Carrying And Using Bear Spray
Bear spray may be helpful when exploring, as a useful defense against a charging or attacking bear. While used similarly to pepper spray you’d use on an attacking human, they are not the same nor interchangeable. Bear spray is not a repellent like bug spray. The NPS urges not to apply it to your body or equipment; it is for the sole purpose of scaring off an aggressive bear.
Yellowstone provides a video that gives a step by step approach on how to deploy the spray. The site includes information on where to buy and options to rent spray.
It is recommended to keep spray readily accessible, rather than stored in your pack. This makes it easier to grab quickly, if necessary. Your aim does not need to be perfect, you just need a large cloud of the spray between you and the bear.
The site also suggest practicing, so you feel comfortable deploying the spray if the time comes.
What To Do If You Experience A Bear Attack
While attacks are extremely rare, it is good to be mentally prepared for what to do if the situation is to arise. Brown bear attacks differ from black bear attacks, so the ideal way to react in either event is different.
If attacked by a brown/grizzly bear, the NPS says you should keep your pack on and play dead. Laying “flat on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck” and spreading your legs makes it more difficult for the bear to flip you over. Remain still in this position until the bear exits the area. This limits the attack significantly, though the NPS says “if the attack persists, fight back vigorously.” They suggest using whatever you have readily available to hit the bear in the face.
If attacked by a black bear, do not play dead or lay still. Try to escape to a secure place as quickly as possible. If you can not find an escape, fight back using any near object. When fighting back, concentrate your blows to the bear’s face and muzzle.