PROTECT YOUR CAMP FROM INVASIVE INTRUDERS.
Protect your camp from invasive intruders.
No matter if you are outdoors with the family or under survival conditions, your camp should be a place where you find safety and security while recharging your mind and body to face any challenges that might lie ahead.
However, Mother Nature could have other plans for you. Your haven can become a beacon for a plethora of diverse animals, insects and the fury of Mother Nature, herself—so much so that your comfortable night’s sleep can turn into an absolute nightmare … but only if you are unprepared.
By taking some common-sense precautions, knowing the general characteristics of your surrounding area and bringing key gear and equipment, you can protect your temporary base of operations and get that great night’s sleep you desperately need and deserve.
Some of the smallest creatures on the planet can cause incredible pain, irritation and, in some remote cases, life-threatening illnesses. “Bugs,” as most people generically label the diverse collection of insects, spiders, scorpions and bees, can make a night under the stars a torturous experience.
Nonstop bites from mosquitoes and flies can wreak havoc on your ability to sleep through the night. The constant scratching and swatting at the continuous barrage of flying, biting insects can literally keep you awake all through the night. As a result, your mental and physical faculties the next day will be severely affected, causing you to make poor decisions, be increasingly irritable and decrease your basic motor skills.
Avoid these problems—and some intense itching—by bringing with you insect repellent and equipping your tent, hammock or sleeping bag with mosquito netting—two simple, common-sense solutions to get a comfortable night’s sleep.
For those insects that choose to attack from the ground, you have other options: If conditions allow, mark off a square portion of land where your camp will be and light the ground-level leaves on fire for a controlled burn. This will eliminate ticks, mites, spiders and other crawling insects that are present where you choose to pitch your tent. In fall and winter, this will also temporarily warm up the cold ground. Be sure to take caution before starting a fire in the woods. “Controlled burn” means exactly that. Keep the fire small and contained.
Another option for avoiding ground-dwelling insects is to use an elevated tent or hammock. By keeping yourself and your belongings far above the ground, you virtually eliminate the risk of meandering spiders or scorpions making a bed within your boots or clothing. This also works very well against snakes looking for a comfortable spot to rest within your gear. Why take the chance of an encounter when you can simply “rise above” the problem?
As for the threat of bees, be sure to scan the nearby trees for nests. Rustling trees while setting up your camp could agitate the colony, creating a potentially dangerous situation for you. If a bee swarm targets you, seek shelter immediately. If no shelter is nearby, use anything around you to cover your body until the bees disperse and leave the area. Water is not a haven, so avoid running into lakes or rivers; bees are patient and will often wait for you to surface to then administer their painful stings.
A bear’s sense of smell is so welldeveloped that it can detect possible food sources for up to 20 miles. Your innocent dinner could turn into an invitation for a bear to visit your camp, ending in possibly disastrous results.
Extreme caution and preventative measures are necessary to greatly reduce your chances of a hungry and inquisitive bear from paying you a visit. First, understand what attracts them, and then minimize the tempting treats that encourage bears to visit unsuspecting camps. Of course, human food is top on the list, but equally attractive are pet food, the cooking vessels you used for your dinner, cosmetics,
hand lotions, toothpaste, bird seed and even—believe it or not—unopened soda or other beverages.
All items should be stored in a bear-resistant storage box and elevated a minimum of 10 feet (higher is better) off the ground. Be sure to have at least 5 feet of space between the vertical supports. If you have your vehicle nearby, placing food within the trunk is also an option. Tents, Styrofoam or plastic coolers, and thin-walled campers are not bear-proof and offer little protection from a bear’s powerful persistency. In addition, never cook near your sleeping area, especially when deep in the woods. Give yourself at least 50 to 100 yards between your meal preparation area and your sleeping quarters. People often underestimate the olfactory sense of bears, and even the most minimal of snacks around your camp can attract bears to you.
If a bear does enter your camp, there are ways to reduce interaction and help send it running away: Bear spray, similar to pepper spray used for self-defense purposes, is often highly effective at stopping a charging or attacking bear. Always have it nearby. A firearm, powerful flashlight and air horn can all help drive away a curious bear, as well.
The raccoon, another forest animal that is attracted to camp foods, poses the possible threat of rabies, so the farther away from them you are, the better. They dislike the scent of chili peppers, so sprinkling cayenne pepper around your campsite can help keep these critters, as well as squirrels and some other small mammals, at bay. Reapply every couple of days and after rain. Loud noises can also deter small animals from your outdoor living area. Air horns, hand claps or a short, powerful yell can be used as a last resort when the animals are very close by.
Not all visitors to your campsite arrive via four (or more) legs. Unfortunately, depending upon your particular survival situation, man can be the greatest threat to both losing your precious gear and possibly your life.
Bear in mind that the following suggestions for protection are primarily necessary in emergency situations that may be precipitated as a result of social or economic collapse or during the aftermath of a natural or man-made disaster . They do not necessarily apply to an everyday, run-of-the-mill outdoor camping trip.
In these survival situations, basic supplies, food and clean drinking water are scarce, and the desperation of people lacking these resources will be extremely high. This is purely human nature, as well as an innate trait of self-preservation. Being a good or bad person is blurred when starvation or dehydration is a looming threat. However, even though people have somewhat of a logical justification to pilfer another’s camp, it doesn’t mean you need to let it happen or be a sitting duck to those out to take your gear.
There are definitely precautions you can take to prevent this from happening. Choosing the correct location of your camp is your first line of defense. Don’t set up along a much-traveled trail. Move off the preferred path to “uncharted” territory. Yes, the journey to reach your destination could be more rigorous and longer, but the payoff of seclusion will be worth it.
Next, be sure to blend into your surrounding environment. If you are in the woods, use camouflage tarps or tents or a camo cover that can be thrown over your brightly colored tent to allow it to blend into the natural surroundings.
Finally, arming yourself with a firearm, knife or blunt weapon is a necessity if/when others invade your camp. If your life or the life of a loved one is at stake, defend yourself by any means possible.
Nature’s wrath is also an outdoor contender you will need to face and overcome. This intrusive invader packs a powerful punch and can, even at its weakest, make your night sleepless and very uncomfortable; at its worst, it can destroy your entire camp. Depending upon your environment, you might face endless rain that culminates in flash floods. Also possible are sleet or snow, as well as intense, roaring winds.
You need to prepare for such natural threats with the proper supplies, as well as the knowledge that nature is never to be underestimated. Setting up camp too close to a river’s edge can be disastrous in areas hit with heavy rain storms. Flash flooding can create fast-moving rivers over areas you thought were well above the waterline. Your miscalculation can result in your supplies and tent being carried away, leaving you empty-handed in the harsh outdoors … that is, if you’re lucky enough to have escaped the onslaught.
A SHARED WORLD
When camping, you become part of the environment around you. Consequently, you will encounter many of nature’s creatures during your outdoor stay. Whether they are driven by hunger, curiosity or other motivations, you should always have a plan to counter whatever interaction comes your way. In doing so, you not only give yourself peace of mind, but also the ability to survive—and successfully thrive—while in Mother Nature’s backyard.