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Wild animals sure can be a problem when they get into your food on a camping trip. Even though you cleaned up your food scraps and trash, the aroma of some human-grade delicacies can be more temptation than most beasts can resist. So how do you keep them from getting into your food? You can do it with a combination of bear bagging and a metal container.

Why both? Because a squirrel can run down a bear bag line and chew right through your food bag. It’s happened to me, and probably to more than a few of you.

A good bear bagging technique starts with a proper amount of line–say 50 to 100 feet, depending on the tree heights you are dealing with. Standard 550 cord is a nice choice for this job. You’ll also need a stuff sack or bag to hang from the end of the cord. Waterproof material is always a great choice, but run with whatever you have handy. Next you need a metal can or box that will fit inside the food bag. A decent sized cook pot with a tight fitting lid will work well enough, and be useful in camp too.

Now that we have the pieces, let’s put them together. Pick a tree branch that is as thick as your arm, perpendicular to the tree trunk and about 20 to 30 feet off the ground. Tie a rock to the end of your 550 cord, and lob that sucker up over the branch. Have a convenient excuse handy in case your throw is terrible and your friends are watching (sun was in my eyes, etc.).

Once you’ve got the line over the branch, and the rock brought the line back down to the ground, you can untie the rock and get your food container ready. Place all food, food trash and other edibles like toothpaste in the metal can or box. Then cinch up the sack and hoist it into the air. Tie the line off to a nearby sapling or stake in the ground. The bag should hang in the air at least 5 feet away from the tree trunk, about 5 feet down from the tree branch, and at least 15 feet off the ground.

The final considerations include the prevailing wind (you want the food downwind of camp 50 to 100 yards); and making ample prayers for protection against animal marauders. Let’s also hope they don’t get smart enough to chew the line in two.

Got a funny or tragic bear bagging story? Please share it in the comments!

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