View Full Version : Probably a silly question about food and bears...

03-22-2007, 08:19 AM
...in the GSMNP.

Ok, you guys are going to laugh, but here's what I was thinking about.....

I just got a Jeep Wrangler last year. I've never had a Jeep - you know, with the soft top and all. When I bought it I thought about people being to just unzip the top and get whatever they wanted - so no more leaving stuff in the truck while running into walmart or whatever...but i didn't think about bears. Now, I know - I mean I think I know - that there's no way a bear is going to get into my soft top. First, they can't work a zipper, right? :) secondly, it's tough material. But my question is - would the Park Rangers see it that way? I know you have to have your food locked up when you're not using it at teh campgrounds ( and the backcountry up in a tree or whatever)...but I don't want to take the Jeep up there and have any problems.

Now, you don't know just how stupid I feel asking this - cause it just doesn't seem practical that people wouldn't be taking their jeeps to bear country cause youc an't store your food in them - or Jeep owners have to hang gtheir food in a tree - but I know the Park folks can be pretty strict about things and they have reason to be....

So, is it ok to lock up the food in the Jeep at night in the park campgrounds?

Stupidly thanking you,
fishlickster. :)

03-22-2007, 08:55 AM
That's not a dumb question.

You shouldn't have any problems with the rangers about your jeep. People drive convertables in the park all the time. If you're camping with your jeep close by, then it will be in a big campground and most of those don't have cables to hang food from. So many people, and rangers, are there that bears aren't usually a problem. Put your food in ziploc bags and store them in a cooler and put the cooler in the jeep and don't worry about it.

On the other hand, if a bear happens to smell your food in the jeep, there wont be much of the soft top left when he's done. I had a pick up truck with a hard shell camper top on it. I took it camping and happened to talk to a ranger about bears and stuff. He told me a story about a bear ripping the entire camper top off a pick up truck once to get inside to the food. I don't know if he was being serious or not but i have no doubt that it could happen.

03-22-2007, 10:16 AM
WOW~! A camper top? holy schmoly. I will take your advice and try to smell proof the food containers! Yikes. :) This early in the season, there aren't usually a bunch of peopkle at the campgrounds, but this weekend is going to be so pretty maybe there will be.

thanks for the reply. ( I still feel like it was a goofy question. ;) lol )

I'm going to probably end up at Smokemont and try the luftee and Bfork, and maybe SFork too if I have enough time.

03-22-2007, 10:51 AM
fishlicker, The park service rangers won't bother you as long as you keep your campsite clean and follow the posted food storage regs. They have enough problems trying to keep people from chasing down the chipmunks for a roadside picture. I have seen them roust people up in the mornings to clean up the beer cans and coolers left on picnic tables after a night of partying to the wee hours. This seems to happen alot when the local colleges are out on Spring break. As long as the food is in a vehicle and not in the tent with you I wouldn't worry about the bears or other critters. I did find a mouse one time had gotten into the back of my Cherokee when the hatch was left open after dark and ate my Granola bars but left the wifes leftovers alone!!
Smokemont is a great family campground and lots of good water nearby. I think the hatches are usually a couple of weeks behind those on the TN side but the fishin should be good there also.

Jack M.
03-22-2007, 11:12 AM
At least with a soft top there won't be any broken glass to clean up. Bears quickly learn to recognize coolers, too. Cover it with a large blanket.


Too big to display:

03-22-2007, 02:24 PM
I used to work in the park collecting water samples. We used different types of equipment to gather storm/rain water depending on what we were trying to do. Some of that equipment was pretty tough. Some of the bears liked to chew it up, perhaps for fun. After seeing what they can do to PVC and other materials, I don't doubt they could open a soft top.

The advice to keep food sealed in bags is probably smart. I always try to manage scents. Anything that is food or that's been in contact with food needs to be viewed as bait. Knock on wood, I've never had a run-in, so that's worked for me so far.

Now that I've jinxed myself for my upcoming trip...

03-22-2007, 06:15 PM
fishlicker- hey not a stupid question at all. If some of the tourons had 1/100th the foresight that you have, there --- well nevermind. Anyway I agree with Troutman in that the rangers do their best to enforce what they can with the little resources they have. If you have a clean campsite and are making obvious attempts to bear-proof your site then I wouldn't worry about being scrutinized by them. Now as for the actual security of the Jeep from a hungry bear I'd say you'd be SOL if the bear smelled something good. I speak from experience as I had a camper-top smashed & footlong subs pilfered several years ago. Made for a long hungry day of fishing!

03-22-2007, 11:49 PM
I recall a special about bears out west and up north. They showed several bears breaking glass and ripping doors open on various vehicles with hard tops to get to the food stored inside.


03-23-2007, 08:03 AM
Man, I miss my ol' 78 CJ :'( ...but back when I had her before my kids took up most of my resto money (yes, its worth the trade off :rolleyes: ... i suppose...) but I loved cruising around the smokies with the top off to my favorite stretch of water...Is funny though, never though much about the bears which pobably would have been the smart thing because I spend a lot a time upper elevation, but I didn't seem to have any issues , though that twinkie I left on the dash wasn't there when I got back once...no but really, I had small coolers with lunch in them and though I'm not advocating the same - they were still there when I got back. Like Cubefisher points out "managing scent" might be the best prevention...they may not know to come looking if they don't smell it. Those bears out west were training thier young how to break into cars whether there was food or not, they already had equated cars with a possible meal. Don't know if our bears have been that educated yet. Now you can find bear proof containers and in hindsight, I'd probably look into them for those jeepn' days...
I'd be more worried about the human animal stealin' my cooler or anything else that isn't nailed down in the open cockpit of a jeep. If you find you some catalogs, there are all kinds of lockboxes that can fit into various nooks and crannies of your new found toy...

03-23-2007, 09:38 AM
Now you guys are making me want a jeep.

03-23-2007, 05:02 PM
current bear report is this: i have been actively looking for them this week and have yet to see any. However, i have seen evidence of them in the ripped up rotten logs and some sizeable scat. females are due to remain in for about 2 more weeks if it stays warm.

Cajun Flicker
03-24-2007, 07:58 AM
Don't really know about the food security issue but I did talk to a ranger at Metcalfe Bottoms last year who was there checking on the trash dumpster. It seems that in recent days (this was in June) that a particularly large bear had mad it a habit to come and overturn the dumpster to enjoy the morsels left by folks that had had a picnic at the bottoms. I'm six foot and 240 pounds and I couldn't budge the dumpster so I wonder just how big that bear was. My understanding from the ranger is that if a bear smells or suspects food there is little to keep them from it. I do know that I have seen coolers completely destroyed by bears. As for the soft top on your Jeep. Well????:rolleyes::rolleyes:

03-24-2007, 12:12 PM
Cajun flicker, the bear that you are referring to is no longer. He weighed 375 pounds according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer that picked him up from my driveway after I shot him on my porch June 13...last year!! If you want to hear "the rest of the story" I'll post it for you here, but it is kinda long.


03-24-2007, 01:13 PM

I have a love/hate relationship with bears. I love to see them and hate it when I don't. I think many of us enjoy good bear stories. I would love to read it.

fishlicker, I was going to suggest to you that you get a really good winch, attach it to a good size tree and suspend the Wrangler off the ground a few feet. Sorry, could not resist any longer as this thread went on!:p

Wishin' I wuz Fishin', g <*))))><

03-24-2007, 01:27 PM
Geerona, I'll begin typing the bear story now and will post it under "WEBSITE AND MESSAGE BOARD" when finished.