Encountering a Bear: What to Do and How to Use Bear Spray
10 27 2022
The thought of encountering a bear on a hike or camping trip is enough to keep some people inside. Though bears tend to avoid humans, bear encounters happen each year across North America.
Even as their hibernation season approaches, the chance remains that you will encounter a bear as you explore the great outdoors—after all, it is their home. The best safety choice is to carry bear spray since it is effective at stopping aggressive bears more than 90 percent of the time.
Know what to do if you encounter a bear, carry bear spray, and know how to use your bear spray before you head out on your next adventure.
Photo: Curtis Matwishyn Photography
What to do if you encounter a bear
- Stop and assess the situation: Does the bear see you?
- If the bear does not see you, back away slowly and do not disturb it.
- If it does see you, still back away slowly and begin calmly speaking to the bear so it knows you are not a threat.
- Slowly begin reaching for your bear spray in its easily accessible holster.
- Now, you’re ready to deploy your bear spray, if needed.
Keep in mind if you encounter a bear
- Never run away: Most bear attacks happen when a bear feels threatened. If you try to run the bear will see that as a threat and will likely attack.
- Never approach a bear: You are safer if the bear does not see you. By approaching a bear, you put yourself in potential danger.
- Avoid separating a mamma bear and her cub: A mama bear will see this as a threat to her young.
How to use your bear spray
Before you go on your adventure, practice removing your bear spray from its holster and use a practice canister to practice deploying your spray.
Frontiersman Bear Sprays are all EPA-approved. The EPA recommends deploying your bear spray as follows:
- Hold the bear spray in your dominant hand, putting your forefinger through the hole in the handle with your thumb on the safety clip curl.
- Pull the safety clip straight back and off using your thumb, then press down on the actuator tab to burst the spray.
- You may need to aim the canister downward toward the bear if it’s charging at you so the spray will hit its eyes and face. Do not spray straight outward from your body at 90 degree angle because this could cause you to spray over the bear’s head and miss it completely.
- Press the trigger for three seconds in order to create a barrier between you and the bear.
- Stop and evaluate if the bear was affected. Adjust your aim if needed and spray again.
Once you’ve hit the bear, back away slowly and return to safety. Remember, do not run away.