Camping is a great way to escape the noise and nuisance of human life, but that doesn’t mean nature is without its pests. Mosquitoes, rodents, raccoons and even bears, are all common inhabitants of the wild surrounding campsites. Sometimes when you’re visiting their stomping ground, they’re going to want to stop by and say ‘hey’… and probably grab a snack while they’re at it. Below are some ways to help you keep your campsite to yourself and encourage nature’s entourage to be on its merry way.
Know what is common where you’re going
You won’t really need a bear spray of any kind if you’re camping in the desert or Everglades. At the same time, I wouldn’t expect to run into alligators while snoozing in the north country. Wherever you’re traveling, check in with the local field office to get a sense of what you might encounter. No need to buy bear spray if there are no bears.
It’s also important to note that it’s not likely you will run into anything dangerous in the first place. And even if there are bears near you, they likely won’t be interested in interacting with you. Remember, animals are more afraid of you than you are of them. In fact, your risk of being attacked by a bear is less than your risk of being struck by lightning.
Choose a good campsite
Animals, like humans, have places where they love to hang out, and places where they don’t. For example, it may be in your best interest to avoid camping right next to a body of water. For one, it’s generally not good for the environment, but it’s also where snakes, mosquitoes, bears and others like to spend their time.
Fallen trees, dead logs, and piles of leaves and roughage are all comfy homes for bugs, snakes and small rodents. As well as damp areas like marshes and still bodies of water. These can be especially dangerous as they are home to a wide variety of vegetation that often attracts bears. Avoiding these areas is an effective and simple way of ensuring you don’t run into too many creatures out there in the wild.
Try to choose a campsite that is flat and has little or no long grass. Make sure this area is in an open space, as tight spaces can make animals feel trapped, which can in turn lead to aggressive behavior. Make sure there are some trees nearby as well so you can hang your food and other items. It also helps if you can find a place with a consistent breeze. This will help sweep mosquitoes and other pests away.
Animals are looking for food, all the time. Campsites are a treasure trove of goodies that critters would love to get their paws on. One of the best ways to combat this is simply to lock your food up when you’re not eating or away from the campsite. At night, move your food at least 100 ft. away from your campsite, so that, even if a bear gets it open, it won’t be interested in dealing with you.
It also helps to bring food that has a generally weak scent. This would include freeze-dried foods and other dry snacks that you don’t need to cook. Cooking meat and other foods can attract animals from far away with a strong sense of smell. Making sure these items are properly stored after you’re done eating will help ensure that animals don’t wander too close.
Pick up after yourself!
Animals have an appetite for anything. If you leave your campsite messy, with food all over the place, you’re basically an open feeding trough. Our furry friends have a much stronger sense of smell than we do, so leaving food out will certainly attract them. You should also thoroughly clean your dishes. This will help cut down on strong odors and cover them up with soapy scents that animals don’t like.
Even if you pick up after yourself however, the scent of your trash can still attract animals. Heavy-duty trash bags are a great choice for containing scent especially if you spray them with scent killers. It also helps to store your trash at some distance away from your tent like you would with your food.
Fabric Softener Sheets
Animals don’t like the smell of fabric softener. Take a box of sheets with you and place them all over the place. In your cooler, your tent, your bags and scattered around your campsite. Just remember to pick them up and take them with you when you leave. It is the animals’ home after all, and I wouldn’t want someone scattering their smelly dryer sheets around my home.
Be a little ruckus
Again, animals are more afraid of you than you are of them, so it can be helpful to make it known that you are there. Talking, laughing and being generally jovial will let them know that you are around and to stay away. Another useful method is to wave a flashlight every now and then. This can be especially useful if an animal is approaching directly.
Most animals out there are just looking for something to eat. They don’t have much interest in dealing with you and your human shenanigans. As long as you observe the aforementioned strategies, you should be able to have a pleasant, animal-free camping experience.