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Ask A Bear: Will Camp Fire/Cigar Smoke Keep Away A Bear

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

by: BEAR

 Q: Will smoking a cigar or pipe keep bears away? What about the smoke of a campfire, does it attract or repel bears?—Coach Dennis Taylor; Martin, TN

A: Sorry, Coach—I'm afraid those bear-repelling ideas wouldn't make the cut. Smoke from a campfire will certainly not keep me away. A campfire might make you feel all warm and cozy, but they'll do nothing to scare me off. Your best best is to make sure you're singing, reminiscing loudly about your big match, bragging about your serve, or making other noisy human sounds to ensure I'm aware of your presence. After you're done yelling "Kumbaya," make sure to properly pack up any remaining food items and trash and securely seal them away in a bear bag or canister. 

If campfires won't keep me at bay, it stands to reason that cigar or pipe smoke certainly won't. I can probably detect trace amounts on the wind, but for me to really notice you'd have to blow it directly in my face, and I'm sure that's too close for comfort—for the both of us.


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Sep 20, 2012

That nose can smell anything from far downwind, but is only drawn to food or smells it connects with food. It then becomes an individual bear's association with tobacco smoke. Campfires are almost always associated with food/cooking.

Jun 28, 2012

Big D, yes it does matter. Feel free to smoke a cigar, cigarette, or whatever else it may be, as long as you're careful about not causing wildfires or throwing the butts on the ground or in the fire (cigarette filters don't burn completely). But people need to be aware that there are safety precautions they may want to take (i.e. not sleeping in the clothes they smoked chocolate/vanilla tobacco in, or not leaving an unfinished cigar outside of a bear canister in Yosemite Valley).

Steve C
Jun 28, 2012

It depends on the bear and the bear's previous experience/association. If a bear ate a lit cigar or cigarette, and burned it's mouth, chances are it might not like the negative reminder. If a bear ate a box of tweenkies while chocolate-cherry pipe smoke lingered in the air, then, it might enjoy the smell of tobacco smoke. Some folks like a smoke after their meal, other don't. Of course, the bouquet of the aroma might clash with the flavor of pepper spray.

Nov 12, 2011

We all do thing that not everyone agrees with but a cigar for enjoyment is great but don't kid yourself thinking it will keep a bear at bay - some people don't like cigar smoke smell so a bear with a good nose won't like it either - yeah right!

Nov 12, 2011

We all do thing that not everyone agrees with but a cigar for enjoyment is great but don't kid yourself thinking it will keep a bear at bay - some people don't like cigar smoke smell so a bear with a good nose won't like it either - yeah right!

Nov 11, 2011

On some of the lakes up here fisherfolk seem to think that they can get rid of their fish guts by putting them on the lunch fire. As a result, all of the fire-rings on the lakes are systematically visited by bears. A couple of pounds of raw guts on a smouldering softwood fire results in a nice bear snack.

Nov 11, 2011

Nov 11, 2011

Fires attract bears.

Jul 21, 2011

The key is its an after dinner smoke. The bear knows this and will realize he's too late.

Jul 21, 2011

We smoked some Swisher Sweets (cigars) one night in Shenandoah. My friend left the remainder of his cigar on a rock and went to bed. I awoke in the night to a bear rustling through our camp. I yelled to scare him off and all was well. We awoke the next morning to find the cigar gone. We think he ate it. Blaaah.

Jul 21, 2011

Every Bear article always talks about bears being walking stomachs with noses. How come they can smell an apple from miles away but they can't smell cigar smoke?

I'm just curious what the difference is in the scents?

Jul 21, 2011

If my company lit up a cigar in camp, I'd probably feed him to the nearest bear.

Once, as we fixed breakfast while camping in Alaska, a grizzly came into the campground digging through the fire rings. We scrambled, and it wasn't just the eggs. At least where we were at, the bears associated camp fires with food.

Andrew Reeves
Jul 21, 2011

Hilarious article, thank you!!!

Jul 21, 2011

If you're smoking a cigar in the backcountry, make sure you're not smoking out anyone nearby. I hate the smell of cigars; I go backpacking to smell cedar, conifers, and flowers, not tobacco.

May 06, 2011

And watch out for the ganja smoke. It's a little-known fact that bears are all potheads.

Big D
May 06, 2011

Doesn't matter. Having a cigar after dinner on the trail is a great way to relax, enjoy the views and the company.


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