How To Survive Animal Attacks While On Outdoors

Rilor Staff
Update: April 12, 2023
Table of Contents

What should you do when an animal suddenly attacks you while hiking, backpacking, or camping? How do you prepare for these scenarios? Read on to learn the answers.

A Quick Overview 

Hey. We know that many of you will shrug off this topic. After all, many of you have been outdoor enthusiasts for decades already, and nothing similar to an animal attack has happened. Well, good for you! And we sincerely hope that it stays that way. 

But not all people have the same fortune as you. Just this 2022, a woman barely made it alive after being mauled by a lion while she was trail running in Mill Creek Canyon, specifically on the Pipeline Trai. Mill Creek Canyon is in Utah, by the way. 

Well, the point here is that the worst thing that could happen might really happen. So as outdoor enthusiasts, we need to be wary of our surroundings, study our environment, and plan for any potential encounters. After all, these animal attacks could range from painful to lethal. Wildlife encounters are among the emergencies that you need to be prepared for. 

Here are the things that you need to learn in order to survive attacks from dangerous wildlife. 

How To Survive Animal Attacks While Outdoors 

There are several things that you need to learn when it comes to wildlife safety. Among them is prevention. Yes. You can actually prevent these encounters from happening. If you are mindful of the things that you do, you will be able to veer away from any form of animal aggression. At the very least, being responsible could actually save your life. 

Here are some of those preventive measures that you can try. 

  • Clean your camping area. Make sure that it is free from trash and leftovers that could attract animals to come there. If you have unfinished meals, put them in either bear-proof canisters or airtight containers. 
  • Don't put any food and odor-causing substances inside your tent. Store them outside or hang them in trees using wires or other mechanisms. 
  • After cooking your meals, change your clothes immediately. In fact, the clothes that you wear in hiking, cooking, or outdoor errands should never be taken inside the tent. 
  • Similar to human food, pet food should also stay away from your campsite or tent. Dogs, in particular, are prey for many animals in the wild. 
  • Also, please don't feed the wildlife that you encounter. Although they are cute, these squirrels and raccoons are natural predators. So if they flock to your area, there's a good chance that a vicious animal would join the fray. And that's not good news for you!

Tools For Animal Encounter Survival

I've noticed that many outdoor enthusiasts aren't that keen on defending themselves against wild animals. But if you are going to the wild, especially those inhabited by notoriously dangerous creatures, being complacent will get you harmed. 

Having tools like survival knives, axes, guns, and pepper sprays is not an assurance that you will be safe, especially if the thing suddenly turns into a melee. However, these things could help you fend off an attack. And if you are lucky enough, you will be able to prevent any attack from ever happening.

Surviving A Bear Attack

I have made a separate post on how you should act while you are exploring a bear country. But for the sake of this post, I will highlight the nitty gritty details of surviving a bear attack. 

Truth be told, I haven't yet experienced a close encounter with a bear. And I want it to stay that way. After all, being attacked by one is guaranteed to be deleterious on your part. 

One thing people should know is that all bears can be dangerous, regardless of their color. So don't get too cozy around them just because you have a large bear toy in your home. 

Most of the time, bears attack when they are surprised or when they feel that you are threatening their cubs. If the bear is hungry, it can get aggressive, too. So if you appear threatening or scouting for food, they could attack you. 

There are different species of bear, each having unique responses and actions. To survive, you need to know their species first. 

How To Survive A Black Bear

  • Don't attempt to run. Otherwise, they will attack you. 
  • When you encounter one, make slow but calculated movements.
  • Don't attempt to approach the bear, as well. 
  • If you have pets or small children, pick them up. Bears see these little beings as their prey. 
  • When there's a bear in the vicinity, make loud noises. You can do this by shouting or hitting objects. 
  • It would also be wise to wave your arms above you. It makes an impression that you are bigger than the bear. 
  • Don't go into a tight area. Have a space where the bear can go so that it can leave whenever it wants to.

How To Survive A Grizzly Bear

  • For prevention, don't go near animal carcasses. They might be the dead bodies of the animals preyed on by the grizzly bear. 
  • Don't go near its cubs. At the same time, tame your dog so that it doesn't annoy the bear. 
  • When you encounter an adult grizzly bear, halt and stay calm. Then move backward slowly while talking softly. Doing so will make you appear that you have no intention of fighting the bear. 
  • Don't turn your back on the grizzly bear. Don't attempt to run, as well. 
  • Don't make eye contact because that is a way of asking a bear that you want to fight. 
  • Grizzly bears like to fake their charges. However, if its ears are pinned back, and its head is lowered, then the attack would be real. 
  • When the attack is about to happen, lie with your face on the ground. Make sure that your head is covered by hands and arms. Try to play dead. The bear will still attack you in this position, but it could leave you eventually.
  • If it is still attacking you, then you have no choice but to fight back. Use your weapons or any tools available. Attack the eyes and nose of the bear, as these are the most sensitive parts. 

How To Survive A Polar Bear

A polar bear is probably the most desperate species among all the bear species in the world. They dwell on terrains where food is scarce, so most of the time, they are hungry and required to hunt. So if you are in their presence, you are automatically prey. When they attack you, it is not a bluff.

  • To deter an attack, make loud noises. If you are in a group, you are lucky since the noises you can create could potentially discourage the bear. 
  • If the bear still charges you, you simply need to fight back. You will get mauled and wounded, but at least you have a chance to survive. 

Surviving A Wolf Attack

One notable aspect about wolves is that they travel in packs. The same thing applies to their relatives, such as coyotes. So once you spot a wolf, don't assume that it is alone. It is with its gang. If you are going to fight one, you need to deal with the rest, too. If you can't spot the rest of the wolves, there must be hiding and circling you already. 

Wolf attacks on humans are not uncommon. We have numerous cases where unwary hikers or travelers were ganged up by these cunning creatures. The thing about these wolves is that they are stealthy. They don't usually attack the front; instead, they will sneak into your blind spots. They will try to aim at your vital spots (such as your legs or neck). After you can't move, the rest of the group will feast on you. 

To survive a wolf attack, you need to do the following:

  • Don't attempt to run because that would stimulate the wolves into hunt mode. You can't outrun them either, so you will be exhausting your energy from running. 
  • Make loud noises. You should yell at them aggressively. 
  • If they have surrounded you, then prepare to fight at all costs. If you have a gun, then shoot with precision. If you have a melee weapon, then fight wisely. If you don't fight, you will end up with their meal. That's a guarantee. 
  • Always stand your ground. Try not to stumble, either. It is easy for these wolves to tackle you once you have fallen.
  • If you are in a group, try to stick around and fight with your backs facing one another. In this way, you can deal with their coordinated attacks. 

Surviving A Cougar Or Mountain Lion Attack

Cougars are particularly dangerous, as they are excellent hunters and stalkers. As much as possible, you should avoid hiking or camping in an area filled with them. Otherwise, there's a likely chance that you will get attacked. 

If you still made a choice to venture into their territory, make sure that you practice the following precautions:

Cougars are among those predators that deliberately follow their victims. Once it determines you as its target, then it will stalk you until it can find the opportunity where you are the most vulnerable. Interestingly, these big cats don't deal with humans if they are in groups. But once you have encountered a cougar, do the following things. 

  • Halt and stand on your ground. Don't attempt on the run. 
  • Try to intimidate the cat by posing as if you are bigger than it. 
  • Create eye contact. Don't break this duel, and don't ever turn your back. 
  • Don't hide or crouch. That would make you a prayer.
  • If the cat is acting aggressively, create loud noises, wave your hands, and throw objects at it. 
  • If the cat attacks, the last thing that you want to do is to fall. Stand on your ground and fight as aggressively as the cat. 

Surviving A Moose Attack

Believe it or not, non-predatory animals can still attack you. Among the most dangerous ones is the moose. What makes these animals dangerous is their size. They are huge, so they can trample you easily. Furthermore, they are downright territorial. So if you happen to venture into their area, expect that they won't forgive you. 

Fortunately, the moose isn't fast. So you always have the option to flee or fight. When a moose is attacking, it often does so by kicking forward with its burly front feet. If you fall down from the kick, you will be stomped like crazy! In some cases, the moose will use its antlers to deal with its targets. 

  • To survive a moose, do the following:
  • Don't approach, and don't let it close the gap between you. 
  • Run back. Don't confront, if possible. 
  • If a moose approaches you, it is not because it is befriending you. Start backing right away. 
  • Once the moose starts stomping the ground, it is about to attack you. 
  • If you are being charged, try to run in an area where there are a lot of obstacles, such as large trees. 
  • If there's a tree, you might want to climb. 
  • Once a moose knocks you, curl your body like a circle. Remain in this position until the animals stop attacking you. 

Surviving An Elk Or Deer Attack

The elk and deer are generally harmless. But they will resort to attacking if they feel that you are a threat. 

  • Don't turn your back on these creatures, as they are good at charging from behind. 
  • Face them instead. When you do so, make sure that your arms are raised. In this way, you would look bigger. If you are wearing a jacket, take it off and swing it.
  • If you have your dog, let it run, as it might distract the animal.
  • Climbing trees could also save your life. 
  • If you get knocked, then curl your body. Cover your vital organs, such as the neck and head. Remain in this position until they leave you. 

Surviving A Snake Attack

A snake bite can be deadly. So if you happen to get bitten, the best thing that you can do is get immediate help. 

Prevention matters if you want to survive a snake attack. We have a separate guide for it. You should check that one out. In a nutshell, you can survive a snake attack by doing the following. 

  • Wear protective clothing, such as long pants and snake-proof hiking boots. You should also wear additional footwear accessories, such as socks. 
  • If you feel that you are being followed by a snake, try stomping the ground. It could discourage the snake from attacking. 
  • Don't go near any snake, especially if it is in its striking position. 
  • Don't run when being threatened by a snake. Don't turn your back, as well.
  • If you get bitten, don't suck the poison. Instead, wash it with clean water and apply tourniquets. Call emergency services right away. 

Surviving An Elephant Attack

Elephants may appear more gentle. But the thing is, they have killed more humans than sharks

To survive or avoid a potential elephant attack, do the following:

  • Be attentive to its body language. When its trunk is twisted and ears behind, then it is ready to pound you. If the ears are fanned out, the elephant is just bluffing. If they are backward, then you should get to a safe spot. Move gradually or look for higher grounds. 
  • If the attack is already commencing, look for an object or structure that could separate the two of you. Huge boulders or trees are excellent elephant deterrents. 

Surviving A Bull Attack

Bulls can cause lethal encounters. So the best way to survive them is to avoid them at all costs. 

  • Bulls tend to react to movement. Hence, if a bull spots you, stand still and don't move around. You can use your clothes as bait that you could throw once the bull starts to approach you. 
  • Don't get close to a bull. Maintain a distance of at least 20 feet. If the bull approaches you, try to back away, too. 

Check other checklists and other camping guides that we have prepared for you:

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