If you love the outdoors as I do then, you most likely spend most of your days out in the woods. Whether you’re hunting, camping, or just going out on a hike, chances are you might come across wild animals. You either spend it alone or with family and friends.
One of the most likely animals that you would not want to cross paths with, is the bear. But in case you do encounter one, I’m sure you would like to know how to survive a bear attack.
RELATED: How to Survive a Bear Encounter
How To Survive A Bear Attack
1. Don’t Run
Stand your ground because the second you don’t, it activates the animal instinct in them. Bears can clock their speed up to 40 mph about 64 km/h.
So, it is pretty clear that they’re faster than you could ever be. So this is not a good option at all.
2. Create Distance
By slowly backing down facing the bear and creating distance will give you time to react in case a bear decides to attack.
Do the best you can to put a rock or a tree between yourself and the bear.
3. Don’t Climb a Tree
Some bears are excellent climbers, especially black and sloth bears. Although, this may give you a higher survival rate compared to fighting a larger bear head-on.
If the bear is really large, and you’re forced to climb, climb to the highest point of the tree where branches can’t support its weight. Make sure the tree can’t be toppled over by the bear though.
4. Stay as Calm as Possible
Having a clear head during these encounters will matter a lot. This will make you aware of your surroundings and you will know what you need to do the moment it attacks.
Black bears oftentimes fake their attacks multiple times to test you. If you flinch and try to run it will instinctively give chase.
But if you stand your ground they might just lose their interest in you.
5. How to Survive A Bear Attack By Hitting the Dirt
If you are unable to use a bear spray or when it fails and the animal still decides to attack you, hit the dirt. Lie flat on your stomach and spread your legs so that the bear can’t roll you over easily.
If it does manage to roll you over, roll back onto your stomach every time. Cover the back of your neck with your arms with the elbows protecting the side of your face.
This is the area where the bear usually goes as the killing bite. Make sure your off-hand is the one on top, so if it gets mangled then you could still use your main hand.
6. Know Whether to Play Dead or Fight Back
Keep a clear head and don’t panic. While hitting the dirt, play dead and keep silent and still.
If it is a brown or grizzly bear, playing dead is the best recourse. Hopefully, they get bored and eventually leave you.
If it is a black bear or a polar bear, never play dead. Fight back with all that you’ve got or you will be its next meal.
If you have to fight back, make sure you’re fighting with a knife. Carrying a weapon on a bear country is essential to keep you safe.
7. Take Advantage of any Bear Weaknesses
With exception to the previous tip on brown or grizzly bears. If it starts to lick your wounds, fight back!
- Defending yourself on a steep slope reduces the ability of the bear to stand or put its full weight on you.
- Attacking from the side is also an advantage.
- Fight with sticks, stones, dirt, or whatever you can get your hands on.
- Attack the eyes or the snout which is the most sensitive part.
8. Escape When You Can
Take a few more minutes before you stand up or move as brown bears are known to wait in the distance to check if you’re still alive. Once you’re sure that the bear is gone, move in the opposite direction it went.
Try to be stealthy as possible so as not to attract any more attention. Find a shelter or go back in your vehicle.
How To Avoid Bears While Camping
It’s important to learn how to survive a bear attack but it’s better to avoid this altogether. Statistics show that you are more likely to get hit by lightning than attacked by a bear. However, you might as well be prepared for it if it does happen.
As the saying goes always hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Plus your paracord just might be put to good use.
Now you have an idea of how to survive a bear attack, here are some tips to avoid that from happening.
1. Identify and Assess the Bear’s Behavior
There are different types of bears out there. The black bear and the grizzly or brown bear are among the most common. Once you identify them, try to assess their behavior as quickly as possible.
If it has cubs the maternal instinct to protect its offspring can be fatal especially if it perceives you as a threat. Other behaviors are if it gets startled, hungry, protecting its territory, confused, afraid, or protecting hidden food are among others.
2. Keep a Bear Spray with You
Keep it within reach because the difference between life and death is but a few seconds.
The main active ingredients of this stuff are capsaicin and related capsaicinoids. It should be at higher levels estimated to be around 1-2% anything lower than that is for humans.
3. Safety in Numbers
If you can go with a group while spending time in the woods would most likely keep you safe from bears. By staying in a group means more noise.
Singing or talking will make the bear know that you’re there. If ever you do come across one, the bear may put away any thought of attacking you as a group.
4. Avoid Anything That Attracts Them
Secure all your food and trash carefully. If possible store your food in bear canisters. Unattended food or throwing them away anywhere attracts bears, leading them to you.
Bringing along pets is also not a good thing as this will become potential prey for them.
Here’s an instructographic guide. Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy instructographic for reference:
Here is a video from Claws on bear attacks during camping:
Be prepared and responsible when being in bear country. Keep the fear of bears in the right perspective. Prevention is always a better option.
There are a lot of ways to avoid a bear encounter or prevent it from attacking you if you do still come across one that is.
Do you have bear encounter stories you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
- Bear Attack: Best Safety Measures While Camping
- How To Keep Bears Away From Campsite
- How to Find A Good Campsite: The Four W’s
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Januar 9, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
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