Bear-Proof Your Homestead

Learn how to keep bears away from your homestead.

  • Learn how to bear-proof your homestead.
    Photo by
  • An illustration of Gritty grilling food while a bear sits at a picnic table.
    Illustration by Brad Anderson
  • Get advice on bear-proofing.
    Photo by
  • Paw prints like these are a sure sign that you have bears around your homestead.
    Photo by
  • Getting rid of bears from your homestead can be easy with a few of these methods.
    Photo by Brandon Hodgins
  • Construct a bear-proof fence around your garden to protect your food source.
    Photo by Brandon Hodgins
  • Keeping bears away can be as easy as storing bird feeders properly.
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  • The author's bear fence keeps bears away from his family's sweet corn.
    Photo by Brandon Hodgins
  • The author keeps bears away with this bear-proof fence.
    Photo by Brandon Hodgins


Homesteading where the world is still wild comes with many challenges. When the obstacles are overcome, though, we see the reasons we work at it: self-reliance, stability, safekeeping and more. The predators that are just a notch or two lower on the food chain than humans will forever search for a piece of the simple man’s pie, and the homesteaders who are able to protect that pie will see the highest rates of return. 

Bears are among the worthiest contenders with which a homesteader will ever share the land. Stripped down to the tools and skills we naturally possess, man is no match for a big bear. Our advantage is that we understand this fact. So, we adapt.

Some say that adaptation should come in the form of packed bags and uprooting a family’s foundation. Those of us who are committed to this lifestyle simply can’t accept that. Others say the solution rests on the end of a smoking barrel of a pump-action 12-gauge. That may be true if a bear becomes habitually aggressive. The best option, however, is to learn to live with the bears, not fight against them. Most importantly, we must not live in fear of them.

Cleaning up

Bear-proofing a homestead is about eliminating the temptations that would lead a bear to encroach on your property. Bears are naturally curious animals with a keen sense of smell. What you thought was a harmless batch of blackberry brambles might just be an afternoon snack to a hungry bear. What you considered a lazy July afternoon with beer and a barbecue could be cause for a bear to come looking for some midnight grub. By eliminating their triggers, we can eliminate negative encounters.

Put grills away. A grill that just finished smoking thick slabs of salmon is a trigger that might be easy to overlook. Bears can smell that juicy beef steak you’re grilling to medium-rare, and they’ll start moving in your direction before the marinated backstraps hit the table. The drippings from a butterflied chicken will give any bear in the area a good reason to crash the party. When the oak smoke is done rolling and the coals have cooled off, the grill must be put away. Not doing so is asking for it to be tipped over and licked clean by morning.

Store bird feeders. Homesteaders in the heart of bear country must come to the realization that bird feeders aren’t an option, unless you’re willing to bring them in each night. Bird seed is full of fat and protein, and during the early spring and late fall months, fat and protein is exactly what a bear needs to survive.

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