Have you encountered a bear in the wild? Stood there nearly frozen in disbelief as a 1200 lb killing machine starred what seemed to be right through you.
This guide is going to help you prepare for such a moment if it were ever to occur, we hope it never does.
Reading this guide will make you prepared to the fullest to have the highest chances of surviving a bear encounter.
This is the total guide on how to survive a bear attack. If you’re ever anywhere near where bears are, you need to be prepared, here’s everything you need to know.
- Bear Basics
- How To Survive A Bear Attack
- What To Do
- Bear Survival Kit
- Avoid an Attack
- Interesting Facts About Grizzly Bears
- Test Your Bear Knowledge
First, it’s worth learning some basic information and facts about bears in general so you can get a paw on how they act and behave in general. And more importantly, why they behave the way they do.
Knowing this will allow you to adjust your behavior and how to respond to an encounter if you’re ever so unfortunate.
First, let’s answer some of the most common questions about bears and how to prepare to survive potential attacks.
Do Bears Eat Humans?
Yes, bears have eaten and do eat people. However, what’s important to know is that they don’t go actively hunting for people. Nor do they necessarily want to eat you right away if they see you.
Bears are shy, believe it or not.
I remember a guy named Bruce. Bruce weighed 290 lbs and was a powerlifter. Genetically gifted in muscular genetics you could say. Bruce was also shy and kept to himself. But he was defensive of his little brother. If you came between him and his little brother, Bruce would get your attention rather quickly… Bruce was similar to a bear.
If a cat sees a mouse, the cat wants that mouse for dinner right then and there. It’s not the same when a bear sees a person.
Can Bears Be Friendly?
That would be fun.
Technically I suppose they can. But I wouldn’t risk it nor would I let someone I care about the risk it either.
All those years growing up with teddy bears. The mainstream portrays bears in general as friendly fluffy creatures. This is the furthest from reality.
What Bear Is Responsible For The Most Human Deaths?
According to ADN, North American Black bears were responsible for the most fatal attacks in the last century. Also, the majority of those fatal attacks were carried out by the same black bear.
So if you’re still wondering…
Do Bears Attack People?
Yes, they can and they do. But it’s mostly if you threaten them. If they sense danger, if they sense you’re a threat, they will attack.
Momma bears are extremely protective against their babies, if you threaten their babies, she will be the worst and likely the last date you’ll ever have.
Most Dangerous Job In The World
Do you know what the most dangerous job in the world is? Many people think working with wildlife bears is the most dangerous job. This is a false opinion. Yes, people have died working with bears. The most famous case was the brother of a guy who trained and worked with bears.
Even though bears do attack people if they feel you’re digestible and are a threat. The amount of people that are killed by bears in North America is surprisingly low.
According to Bear.Org:
Black bears have killed 61 people across North America since 1900.
How Fast Can Bears Run?
This is another disadvantage we have against bears and just another reason why bears dominate.
Not only are they massive and earth-shakingly strong… they’re also fast as hell.
Brown Bear: Have been clocked at 40 MPH
Grizzly Bear: Up to 40 MPH. Faster than any human is capable of running. Also in any direction. Uphill downhill, doesn’t matter for the grizzly.
Black Bear: Capable of reaching speeds over 30 MPH.
Polar Bear: Up to 25 MPH.
Some people wonder if you Can You Outrun A Polar Or Black Bear.
Unless you can run at least 30 MPH for a sustainable period of time, you’re bear meat.
What’s The Fastest Bear
The fastest kind of bear would be a black bear. Reaching speeds upwards to 40 MPH at full throttle.
This is another disadvantage we have against bears and just another reason why bears dominate.
Not only are they massive and earth-shakingly strong… they’re also fast as hell.
A black bear can charge forward, reaching speeds up to 40 MPH.
Do Bears Climb Faster Than They Run
At first, you may think, “not a chance, the question doesn’t even make sense”. But then you actually SEE a bear climb a tree…
…it’s mind-blowing. Similar to seeing the speeds at which bears can run.
The answer is… No, a bear cannot climb a tree faster than they run. But they do shoot up trees faster than you or most creatures on the planet can.
Watch this video of a black bear skyrocketing up a tree multiple times to get away from a grizzly.
How Big Are Bears
Big… very big.
Most Black bears can grow up to around 550 lbs.
Polar bears grow up to to a whopping 1600 lbs
Most Grizzly bears can grow up to around 800 lbs. I say most because in general, that’s how large they tend to get. On the other hand. There was a grizzly bear recorded at 1500 lbs. So the exception can be much larger.
Male bears are usually about 30% larger than females. Brown bears are the largest carnivores in North America.
Another common question that you’ll hear when researching bears is, what is the most dangerous bear?
Grizzly and Polar bears are said to be the most dangerous. However, the numbers say otherwise. It also depends on what you mean by, “dangerous”.
There was a study that said there have been at least 63 fatal attacks by black bears. There have been more American black bear attacks on people than grizzly and polar bear attacks.
However, if you asked me what I would rather be put in front of, a black, grizzly, or polar bear. My direct answer would be, anything but a polar bear.
How To Survive A Bear Attack
Chances of Surviving A Bear Attack
Many wonder what are the chances of surviving an attack from a bear.
Short answer: Slim to none.
Long answer: It depends.
Are you with other people?
Do you have bear spray or a bear gun?
Where are you located?
Do you have any supplies?
What kind of Bear is it?
Many of these factors will matter in terms of surviving a bear attack.
The best way I can describe what to do depending on the type of bear you encounter is this little poem I found.
If it’s Black, get back.
If It’s Brown, get down.
If it’s White, say goodnight.
Types of Bears
All bears can kill you.
All bears should be avoided at all costs.
But you should know what kind of bear you’re dealing with if you were to encounter one. They all have different methods of surviving a possible attack and avoiding an attack altogether.
There are three kinds of bears that we’ll focus on here. Since these three are the most common and the most likely you’ll see one in the wild sooner or later.
Generally, there are four different types of bears that you’re bound to encounter sooner or later. Preferably when you’re in a survival tank cruising right on past it at 70MPH.
We’ll talk about all 4 types, starting with the black bear.
These bears are generally smaller than the other types of bears. But you’re more likely to encounter a black bear than a grizzly or brown bear.
How To Identify a Black Bear
Black bears have darker fur than other bears.
As you’ll see below, brown bears can have dark fur too. But black bears do not have a hump on their shoulders.
How Dangerous Are Black Bears
Like the other bears, they are shy and black bears are more on the timid side.
But if they are threatened, they will defend.
Brown, Grizzly, and Kodiak Bears
Grizzlies are thought of to be the biggest and baddest bears on earth.
Can Grizzly Bears Climb Trees
One of the myths about grizzly bears is that they can’t climb trees like black bears. This is not true.
They are larger and have long larger claws which makes it more difficult to climb trees. But they can still climb trees. So yes, even if you manage to climb up a tree, you’re still screwed.
If you encounter a black bear.
How To Identify A Grizzly Bear
Brown bears, have either brown or darker fur. Their fur can get as dark as black bears so they can be mistaken for black bears if you’re not familiar with what differentiates them.
Brown bears have a “hump” like shape on their shoulders. Black bears do not.
The hump enables brown bears to dig much more efficiently and quicker.
Contrary to their overly friendly look and white shade of fur, polar bears are at the top of the list for most aggressive bears.
How To Identify A Polar Bear
This one is easy.
Now for the nitty-gritty.
In this section, we get into how to survive an attack from each kind of bear. For all of them, you want to understand what to look for in a bear that’s likely to attack. Which starts when you get a visual of the bear.
We’ll talk more about that in the next section of this guide. Let’s answer some common questions about bear attacks and then the specific how-to parts on each kind of bear.
What To Do If You Run Into A Bear
Can You Fight A Bear?
Yes, when the bear is less than a month old. After that, run.
Now what do you do, what SHOULD you do if you happen to get up close and personal with one of these 1200lb death-machines.
It depends on the type of bear.
But in general, here are some guidelines to follow.
If you see the bear before he sees you. Do not run. Which is a good solid rule in general with bears.
Never run. It will make them feel like you’re fleeing. It draws attention to you. It’s just bad all around.
Slowly walk back. Slowly walk away. Keep going and don’t stop.
How Do You Survive A Grizzly Bear Encounter
Okay, here’s what you do if you see a grizzly bear in the wild.
The most important thing to do is NOT panic. If you panic you won’t be able to think, you won’t be able to act, you won’t be able to do anything except your fate and, and do that
Like surviving anything, knowing what to do is crucial so you can prepare. Preparation breeds success.
Think of it as preparing for a Bearmageddon.
What To Do
Will a grizzly bear attack you? If so, what do you do when a grizzly bear attacks?
Bears attack you if they feel you’re a threat. If you go near a mother bears babies, you’re a threat to her and she will viciously defend her babies.
If you run away, you’re not prey that is fleeing. The bear may charge at that point.
If you’re cool calm and collected, it’s unlikely you’ll get attacked.
Play Dead With a Grizzly
A common question in regards to bear survival is, Do you play dead with a grizzly bear?
Yes. If the bear charges you and isn’t stopping after you’ve sprayed it or shot it. Play dead in the fetal position and don’t move. Easier said than done, absolutely.
But the bear will only continue to attack you if you pose a threat. If you don’t do anything, you’re not a threat.
This is not a guarantee that the bear will stop. But your best chances for survival are if you play dead. If you fight it, kicking and screaming, it’s a sure way to get mauled.
Should I Play Dead If A Bear Attacks?
It depends on the type of bear. But to give you the quick answer here.
- Black: Yes.
- Polar: Yes
- Grizzly: Yes.
In any bear encounter, if they are about to be on top of you. Play dead, if you can.
Scare The Bear
How do you scare a bear away? Is it even possible for a man to do such a thing?
Your best chance of survival and avoiding an all-out bear attack is to scare the bear away. Yes, scare the 900lb animal away from you.
Make yourself as large as possible. Yell at it. Anything you can.
The best option is to stand your ground and hold up your arms high and scream. Anything you can do to make yourself appear larger and taller.
This guy in this video does it perfectly. video
That’s likely to be the outcome if you follow these instructions. If you can control yourself and resist the urge to run.
If you have a firearm which I really hope you would, just in case. Fire a couple of rounds into the air first before resulting to ANIMATED BEAR NAME the animal.
You scare them by doing what this guy did.
Bear Attack Survival Video
WARNING: Shocking bear attack video
Go here to see the video on surviving a bear attack.
Bear Survival Kit
There’s a lot of gear for hunters out there. Tons of gadgets and gizmos, but that’s part of the fun. When it comes to bear territory, you don’t want to have fun… well maybe a little.
You don’t want to think about fun, you want to be prepared.
Be so well prepared as if you’re life depends on it. Because when it comes to bears, it does.
There is one of two items at an absolute minimum that you want to carry with you for bear defense. Even if there’s the slightest chance of being near any kind of bear. The first one is bear spray.
Always pack and carry with you bear spray. Always.
This bear spray is one of the highest quality sprays out there.
You can also get a bear gun. There are downsides to carrying a bear gun and not carrying bear spray. See why below.
Bear Spray Vs Gun
This is one of the topics that has generated one or two heated debates over the years.
Should you use a bear repellent spray or a gun to scare away a bear? Does one offer a more strategic defensive tactic than the other?
Whether you should use a gun or bear spray is a hotly debated topic by outdoor enthusiasts. There are experts on both sides of the equation that will tell you one is better than the other.
With all the information and statistics available about bear encounters credible evidence to promote either of these avenues of defense exist.
This article will set out the pros and cons of each method of bear repulsion so that you can make an informed decision on whether a gun or bear spray works better.
Bear Spray Pros
When using bear spray during bear encounters 90% of those involved are able to escape without injury. Dr. Charles Preson, a gold eagle researcher in grizzly country, referenced this statistic when stating why he preferred carrying bear spray.
Another reason why bear spray may be more effective is that it does not rely on making the perfect shot in a high stress situation. To stop a bear in his track with a gun you have to be able to shoot him in the center of the skull.
If you hit the bear anywhere else you will enrage the bear. The bear may die from your shot but most likely he would be able to severely injure you before that happened.
Another thing to consider is that when you use bear spray instead of a gun the bear survives the meeting; though, during a bear sighting this may not be your primary concern.
Bear Spray Cons
The biggest cons or using bear spray is that it is not effective in strong winds or when the wind is facing toward the direction of the hunter. In those situations, you have to find another method of self-defense.
Not knowing how to utilize bear spray properly will cause it not to be effective. You need to learn how to operate bear spray from an expert who has experience utilizing the spray.
A lot of experienced hunters advocate for the use of guns in bear attacks. The main reason is that they are more familiar with firearms than they are with bear spray.
When a fear-provoking situation like a bear encounter happens people often do not remember their training. They rely on their instincts and familiar.
Experienced firearm operators will be more comfortable handling a gun in a situation and have more experience making a kill shot when addressing a moving target.
Gun proponents question the statistics used in a 2012 study that claimed bear spray had a better success rate than guns. They refer back to an earlier study as evidence that was conducted in 1999 where only 2% of firearm users in a bear attack received injury.
You are more likely to be injured using a gun in a bear encounter. A March 2012 study in the Journal of Wilderness provides evidence that firearm carriers in close encounters with bears experienced the same injury rates whether or not they fired their weapons.
In addition, the study found that people were more successful living through bear encounters if they used bear spray.
Having access to both bear spray and a firearm makes sense. The conditions you encounter when coming in contact with a bear will shape how you respond to the bear encounter and inform the decision of which defensive tool will work best in your particular situation.
Here’s what I say.
We’re talking about an animal that can kill you in a matter of seconds…
…that you can’t escape from either unless you have a survival tank or bug out vehicle close by. VERY close by because odds are you won’t even be able to make it 10 feet before the 1100lb behemoth racing at 40 mph catches you.
With that being said. If you know you’re going to be in an environment where bears exist. Brong both bear spray and a bear gun. If you can
But what if you had to chose one? Yes, that would be the next question, wouldn’t it?
Here’s the deal.
They both have pros and cons.
Bear spray has been proven to be effective multiple times. So we know that it works. But it’s also not a guarantee. Some conditions have to apply.
The weather is a factor in whether or not it has the best chance to get the bear to back down. If mother nature isn’t on your side at the time you need, instead of the bear getting a face full of agonizing spray. The spray could be blown right back into your face. Which could make you completely defenseless.
Also, with bear spray. You don’t have to practice every day shooting targets to improve your precision. It doesn’t require practice.
The bear gun does.
Go here for more information on the pros and cons of bear spray vs bear gun.
Avoid an Attack
Avoiding a bear attack all together sounds like a better option than surviving one. So how do you avoid a bear attack?
The non-serious answer but still good advice is, don’t go anywhere near where there are bears in the wild.
Well, that makes sense, but that’s not what this guide is for.
You’re a hunter, a camper, a survivalist. You go where bears are roaming the hills and getting fish from the rivers. It’s very possible that you may one day come face to face with one.
To avoid a bear encounter, there are a few things you can do to decrease your odds of an attack, but not many.
RELATED: Also, go here to see the rules for avoiding wildlife encounters.
Be aware of the distance between you and the bear. You want to be fully aware of how far the bear is from you. They can close the distance between you and him blazingly quickly.
A couple of seconds of distraction and the bear could have closed the distance by half.
Block The Path
If the bear is the closing distance, use anything you have to block the path between you and him. Whether it’s your bag, pack, logs if you can find any or any other materials.
Get Your Weapon Out
If you can tell that you’re at 50-70 yards, it’s time to take out your weapon. Whether it’s a spray, firearm, or a whiffle ball bat. Whatever you have, it’s time to take it out.
If you have spray or a firearm. At 50-70 yards, let off a warning shot. If the bear proceeds to come toward you, let off another warning shot.
If the bear charges you. Empty everything you have at it.
Universally, here’s what you want to do in addition to the above things we just talked about.
- Don’t look it in the eye, it provokes them.
- Talk to it but in a low tone. What do you say? It doesn’t matter much, just low tone.
- Don’t make sudden movements. Step back slowly.
Interesting Facts About Grizzly Bears
Bears, they’re portrayed as nice, fun, and fluffy creatures in Disney movies. But the reality is, nothing you could face on earth would petrify you more.
Bears are a force to be reckoned with. I wish you never encounter one when you don’t intend to. With that being said, here are 15 interesting facts about grizzly bears.
Faster Than They Are Big
Grizzly bears, also known as North American brown bears, have been reported to reach speeds up to 30 MPH.
Grizzly Grizzly… Gone
Grizzly bears have been on the planet for about 1.3 million years, they are fairly new to North America.
There are only about 1,00 grizzly bears left in the United States. 800 of them living in Montana and 600 living in Wyoming. In total, there are about 55,000 total Grizzly Bears in North America.
More Moths Please
Yellowstone reported that grizzly bears in the month of August eat up to 40,000 moths per day.
That’s a Grizzly Bear?
These bears can be much smaller than you may think. When you think of a grizzly bear, you picture a monstrous 1100 lb walking beast of muscle. But in certain parts, they can be much much smaller. Smaller than a black bear, 250-300lbs.
Black is Back
Grizzly bears aren’t all always brown. They can also be more on the dark black side making them look like a black bear.
They hibernate for 5-7 months of the year except where the climate is warmer.
Imagine if we could go to sleep for 6 months in October and wake up to warm weather.
More scared of you than you are of them
You can actually scare a bear into running away from you. It’s actually the right thing to do instead of running which is a death sentence.
Have you ever met a 6’8 300lb man that’s also shy? How about a 1300 lb killing machine that’s also insecure and shy?
That’s right. They are naturally shy in general won’t attack you out of the gate. They are very protective and generally won’t attack unless they feel threatened.
But don’t get the wrong idea, invade their space in the wild and you’ll have a bad time if you make it out alive.
Yes, they climb trees too.
Since grizzlies are so large, they’re not thought of as being able to climb like smaller black bears. But actually, they can. So climbing that tree to escape one isn’t the best idea.
4 Inches and Razor Sharp
Their claws can grow up to about 4 inches long.
90 lbs of Chow
I eat maybe 2 or 3 lbs of food a day, which isn’t much at all.
These bears can eat up to a whopping 90 lbs of food, per day.
The grizzly bear has been the official state animal of Montana since 1982. It seems appropriate since Montana has such a large population of them.
They Know You’re There.
Grizzly bears can smell food for miles and miles away. Think about that. So that means they can smell you from miles away.
Yes, there are some interesting things about grizzly bears. It makes you want to go pet one on its belly. But don’t be mistaken, they are one of the few animals that you never want to even have a close encounter with.
Bear hunting isn’t for the meek.
If you want to know more about these killing machines, watch this video of amazing grizzly bear facts. Remember, the more you know about potential threats, the more prepared you’ll be if you were to encounter them in the wild on a camping or hunting trip.
Test Your Bear Knowledge
Want to test your knowledge on these wild animals? This Grizz Quiz video made by National Geographic will test how much you know about them.
Here’s the bottom line. A bear encounter is your worst nightmare in physical form. Avoid at all costs, unless your bowhunting bears.
At the very least, get some bear spray and remember to pack it if you’re going hunting, camping, or anywhere near the possibility of a bear encounter. Don’t take any chances.
We put a lot of effort into making the best Bear Survival Guide that’s available for free online on how to survive a bear attack. I hope it helps you.