By Travis Birch
As the weather turns colder, we tend to spend more time at our home in town, away from our cabin off the grid. Being part time survivalists’ means that we have to leave the cabin during certain times during the year, and for about a two or three months stretch during the colder periods. Our overall goal is to live a life that is one with nature, so we minimalize everything we do, all the while preventing the beasts of nature from invading our space, without hurting them.
Wild world of animals
The area of the country our cabin sits in is prone to bears, raccoons, possums and other creatures both large and small. So we find ourselves throughout the year animal proofing our house and surroundings. These animals are smart and adaptive to their habitat. They are eating machines that learn from memory where the best place is to get the next meal. So when we prepare our cabin for an extended absence or the long haul, we make sure that all bases are covered.
The first thing we do is clean all food prep sections with hot soapy water. Kitchen dish detergent is great. When we finish, we go straight to a high bleach concentration water bucket, clean then sanitize. The plan is to disinfect and remove any scents, smells and alluring odors that will strike curiosity in the beasts. This takes place inside and outside. Any area that fish are cleaned, or animals are gutted. Veggies are prepped inside usually. A good rule of thumb is if you can identify a veggie with your eyes closed, and without touching it, so can a bear. Onions, garlic, and broccoli are prime examples. A bear’s senses are more intense than ours, their life depends on it, and so if we can remove something from their curious olfactory organs, we should be better in the long run.
The muck bucket that catches everything in the kitchen gets cleaned and is left hanging in the outhouse. Every surface is accounted for. The counters, tables, cutting boards, stove top and oven the sink and the floors. Even the grill is subject to being scrubbed down before we go. Garbage receptacles are moved to the outhouse as well. The thought with the outhouse is that if we have to sacrifice anything, we’d all rather it be this. All fishing and trapping equipment is cleaned, and either brought back with us or stored in the shed.
Now we attend to the house and equipment a step further. Besides being experts at smelling, bears also win the prize for being the most curious. They beat raccoons in this department because when a raccoon gets curious, you have to clean up your garbage the next day. When a bear gets curious, there is no limit to what they will do to quell their inquisitive manner. They can rip a door down, or break through a window. So, before we leave for a long absence, we pull out any food or drink. Canned goods seem to be fine, but drink packages are designed to breathe, and prepackaged foods are in permeable packages, so they have to go. Next, close your drapes to remove any visual temptation from the wild. Hold them closed with clothespins. If the bears can’t see anything inside, they are less likely to investigate further.
Finally, take mothballs, or mothball flakes, and hang a stocking or pantyhose with a handful of this in it. Hang one by each window, hang one by each door, specifically by the handle because that has your scent all over it. Sprinkle some flakes along the threshold of the door, because that will be the first sniff the bear usually takes. Hang the mothball sack by the door of the shed as well. You can even put some around any outdoor vehicles you are brave enough to leave behind, such as boats, canoes, or ATV’s.
All this means that when you come back in the spring, you will have to air out the place very well. You also need to account for all the places you sprinkle moth flakes, so pets and small children don’t accidentally ingest some. I take a picture of every area, and then delete them when I remove the moth flakes. Bears hibernate for the winter, but you can’t account if they rise before your first trip back. So give an ounce or two of prevention, and allow the wildlife to take their noses down the road.