We had just returned from a day of 4-wheeling. Our base campsite in the Mojave Desert was a beautiful patch of lush desert with cholla, creosote bushes, Joshua trees, and Mojave yucca. Each of us headed for our tents. At one point I heard one camper yell out, “What the …?!”. He was standing at one corner of his tent, then quickly bolted for the entrance. Seconds later he comes out holding a bag of candy. Or what was left of it. “Can you believe this?” he screamed.
The bag was peppered with peck holes. It had been ravaged by ravens from the outside of the tent. Somehow they could tell there was candy in that part of the tent. And they weren’t going to let a thin layer of nylon get in the way of a tasty meal.
Campers and others who enjoy the outdoors understand the need to store food well. All sorts of critters have a hankering for human food. We’ll review methods you can take to minimize loss. Incidentally, I won’t discuss bears here. Seek out other resources if you’ll be traveling to bear country.
The camper in the above incident assumed his candy was safe. After all, it was in a bag and inside the tent. As he learned, ravens have a keen sense of smell. That’s true with most animals. But there’s more to the problem.
Development near natural areas combined with a surge in outdoors activity are changing the feeding habits of wild animals. They become acclimated to the trash containers, food scraps, and handouts from well-meaning (but misguided) visitors. The animals lose their natural fear of humans and start hanging around campsites and vehicles.
The predator-prey dynamic that previously kept the animal world in a natural balance is out of whack. Raven populations, for example, have increased as much as 700% in the Mojave Desert in the past 25 years, according to the Bureau of Land Management.
Store food securely at night and while away
What can you do? Quite simply, store your food items securely. It starts with an acknowledgement of the problem. Just as you put a lot of thought into packing your vehicle, you also need to consider how to secure your food. And not just your edibles, either. Garbage must be dealt with if there is no covered receptacle nearby.
A vehicle is a sturdy storage facility. So too are ZARES containers and Pelican boxes. Both are designed to be rugged and durable. A cardboard box is not. Burros love cardboard. A cooler, especially the steel kind, is great. Secure with a tension strap for added peace or mind.
Don’t feed the animals!
Don’t want wild animals around your campsite? Don’t feed them. While you can’t do anything about other campers, you can control your behavior. Wild animals are supposed to act wild; that is, wary of humans and preferring to stay away. Increasingly today, those animals are interacting with humans. That’s not a good thing.
One night while enjoying the campfire with some buddies in Death Valley, we spotted a coyote nearby. Before anyone could react, the coyote leapt up on the picnic table and grabbed our bag of garbage. He passed right by us – perhaps five feet away from the closest person. He had not a fear in the world.
The coyote dragged the garbage bag to a nearby hill and tore into it. You can imagine the mess we had to clean up the next morning.
Protect your gear from the weather, too
Sounds simple enough. You’re done with a project or turning in for the night. Put your tools away, right? Most people do. But some forget, or just casually toss the tools aside. If you’re camping in the winter or heavy weather, that equipment could get buried in snow or soaked.
Always take a moment to store your tools and gear – shovels, axes, hammers – in a vehicle or tent. If you must store them outside, select a container that will be seen easily. ZARGES containers and Pelican boxes are just as useful for gear as for food.
Wind can be a factor, too. I’ve seen folding chairs go flying when a gust of wind blows through. The weather can be very unpredictable. Store anything that could take flight in the right conditions.
Get in the habit of always storing your food and gear securely while away and at night. Use a sturdy container or stash the goods in your vehicle. Don’t give coyotes, ravens, burros, vagrants or weather a chance to ruin your outdoor adventure.
# # #
Did you miss the previous article?
- 2019-02-13 Do You Have a Tire Failure Strategy?
- 2019-01-16 How to Make Great Beef Jerky
- 2018-12-22 Understanding the Public Land Survey System
- 2018-11-18 Go Exploring
- 2018-10-28 The Forgotten Items!
Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)
March 30 Wilderness First Aid – Gorman CA
April 06 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
April 07 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
April 10 San Rafael Swell Adventure
April 15 Easter Safari – Moab UT
April 27 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
April 28 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
June 01 Tire Repair & Hi-lift mini clinic – Hawthorne CA
June 08 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
June 09 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
June 15 Starting Rock Crawling
June 21 Field Day
San Rafael Swell Off Road Guide Book & Companion Map $35.50
If you want to order one: https://www.4x4training.com/w/product/san-rafael-swell-off-road-guide-book/
At almost 300 pages, “San Rafael Swell Off Road: A Trail Guide to 42 Destinations for Automobiles, 4WD Trucks & ATVs” is a guide to the in the San Rafael Swell area of Emery County. The desert area is ringed by small towns like Price, Green River and Castle Dale.
“Every chapter includes helpful advice for novice or experienced explorers of the area, such as, “Easy dirt road for high clearance automobile, although four-wheel drive is recommended to several sandy sections along the road. “according to Ed Helmick the author.
the San Rafael Swell area of south-central Utah. This is an area that provides approximately 2,000 square miles of fantastic scenery, fascinating history, and fun off-road adventures. The only paved roads in the San Rafael Swell are Interstate 70, which bisects the Swell in an east-west direction for 67 miles, and a spur of I-70 called the Moore Cutoff. The major difference between off-roading in the Moab area and the Swell area is fewer people, and the area is more remote in regard to the distances to small towns with services. Utah towns that ring the Swell are: Price, Green River, Hanksville, Cainsville, Emery, Castle Dale, Huntington, and Cleveland.
The companion map, the National Geographic San Rafael Swell (#712) comes as a package deal with your book order.
Wavian NATO Military Steel Jerry Can – 20L/5.3 Gallon $79.99
Order several cans now at:
Best to order these cans now. The warehouse has sold out every can they have 3 times this year due to natural disaster. People bought any color and any size just to have one right away. Half of the new supply shipped as soon as it came in due to a long waiting list. You don’t want to be caught without a gas can or forced to buy an inferior can that leaks.
Check out this fire test of the cans https://youtu.be/xG6x_BoGqNY
These are the real deal and are now legal again. These cans do not leak! They are the ones I recommend. However, the penalty we have to pay to get these cans again is that every can must come with a CARB approved spout. That adds about $30 dollars to the can. Still worth it. I have cans built during WWII that still hold gasoline and do not leak. (I am not that old. I bought them surplus.)
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
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Copyright 2019, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.