Truck Camper Magazine Blog

Bear and Beer

In the spirit of Brian’s story on Tuesday, this week’s Question of the Week was, “Have you seen a bear while truck camping?”.

“We did encounter a bear years ago while camped at Chimney Creek Campground in the Sierras.  We were eating dinner in the camper and I happened to look out and see a huge brown bear heading for our campsite.  I closed the door and we watched as he nosed around our campsite.  He finally wandered off.  Joann had decided earlier that she wanted to sleep outside with her sleeping bag in some nice tall grass and breathe the fresh air.  She is normally calm and collected, but that really scared her.  Needless to say, the idea of sleeping outside was quickly changed.  Unfortunately we didn’t have a camera with us.” – Jack Purdy


Above: Look carefully, there’s a bear in there, right in the center.

“We spent one summer on the Klamath River near Happy Camp, California, dredging for gold.  It was late one afternoon when we spotted a brown bear chomping on blackberries across the river.” – Bonnie Belza

“We live on northern Vancouver Island where black bears are very common.  We see lots of bears when we boondock.  They have never bothered us.” – James Becker

“Every time I go camping I see BEER.  I love BEER.  I fear no BEER.  Most of my photos of BEER are very, very blurry.  Sometimes on warm days you can hear the BEER calling.  Did eye “reed” that wright?” – Ron Humphress


“I have seen bears while camping.  Fortunately, they were a ways away, which is a good thing.  I had one sniffing the back of my tent many years ago, so the truck camper is a good alternative.  In the pictures are few of the bears I saw in Alaska.  The bear cub was cute, but got in trouble with Mama Bear for looking back at me.  I was never in peril, so I’m not sure these bears count.” – Mark Turnbull

“About eight years ago, I took my son to compete in the Mountain Bike National Championships held at a ski resort in the mountains of West Virginia.  We took our truck camper to camp onsite for the weekend and parked it in a remote parking lot on top of the mountain. 

The first night, before his race, we decided to turn in early to get well rested for the big day ahead.  Before hitting the sack, I placed our large cooler directly under the left rear camper jack and cranked the jack down on the top of the cooler lid to keep the raccoons from getting into our food. 

At about 2:00am, we were suddenly waked up from a sound sleep.  The whole camper was shaking.  I’m thinking it must be an earthquake!  My son was closest to the door.  He got up quickly, grabbed a flashlight, and opened the door.  There in the flashlight beam about four feet from him was a bear standing upright, pushing on the corner of the camper to get access to our cooler. 

Needless to say, my son slammed the door shut and locked it in a hurry.  The bear was not scared off so we started yelling and then banging pots and pans.  It did finally leave our site but hit all the other campsites one by one.  There were people all around us yelling and banging pots and pans for an hour.  So much for a good nights sleep before his big race.” – Fred Carey


“For those who have read John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” you might remember that Charley was a great travel companion until they went to Yellowstone Park.  The Ranger at the entrance to the park told John to be sure to keep Charley on a leash as there are lots of bears in the park.  John did not think it was necessary because Charley was such a good traveler. 

They had not been in the park for long before the first bear appeared, and Charley went off like rocket, barking and growling and jumping all over the truck like a wild animal.  John could not control him, so he turned around and headed out of the park as fast as he could.  According to the  book, it took a long time to get Charley to get back to normal!  John, never did see Yellowstone. 

Last year we were in LaVeta, Colorado staying at the Two Fox Cabins and campsites, and we were told that bears sometimes come down in the night to go through the trash bins.  In the middle of the night, our dog, Buttons, went off like a M-80 fire cracker.  He went nuts running all over the bed barking and growling like he was possessed.  Then a young man camped in a tent next to us got up and started banging on a pan with a stick and chased the bear back to the hills.

Buttons is a Maltese and weighs just at four pounds, but that night he could have been a 100 pound Wolf Hound!  The next day we spotted a black bear licking his chops after a nice dinner in the trash bin.  I think the bear was on the look out for a big dog and a man with a pan and a stick.  Dogs don’t like bears!” – Jim Holyfield

“In June, when we were in Glacier National Park, we saw two bears on different days.  Sadly we could not get a clear picture of the bears, we just have the picture in our minds.  We never came across a bear on the trails while out hiking, but they were nearby.  There was fresh scatt, bear tracks, and digging along the trails.  Bear crazy?  Maybe.  Nature crazy?  You bet!” – Rich Bain, the TC life

“I have seen lots of bears out camping over the years.  I could tell you lots of funny stories of encounters with the many critters that run around we like to camp.  Here are two for you. 

Have I seen bear while out truck camping?  Well, not really, but I saw the damage.  About eight years ago I still had a fifth wheel camper.  It was late when we pulled into nice area to camp in Gila National Forest, over in western New Mexico.  I didn’t even disconnect the camper from my truck.  My wife, two kids, three dogs, and I were tired and went to bed. 

When we got up in the morning, the back window of our pickup had been popped out.  The kids chip bags were scattered all over, and there where little paw prints all over the hood of my truck and long scratches sliding from top to bottom.  We still enjoyed the weekend of camping and fishing. 

We never saw the bear but, talking to the ranger, we learned about a bear with two cubs they had been trying to capture.  She had gotten good at breaking into cars and stealing food.  I was also very lucky because they had not destroyed the interior of my truck.  The fun part was telling my insurance agent; at least I still had the paw prints on the hood for proof! 

Then, way back in 1992, I had the family out camping up in the Coronado Nation Forest is southeast Arizona, with a bunch of other friends.  We still had a pop-up tent camper in those days. 

Around O dark thirty, I was awakened by a friend yelling something, and the sound of pots and pans banging together.  When I opened the door of the pop-up, I just missed hitting a black bear in the rear with the door.  With three of us men armed with flash lights, banging pots, and making lots of noise, we chased the bear off and followed it down the trail for a while. 

Feeling satisfied we had saved the camp from the invader, we went back to camp only to find the intruder had beaten us there.  Again with much noisemaking the bear was run off.  Through all this my two kids and my trusty guard dog slept soundly. 

The next morning, we got up the kids where all excited to see all the bear tracks.  My guard dog, Sierra, came out of the camper got a good scent of the bear and went to full guard mode, all puffed up, snarled, and showed all those teeth!  I was impressed!  Just a little late.” – Dave Harker


“My first bear sighting was on my first trip west with my new truck camper.  We spotted a black bear along the road in Glacier National Park.  You can’t spend two months on a road trip to Alaska without a few dozen bear sightings.  We saw many black bear along the highways in the Yukon and British Columbia.  Close encounters in Alaska were along the Chena Hot Springs Road, outside Valdez and near Denali.  And does it count if you parked at the airport in Homer and flew over to Katmai for lunch with the grizzlies.  And then two weeks ago a black bear woke me up at 1:30am when he knocked down my bird feeder at my cabin on Tug Hill in New York.” – Barbara Hartman

“Well, this will the opposite of what you are expecting.  I was sleeping in my tent next to a truck camper and the bear was attacking the truck camper while ignoring my tent.  Rest assured, I was not ignoring the bear though.  This was in 1991 at a lake in Southern British Columbia. 

The people in the truck camper were absolute pigs.  Junk was everywhere.  From what I could translate in the morning between the cuss words, the guy had his bait stored in one of the camper’s outside compartments.  This is what the bear was ripping away at. 

I’m not sure if the bear got it open, but he worked hard on it for twenty minutes or more and damaged some of the aluminum siding.  I could not see out that direction, and it was only thirty feet away, but I thought for sure the bear was working on a small convertible that was parked nearby.  I was surprised in the morning to learn that it was the truck camper. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking a bear will absolutely not bother a truck camper.  Food attracts bears, not canvas.  When you sleep in a tent, if you’re smart, all of your food is in the car.  In a truck camper, you’re in there with the food.  We always keep our dry goods in a rafter’s dry bag to keep odors down.  Sometimes we even put food in the cab of the truck which is more air tight and separated from us. 

Some campgrounds in California (Redwoods near Crescent city for one) makes you put all your food in a locker, even if you’re in a camper.  So this is something to take seriously.  You should also think about vulnerable windows.  Bears tend to push on things and windows will push in quite easily.  When we had windows lower to the ground, in our previous camper, I strung cables across to slow the bear down if one ever pushed the window in.  That’s one thing about pop-up truck campers.  The windows are down lower so you need to consider this.” – Vince


 “My recent bear adventure occurred at Promised Land State Park in Pennsylvania on June 21st of this year.  Kay was cooking fish and had turned on the exhaust fan of the camper.  I was facing the camper checking the propane supply when I heard a leaf snap behind me.  I turned to see a bear cub slowly approaching.  He was about fifteen feet away when I knocked on the door for Kay to come and see him.  The knock startled him and he slowly walked backward to a nearby tree.  I was able to get a low resolution picture of him there with my cell phone camera.  He then retreated to a nearby site.  When he heard dogs barking nearby, he headed back into the woods toward the creek.  He appeared to be about a year and a half old, and since he was not accompanied by his mother, he was probably already on his own.” – Carl Goode 


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