Poll a bunch of hikers and one of the top things they worry about will inevitably be animal attacks. As backpackers and hikers, we put ourselves in wildlife’s home turf—that’s part of the fun—and there are a few key precautions to take to make sure it stays fun. The first is the most obvious, but least followed: proper food management. Don’t give any animal—whether it’s a bear, a raccoon, or a mouse—an easy meal; that will just encourage them. Second, know the habits and behaviors of predators in your area. Steer clear of bears with cubs, and ungulates during the mating season. But the worst situation—the one you never see coming—is the surprise attack. In that case, your best choice may be the least palatable: Stand your ground and fight for your life.
Itsy bitsy? Sure, but spiders loom large in hiker phobias. They shouldn't: Only a few subspecies of the black widow and brown recluse can inflict enough damage to cut short a hike. Here's what you need to know about North America's most venomous spiders, from how to avoid them to treating their bites.
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