Consultant’s Corner with Braden Cooper: What to do after a bear attacks

Braden Cooper is co-owner & consultant at WTA. He’s offered some wisdom on what you should do when a bear attacks in order to remain safe.

What do I do after a bear attacks

As I was recently leaving elk camp in AZ with my dad, we began to reflect on a great hunt. We laughed and joked about a bear encounter he had while scouting where he was confronted with an aggressive black bear that was showing all the signs of a bear that was about to attack. After all the jokes about him being on the bears lunch menu were over, I opened social media to learn of another recent attack that had recently occurred where the survivor was not so lucky. This changed the tone of our conversation and made me reflect on a time when I use to live in Jackson, WY. I spent a lot of time hiking in Grand Teton National park where it was not uncommon to encounter both black and grizzly bears. Before every adventure I would spend a lot of time refreshing what I knew about bear awareness and precautions to prevent an attack. I am lucky to say that all the preparations paid off, because for as many bear encounters as I had while visiting these wild places I was never once attacked.  As I read the story of the recent attack out loud it made me realize that never once had I ever thought about those “what if” moments after an attack had occurred. All of the planning and preparations were done to prevent an attack but never once did I address the fact that the possibility was real and if it did happen what were the next steps. Here are 5 tips to help you understand what one would need to do in this situation to make sure one can survive after a bear attacks. 

5 tips for surviving when a bear attacks

1. Stay calm

This is a tough one because of what just happened. But if you are alone, it is super important to gather yourself and your thoughts. This time you spend will help make sure that the bear that has attacked you has left the area. Any sudden movements or sounds could result in a second attack.

2. Assess the damage or take inventory

This can be done during the stay calm period but it is important to find out where you are most severely injured. This is important, because if you are severely injured, this is most likely when some form of shock will set in and a fast, accurate self assessment is vital. You can almost create a checklist as you go from your eyes and sight to your legs and the ability to walk.  Ask yourself where you are bleeding, how much blood you are losing, what, if anything is broken, and make note of what needs to be dressed first.

3. Control and dress your wounds

Educate yourself before going out on how to correctly apply a tourniquet as well as how to build a splint or extreme methods of applying direct pressure.  If you have puncture wounds and they are severe, you will need to focus on the ones that are bleeding the most. If you are not prepared with supplies, be creative with what you have on or around you. 

4. Drink lots of liquids

If you are critically injured, you could lose a lot of blood. Liquids will help your body replenish especially if you are faced with a hike out.

5. Be mentally tough

Stay objective and positive. Push yourself to have the will to survive. Do not expect someone to save you.

Remember the best ways to try and avoid an attack are taking precautions before you go; know your bear sign and watch for it, carry Bear Spray and/or a firearm, adventure with a companion or in a group. Have fun and stay safe out there!

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