10 Tips To Survive A Bear Attack

You look Deeelicious Dahling!

Most of us love getting outdoors and soaking up some nature, but sometimes we cross paths with certain critters, like bears... and find ourselves in a bit of a pickle. If you run into a bear, certain factors will immediately come into play. How you respond in those first few seconds can make a world of difference in the outcome of your encounter.

Prevention is the key!

First you should be aware of bears in the area before you get there. Ask a local ranger or land manager’s office, i.e., BLM, Forest Service, State Park, Fish and Game etc. for any information on bears or other dangerous wildlife near your intended visit. Carefully observe your public servant, while many are competent, reasonable people, some however, are not. Make sure the person you are asking advice isn't the the kind of naturalist who thinks bears, cougars, moose, etc., are perfectly safe to walk up and hug. Not all of them understand that wild animals are dangerous. Some of them come from the city, are fresh from a college campus and have never seen a wild animal outside of a flim strip.

I once saw a park ranger in New Mexico lead 40 Jr. High kids up a 400 foot cliff using hand holds carved in the rocks by the Anasazi Indian tribe a thousand years earlier. Am I the only one who thinks 40 kids on a 400 foot rock cliff is a bad idea? I don't know what he was thinking, but I was thinking he needed a black eye. I didn't want to go to jail so I settled for some stern diplomacy. I asked him pointedly if he had ever had anyone fall off the cliff and die. He said, "No, but about 10 people have had a heart-attack and died once they got to the top."

Are you getting the picture here? This public servant / park ranger, having seen 10 people die, still thought it was just fine to lead large groups up a cliff without so much as one word of warning to them before hand. I am a little off topic here but the point is, remember that not every park ranger is dealing with a full deck. Trust your own sense of safety for you and your group.

Now, If there are bears nearby, consider the following precautions:

1. Pack any food items in an air-tight container. The less a bear can smell the goodies you are carrying, the less likely he will come sniffing around.

2. Ladies, if your personal cycle is active consider staying home until its ended, especially if an overnight trip in a tent is planned. Bears get curious with this scenario and being carnivores they may come investigating. Remember, their nose is the size of Texas and very sensitive.

Update: I stumbled into a product for women hikers who suffer the inconvenience of bad timing of their cycle. I had a look and decided to post this information. It is called a Diva Cup. It is an internal feminine hygiene device. Please, women readers, I am not qualified to judge this, I am just passing along some information. If it is of help - awesome. If not.. I have no way of personally knowing the difference. Forgive me, I only mean to help. I have tested both these links and they were active when I posted them. I have no connection to these products otherwise - just sharing information. I am not getting some kick-back here. LOL, I wish I was!
Every time you suffer... I make money, are you kidding me? Get outta here! hehe.

Read about it here: http://www.divacup.com/?gclid=CO-s58KA-KcCFcUZQgodg0GGrw

One can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FAG6XA?ie=UTF8&tag=hiklad-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000FAG6XA

3. Talk aloud with the people in your company as you travel, a bear will hear you coming and disappear long before you get too close. Most bears are more afraid of you than you are of them, which is why they can be so fierce when they attack. They are scared and intimidated into self-defense.

4. Carry a quality bear spray and read the directions BEFORE you need to use it. Spraying yourself in the face while a bear is coming at you is not the best reaction here. In fact, at that point you deserve to be attacked for being "that" stupid. (Just kidding). But you can see the futility here.

5. If you have to use bear spray, follow the manufacturer’s directions and get out of the area away from the bear. A sprayed bear is trying to run away. If he runs into you, he may attack on his way out of the area.

6. If you see the bear soon enough, chances are you have an escape route. Quickly and quietly gather your party and simply walk away from the bear and keep moving away. Bears have a much larger personal space limit than people do. Fifteen to twenty feet is getting way too close. The more distance you put between you and the bear the safer it will be for you and the bear. No it is not a good idea to reach for your camera and start taking pictures. While you are in awe with the cute, fuzzy Boo-Boo bear, he is not in awe with you. Yes, you saw some hippy on TV filming bears and it was awesome. What you didn't see was the man behind the camera with a really big gun... just in case.

7. If a bear charges you, try to run downhill if possible. A bear’s hind legs are shorter than the front which makes it hard for him to run downhill. This does not mean he can’t come down hill, it just means you have a better chance of getting away by running down hill.

8. If the bear gets you and you think you’re done for, play dead. Wrap your arms around your head, curl up in a tight ball and play dead. Of course this is much easier said than done, but it beats dying. There is a good chance the bear will wander off. Look around slowly and carefully, make sure the bear is gone. If you jump up and the bear is still close by, it is likely he will attack again. If the bear is a good distance, you may be able to quietly get up and sneak away.

If the bear keeps attacking and is attempting to take bites from your flesh, he is thinking you are dinner. Its time to fight for your life. Grab a rock, a stick, or anything and aim for the face, the eyes and the nose. Do as much damage as possible.

If you are injured, try to find a good tree and climb it. You can always kick or jab the bear away if it tries to climb up after you. Just be careful not to stick your foot in its mouth, this is almost as bad as spraying yourself in the face with bear spray. A branch or large stick is better if available.

9. If you spot a bear a safe distance away chances are the bear knows you are there already and lingering could spark his curiosity. This is not good a situation from any angle of consideration.

10. Always know your surroundings, where you are going and have someone watching the clock for when you should return home. This person should also have the appropriate phone numbers of the land manager or local sheriff if they need to report you missing.

The outdoors is a wonderful place to be enjoyed by all, but it can quickly turn into a very dangerous place in the blink of an eye. Be prepared!

Wishing you many safe and awesome outdoor adventures,

- Harlan


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Comments 30 comments

thevoice profile image

thevoice 6 years ago from carthage ill

terrific read well done

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

Thank you, "thevoice". You are my first reader and comment. I am glad it doesn't say, "Harlan, go back to the mountains and quit writing hubs!"

elayne001 profile image

elayne001 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Hope I never need to use your advice. I saw some bears when we visited a park one year but they were friendly. I guess the momma wasn't around.

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Goodness gracious! I'll be staying away from places that have bears on it, I am sure! LOL But these tips are very very helpful. Thank you!

Congratulations to your Hubnugget nomination! Follow this trail and see for yourself! Don't worry, we don't have bears in there: LOL http://hubpages.com/hubnuggets10/hub/hubnuggets-II...

suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

We have black bears here and they are pests mostly dragging garbage around and destroying bird feeders. This is a great Hub.

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author


Thank you for reading my hub and responding. I am glad the bears were friendly during your visit, but they can be very unpredictable; even ones that are used to people. Here's to many more great outdoor fun.


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author


Thank you for reading, and your response. I think its ok to watch a bear if you see one, depending on how far away it is. 10 feet is way too close! We have a tendancy to think we are seeing a cute fuzzy teddy bear, but that is not the case. Most people survive an attack, but it still hurts and can take a long time to recover.

Also thank you for the hub nugget nomination.

Many safe journeys.

- Harlan

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author


It is that time of year again here where bears will be waking up. I find them outside in the trash bin all the time. They are usually as surprised to see me as I am of them, and they run off. One time I went to toss a bag into the bin, and a bear popped his head out just as I was about to toss the bag. We both got startled and ran away!

Thank you for your comments.


Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Great informative hub, that confirms why I'm not a campfire girl. Hehehe! Congrats on being selected as one of this week's HubNuggets Wannabe nominees. Good Luck!

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

You don't like the fresh smell of campfire smoke permeating your clothes?

What's wrong with you? lol.

Thank you for reading my hub.


Humma Ofi profile image

Humma Ofi 6 years ago from Detroit, MI

Great hub, Harlan. It is common knowledge to stay away from bears and areas known to be frequented by them. My great grandfather educated me long ago about bears, being a native american. I have seen what they can do when they think they are threatened. Most people don't think about it until it is too late. This is truly the time of year to give people a heads up.

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

Humma Ofi,

One time, I came across a mother grizzly with two cubs using the same trail as myself. It was good for me I wasn't making any noise and happened to see them first. I turned a 180 in the blink of an eye and disappeared back the way I came. There is no mountain, lake or tree to hug worth that kind of encounter.

Thank you for the comments.

- Harlan

kathypi profile image

kathypi 6 years ago from CANADA

YES, This confirms my fears, I have to go hiking with my husband, and he likes getting into the woods, I don't. He just says common Kath, there's no Bears.

Where do you get that bear spray, lol.

We go out on our Photography runs, I think I will tell him to read this, thanks Kathy

Eric Calderwood profile image

Eric Calderwood 6 years ago from USA

Great hub, I remember being taught to run downhill in Boy Scouts.

Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 6 years ago from California

Should a person climb a tree to escape a bear? I've heard cubs, weighing less, can easily climb trees while adults can't. Lemme know. Later!

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

Kathypi You can make your own bear spray with hot peppers, but I would prefer to recommend a professionally produced one because the pressure gives you a farther distance to "shoot" the spray. I would suggest REI or Cabela's as good locations to find these products online is always good too!

- Harlan

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author


Yes, I have a bear story from Boy Scouts I should write up. It's pretty funny - now so many years later.

- Harlan

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author


If you have no where else to go, and you have the time, yes. You can kick the bear with your legs once you're in the tree and he will likely give up once his nose is sore. Honestly, chances are good, you wont have time to climb a tree. Bears can run as fast as a horse for a good 30-40 yards or so. Bear Spray is really your best enviro-option.

Now in Idaho, I carry a pistol in the woods as a last resort only. But, I have never had to use it. I hear of cases where other people could have used one, but they didn't have one. It seems everytime you don't have a gun, is when you needed it the most. But, not everyone is a gun type of person.

For example, one year a cougar came down into a family picnic, grabbed a 5 year old boy and proceeded to carry him off. The grown-ups didn't even see the cat until the kid started screaming. Someone finally grabbed a big stick and started beating the cat. When the cat let go, it wanted to fight the guy with the stick. A gun would have come in real handy. Even if you don't want to shoot the animal, purposefully firing into the ground in front of it will generally send it running. But I do not make any recommendations for people to carry a gun. That is an individual decision for each person. However, I do highly recommend that if someone decides to carry a gun, that they are well trained in using it and have all the proper licences before they go. In Idaho the law states you have to have a valid hunting license to carry a gun - whether you're hunting or not. To get a hunting license, you have to take and pass the state's gun training course.

My dad used to say, " I don't carry a gun in the woods for the critters, I carry it for the hippies." Personally, I never met a hippy I found threatening or hostile, but I seem to get along with everyone. Dad, was from the John Wayne era.

Regardless, the chances of a bear cub chasing you up a tree is a million to one. Baby bears are naturally big cowards, its a safety instinct. If you see a baby bear and he sees you, he may be a little curious at first, stand up on two feet and smell in your direction before he turns and runs. If he turns and runs and cries, you need to turn and run too - in the opposite direction because Momma may well be coming to investigate, however, she may just move the cubs along to a quieter location. If there is no where to run, yes climb a tree if you can. The bigger the tree the better. A small tree is of little value as a large bear can just shake the tree till you fall out and they will try.

Again bear attacks are rare. Spring and summer is the most likely time for a mother to protect her newborns. The bottom line is bear spray is a small item you can carry on your belt. A few squirts and the bear will generally run off, you don't have to find a tree or worry about any of the other techniques, and both you and the bear will survive to live another day. Bear spray is a win/win in my humble opinion. Skeeter spray is good juju too!

- Harlan

Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 6 years ago from California

Thanks a lot for the valuable information regaring bear attack, Harlan. Now I'll just have to venture into the woods and hope a bear attacks (preferably a grizzly) so I can try blowing it away with a .44 magnum. Actually, I would really hate to do that. I've always liked bears. Later!

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author


I really don't like the prospect of shooting a Grizzly. I don't hate them, but I do fear them. Shooting a grizzly with anything smaller than a 50 cal. from the top of an armoured vehicle is too risky for me. Thing is you shoot one, and chances are 50/50 you will tick him off enough to kill you - before he dies.

There is an old Idaho legend of a man who killed a grizzly with an axe. Maybe I'll make that a hub some day.

outdoorsguy profile image

outdoorsguy 6 years ago from Tenn

ill just say.. that shooting a bear is a last resort in my opinion. if its already attacking me I dont really have to worry about Ticking him off. on the other hand. shooting him first might just annoy him enough to want to play a game of how far can I throw a human body. im betting he can throw one alot further than I can LOL.

honestly though Ive seen quite a few bears in the woods. and haven't ever been bothered by a single one of them. though one did take an interest in my four wheeler and stood up and waited in the center of the trail as I came around the corner.

really didn't know I could stop that fast and still stay seated LOL. we played a round of who can stare more then he dropped down and walked away. and I found something else to do in the opposite direction LOL

oh one last thing. climbing trees is like a weapon.. use it as last resort. some bears, Grizzlys and Black bears have been know to just body slam a tree till it falls over to get to the juicy person in the branchs.

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

I agree, I really don't recommend a gun at that point.

And the tree climbing tactic, if its not a big enough tree to withstand a bear shaking it or slamming into it, its better to just play dead. I do know a story of a guy who killed a grizzly with an axe, I'll have to write that up in hub soon.

- Harlan

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

Good stuff! WB

tamron profile image

tamron 5 years ago

Thanks Harlan you answered a question for me I couldn't find anywhere on the Internet and that is about the ladies cycle and bears. I was writing about a lot of survival type stuff and I thought if I got my cycle just how much would I have to worry. Your cycle comes at the worst possible times. You might not have the convents of getting to the store so you would have to make do some how. If you have any ideas please contact me.

Alaskan 5 years ago

I always carry a gun in bear country and practice to use it if needed!

A well placed shot with a 44 with 320 grain bullets will put any bear down

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

Dear Alaskan,

I came up upon the top of a hill one time hiking into my favorite lake. And there before me stood Momma grizzly and two cubs - there in the trail ahead of me - all of a sudden like so - as I had no warning... I froze for about 10 seconds, I surmised the conditions, I spun around on a dime and I disappeared in the blink of an eye the way from which I came.

I was but a lad at that time, perhaps 16. If I had had the money I would have been packing the .44 you mention. As it were the wind was on my side and wandered off unscathed.

A lesson well learned.

- Harlan

CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Thanks for the advice on surviving bears, Harlan. Luckily over here in the UK, the most dangerous thing you are likely to encounter is an angry sheep!

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains Author

I hear you have a growing population of angry religious extremists who are often as hairy as a bear! Even if such be the case, I don't believe these tips will work with them. Maybe I need to write a hub, how to survive an attack by hairy angry religious extremists...

Thanks for replying!

- Harlan

lemonlimewine 5 years ago

This was very helpful.

Me and my cousins went camping and we actually encountered a bear. Since my cousins and i were very young and agile, we climbed a tree and waited for the bear to leave us.

Thanks once again


carcamping profile image

carcamping 5 years ago

Loved it!

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