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Raccoon deterrence

Old 02-14-18, 10:23 AM
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alan s 
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Raccoon deterrence

Apparently raccoons are a problem where I plan to camp on an upcoming trip in the Florida Panhandle. Aside from putting all food out of reach, are there additional steps one can take to deter these clever critters? Lots of products for the home that claim to work, but most reviews indicate limited success. I was thinking a healthy sprinkling of cayenne pepper around the campsite would help, but Iím a little skeptical. I sleep with earplugs, so they could have a field day without my noticing.
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Old 02-14-18, 10:32 AM
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Could you just use one of those bear canisters to store food?
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Old 02-14-18, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
Could you just use one of those bear canisters to store food?
Donít have a bear canister, but will look into it. Any recommendations, or are they all about the same? OTOH, hanging the food should at least keep it out of reach. Just donít like the idea of a pack of coons roving my campsite without my permission.
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Old 02-14-18, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
.... Aside from putting all food out of reach....
how? hang bag of food in a tree?
them critters can climb ropes.


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Old 02-14-18, 10:49 AM
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I've had good luck in hanging food from trees but the bear canister idea makes sense too, just put a bit of vaseline on the rope and those critters will just slide right off. : )
Seems like a pain to have to carry a canister though.
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Old 02-14-18, 10:54 AM
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In Everglades, the raccoons trying to get to my food in my tent vestibule were loud enough it woke me up. But I slept really poorly for the rest of the night.

If you can hang your food, that may help. I have to do that in Northern Minnesota because of bears. Canoeing, we start with a week and a half worth of food that we have to hang, but for you when camping by bike where you resupply every couple days it should be pretty easy to use a drybag and some paracord.

Photo is last summer near Canadian border when our food pack was still quite full and quite heavy. Heavy enough that we use a couple climbing pulleys to hoist it up in the air.

I think I heard somewhere that raccoons can eat through a pannier.
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Old 02-14-18, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
how? hang bag of food in a tree?
them critters can climb ropes.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9rwHY6Ijh4
The campsites have clothesline posts. If I cannot get it high enough off the ground on a clothesline, a tree ahould also work with a skinny rope thatís hard to grip. Or are they able to shimmy down or across a clothesline? If they can still get to the food, I guess they deserve it.
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Old 02-14-18, 12:03 PM
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If the campgrounds have bathrooms you may be able to store stuff in them. I have done that in bear country where no lockers were provided or where they were a long walk away.
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Old 02-14-18, 12:48 PM
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Real simple. We've been doing this for over 40 years. You put all your food, toothpaste, anything with a smell, into a no-smell bag:
https://loksak.com/opsak/
They're not just for cannabis.

You put the bag(s) in your tent. Never another problem. Mice, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, bears, they all know about ropes and cords, trees, etc. They love them. Have fun climbing, chew your way in, eat food, chew your way out. Pretty much every time we camp where many people camp and hang their food, we hear about the damage the next morning. Not to say that you shouldn't put your food in a Opsak or Ursack and hang it up. That works, too. However we frequently bike and hike where there's nothing over 4' tall. Doesn't work then. If you leave it on the ground, you've just packaged it up for transport. All the silly drawings of how you're supposed to hang a bear bag assume 30+' tall trees exactly the right distance apart. I once camped somewhere like that.

People think they don't smell, their clothes don't smell, their breath doesn't smell . . . but for some reason animals won't detect them. They can cook and eat dinner and go to bed with no smell at all. Uh-huh.
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Old 02-14-18, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Real simple. We've been doing this for over 40 years. You put all your food, toothpaste, anything with a smell, into a no-smell bag:
https://loksak.com/opsak/
They're not just for cannabis.

You put the bag(s) in your tent. Never another problem. Mice, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, bears, they all know about ropes and cords, trees, etc. They love them. Have fun climbing, chew your way in, eat food, chew your way out. Pretty much every time we camp where many people camp and hang their food, we hear about the damage the next morning. Not to say that you shouldn't put your food in a Opsak or Ursack and hang it up. That works, too. However we frequently bike and hike where there's nothing over 4' tall. Doesn't work then. If you leave it on the ground, you've just packaged it up for transport. All the silly drawings of how you're supposed to hang a bear bag assume 30+' tall trees exactly the right distance apart. I once camped somewhere like that.

People think they don't smell, their clothes don't smell, their breath doesn't smell . . . but for some reason animals won't detect them. They can cook and eat dinner and go to bed with no smell at all. Uh-huh.
Donít you still end up leaving traces of scent on the outside of the bags? Maybe bears and the like are not as sensitive as dogs, but if they can detect a smell from 1000s of yards away, I would think that a bit of scent on the outside of a bag would be enough to provoke curiosity.

The hanging aspect adds a bit of physical security to the situation.
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Old 02-14-18, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Real simple. We've been doing this for over 40 years. You put all your food, toothpaste, anything with a smell, into a no-smell bag:
https://loksak.com/opsak/
They're not just for cannabis.

You put the bag(s) in your tent. Never another problem. Mice, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, bears, they all know about ropes and cords, trees, etc. They love them. Have fun climbing, chew your way in, eat food, chew your way out. Pretty much every time we camp where many people camp and hang their food, we hear about the damage the next morning. Not to say that you shouldn't put your food in a Opsak or Ursack and hang it up. That works, too. However we frequently bike and hike where there's nothing over 4' tall. Doesn't work then. If you leave it on the ground, you've just packaged it up for transport. All the silly drawings of how you're supposed to hang a bear bag assume 30+' tall trees exactly the right distance apart. I once camped somewhere like that.

People think they don't smell, their clothes don't smell, their breath doesn't smell . . . but for some reason animals won't detect them. They can cook and eat dinner and go to bed with no smell at all. Uh-huh.
I like the idea of a bag, because it is easier to transport and takes up no room when empty. Didnít even consider toiletries. Guess they might be attracted to toothpaste and toothbrush, but canít imagine what else.
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Old 02-14-18, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Donít you still end up leaving traces of scent on the outside of the bags? Maybe bears and the like are not as sensitive as dogs, but if they can detect a smell from 1000s of yards away, I would think that a bit of scent on the outside of a bag would be enough to provoke curiosity.

The hanging aspect adds a bit of physical security to the situation.
We try to keep the outsides of the bags clean, wash them thoroughly once in a while. The outsides of the bags won't smell any more than your hands, will they? We clean our hands a bit when we wash up after dinner. They can smell YOU from thousands of yards away. Kinda my point, which the "authorities" completely ignore. That said, food smells are intense. We once accidentally left a baggie of gorp outside the bags overnight. A mouse smelled it and chewed his way in. I think mice are actually better at smelling stuff than the larger animals. If it's mouse-proof, you're good.
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Old 02-14-18, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
I like the idea of a bag, because it is easier to transport and takes up no room when empty. Didnít even consider toiletries. Guess they might be attracted to toothpaste and toothbrush, but canít imagine what else.
In bear country, we were told to ďstashĒ anything scented... think about your strawberry or apple scented hair products, and the mint toothpaste, as well as the minty fresh soap. We put it all in bear boxes.

Raccoons tend to be curious about any scent... whether it is food or not...
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Old 02-14-18, 02:22 PM
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I've only encountered them once. They were persistent, and not afraid of people. After chasing them away twice, I blasted them with a dose of Halt II Dog Repellent. It seemed to do the job; they did not come back.

They also know how to unzip things like bento-bags (small bag on top tube/headtube). They got my wife's M&Ms out of hers.

A raccoon unzipped the small blue bag on my wife's toptube.

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Old 02-14-18, 02:22 PM
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Don't underestimate how smart raccoons are (or how mean they are).

I always hang my food, regardless of where I am. Usually just a small synthetic rope about 2mm thick.

So one night I wake up to some noise coming from the tree where I hung my food. I throw on the headlamp and take a look. There are three raccoons. Two are on the ground beneath the hanging bag, while one is on the branch above trying to lift the string up and then drop it, to either break the rope or untie the knot. Luckily I had a lot of food in there so the bag was too heavy for it to lift more than a few inches. Each time the top raccoon lifts and drops the other two are moving their arms up and down in expectation of the bag falling.

It was unbelievable. Too bad it was before cell cameras. I threw some rocks at them so would go away and then checked the knots and went back to sleep. I'm not sure if they kept trying or moved on to an easier target.

If you are in an area where they have already associated humans with easy food, a bear bag and hanging is about all you can do. They will investigate no matter what. I don't trust a no-smell bag being perfect at all and they definitely will smell you with or without food.
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Old 02-14-18, 03:32 PM
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You do not want to leave plastic bottles outside at night either. Small animals can chew through the plastic. We lost one Nalgene bottle that way.
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Old 02-14-18, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by fantom1 View Post
I don't trust a no-smell bag being perfect at all and they definitely will smell you with or without food.
They are persistent. A few years ago one grabbed one of my panniers off a picnic table and started dragging it away despite it being completely empty. I had put all my food and cooking and toilet items in the bath house because I was in NJ bear country, but the thing still went for the bag. I suspect that was because during the day's ride it had contained a very aromatic everything bagel and enough of the smell still lingered to interest him. Fortunately, the noise woke me up. Got out my tent and chased him away.


My funniest run in was when I accidentally left a trio of Amish sticky buns (my planned breakfast) on a picnic table when I turned in for the night. I was awoken by two of the little buggers. Switched on the headlamp and saw them feasting on my treats. Their mouths and paws were coated in sticky sweetness and they were squabbling with each other. Later, after I had chased them off, I could here them squabbling some more. I think they were on a total sugar high. Think Beavis in the Cornholio episode of Beavis and Butthead.
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Old 02-14-18, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Apparently raccoons are a problem where I plan to camp on an upcoming trip in the Florida Panhandle. Aside from putting all food out of reach, are there additional steps one can take to deter these clever critters?
We use a bear bag. Hung from a branch or stowed in a food locker whenever possible. Approved for bear country and critter-resistant.

I'd advise against storing food in your tent. In our experience, rodents will chew through the tent fabric in no-time.
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Old 02-14-18, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
In Everglades, the raccoons trying to get to my food in my tent vestibule were loud enough it woke me up. But I slept really poorly for the rest of the night.

If you can hang your food, that may help. I have to do that in Northern Minnesota because of bears. Canoeing, we start with a week and a half worth of food that we have to hang, but for you when camping by bike where you resupply every couple days it should be pretty easy to use a drybag and some paracord.

Photo is last summer near Canadian border when our food pack was still quite full and quite heavy. Heavy enough that we use a couple climbing pulleys to hoist it up in the air.

I think I heard somewhere that raccoons can eat through a pannier.
That looks like my crevasse rescue gear for setting up a "Z" pulley system. a couple of prusik slings and the rope would complete the picture.

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Old 02-14-18, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
That looks **** my crevasse rescue gear for setting up a "Z" pulley system.
We have had some trips where we had to hang 42 person-days worth of food, none of which was lightweight freeze dried. I finally decided to pop for a couple rescue pulleys to make it easier to get the food bag higher. But the lines in the photo are maybe 1/4 inch, you would not want to go to far with those.
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Old 02-14-18, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
The campsites have clothesline posts. .... Or are they able to shimmy down or across a clothesline? .....

maybe hang the bear cannister? or tie a knot above the bag,
string a frisbee with hole in the center above it.....like one
of these squirrel baffles on amazon...

https://www.amazon.com/Woodlink-NABA...F7PVZV8TR53YY8
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Old 02-14-18, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Real simple. We've been doing this for over 40 years. You put all your food, toothpaste, anything with a smell, into a no-smell bag:
https://loksak.com/opsak/
They're not just for cannabis.

You put the bag(s) in your tent. Never another problem. Mice, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, bears, they all know about ropes and cords, trees, etc. They love them. Have fun climbing, chew your way in, eat food, chew your way out. Pretty much every time we camp where many people camp and hang their food, we hear about the damage the next morning. Not to say that you shouldn't put your food in a Opsak or Ursack and hang it up. That works, too. However we frequently bike and hike where there's nothing over 4' tall. Doesn't work then. If you leave it on the ground, you've just packaged it up for transport. All the silly drawings of how you're supposed to hang a bear bag assume 30+' tall trees exactly the right distance apart. I once camped somewhere like that.

People think they don't smell, their clothes don't smell, their breath doesn't smell . . . but for some reason animals won't detect them. They can cook and eat dinner and go to bed with no smell at all. Uh-huh.
I'd never do this in bear country. No way, no how. Illegal in some areas (you must have approved bear canister).

To the OP, a bear proof canister would be a pain - and overkill- on a bike. They are round and would be hard to pack.
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Old 02-14-18, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Ridefreemc View Post
I'd never do this in bear country. No way, no how. Illegal in some areas (you must have approved bear canister).

To the OP, a bear proof canister would be a pain - and overkill- on a bike. They are round and would be hard to pack.
An Ursack is a perfectly good alternative though not OK in some National Forest and Park areas where a canister is required: https://www.ursack.com/ 7.6 oz. for a 10 liter bag,

We only backpack in bear country, and as I said, have been doing it this way for over 40 years. Of course if it's a car campground with bear lockers, we use those, but we are seldom in that situation. And of course if it's required, we use a canister backpacking, but as you say, pretty much impossible on a bike. Be that as it may, one doesn't bike in areas where canisters are required, because bikes are usually prohibited.

The usual instructions by the authorities on how to hang food are either or both unusable or idiotic in terms of protecting one's food from animals, as we and many others on this forum have frequently observed, though hardly anyone seems to have a clue about how to protect their food.

We have only had gear and food damaged when we've hung it. Yep, we've tried carrying the 100' of cord and rescue pully. Worked great against the non-existent bears, but the string climbers always got into it and also ruined the bag in which the food was hung. That was long before Ursacks were invented.
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Old 02-14-18, 10:11 PM
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Found this interesting article. Pretty much the same advice as you guys have given. A bear canister or bag seems like the best solution, but nothing is 100% effective short of a food locker. http://roadmap.bookyoursite.com/how-...your-campsite/

I’ll make a trip to REI and check out the options.
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Old 02-14-18, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Real simple. We've been doing this for over 40 years. You put all your food, toothpaste, anything with a smell, into a no-smell bag:
https://loksak.com/opsak/

People think they don't smell, their clothes don't smell, their breath doesn't smell . . . but for some reason animals won't detect them. They can cook and eat dinner and go to bed with no smell at all. Uh-huh.
I also use Opsaks and sleep with the food in my tent - no issues. I've considered hanging food and the bear triangle thing, but to do so involves too much additional bushwhacking through low shrubbery which then greatly increases the tick/Lyme risk.

Yup, empty Cliff bar wrapper was in my pocket, steam from dinner in my face/hair, insect repellent, etc.. guess I'm going cross my fingers and hope the black bear around here are more afraid me, than I of them.
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