As a hunter and fisherman I often come into Bear Territory so I often wonder what would happen if I meet one. Thankfully that hasn’t happened yet, though I see their tracks from time to time. Now where I am in North Carolina, I don’t have to worry about a Grizzly attack, just Black Bears around here. Still I don’t want to encounter one that is in a bad mood.
I think this article about how to survive a bear attack will come in handy for any outdoorsmen or ladies. If you spend a lot of time outside in bear territory and don’t want to end up as bear poo, give it a read. What to do if you encounter a bear.
If you know you are in bear country there are simple precautions to take. Try not to travel alone. A group offers more protection and someone to get help if there is an attack. Also a group will make noise, which is a good thing. Most Bear Attacks take place when a bear is surprised and startled. Make noise and he knows you are there and will get away from you, before you know he is there, in most cases. Talking loudly and singing, even if alone is a good tactic.
If you do encounter a bear, don’t run! Running can trigger an attack instinct in any predator (including cougars and dogs) plus you won’t outrun a bear if he wants you. Stay calm and slowly back away from the bear. Yelling at the bear will ensure he knows you are human, which may scare him off. Raising your arms and stretching them out makes you appear bigger and will possibly make him think twice about an attack.
If camping don’t leave food or trash laying around. Put it in plastic containers that you can seal up. Bears are creatures of opportunity and will quickly raid a campsite for an easy meal. At night keep a big fire (please practice fire safety in camp) and some lanterns lit.
Avoid any bear cubs you may see. While mother bears attacking to defend cubs is less than most people think, it still happens. Grizzlies are more likely to defend their cubs than the American Black Bear.
If I am outside in bear territory I carry a gun with me. It may not be practical to tote around a rifle or shotgun on your hike. But I carry a Ruger Blackhawk 357 magnum on my hip on all hikes in the woods. Now you do need to check your local laws on carrying firearms. If I am camping I have a shotgun handy at all times. I would be very hesitant to shoot a bear with a 22 or even a 38 special bullet. It will likely tick him off and not kill him right away. If there is time, fire a warning shot which may scare the bear off. If you do have to shoot it, kill the bear, a wounded bear is a terrible thing to have get on you. If you shoot, go for the shoulder if from the side, shoot down into his back if you are above him. Only shoot the head if that is the only shot available to you.
Some people carry bear spray which is supposed to deter an attack. It works on the same principle as mace or pepper spray. I suppose it’s better than nothing but I wouldn’t want just it between me and a mad bear.
Keep a very careful eye on children in bear areas. Bears have been known to attack small kids (seeing them as weak prey). I know of at least one instance where a baby was snatched and carried into the woods by a bear. It killed the baby before the mother and other onlookers could stop the attack.
How to survive a bear attack
Ok if you ARE attacked here is what to do. A lot depends on the bear, if it’s a grizzly then climbing a tree MAY help. But they have been known to pull people out of the tree and kill them. Black Bears will almost definitely climb the tree with you. I would not choose the tree option myself.
If it’s the case of you startling a bear, you should try to play dead. The fetal position is probably best. Or lay on you stomach with your hands behind your neck. Try to protect the neck from bites, it’s much better to get bitten on the arm. If you remain still the bear may lose interest and move on. If you chose this option then stay quiet, even if injured, And if he leaves be aware that he may come right back.
If it seems like the bear (grizzly or black bear) was stalking you as prey, then fight back! Scream and use whatever weapons are at hand. Try very hard not to show fear and be aggressive. If he thinks his easy meal has some teeth of its own, he may back off.
If you are attacked by a black bear, you have a better chance of fighting him off. They are less aggressive than the grizzly. If you are unarmed and attacked by a grizzly then chances are, you will end up as bear poo.
Please keep in mind that I am not an expert on bears. I just spend a lot of time outdoors and enjoy reading about bears and their habits. I hope you have enjoyed this article on surviving a bear attack on associatedcontent.com. Also special thanks to AC writer Veronica Davidson for recommending that I write this article.