As the temperature begins to rise and the snow melts away, our thoughts turn to the great outdoors. Hikes in majestic forests and along flowing streams are quickly worked into our free time. It is important to remember, though, that we are not the only ones rising from a winter slumber. As temperatures come up, nature’s creatures come out. By educating yourself about the dangers you may face in the wilderness you have a much greater chance of avoiding or escaping a deadly attack on the trail.

In the event your bear encounter turns into an attack, there are certain techniques you can use to defend yourself and possibly save your life.

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1. Attempt to make yourself look as large as possible by raising your jacket above your head or simply raising your arms.

2. Move away from the bear slowly. Do not attempt to run. Most bears are extremely fast and you have little chance of outrunning them.

3. If the bear attacks you, then fight. Having a weapon can make the difference between life and death.

4. Bear spray has been proven to be exceptionally effective in stopping bear attacks. One of the best on the market is Counter Assault ( As the bear approaches, spray the agent just above the eyes and nose.

5. If you choose to carry a firearm, it will need to be of sufficient caliber to stop the threat. Many people that live and work in bear country carry rifles for good reason.

6. If you are unarmed or caught by surprise, then playing dead may be an option. The general consensus is that playing dead may work fairly well for brown and grizzly bears, but is not as successful with black bears.

This article was originally published in the NEW PIONEER ™ Summer 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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