There are several challenges to preparing food without the help of modern convenience. You’ve got no stove, oven, or traditional cooking utensils to make the job easier, and on top of that there are several external factors that can derail the process. To make matter worse, you have to worry about attracting unwanted guests with all the smells you create as you cook.
Large wild predators are great at detecting potential food sources, and the scents of your off-grid cooking are often impossible for them to resist.
Bears, wolves, cougars, and coyotes are all common visitors to campsites where food is being prepared, and they can present significant danger.
So how do you keep yourself safe while cooking off-grid? Here are a few tips to keep predators at bay.
1. Do your food prep during daylight hours
Being aware of your surroundings is key when cooking foods that may attract predators. Even if you feel pretty confident that predators aren’t around, they can sneak up on you easily without being detected, and cooking smells can draw them from miles away.
As a result, it’s best to do all your cooking during the day so you can keep an eye out for them. Cooking at night means you won’t see predators until they’re right up on your cooking site, giving you little time to react. If you encounter a predator while cooking during the day, on the other hand, you have a much better chance of seeing them before they’re a threat.
2. Have a dedicated cooking site away from your main camp
Since it’s ultimately impossible to deter predators from coming around altogether, it would behoove you to create a separate spot for cooking that’s a ways off from your main campsite. Even if you follow all the best precautions and predators still end up paying you a visit, this way you can avoid bringing threats into your main living area.
You can take this one step further by committing to eat all your meals and store all your food in this off-site area too.
3. Contain attractants
Odor is the main thing that attracts predators to your cook site, so the better you can contain it the safer you’ll be. The best ways to do this are to seal anything that smells like food away from open air unless it’s in use or being eaten. Here are a few of the most important ways to do that:
Store leftovers properly – Use airtight containers to keep the smell of your leftovers from wafting out across the surrounding landscape. Also, be sure to hang your food out of reach so that predators can’t get to it if they do happen to find it.
Thoroughly conceal scraps and trash – The best way to dispose of unwanted scraps and refuse is to take them far away from your camp and bury them.
Be mindful of clothing and cookware – Smells will linger on your cookware and clothing even after you’re done prepping your meal and washing the dishes. Have a dedicated outfit of clothing just for cooking and keep it with your cleaned utensils far away from main camp.
4. Never assume you’re alone
As we mentioned before, predators have an innate ability to detect odors of potentially edible things, and they’ll travel long distances if they catch even a slight whiff. So even if you’ve not seen a predator for weeks or you have reason to believe there aren’t any around, you should aways assume they could be close by.
How do you keep predators at bay?
What other tips can you think of for avoiding an unwanted encounter while cooking off-grid? Tell us in the comments!