Escape From Unfriendly Natives

On the trail black bears, skunks, grizzlies, rattlesnakes, and ticks are not your friend. Learn how to side-step them.

Black Bear: Try to appear as large as possible by raising your arms and even your pack over your head. Shout and slowly back away. If a black bear attacks, fight back aggressively. With any type of bear--grizzly or black--turning around and running will encourage a footrace you won't win.

Skunk: Loud noises and sudden movements might make a nearsighted skunk turn and raise its tail. Back away while speaking in a low voice. A skunk can shoot its oily stink as far as 10 feet.

Grizzly: Avoid eye contact, speak in a low voice, and back away slowly. If it charges, hold your ground and attempt to look as large as possible. Some charges are bluffs. If the grizzly attacks, lie flat on your stomach, lace your hands over the back of your neck, and play dead.

Rattlesnake: Rattlers can strike from a distance as far as half their body length--typically 2 to 3 feet. Let the snake slip away, or walk around it. When scrambling up rocky trails, watch where you put your hands, especially on sunny ledges. Ankle-high or taller all-leather hiking boots can deflect strikes.

Tick: Scan your body before dinner and while taking a post-hike shower, paying special attention to your armpits, the back of your knees, and in and around any hair. To remove a burrowing tick, grasp it tightly with sharp tweezers as close to the skin as possible, and pull it out in a slow, steady movement.

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