Monday, July 13, 2015

Know Best Defense for Predators & Other Deadlies

Campers and preppers have a special need to keep up on "best practice" recommendations for dealing with potentially deadly animals of the non-human kind.

As the encroachment of people into previously wild lands continues, some animal behaviors are changing. Even those camping in nice campgrounds in rural areas may find dangerous wildlife encounters are on the rise. Those who boondock and hike are certainly at greater risk of encounters.

Preppers have special needs for awareness in a bug-out location. They may be focused on getting there and establishing defenses against human intruders yet forget they are now in a new wildlife environment with different "rules" and risks.

For example, let's look at the mountain lion (aka cougar, panther, puma) that lives throughout the western US and has isolated populations in places like Florida and Michigan. Cougar attacks on humans are extremely rare. and death from a mountain lion attack happens much less than death by snakebite or even dog attacks. Many of the few recorded deaths from a cougar are small children who were not accompanied by an adult -- something for parents to keep in mind when in a seemingly friendly outdoor area.

If you encounter a mountain lion, the recommended advice is to look as large as you can. Open your jacket, wave your arms, shout, throw rocks or sticks, etc. (Though be careful about bending movements that make you look smaller.) If the cougar feels cornered, it will be much more dangerous, so back away but do so slowly. Any movement that looks like sudden retreat will trigger the cat's "chase" instinct. Likewise, completely freezing or playing dead may make the cat think you are injured and easy prey.

Have children stand right behind or beside you. If you need to pick up a small child, so so without bending.

If you are attacked, fight back! You will surely be injured but almost all who fight back survive. This leads to the next concern:  how far away is help for your bleeding wounds? This speaks to not being out alone or at least to having a large bandana and/or some bandaging in your hiking/survival pack. (A post for another time perhaps.)

Now, those who know what to do in case of a bear encounter will immediately realize the above is mostly the opposite of what one should do with a bear. And that is the point of this post. Know your wildlife threats for the places that you will be, and know both how to avoid and how to respond to the danger.

Avoiding danger such as from rattlesnakes includes not putting your hands or feet where you cannot SEE. If stepping over a log with debris around it, use a hiking stick to first poke at the area your foot will be feeling to find purchase.

Again, arm yourself with knowledge and aids accordingly. When you google something like "bear attacks," look for trusted sources such as a Forest Service or Fish & Wildlife site.


  1. CJ, a good read. Am looking forward to tracking down your books. I have 29 acres in central Florida, adjacent to a state park, I plan on which to build my THOWs.

    As I inform all my visitors ... keep your pants on... everything bites! While I see plenty of Eastern Diamondback, and they are big! ... 6' is not uncommon here ... thankfully they tend to retreat. Our truly nasty snake is the water moccasin. Very aggressive. Confess to shooting them on sight. One of the few "live birth" snakes. Not a critter to be carefree about in my book.

    As to mammals, Florida does indeed have its panther, but they are rare ... generally only spotted at night ... and thankfully wary of humans. Seems bobcats are more plentiful here. Usually maxing out at 35-40 lbs. While I have never witnessed any near my place, the black bear is making a comeback from what the local news reports say. And as such, makes a strong case for burning your garbage. Wild hogs are prevalent... and oft times ill tempered when in the presence of their brood ... ¡cuidado!

    It's a rare day that I don't have a sidearm on me while hiking. The first round in the chamber is usually CCI snake shot.

    Mercifully I can report that in the 3 years I have owned my land, the most vicious thing I usually encounter is the gnat, the "skeeter" and an occasional brush with poison ivy.

    Hope to see more of your blogs in the future.

  2. Steve, thanks so much for you very thoughtful and also informative comments. It is good for folks to think about ways NOT to attract predators of any sort. So burning garbage is one good thought. Sounds like every walk for you is an adventure. LOL I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to choose your location. A family situation calling for me to be a caretaker had taken me from my blog and writing the next book (which will be a mystery). But I will be back to it soon. My books are all available on Amazon. If you read books on a device, mine are only $2.00 each .. or if you are a Kindle Unlimited member they are free to download (you can do a free trial of Unlimited I think...)