Avoid inviting critters to your campsite!
Critters are cute from a distance, but a campsite is not where you might want to see them! Many years ago, I was at the campsite with my mom and one of my brothers, while my dad and my youngest brother went to use the facilities. It was dark outside, and the fire was almost out. It was getting close to bedtime, and you could hear hushed conversations of nearby campers, and the odd crackle from other campfires.
Suddenly we heard the rustling of plastic, and it was close by. I nearly jumped out of my skin because I wasn’t expecting noise, especially so near us. My mom had the flashlight in her hand and she pointed it in the direction of the noise.
Then came my “Awwwwww!”
The flashlight highlighted two raccoons rooting through garbage we hadn’t yet gotten rid of (it was next on the before-bed list!). One of the raccoons methodically and neatly tearing into a cheese sandwich that one of my brothers hadn’t eaten that day.
They were adorable, with their little bandit masks and cute faces… I got as close as I could before my mom’s warnings came. I knew it wasn’t a good idea to get too close, but they were just that cute.
The raccoon finished his meal and left. Silently, and no indication of where the next stop was.
While this was an uneventful and cute story, there are real chances that an animal could be rabid or violent. The truth is, you just never know what to expect, so it’s best to play it safe. It’s a very real danger, unfortunately. Take a moment to read this scary story of a bear attack in Calgary, and then read on to prevent such an event from happening to you and your family.
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Here’s how you can protect your campsite from critters:
- Never leave any kind of food out, and don’t have it in your tent. Animals will definitely sniff it out and if the animal has sharp claws, your tent won’t offer much resistance!
- Anything you can burn in the fire should be burned as soon as possible, and not left to linger. This goes for cooking grease, food scraps, pits or seeds, eggshells. Get rid of it!
- Wash all your dishes in a mild but effective detergent as soon as the meal is over. Wipe down your camping stove too. If you don’t do this at home on a regular basis, you’ll definitely want to do it while camping. A curious black bear might help herself to lick the spoon!
- We also talked about using antibacterial wipes while camping. This is a great product to help fend off critters because wiping down your surfaces with them will literally wipe out any food smells.
- Lock all coolers in your vehicle before you leave the campsite or go to bed for the evening.
- Garbage (anything that has come into contact with food) attracts critters of all kinds. Take your garbage to the campground’s waste area and dispose of or put away in your vehicle.
- Clothing you’ve cooked meals in should be locked in your vehicle too. Yes, really. Cooking aromas settle in your clothing and remain for hours after the meal is done. Don’t take any chances.
- Remember we talked about dryer sheets in this post? This is golden advice because critters don’t like the smell of dryer sheets. I wouldn’t depend on this alone, though. I’d still change clothes before bed and put my food-scented clothing away.
In summary, you want to keep your campsite clean and food-free. This will prevent critters of all sizes… even cute raccoons!
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Edit March 3, 2017: This post was featured on FanDayFriday.