I'm planning an overnight hiking trip and want to try cooking fish. We will be camping at an established backcountry site on the trail, which has a spot for a tent near a fire ring.

However, this is in an area with black bears. I know to hang all my food and other scented items in a bear bag, and not to eat in the tent. Beyond that, what additional precautions should I take for smelly foods?

Typically I just bring less smelly things like trail mix and energy bars, and nothing has ever bothered my site or bear bag (as far as I know!), but I'm worried that fish scent would be way more attractive.

For instance:

  • Should we cook further away from the tent than usual? (There are a number of sites along the hike, so cooking dinner at one site and hiking a bit farther is a possibility.)
  • What is the best way to dispose of the "juices", grease, etc. left over from cooking?
  • 1
    Have a look at this outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/9634/… Not sure if this acts as a duplicate. Commented May 19, 2017 at 5:38
  • @Ricketyship, I had read through that, but it's focused on storing lots of food whereas I'm interested in proper procedure for cooking and disposing of very "attractive" foods.
    – user812786
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 13:16

1 Answer 1


You've got most of it down already. Cooking away from your sleeping area is always a good precaution, and never eat or bring food into your tent.

A PDF from CapitolRiders.org points out some of the precautions you can take:

Handle food with care. For the best bear-deterring actions, obey this list:

  • Do cook at least 100 yards (91 meters) from your tent.
  • Do change clothes after cooking and keep those clothes elsewhere from your sleeping area.
  • Do not ever leave food unattended, not even for moment to go to the stream to get water. Make sure it is guarded by others at the campsite or is put away.

Your technique of cooking/eating at one site and then moving to the next should work perfectly (so long as they are far enough apart - I imagine they are). As for disposing of the byproducts of cooking, I would dump anything that won't harm the environment even further away from the cooking site so that others who may use the site won't be in danger. I would think that grease shouldn't impact the environment so it should be safe to dump.

For things that you should not just leave (things that constitute as pollution), you can use another bear bag or garbage bag to hold all of these things and hang it just like you would with your food. It may be smarter to hang this one separately from and further from the bear bag that contains your food. This is exactly what I did once on a 2 day hike.

  • Good idea about hanging the garbage bag separately! Could you explain more about disposing the grease? It doesn't seem very LNT to just dump it on the ground but for a couple fish I guess it wouldn't be that much :/ Would burying or burning it work?
    – user812786
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 19:11
  • @whrrgarbl I suppose burning it would be ideal (be careful of grease fires!) That would also alleviate leaving behind any scents. The way I see it is if the grease came from something from nature, it should be fine to put it back into it at least in small amounts. Burying may also be good, but you may have to bury it deep enough to avoid leaving behind scents.
    – Timmy Jim
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 19:29
  • 3
    I would neither bury nor burn the grease. Burying it will create litter (imagine everyone did that!). Burning it might work, especially as you already have a fire ring. However, the smoke from grease burning will get on everything - clothes, tents, tarps, ropes, YOU, your hair... In this case, I would pour the cool-but-still-liquid grease into a plastic ziploc and carry it out with you.
    – Andrew Jay
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 13:23

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