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Self-Defense Against Wild Animals: Bears, Wolves, and Mountain Lions

February 02, 2018 4 min read 7 Comments

If you live near an area where you see a lot of wildlife, or if you get out and go camping a lot, chances are, you’re going to run into a wild animal here and there. Depending on where you live, you could run into bears, wolves, or mountain lions. And, despite each of them being equally deadly, each requires a different approach when you encounter them. If you do, you’ll need to know self-defense tactics against wild animals.

The Atomic Bear is the place to shop for self-defense items online. Whether you’re looking for a tactical defense pen, survival bracelet, or tactical flashlight, we’ve got you covered. Shop online with us, watch a video from our training library, and learn to protect yourself and your loved ones with The Atomic Bear.

Knowing the behaviors of the animals you could potentially encounter is key to defending yourself. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Additionally, your personal awareness can potentially prevent an encounter from happening in the first place. Here’s what you need to know about protecting yourself from a wild animal encounter.


Bears, while enormous and intimidating, will leave the area if they hear you coming. If you make a lot of noise, talk, attach bells to your pack, and make your presence known, it’s likely any that are nearby will clear out. However, if you surprise one, you’re in for another experience, especially if it’s a mama bear and her cubs. First, as counterintuitive as it might seem, don’t scream, make loud or growling sounds, or threatening movements. While the bear might be standing on its hind legs or looking menacing (and what bear doesn’t?), chances are, it’s probably just checking you out (bear attacks are actually pretty rare). If at all possible, slowly move sideways, which will not only allow you to watch it, but this type of movement doesn’t appear confrontational to a bear. Never run or climb up a tree—bears can navigate hills, flat land, and trees with breathtaking ease, and they will chase you. If you carry bear spray, slowly remove it from its holster and spray it between you and the bear.

Different species of bears will behave differently. If a brown or grizzly bear is encountered, the best way to react is to keep your backpack on and play dead by laying on your stomach. Clasp your hands behind your neck for protection and spread your legs, which will make it harder for you to be flipped over. Stay like this until it leaves the area. However, if it attacks, you will have to defend yourself. Tools such as the S.W.A.T. Pen, a big stick, or another large and sturdy object are ideal for striking the bear’s face.

Black bears are a different story. You never want to play dead in this case, and will need to get to safety as quickly as possible. But that might not be an option, and in this case, you’ll need to fight back by striking its face and nose until it retreats.

It is recommended to carry bear pepper spray if you think there is a good chance of encountering a bear! Some people will also carry a handgun as a second option in case the spray is not enough. Carry at least a .44 magnum with hardshell. This Youtube article is quite interesting in this regard:

Mountain Lions


The thing to keep in mind with mountain lions is that by the time you see them, they’ve likely been stalking you for quite some time. And even more chilling is that when they stalk their potential prey, it’s with the intent to have a snack. First, you should know that only about one-fifth of attacks are fatal, and that’s because when the prey fights back, the big cat is more likely to let it go. Some theorize that wearing a hat with a face printed on the back will confuse it because they prefer to attack from behind.

If you encounter one, never give it your back or run away—you’ll only provoke further action. Make yourself look as big and intimidating as possible, and make eye contact. You can hold your hands over your head, spread your coat, and use big sticks. Be loud, throw rocks and other objects, and show it you’re not going to retreat without a fight. If all of this fails and it approaches, use self-protection devices such as our S.W.A.T Pen or S.W.A.T. Flashlight to jab it in the eyes and face. If it’s got you in its jaws, you can try to pry its mouth open or try to wrap your arm around its neck to choke it. Because mountain lions aren’t what you would call “endurance animals” they’re more likely to give up than to put in the effort.


Wolves, by nature, are wary of people and your chances of running into one are extremely rare, but not impossible. They are usually fearful when it comes to humans and will likely retreat if they see you. You could run into a lone wolf or an entire pack of them, which makes your situation appear even more dreadful. Just like bears and mountain lions, slowly backing away is your first step. Never run or make threatening movement. But unlike big cat encounters, wolves will see direct eye contact as a threat and will be more likely to attack.

Make yourself appear as large as you can with your shirt or jacket raised overhead. Make loud noises, shout, and throw large objects like rocks and sticks. Never show fear, because this will seem like an invitation to attack. If the wolf doesn’t retreat despite your efforts and decides to attack, you will need to fight it off. The wolf won’t leave you once it’s begun an attack so you will have to fight and intimidate it until it retreats. Once it goes, you will need to calmly and quickly get to safety, whether it’s a tree, rock, car, or building.

Arm yourself with the best self-protection devices. Shop at The Atomic Bear today for the equipment you need to protect and survive.


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