Archive for Camping

How to Handle Animal Encounters

Young campers are often excited and hopeful for wild animal sightings. Older and more experienced campers, on the other hand, are a bit more wary of the dangers and risks of animal encounters. With humans developing land and agriculture farther and farther across the earth’s natural forests, more and more wild animal encounters are being reported—some with injuries but few with deaths. And you don’t have to be a seasoned outdoorsman to be caught in an animal encounter. Average citizens could come across wild animals while walking their dogs or taking a hike through the trails. Because these situations are inevitable and fairly unpredictable, it is important for every person—campers and non-campers alike—to be familiar with the safety precautions and procedures to take. If you stumble upon a critter in your neighborhood, you wouldn’t want it to attack your pet or chase you home. And if you meet a dangerous animal in its natural habitat while camping, you wouldn’t want it to attack your campsite, hurting your camp mates and pulverizing your nice Kelty tents in the process.

The most commonly sighted animals include but are not limited to mountain lions, bears, wolves and snakes. Cougar sightings are more and more frequent, even in suburban backyards. The good thing is they are not difficult to scare off. If you are with a child, do not leave the child alone as the weakest person will get attacked first. When facing a mountain lion, stand tall, wave your arms in big motions and make loud noises. If it’s possible, throw heavy objects at the creature, such as stones and sticks. To avoid crossing paths with a mountain lion, make as much noise as you can wherever you go so they are not attracted toward you.

If come across a bear, remember that it does not see you as its next meal. Bears are usually not aggressive unless they are provoked or startled. First, determine what type of bear you’re up against. If it looks to be only a few hundred pounds and very dark, it’s probably a black bear. Brown bears, also known as grizzly bears, are distinguishable by the hump muscles in their upper back, not to mention they are three or four times the size of a black bear. Use nearby objects as weapons to fight off a black bear. But never fight a grizzly. Stand as tall as possible and if it knocks you down, play dead.

Wolf sightings are significantly less common, although sightings have been more frequent in far off towns where starving wolves look for food on human settlements. You most likely will not see a wolf unless you’re very deep into the woods, far away from human establishments. And very rarely do wolves attack or chase humans. If you are faced with one, use the same methods to scare it off as you would to scare away a mountain lion.

Snake encounters are far more common and much easier to survive. Always be prepared to treat snakebites if you are hiking on trails. Protect your legs and ankles with long pants tucked into your socks. The best way to survive snakebites is to avoid them. Familiarize yourself with the sound of rattle snakes and know when to stay away.

These are only a few of the commonly reported animal sightings. Before setting off on a camping trip, check with your campground officials to find out what animals are nearby so you can be better prepared for accidental encounters.

Be A Responsible Camper

The sun is shining and it’s time for a vacation. Rather than flying to a destination and having to pay for lodging, food and activities, save yourself money and stress and head to the great outdoors. Taking a camping trip is a great adventure and a very affordable vacation.

Whether you’re tent camping for the first time or you’re a seasoned vet, there are several things you should do to ensure everyone’s safety. Take in everything Mother Nature has to offer. But be sure to be a responsible camper while on your vacation.

If you plan to do a lot of hiking or biking, it’s important to stay on the designated routes. Trails are marked for a reason, to ensure your safety. Some places may not be stable, may have dangerous animals or might be lined with poisonous plants. Be sure to also avoid sensitive areas like streams, meadows, lakeshores and wetlands. These areas, and the animals living in them, should be protected.

Although it’s encouraged to admire all finding you come across, do not disturb palaeontological, archeological or historical sites. Do not disturb any animal nests as they are extremely sensitive. Also be careful not to spook any wildlife you may come across. The reality is that animals are more afraid of you then you are of them. So be sure to keep your distance and they won’t bother you.

The most popular camping activity is probably gathering around a campfire. Everyone enjoys sitting around a toasty fire, roasting marshmallows and telling spooky stories. Although campfires are fun, they can be dangerous if not handled with proper care.

It’s crucial to observe all fire restrictions. Keep your fire small and do not leave it unattended. Although you may think it’s a good idea to leave it burning at night to create heat, it’s actually very dangerous. Winds can pick up, debris can fall into the fire or embers can fly around and land on combustible objects. So only allow the fire to burn while you are using and watching it.

When building a fire, be sure to use a fire pan, existing fire rings or build a mound fire. If you have to build a mound fire, use sand, soil or gravel. Place a ground cloth on the fire site for quick clean-up of the fire remains. Then spread soil in a circular, flat-topped mound at least six inches thick. It’s important to make the soil thick so that it insulates the ground from the heat of the fire. You also must make sure the circumference of the mound is larger than that of the fire. Be sure to replace the materials back where you found them.

Now that you know how to be a responsible camper, grab your tent, pack up your car and head into the great outdoors. Enjoy everything a camping trip has to offer.