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What to Do if a Bear Approaches Your Tent? 10 Best Tips

What to Do if a Bear Approaches Your Tent? 10 Best Tips

What to Do if a Bear Approaches Your Tent? Bears are one of the hottest topics of discussion regarding camping.

They are carnivoran mammals from the Ursidae family, classified as caniforms according to Animal Diversity Web.

There are only eight species worldwide, widely found in the Northern hemisphere. Only a few are found in the Southern hemisphere.

Scientifically known as Ursidae, bears rarely attack humans unless provoked. Various species live for different periods.

For instance, the giant panda lives for about 20 years, while the brown bear survives the wild for a good 20 – 30 years.

So, if they rarely pounce on humans, should you even know what to do when a bear approaches while camping?

Yes is the shortest answer! And here is how:


What to Do if a Bear Approaches Your Tent?

A bear is least likely to attack you while camping, but it may approach your tent. But, don’t react instantly. Analyze the situation first, then stay quiet or move to a safe area. Walk back to where you came from. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the bear while you are in its reach. 


10 Steps to Take if a Bear Approaches Your Tent

Mountainous animals will rarely attack you unless they are provoked, feel threatened, or are pure carnivores.

Going camping means visiting the habitat of the mountainous animals. Therefore, it is only normal to see a bear walking around in the woods.

Several hikers, campers, and hunters have mentioned encounters with bears, and only a few were attacked.

But the instance of an attack is rare, especially for both North American grizzlies and black bears. However, knowing what to do when you see a bear around your camp is beneficial.


1. Stay Quiet

Remember that you are in the bear’s territory and not them in our territory.

Therefore, if you see a bear approaching your camp, stay calm and quiet, without making any loud and sudden noises.

Try not to panic, make any startling noises, or do large body gestures or movements.

Most times, the bears only pass by the site and do not mean any harm. They may also be attracted by the scent of food or light from a fire.

Oftentimes when a bear approaches your tent, they're just passing by and don't mean any harm
Oftentimes when a bear approaches your tent, they’re just passing by and don’t mean any harm

Young bears who have been hand-fed by humans are vulnerable to the scent of bear food, so you may see one coming close as you make food.

However, try not to move and let it pass to stay safe.


2. Using Voices

Several experts and experienced hikers and campers believe that bears are just as afraid of humans as we are of them.

Thus, if a bear persists on your campsite, initially make a light, calm voice.


3. Louder Voices

If the bear is still undeterred, make a louder voice and some large, prominent hand gestures.

This will make the bear think you can outpower it, so it is safer than walking away. But please ensure that you do not advance towards the bear at this point.


4. Yelling and Use of Loud Instruments

Some bears may be startled at this point but also intrigued by the activity site.

At this point, the smartest option is to start yelling loudly, so the bear is too scared to stay any longer.

If you have company, signal them to join to produce a larger and heavier sound.

Alternatively, you can use a loud instrument like an air horn to further frighten the bear. Yelling and air horn combined will most likely steer it away.

Use loud instruments like an air horn to scare a bear that approaches your tent
Use loud instruments like an air horn to scare a bear that approaches your tent


5. Bear Spray and Gun

A bear spray and gun are essential for campers and hikers; however, they must not be used unnecessarily.

Only use both if the bear starts to approach you with a seemingly threatening intention or if it begins ripping your camp set up apart.

Only use the bear spray on a bear that approaches your tent exhibits aggressive behavior
Only use the bear spray on a bear that approaches your tent exhibits aggressive behavior

Using a bear spray unnecessarily will harm you as much as it harms the bear since the smell is toxic to both.

Therefore, only begin spraying when you have ample space to walk out of the camp and run to safety.

The gun should also ideally be used if loaded for a bear, not just with light bullets.

If you are not loaded for a bear, the shot will barely scratch the bear, further angering it; this will lead to more loss than benefit.


6. Using Your Weapons

If you have a weapon and are ready to use it, hold your ground until it is absolutely required.

However, if the bear has begun attacking you, it is time you start using your weapons.

Spray the bear with plenty of bear spray to blind it and run away from the site in the meantime. However, if the bear is still uncontrollable, utilize the bear gun.

Please remember that bears are large animals; therefore, you can only hold them for a short period.

Bears are predators that can easily overpower humans. Thus, make sure you use weapons and then quickly run to safety.


7. Running to a Safe Site

Haphazard and chaotic situations like these give you very little time to react. Therefore, after shooting at the bear, run!

Staying and defending yourself will only worsen the situation as the animal becomes more aggressive.

Try to find a safe spot nearby, as running will also initiate the impulse of chasing prey for the bear.


8. Avoid Running Far Distances

While running seems like the safest option, it is not the case. Bears are very fast animals with an approximate speed of 35 miles per hour (56 km per hour).

In comparison, a human can only achieve a speed of 10 – 15 miles per hour (16 – 24 km per hour).

Therefore, even if you run the fastest, the bear will outrun you, earning a meal.

Running will only excite the bear’s predatory impulse, so it is safer to hide at a high or shaded spot till the bear is out of the campsite.


9. Fight Back

If the bear has started chasing you, it is time you take the big guns out.

Please make sure you load your gun with powerful bullets to take down a bear or paralyze it for a few minutes until you run to safety.

Ensure that you've loaded your gun with bullets to take down a bear that approaches your tent and shows sign of attacking you
Ensure that you’ve loaded your gun with bullets to take down a bear that approaches your tent and shows sign of attacking you

If you are being chased, run while firing at the bear. Try to hit the bear all over the body to paralyze it fully, or at least get one good shot.

Start with firing a warning shot in the air; this should do the trick of driving away the bear. However, if the bear continues to chase you, take the shot at the bear.


10. Finding a Safe Spot

If you are lucky enough to outrun the bear, it is best to continue walking away from the campsite.

You may encounter more bears or other similar wild animals like snakes. If it is too dark, wait until the morning rays peak through.

However, if you have a car or other vehicle, it is best to drive away from the site and only return when you are well prepared.


Frequently Asked Questions about What to Do if a Bear Approaches Your Tent


How do you fight a bear?

Bears are large predatory animals that can easily outpower humans. In case of an encounter, use a bear spray and gun and make loud noises to startle the bear.


How often do bears attack humans?

Most bears are afraid of humans or simply avoid interaction with them. However, it is wise to stay prepared for any possible encounters and make smart decisions regarding your safety.


Do air horns scare away bears?

Loud instruments like air horns are mostly reliable for scaring and chasing bears away.

About Me

Hi, this is Kent Walker. I am an outdoor enthusiast. I love fishing, hiking as well as kayaking. I write about my adventures in the wide open and what I learned about it.