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Truck Base Camp
We'll be using truck as a base camp this year and setting off every morning from there. For the guys that do this, am I safe to keep food/coolers in the back of the truck with us while we sleep as well as during the day while hunting? I have a lockable topper on the truck, but also know that bears can be pesky creatures.
I have a topper on my truck and it gets WAAAY too hot in there to keep coolers in there during the day.
I just put the coolers inside my wall tent, or outside the tent under the eave of the tarp, or somewhere in the shade
The best bear deterrent is a bear license
Put your sleeping bag on top of it during the day and keep it out of the sunlight. This will get you 2 extra days of ice
I worry more about 2 legged critters. A bear is a good detterent for them.
I just leave them in the shade outside of the tent. The inside of a wall tent gets way too hot.
Seperate tent away from main tent in the shade.
If allowed, sink your coolers into the ground and cover the top during the day for longer ice retention. Bit of a pain to dig the hole and you do have to bend over farther. But after about the tenth celebratory beer, you'll appreciate being able to just crawl over and reach in.
If you camp where summer campers regularly visit, very good chance of a bear strike. I never camp in those places. Bears visit them on their regular travels because idiots train them all summer. Here in the Canyon Lakes Ranger District, bear strikes of camps, coolers, vehicle break-ins happen every weekend in the NF dispersed camping areas.
As far as coolers, keep them in the shade away from your tent and wrap them with old sleeping bags.
I keep food in an airtight tub in the back seat of the truck...just because I know how well a bear's nose works, and the problems that can bring.
Never had a problem so far in 20+ years...knock on wood!
What Brad and Shedhead said!
Hoping not to camp with the general public, but far enough off the beaten path. Ambush's idea for the win! All dry goods will be going in a tub .
I leave my cooler in the back of the truck with 2-4 packing blankets covering it. Ice last for a week or more and the cooler is cool to cold to the touch when you pull the blankets back. Then I lock my topper and never have had any problem. When I use to leave it on the hitch hauler the 2-legged critter use to get into it regularly when I was not around.
Buy a Yeti, or one of the cheaper knockoffs, that you can lock the top. Then just keep it in the shade.
You didn't say where you were camping. If in griz country there are different rules than a lot of other places. Without that information, it is hard to say that the advice given is good or not.
Big ticket anywhere in the GYSE for leaving coolers in the back of the truck. They have to be in the cab with the windows up. Feds are driving around ticketing. I got a ticket a few years ago when the "emergency order" went into affect days before the hunt and we really had no idea or no way of knowing.
We also use an electric bear fence around base camp if we're going to be away and around meat poles. A couple hundred bucks is pretty cheap insurance to not come back to a shredded tent and chewed up gear. And yes, I know the feeling from experience.
This will be in Colorado, National Forest area. Blackies only...although will be pretty close to San Juan, so maybe a griz or two!!
Don't know if you have the room, but a cooler that fit's inside a 55 gal metal barrel with a clamp on lid may be the answer.
1. The barrel adds another layer of insulation since it stops air flow.
2. There is a lot of room along the sides and on top for things like bread, etc.
3. So far we haven't found a bear that can open the lid. It's possible to get clamps that can be padlocked.
We used 2 on our Haul Road trips. When covered with a silver sided tarp and a cooler filled, and I do mean full, would still have some ice in the meals after 7 days. Since we traveled with the barrels upright, we filled them with other things for the trip.
Another option a CA in Colorado told me was to use a ratchet strap around the cooler. I always did my cooking away from my tent under an easy-up to help keep some of the smells away from where I sleep. Put some stuff on top of your cooler and you will probably hear them if they come around. Higher elevation seems to be less bears too.
I had a bear raid my cooler once when I was gone for around 5 days. I suspect it was the rotting chicken in my trash that attracted him initially. Lesson learned.
Since you are camping at the truck get a 12 electric fence set up. Put your cooler and other food (and garbage) in the shade and the fence around it. Fencer, wire and a few posts cost $75 -100. Any old battery will work. People do this in AK regularly around their tents. You could fence the whole camp and sleep better at night too.
I have had an electric fence around our 5 apples trees and the garden for over 25 years with no issues. We seen bears in the neighborhood a few times a year.
My buddy had a bear walking up the stairs to his Moms deck for the bird feeder. He fenced the deck in and no more issues. His old boat battery lasted all summer on 1 charge.
One of the better scenarios is the "old school" ...hang your food in a container from a tree with rope. It may be possible to do this with a smaller yeti or other cooler with a strap around it with dry ice? From what I've been told dry ice lasts a bit longer than regular ice. I usually try to keep the food that needs to be kept cold to 0 or almost non-existent so I don't need to deal with keeping it cold.
I've been on a number of Alaska trips where there were no trees to hang food and the tallest thing around was 5 to 8' willows. We always kept our cooler and food around 200 yards from camp. We were super careful to make sure no food or fish smells were around our camp. Each time we returned to our base camp bears had tore something else up. There are some light duty electric fences we'll likely either rent or buy for our next trip to that country! If you have a hotwire fence put peanut butter on the line (before turning on the power!) and bears will learn in a hurry about hot wire!
Our elk camp coolers stay cold under some heavy pines and slightly dug in.