The Lucky Raccoon Composting System

This is a selection from my upcoming book “Bush Cookery: Outdoor Cooking Secrets From A Professional Guide”.

You should never leave food, even small bits of it, around your camp.  To do so is to bring animals into camp, and ultimately habituate them to human food.  There’s an old saying that a fed bear is a dead bear, and it means that when an animal gets used to eating human food, they lose their fear of humans and will defend the food source.  This usually leads the animal being put down.  So not only is a clean camp nicer to stay in, it’s also the only humane way of keeping camp.

Modern authorities advise  you to pack everything out that you packed in, but I’ve never been all that good at following directions.  So we created a system that we refer to as the “lucky raccoon”.  All of our food waste is put into a container and when we leave camp, we stop somewhere along the river or trail, and the compost is dumped.  Since we’re not near any campsite (a minimum of a mile) and we’re choosing the spot at random, we’re not creating a habitual feed spot.  Instead we’re giving one raccoon or fox the luckiest day of his life.  The guidelines of this system are:

– Only foods go into the system, nothing that would harm an animal’s digestion
– Never dump within a mile of camp.  No exceptions.
– Never dump in the same place twice
– Never dump along a trail, always get several hundred yards off
– Constantly adjust your portions so as to not have any waste

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