How to Survive a Bear Attack

How to survive a bear attack

how to survive a grizzly bear attack

photo by Scott_Calleja

Hiking and backpacking in the wilderness can be serious business when there are bears in the area. It is best to learn to identify the difference between grizzly bears and black bears.  They both react to people differently and the strategy used during an attack also differs.

If you happen to be hiking and encounter a bear, there are a few steps you need to help you survive a bear attack. Follow this how to tutorial will help you to not become bear food.

The most most immediate thing you should do is to determine if the bear is aware of you. If the bear has not seen you, and is quite a ways off you should simply walk upwind of the bear so it knows you are a human and not a prey species for him. Once the bear smells you, he should begin to leave the area.

If you encounter a bear at close range, it is extremely important that you don’t panic and run if you want to survive. You will almost without a doubt trigger the predatory instinct in the bear, and an attack will likely occur. The best thing you can do is to talk calmly to the bear and avoid eye contact. Try to slowly get a barrier between you and the bear, such as a pile of logs or rocks. If it is possible to climb a tree I would do so.  This would be a good time to slowly get your bear spray (if you have it) off of your belt and remove the safety.  By this point hopefully the bear is starting to retreat. If the bear is moving in your direction, attempt to intimidate the bear. You should try to make yourself look as large as possible. Wave around your hiking pole, pick up a log and hold it over your head etc.


If you are officially being charged by a bear here is what you need to do. Prepare your bear spray for use and yell at the bear.  At around 40′ spray a short burst towards the bear. The bear will hopefully run into this burst and leave. At around 20 feet you should give the bear another burst and gauge his reaction. At this point if the bear is still coming empty your can into its face.


If a Grizzly bear makes contact, you should lay down on your stomach and cover the back of your neck and head with your hands. Your backpack should help to protect most of your torso. Your hands and arms will hopefully spare your neck and head any damage. You should lie perfectly still until the bear is finished attacking. It is trying to determine whether or not you are a threat.

During a Black bear attack you should fight the bear. If you have a hiking stick or a piece of wood from the ground, you should aim for its nose and its eyes. If no weapons are available Punch the bear in the face until it leaves, or until you cannot punch anymore. Following these tips will greatly improve your chances to survive a bear attack.