Did you know that black bears are found in all 50 states?  Some quick bear facts: They are extremely intelligent, have a great sense of smell (70 times better than ours). They can see colors. Camo clothing is appropriate as a bear clothing precaution. Bears are omnivores and usually not aggressive. I read a statement “you never see a bear until he finds you.”

 During the summer, many Scouts will be hiking and camping all over the United States in bear territory. 


While hiking in bear country, it is suggested that you speak loudly to others in your group (never hike alone). This will keep the bear from being surprised as you approach. Because bears can smell things up to five miles away, always store any snack foods in metal containers with screw on caps. Don’t use personal care items that smell such as some shampoos, deodorants, and bug sprays.

 Facing A Bear

If you happen upon a bear, keep talking, and go out of your way to get around it. If a bear stands up, it does not mean it is going to attack. It is just looking you over. If it saunters over, throw little stones at it until it backs away. I think if it is an aggressive bear, you will know it.

Never turn your back and run–back away. You should always carry bear spray, a tried and true better-than-a-gun-way to chase a bear away. It is a pepper spray in an aerosol can that can be sprayed at least 30 feet.

There is some indecision as to what to do if a bear actually attacks you. Some say to play dead, lying on your stomach so your backpack will help protect you. Others say absolutely do not do this. They think if attacked you should fight back, kick, punch and do whatever you can to get the bear away. Their fur makes them look much heavier than they are. Here’s some more tips on how to survive a bear encounter


We have briefly covered hiking. Camping is a whole different thing. Since a bear is always looking for food, it is important to separate yourself from all things edible. If you don’t use a lightweight electric fence to encircle all edibles, preferably stored in bear cans, they suggest the “bear-muda triangle.” Snacks or clothes used for cooking or personal items like toothpaste should not be allowed inside tents. In other words, the tents should not have anything which smells good to bears. The tents are the peak of the triangle. The bottom two points are 100 yards from the tents and the cooking and clean up are one side and a hundred yards away is the camp food pitched and hung from a limb in bear bags at least 12 feet off the ground. Remember, bears can climb trees.

Also, never wear head phones as you need your ears to keep you alert and safe. Have a happy hiking and camping summer. Remember to check with local wildlife authorities to learn if they have any restrictions you need to know.

Joyce Olesen
is a grandmother, mother, and daughter of Scouters. She love kids, camping, country music and sport cars. Her Dad was a Scout leader in Chicago in the early 1920’s and having only daughters did not bolster his Scouting hopes. As his "Scout" she was tying regulation knots by the time she was 7.

One comment

  1. Tyler North
    Tyler North ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I love the “bear-muda” pun! Definitely stringing the food up high is a must. We went camping one time and left the food in the ice chest thinking it would be safe. We woke up to find the milk cartons empty, with puncture marks left in the carton from the bear claws, and all the cheese eaten. But hey at least we know the bears were fancy because they liked their cheeses.

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