Camping is an awesome outdoor experience that allows you to enjoy nature’s beauty and pick up some essential survival skills too. Being that it typically takes place in the woods where wild animals may roam, it’s not uncommon to run into a non-human creature during your camping trip. Unfortunately, not all animals are friendly. Predatory beasts such as bears and mountain lions can cause serious harm to you and your loved ones if they are hungry or feel threatened, so here’s what you should do in case you come face-to-face with an unexpected animal:
Keep Your Cool
If you encounter a potentially dangerous animal, always try to stay as calm as possible. If you allow fear to consume you, there’s a good chance that you could make a mistake that might result in your own injury. Keeping your cool not only allows you to think more rationally during a dire moment, it’ll also allow you to have more control over your motor functions in case you need to act quickly and precisely.
Create Lots of Noise
In many cases, wild animals approach a campsite simply because they’re curious. Maybe they got a whiff of the delicious stew that you were cooking over the campfire. They may have also noticed movement from behind the bushes. Most of the time, wild animals aren’t planning to attack humans. If they’re not desperate, causing a ruckus should scare them off without issue.
Try to Appear Larger
Intimidating a predatory animal can get you out of a bad situation, and making yourself look bigger should make you appear more intimidating to the animal. Stand up as tall as you can, and raise your arms above your head to create the illusion that you’re larger than you really are. Grab a coat, blanket, or other items in the vicinity to scare off the animal.
Use Bear Spray
If you are backpacking in the back country in bear territory, it’s always wise to bring bear spray with you. If you feel like a bear isn’t interested in leaving any time soon or begins to show aggressive behavior, use your bear spray. It is a powerful deterrent that can save your life. Be sure you know how to use it before bringing it with you in the back country, and be sure you are close enough to the animal for it to be most effective.
Do Not Flee
Running is the last thing you’d want to do when facing a predatory animal. If it’s hungry, it will chase you down when you’re acting like prey. Even the fastest humans cannot outrun a bear or cougar, so don’t even attempt it. Fleeing is a surefire way to make the beast more interested in you.
Be Ready to Defend Your Life
If you’re unlucky, you’ll encounter a starving animal or one that feels seriously threatened. Such animals are not likely to back down. Always be prepared to defend your life. Grab a stick, wood hatchet, survival knife, or whatever you have on hand to use as a weapon. You may have to fend for yourself until help arrives. In some cases, playing dead is the best thing to do. Know how to react with different animals to stay safe.
Camping is a very popular outdoor activity during the spring and summer months, but always keep in mind that you’re outside in the wild. Even designated campgrounds aren’t entirely safe because animals can wander wherever they’d like. For wildlife enthusiasts, places like Yellowstone National Park, the Gunflint Trail or The Everglades are ideal options for the best opportunities to see wild animals. Even in popular parks and trails, danger remains present with wildlife. Remain aware of your surroundings at all times if you don’t want to get ambushed by a wild animal.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She enjoys writing about home, family, business and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys spending time with her family and reading a good book when she isn’t writing.