Before you head afield, mentally rehearse a worst-case scenario involving an encounter with a bear. You are more likely to respond appropriately if you have imagined an encounter and mentally practiced a response than you are if you have never tried to think your way through such an event.
“If the mind has never been there before, the body does not know how to respond.”
“We react like we practice; if we do not practice properly, we will not react properly.”
When recreating in bear country, always carry bear spray, always keep your bear spray within reach, always carry your bear spray in the same place, and always be familiar with the safety and firing mechanisms. As with any equipment, the time to learn how to use it is BEFORE you need it!
In sudden encounters, bear spray has proven to work. Bears sprayed with bear spray often stop attacking and, as such, are less likely to inflict serious injury. Use a firearm only as a last resort and only if bear spray is unavailable. Always use your bear spray to help a hunting partner who is being attacked. Misdirected bear spray is survivable; bullets are not. Bears wounded with an arrow, knife, or firearm may intensify the attack, and killing a bear charging at full speed is difficult at best. If you shoot a bear in self-defense, leave the scene as soon as it is safe, and report the incident to Fish, Wildlife & Parks immediately.
Black bears tend to retreat more readily than grizzly bears. It is important to not “stare down” or become overly aggressive with a grizzly. If attacked, use your bear spray. In a non-predatory attack, if you do not have bear spray; play dead by lying face down and covering your neck and head with your hands and arms. If you have a backpack leave it on to protect your back. Stay face down, never look at the bear, and remain still until the bear is gone. Many people have survived grizzly bear attacks using this method. A bear can cover 44 feet in 2-3 seconds. Running from either species is not recommended.