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How To Survive An Animal Attack When Bugging Out

If you're forced to bug out in the wilderness, you're bound to run into various wild animals. This guide will teach your how to survive animal attacks!

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Ask any group of hikers and backpackers about the top things that make them anxious every time they go out into wildlife's turf and the answer will most likely be animal attacks.

No matter how dangerous and life-threatening it may be however, if you are in a bug out situation where you are forced to leave the city, wilderness survival might just be your best bet.

So, whether you are the "stand your ground and fight for your life" survivalist or a prepper who drops everything and runs for his life, continue reading our guide to find out the best ways to survive an animal attack!

In a hurry? If you just want to get to our conclusions, here are our top picks and recommendations!

Last update on 2024-03-28 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How Serious Are Wild Animal Attacks?

If your bug out plan includes a trip into the wilderness, you need to keep in mind that wildlife can just as dangerous as the threat your are trying to escape from.

Pin the blame on the animated movies that we watched as youngsters as we were made to believe that it was possible for wild animals to be all nice and cuddly.

Unfortunately, despite those big brown eyes and cute, wet noses, animals in the wild can be dangerously deadly.

Here is a list of a few of the most recent animal attacks that might convince you to stay away from the wild:

  • A 35-year-old man in California who went out for a mountain bike ride was found dead and partly eaten by a cougar.
  • A cougar attack killed a 41-year-old Arkansas woman in her own front yard.
  • One of the youngest victims of a cougar attack is a 3-year-old boy who was dragged away and killed in an incident that happened in Colorado.

And that's just cougar attacks in the US. There are a plethora of wild animals that will attack a human, particularly when you venture into their grounds.

Animals are mostly territorial creatures and they will never hold back to prove it to any unsuspecting visitor.

Let's take for example a hippo that dwells in the swamps of Africa. It can relentlessly charge and gore a trespasser to death, making it a far more dangerous attacker than a horde of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Since an ideal way to fend off wild animal attacks does not exist, the strategy you take to stave off an assault could spell the difference between your safety when bugging out or actually reducing your chances of survival if you don't take precautions.

A coiled poisonous snake in a ready to strike position.

How To Prevent Animal Attacks?

The phrase "prevention is better than the cure" was probably coined by someone who just experienced a wild animal attack and lived to tell about it.

It's no question that keeping ferocious beasts away is much better than lying in a hospital bed recounting the smell of a lion's breath.

Here are a few tips on how your bug out camp can stay savage beast-free:

Keep It Clean

This is probably the most important of all the factors in keeping bears and other wild animals away from your camp.

Wash all cooking utensils carefully after use and seal leftover food in airtight containers.

Animals in the wild rely on their heightened sense of smell to hunt, making the smell of your cooked survival food too tempting.


Pack Away Thoroughly

Bear-proof canisters are the best tools to seal off the aroma of your cooked food when you're done eating.

Bear wires can also help keep uneaten food away from your sleeping areas as you can hang it clear from the camp until it is time for a midnight snack.

Litter-Free Camp

Bits and pieces of food and sauce may stick to disposable utensils and bags that you used to pack and consume your meals.

It would be wise to treat your wastes just as you would treat food and store them in bear-proof containers or suspend from a bear wire, away from the camp until you can dispose of them properly.

Avoid Eating Inside Tents

The goal is to keep the scent of food, no matter how faint, away from your sleeping area.

Since this spot is where you tend to be more vulnerable, breakfast in bed will have to be thrown out the window.

Change Your Clothes

If being headmaster chef is your campsite assignment then simply removing your apron won't be enough.

The smell of grease and spices might stick to your clothes, prompting bears and other wild animals to think that you are smoked to perfection for their consumption.

A wilderness survival bug out camp

Remove Pet Food

If you camp along with your furry friends, make sure that you store their packed pet food properly.

Bears might think they are appetizers and they can draw in small wildlife which is mountain lion prey.

Be Selfish

It may be difficult not to give in to their big hazel brown eyes but you should never feed wild animals such as raccoons, squirrels, and deer.

Although they can be quite gentle, it may set off a chain that eventually lures cougars and other wild animals into your camp.

There is no way you can plan about animal attacks as wildlife can behave differently in various situations.

While there are other techniques to diffuse a close encounter with the untamed beasts, keeping this list on hand may be enough for you to keep your peace of mind.

Wild Animal Attack Repellents

As wild and undomesticated as they are, animals have learned how dangerous human encounters can be.

By now they might have already realized that they are better off keeping their distance from us as much as we want to stay as far away from them.

In the remote possibility that that understanding is breached, being prepared with defensive tools that range from firearms to whatever form of weapon you can lay your hands on can back you up as you fight for your life.

Bear Pepper Spray

If during a wild animal attack you still choose to uphold your belief of being an animal lover, then this is the best weapon for surviving in the wilderness.

It can be carried on the side of your pack as it is lightweight and it eliminates the chances of fatally hurting anyone in the campsite if it goes off accidentally.

You might want to check out this brand as it tops our list:

SABRE Frontiersman Bear Spray 7.9 oz (Holster Options & Multi-Pack Options)

This enduring and reliable bear spray has been making bears cry since 1975 and is the favored brand by both law enforcement agencies and outdoor enthusiasts.

SABRE bear spray guarantees to be 50% stronger than the usual Police Strength Pepper Spray at its maximum strength and is 30% more efficient than its peers.

It provides the best protection from as far as 30 feet, which is unquestionably a safe distance away from a charging grizzly.

This 7.9 oz bear spray rapidly deploys a heavy fog to stop a bear charging at 35 miles per hour or a cougar that has stealthily crouched and is a few feet away and is ready to devour.

The SABRE Frontiersman disables a bear temporarily, is non-flammable, and environment friendly, making it an ideal choice for both the novice and hardcore outdoorsman.

Last update on 2024-03-28 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Bear Proof Canisters

Animals, particularly the ones thriving in the wilds, possess an enhanced sense of smell which they utilize for hunting.

It is advisable that you keep your food and trash, as well as toothpaste and deodorants, in a portable bear-resistant container.

Not only do they keep your camp neat and sharp, but they also keep destructive wildlife at a distance.

Here's what's on top of our bear-repelling canister list:

FRONTIERSMAN Bear Canister for Backpacking & Hiking

This bear-resistant food storage container from one of the leading camping brands is designed to efficiently fit your survival backpack for maximum portability.

This durable canister, which can be easily spotted due to its orange color, can withstand any attempt from the hungriest of bears, keeping your food supply safe.

It keeps the distinctive smell of your leftovers trapped inside as it is highly air-tight, ensuring that wild creatures will never get lured, no matter what.

Although it is slim, lightweight, and easy to carry, the FRONTIERSMAN Bear Canister provides the largest food capacity, making it an ideal carry-on for multiple-day hikes with friends and family.

If you choose to frustrate a bear rather than shooting or spraying at it, this canister is a top-notch choice since it is certified to withstand any attempt from the bear to open, smash, or crush.

Last update on 2024-03-28 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Hanging Bear Bag

Wild animals, particularly the notorious hunters, have such a strong sense of smell. Although bear bags can actually be a little difficult to hang, it is still one of the best ways to keep unwanted wild visitors at bay.

Aside from the challenge of throwing a rope up at least 12 feet over a branch, here are a few tips on when you should opt for a bear bag:

  • Smaller animals such as raccoons and squirrels are more likely to be your wildlife guests.
  • You have ample time to hang a bear bag properly.
  • Bears are less likely to show up at camp.
  • You possess an excellent throwing arm.

Hanging a bear bag right should keep away predators of any form away from your campsite. Just be sure that it is well secured and that it is hanging at least a few meters away from where you are to provide you with enough head start to avoid an actual wildlife encounter.

Check out this highly-recommended bear-proof bag available at Amazon, which not only does a stellar job at keeping your food safe from bears but is light and easy to carry as well:

Liberty Mountain 371486 Easy to Throw Bear Bag Hanging Kit

This premium bear bag from leading outdoor brand Liberty Mountain provides an easy way to store food out of reach of animals.

It is amazingly easy to throw, eliminating the need for rocks or sticks as additional weight.

The Liberty Mountain Bear Bag's tough and durable construction guarantees years of use while its ergonomic design will allow it to stand the most extreme weather conditions.

Last update on 2024-03-28 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Bear Fence

Wild animals are natural scavengers that can be aggressive when they're hungry.

Campsites are convenient dining spots for these creatures where they can do serious damage and threaten people as they try to find and munch on what they could get their paws and teeth on.

Apart from its ease of installation, here are a few more reasons why you should use a bear fence while camping:

  • Protective fencing provides a barrier between you and an attacking wild animal. Sleep better under the clear night sky since barbed wire or an electric fence will keep wild animal attacks at a "bear" minimum.
  • Most animals, particularly the larger and stronger ones, can escape or barge through any regular fence. Cuts from a barbed wire fence or getting a bit of a "shock" from an electric fence will make them think twice.
  • Various fencing systems give you the flexibility to choose the one that you are most comfortable with.
  • Protective fences are highly portable for easy transport in case you and your friends are campsite hopping.
  • Wire fencing is applicable in most environments and can withstand extreme weather and geographical conditions.
  • Fences are highly economical, keeping you and your wallet intact and safe from wild animals.

Bear Shock UDAP Portable Electric Food Storage Fence for Bears (mesh/net Fence)

When installed and operated properly, this high-performance tool can keep your food, equipment, and yourself safe in the wilderness.

Designed to keep curious bears and other wild creatures away, it provides a surprising electrical shock when touched, teaching the wildest of creatures to steer clear of your campsite.

Powered by alkaline D-cell batteries, the UDAP Portable Electric Fence can keep predators at bay for approximately 3 weeks of continuous operation, depending on the weather and your fence's condition.

This reliable electric fencing system provides a physical and mental barrier as well, instilling a sense of respect from overly aggressive animals once they get electrocuted or shocked.

Last update on 2024-03-28 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Keeping wild creatures at a distance is probably your best strategy when venturing into their territory.

While these animal repellent tools keep you and your family calm and protected in case of any wildlife attack, nothing beats careful bug out planning and proper bushcraft understanding when your trying to prep for SHTF in the wilderness!

Before you head on to our animal attack survival tips below, check out this video of some amazing animal attack survival stories.

What To Do When You Encounter Wild Animals?

When you're prepping for emergencies, going out into the wilderness is always a viable survival option compared to staying in a crowded city.

The only problem is you expose yourself to the risk of animal attack. The way you react and defend yourself from an angry and oftentimes hungry attacking animal depends on the type of animal you're dealing with.

Although fleeing seems to be the wisest decision, confronting the issue, at times, works too. Here are some basic tips on what you should do in case you encounter a wild animal:

Surviving Alligator And Crocodile Attacks

When an alligator or crocodile attacks you, drop everything, pick a direction, and run like the wind. Adult crocs and gators can run at about 29-32 km/h so outrunning them shouldn't be a problem.

Large animals, specifically reptiles, are not wired to chase after their prey for long distances, eventually losing interest in catching you.

To diffuse a common misconception, there is no need to trick your predator by running in a zig-zag pattern as it is simply unnecessary. Simply run in a straight line until the snarling stops as fast as you possibly can.

In the possibility that a crocodile or alligator catches you, fight back by going crazy on its eyes until it sets you free.

Aligator lurking in water, ready to attack

Surviving Coyotes, Wolves, And Hyenas

As cute and lovable our furry friends might be, their ancestors can be quite nasty. Intimidate a pack of attacking dogs by shouting loudly and throwing rocks. Make yourself appear as large as you possibly can, stand your ground, shout, and throw anything at hand at them.

If they continue to show aggression towards you, cautiously run to safety if an asylum is less than 20 feet away.

Dogs are not very agile animals so it is best to take a higher ground since they can't climb. It would be next to impossible trying to outrun a pack of dogs since their number can easily work against you.

If it is a wolf that you are dealing with, just be socially awkward and avoid eye contact as wolves see this as a show of aggression and dominance, prompting them to attack.

Use the things that you have on you to make you appear larger, throw rocks or items at it, and scream or growl as hard as your throat would allow.

Coyotes are solitary animals so they are less likely to hunt as a pack. Apply the same strategies used against other wild dogs to try to scare them off.

Don't be scared to strike them if they get too close and continue to be aggressive as canines are not fond of meals that fight back.

Surviving Elk Or Deer Attacks

Although they may seem like gentle creatures, an elk can become overly aggressive when it feels a threat towards its young.

When confronted by it, make yourself appear larger by raising your arms and jacket to make you seem dangerous. Never turn your back against it as they always charge from behind

In case you get knocked down, curl up in a fetal position to cushion blows on your head, neck, and organs. Simply wait it out as the animal will likely leave after a few thumps.

Be wary of its antlers as they may cause serious injuries so make sure to keep trees or boulders between you and your attacker.

An elk in the wilderness, getting ready to charge

Surviving Bear Attacks

The good thing about bears is that they don't do surprise or ambush attacks. As heartless as it may sound, they prefer to look you first in the eye before they maul you and turn you into tonight's steak dinner.

The secret is to make noise as you trek to eliminate the chances of a bear encounter. "Bear" in mind that bears would rather flee than fight and won't attack unless they feel threatened or surprised.

Here are a few tips on how to stave off a bear encounter:

  • Generate noise by talking or singing loudly to scare them off.
  • Wear a bell or other noisemakers to fend off nearby bears. And to allow your voice to recuperate from all that singing.

No matter how cute and cuddly they seem to be, bear cub encounters can turn deadly. Mother bears will attack without any hesitation to protect her young so it would be wiser to just leave her cubs alone.

Continue making noise as you move off and simply inform park rangers about the cubs just in case they may be orphans.

If a bear approaches you, flex anything that you can to make yourself appear larger, making the bear think twice about attacking or taking you for his lunch.

Use your jacket and hold it out wide or try holding your backpack above your head to add on to your size.

Attempting to outrun a bear would be crazy as they can most probably catch up on you. Never turn your back against it and avoid triggering its predatory instinct by running. Climbing a tree won't help either, so you'd be better off standing your ground with bear spray on hand.

Bear sprays can work from as far as 60 feet away, causing temporary blindness and blocking their sense of smell, providing enough time and space between you and your predator for you to high tail to a much safer place.

If everything else fails and the bear gets to you, curl up into a ball, lock your fingers over the back of your neck, and patiently but painfully wait for the attack to end.

Surviving Mountain Lions And Large Cats

Much like bears, large cats attack only when startled, cornered, or hungry. Wear a bell to announce to them their dinner party's entry or talk loudly to your group to alert them of your presence.

If they get up to confront you, don't show them what a scaredy-cat you really are because chances are, they might also be frightened of you.

Running away will only make things worse as it wakes the predator in them, causing them to chase after and attack you. Climbing a tree also won't help as any type of large cat can hands-down out climb you.

Open your coat, use your backpack, and growl to make yourself look fierce.

Unlike wolves who despise eye contact, you may look directly into a lion's eye and growl ever more fiercely, wave your arms, hop up and down, make noise, and throw rocks and tree branches to throw him off his wits. Bear sprays might do wonders too.

If you didn't look scary enough and the big cat still attacks, fight back by hitting it in its mouth, eyes, or nose.

Protect your neck by crossing both your arms behind your head and crunch your shoulders up around your ears to shield your neck and throat as mountain lions kill by breaking the neck and crushing its prey's vertebrae.

Mountain lion ready to pounce and attack

Surviving Snake Bites

Wearing protective clothing like long pants and tall hiking boots will provide you utmost protection when hiking in a snake-infested territory. It prevents the snake's fangs and venom from penetrating your skin if one fancies striking you.

The good thing about snakes is that it needs to pause and coil its body before striking, giving you ample time to back away at a normal walking pace. If the snake slithers towards you, fend it off with a stick and if possible, hook and fling it off safely away from your group.

If bitten, quickly administer first-aid by first keeping the affected limb lower than the victim's heart to prevent the venom from being distributed throughout the body.

Contrary to popular belief, attempting to suck the venom out from the wound or cutting the wound open to drain the venom out are all myths, as these actions harm the victim even more.

When it's a constrictor that's confronting you, simply wrap an arm around your ribs to protect it from being crushed.

Avoid struggling as it will prompt the snake to squeeze tightly, thinking that you are one delicious and edible prey. Carefully grab the snake's head and unwind it if it's still wrapped around you.

Getting caught up in a wild animal attack can be scary. It is best that you make yourself familiar with the area that you are planning to trek.

Park rangers and fellow hikers who have survived the same trail can give you important insights about the area such as the animal inhabitants, water source, etc.

Carrying along a few reliable animal repellent tools won't hurt as much as if a wild animal catches up with you.

Bear sprays, fences, protective sticks, knives, and maybe even guns can provide the best protection, as long as you remain mindful and respectful of any given situation.

For more general self-defense weapons, check out our guide on the best non-lethal self-defense tools.

Animal Attack Survival FAQs

If a wolf attacks me, do I just be submissive and not try to scare it off?

Try to carefully walk away from it without making eye contact. Fight back by hitting its eyes and nose if it still attacks.

Is it okay to act as a member of the pack?

This usually doesn't work. Always show your dominance, fend them off with a weapon, try to look larger, and create noise.

What do I do if a Rhino is close?

If it is charging at you, try your best to evade it. Climb up or get behind a tree as they tend to avoid large obstacles. Never try to outrun them and simply try to stay a safe distance from them.

How To Survive An Animal Attack Conclusions

Nothing beats the adventure that the great outdoors offer and sharing it with its inhabitants adds up to its flavor.

Proper equipment and following safety precautions can make the most challenging wilderness trip into a great bug out exercise.

How to survive an animal attack may be the question that every would-be outdoorsman asks.

However, if your survival prepping is serious, you need to ask this question of yourself and always be prepared to avoid animal confrontations, or defend yourself if an animal attack is unavoidable.

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

Now, I’m turning it into a complete blueprint for anyone else looking to do the same!
Russell M. Morgan
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