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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Applying for a smith river permit for a family fishing float. Saw some articles about bear fencing and was wondering about people’s experience with bears on that river. Ive floated in alaska and aware of the concern but figured common sense around food storage and camp would be enough but for those that have floated that stretch, how important is bear fencing and other similarly aggressive measures?
 

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I’ve done it three times, and common sense preventative measures are what is required by FWP. Only on one trip, October 2019, did we ever have any impact from bears, but it was indirectly; the Trout Creek sites were cordoned off due to bear activity. Have yet to see a bear on the float.
 

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IGBC certified dry boxes/coolers and or fence required, mainly because the common sense camper/boater left the corridor years ago.
Yes, tons of bears on Smith these days, best to have the gear than have to do a fence but ya gotta do one of them. Check the website for details.
 

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We did the Smith in 2018 and the ranger checked to make sure we had bear proof food storage and or a bear fence... he even made sure to check that we had bolts to fasten the coolers shut to make them actually bear proof. Someone on the buzz said that bears in river camps are more common now that they don't allow dogs on this trip?

On night one of our trip all food/dishes were cleaned and stored appropriately as done on any river trip. We did not set up the bear fence or bring all food storage up to camp.

The next day we saw a bear along the river... after that we made sure to bring all food to camp and setup the bear fence.

My big worry was that I would end up with a bear in my raft looking for food. A buddy was floating on the Upper C and had a bear get into his boat (most likely eating leftover snacks left by his kid), punctured his raft in several places... the bear even took a dump in the raft before leaving for his next pursuit.

All this being said I don't think the bears are of concern but just come prepared to deal with them.
 

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So many bears in fact that the powers that be encouraged hunting them the last time I went. My buddy John witnessed a sow black bear destroying a camp and chasing campers ect ect lol. He politely chased the bear off and the campers said the bear had been tormenting them for awhile before he floated by. Of course we saw none lol. Great place to hunt them if your into such a thing . Otherwise follow bear country rules . Bears aren’t as often viscous and harm people but are shockingly destructive! I’d hate to wake up to a trashed raft or camp and trying to remain calm in a tent with your family would be stressful too lol. Take a firearm for the over bow warning shoot lol. Here’s what a little dumb black bear did to my honey bees this fall. I’ve kept bees for a long time and this is the worst I’ve experienced and no wallrat I didn’t kill him cause I missed ok! Lol! From 10 yards lol! Bwahaha . Each of these hives weighed at least 300lbs and yogy just tossed them lol.
 

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I wouldn't apply, bears stalk you the entire way down the river. If you dare go, I would recommend being heavily armed and having someone stay up all night as a guard. Keep your children very close, if they wander outside of established camp perimeter or get out of their tent at night they will be snatched up by a ravenous bear. Again, I don't recommend applying for a permit unless you have a wish to be eaten by multiple bears! I can't believe they even allow people to float through this bear filled death trap!
 

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So many bears in fact that the powers that be encouraged hunting them the last time I went. My buddy John witnessed a sow black bear destroying a camp and chasing campers ect ect lol. He politely chased the bear off and the campers said the bear had been tormenting them for awhile before he floated by. Of course we saw none lol. Great place to hunt them if your into such a thing . Otherwise follow bear country rules . Bears aren’t as often viscous and harm people but are shockingly destructive! I’d hate to wake up to a trashed raft or camp and trying to remain calm in a tent with your family would be stressful too lol. Take a firearm for the over bow warning shoot lol. Here’s what a little dumb black bear did to my honey bees this fall. I’ve kept bees for a long time and this is the worst I’ve experienced and no wallrat I didn’t kill him cause I missed ok! Lol! From 10 yards lol! Bwahaha . Each of these hives weighed at least 300lbs and yogy just tossed them lol.
that sucks! so is the fence protecting a camp supposed to be like a whole lot better that the ones protecting bee hives?
 

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Funny you should ask. The biologist from fish and game who’s Montana’s bear expert said once they know it won’t kill them they ignore it. I had baited the fence with peanut butter and bacon and on the game camera video they jump and yell and just keep going and tear the fence down. They actually took the charger and kinda kicked it off too. There ended up being 4 bears in there. I moved the survivors and kept baiting them just to see and they left after the food was gone. So the fence does nothing if they want in. You can do super hardcore fences but not on the fly . I rented the fence for smith as a token of compliance. Never saw a bear lol. I’ve been 6 times now and we allways hear and see sign but never have interactions. My buddy hunts and usually kills one each time he goes but he’s a hunter first fisherman second rafter third lol. So lock it up and keep a cl an camp. Easy. Way worse going into grizzly county. That’s just scary.
 

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Funny you should ask. The biologist from fish and game who’s Montana’s bear expert said once they know it won’t kill them they ignore it. I had baited the fence with peanut butter and bacon and on the game camera video they jump and yell and just keep going and tear the fence down. They actually took the charger and kinda kicked it off too. There ended up being 4 bears in there. I moved the survivors and kept baiting them just to see and they left after the food was gone. So the fence does nothing if they want in. You can do super hardcore fences but not on the fly . I rented the fence for smith as a token of compliance. Never saw a bear lol. I’ve been 6 times now and we allways hear and see sign but never have interactions. My buddy hunts and usually kills one each time he goes but he’s a hunter first fisherman second rafter third lol. So lock it up and keep a cl an camp. Easy. Way worse going into grizzly county. That’s just scary.
Grizzlies already moving through Smith corridor, all the way over to the Musselshell..
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am up to speed on being smart in bear country but was wondering if the prior advice i received about bear fencing was more of a permit compliance approach in the absence of approved food/garbage containers or rather a common safety consideration if numerous brown bears conditioned to getting food from lazy people. Seems like a bear fence will be the easiest and cheapest way for our group to be compliant since not all dry boxes are certified. Again, thank you for the input
 

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You still have to have bear approved dry boxes (if they are food storage) and coolers with the bolts . Rangers are fairly thorough at inspection. There are several rental guys (google) that do the bear fence for cheap and anything else you need for that matter. Last year we thought we where getting bear’d and we all got up and talked through the tents and finally stuck our heads out to find several raccoons trying to get into stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Pinchecharlie, if using a fence you also have to use certified containers with padlocks? I understood that it was one or the other but sounds like i misinterpreted the requirements
 

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You would have to take out coolers and boxes and put inside the bear fence if you didn’t have locks for them.
But if you have a yeti or one of the other fancy coolers that have the holes for locks you can leave in boat, just get locks for it.
Dry boxes would need to come out if they’re not
IGBC approved.
 
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