough some muddy deposits on the window confirmed my story. The bear had been trying to get in. I went back into the motor home to wake the sleeping Hyenas and show them the evidence.

After breakfast we broke camp and headed home, we had actually  booked 2 nights away, but after a brief discussion we unanimously concluded to depart this natural setting for somewhere more city like. After all someone may have mentioned there could be a family or gang of these large hair creatures. We could contend with one but what if we are out numbered………right.

I hope your have enjoyed this article about being bear aware, its a serious situation this time of year, be careful.

I have created a comprehensive list of equipment and items you may need for your RV/camping travels complete with product  links, click here to check out my list & links.


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Thanks for visiting.

Gord B.



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