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Ask Buck

Huff Hazard

I once punched a black bear in the nose that was sniffing my hammock while I was in it. The bruin retreated and huffed at me for a while, and I huffed back. Since then I've always wondered, does huffing at a bear encourage it to act aggressively?

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Question:

I once punched a black bear in the nose that was sniffing my hammock while I was in it. The bruin retreated and huffed at me for a while, and I huffed back. Since then I’ve always wondered, does huffing at a bear encourage it to act aggressively?

Submitted by – P.E., Pleasanton, CA

Answer:

Huffing is often mistaken as a sign of an aggressive bear when really it almost always means the bear is nervous and distressed. “Stand your ground”

is the advice of most bear experts. So I imagine huffing back would not cause aggression in a bear. But, then again, if you huff, the bear might think you are nervous and distressed–so I wouldn’t do it. I just try to look as big and as mean as possible and speak in a low, loud voice. So far that’s worked for me.