top of page

Be BEAR Aware! Hunting & Fishing Safety

Hunting and fishing in the wild, particularly in bear territory, doesn't have to be a scary thing. By no means should you be completely fearless either. You should carry a healthy respect for the wildlife, especially bears, when you are hunting or fishing in their "home turf". What can you do to protect yourself and others while having the experience of a lifetime? Follow these guidelines, established by the Be Bear Aware Campaign, and be ready for the time of your life!

Hunting and fishing in bear country requires special equipment, skills, and precautions. Properly prepare for your hunt or fishing trip; and be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.

Hunters and fishermen need to be very aware of their surroundings as bears may be very interested in your harvest. Frequently scan the area ahead, beside you, and behind you. Bears can be hard to see. Remember, you might not be the only hunter out there. Reduce risks of sudden encounters by being alert at all times.

The "DO IT" List

  • Have bear spray readily available when field-dressing your game or cleaning your fish.

  • Wear gloves and apron to minimize odors on clothing. Wash your hands thoroughly, and change clothes when you are through or at least before retiring for the night.

  • Separate the carcass from entrails, and remove the carcass from the area as soon as possible.

  • Dispose of fish guts properly. Small amounts can be dumped into a fast-moving stream or far out in a large body of water. Pierce the air bladder so that it will sink. Fish guts can also be burned in a very hot fire.

  • Always remain alert for sudden encounters, especially when coming back ashore.

  • Carry EPA registered bear spray in a readily accessible area. Be prepared to quickly unholster the cannister, take the safety clip off, and spontaneously spray should you have an encounter with a bear or cougar. The recommended spray distance is 30+ feet with a spray duration of at least 7 seconds.

  • Keep all food and food-related items inside a closed, hard-sided vehicle or special bear-resistant container except when preparing or eating food. Ice chests, coolers, boxes, cans, tents and soft-sided campers are not bear-resistant!

  • Store pet food and livestock feed the same as human food, out of reach from bears and other animals.

  • Contain trailer waste-water and dispose of it frequently in the proper facilities.

  • Keep pets on a leash while with you or inside a cool, well-ventilated vehicle. Pets may threaten and harass wildlife and can lead predators to your camp. Pets are not allowed on hiking trails in most parks and refuges. Do not leave pets unattended in bear country!

  • When walking in a campground at night, always carry bear spray, use a flashlight, and stay alert.

  • Ask campers who are not observing precautions to clean up their camp for the safety of other visitors and wildlife.

The "DON'T DO IT" List

  • Don't go hunting and fishing alone. Always leave an itinerary with someone so they know when to expect you

  • Don't clean game and fish around your camp, campgrounds, and trails. This can draw bears in and help them to associate people with food sources. This can lead to increased encounters, potentially deadly for the people or bears.

  • Don't bury fish guts; animals will dig them up.

  • Don't leave food and garbage in campground storage boxes when you leave. Smells can still attract bears for future visitors or even for your own return

  • Don't leave entrails near a trail, campsite, picnic area, or parking lot.

  • Don't sleep in the same clothes that you handled game or fish in, or cooked in.

  • Don't wash your tent and sleeping bags in scented detergents.


  • Learn to recognize bear sign, and avoid areas with fresh scat, diggings, tracks, or carcasses.

  • Be cautious around berry patches, dense timber or brush, and along creeks and waterfalls as they mask sounds.

  • Spawning areas are natural attractions for bears. Bears will aggressively defend a food supply, or the carcass of harvested game.

  • Bring EPA registered bear spray - with at least 7 seconds of spray duration and a distance of 30 or more feet. Each hunter or guide should have at least 1 canister.

  • Bring pulley systems and ropes for hanging game and food storage.

  • Bring drop cloth for relocating game.

  • Bring gloves and apron for handling game.

  • Bring cell phone or hand-held 2-way radio or GPS.

  • Bring matches, airhorn, and distress flare.

  • Bring a First Aid Kit with extra wide bandaging.

  • Bring most recent food storage & game handling regulations.

  • Human food and beverages, horse feeds, dog food, etc. either in possession or left unattended must be kept unavailable to bears unless being consumed, prepared for consumption, or transported.

  • When departing an area, remove all food and refuse from any bear resistant containers left in the area.

  • Keep sleeping bags, tents, and sleeping area free of food and beverage odors. Also refrain from having toothpaste, deodorant or other items with an odor.

  • Keep bear spray readily available.

  • Carcasses should be kept unavailable to bears by hanging them at least 10 to 15 feet from the ground and 4 feet out from the supporting structure; and 100 yards from any recreation site especially sleeping areas.

  • Hang carcass where you can see it from a distance. That way you can observe it as you return.

  • Items are considered unavailable to bears if they are stored in a closed, bear-resistant container, enclosed within a vehicle constructed of solid, non-pliable material, or suspended at least 10 to 15 feet from the ground and 4 feet horizontally and vertically from any supporting tree or pole

Happy Trails!

These helpful tips were created by the Be Bear Aware Campaign -
13 views0 comments


bottom of page