Ask A Bear: Will My iPod Keep You Away?

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

Q: My brother and I have had this question for quite a while: Within the last two or three years when backpacking, we have hung an iPod in the tree branches, plugged in the ear phones, and tuned up the volume. At night when it is twenty feet away, humans can’t hear it, but we swear that the bears can hear it and stay away, because we have never had a visit from a bear. Are we just lucky or does it work?

Secondly, since we believe it works, we are going to record a series of barking dogs, and hit repeat and play it over and over so the bear can hear it, but us humans can’t. Will that work better?? —BoardDog, via email


A: Let me get this straight: You get enough battery life out of your iPod to just turn it on and let it run overnight, night after night? Man, I feel like mauling Steve Jobs.

Well, I don’t want to burst your brotherly bubble, but I think you’re mostly just lucky. While I can probably hear an iPod from afar, even when humans can’t, it’s unlikely that it’s a significant deterrent. Think about it: Even with the iPod cranked, those tiny earbuds wouldn’t overpower the sound of talking, snoring, or even most rustling or movement within the tent.

Plenty of people camp all of their life, follow proper bear procedures, and never have a camp visitation. I’m more willing to bet that you guys keep a clean camp and follow precautions—and that’s probably why I haven’t paid you a nighttime visit. If you don’t, then you should probably start—because you are just lucky.

Either way, if I do come around and find an iPod running all night with exceptional battery life, I might just have to keep it.


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