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Episode 168 S5-5

Wild Animal Attacks


Special Guest:

Dark Days in Denver Ch 5

~Doug Huffman~

Dark Days in Denver continues as Dexter and Johnny assume their roll as tower guards. An incident involving a wild animal ensues. Here to talk to us today about wild animal attacks and how you can avoid them when you make contact with nature is the owner of Sierra School of Survival, Doug Huffman.

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"Bear Mace is a Bare Minimum!"

There are some easy steps you can take to avoid wild animal attacks. If you live in the country, you should have at least a 100 ft barrier of clearance around your home. This is important for maintaining fire control but also animals love to hide in brush. If the area is clear of this type of landscape, predators will not have an area to ambush from. When you are outside make sure you make noise. Sing, talk, have your dogs with you so they will alert you to any threats. You don't want to startle predators. This is normally when they would attack.

When hiking, make sure you make noise as you travel along the trail. Hook a bell to your walking stick or sing as you go. Make predators aware that you are traveling into their area. If you are hunting and moving silently, be aware of your surroundings. Always hunt with a buddy in groups of at least 2-4 people. Bears can smell food from far away and can go through car doors or buildings to get to it. They will be more aggressive in the fall when they are loading up on calories.

When you have dogs out on the trail make sure they stay on leash. Untrained dogs that will not walk behind you at all times can run forward and spook a predator. They may startle the predator and then get scared and run back to you with the predator following them, putting you in danger. 

If you live in a rural area and put out a salt lick to attract deer, remember that predators like salt too. They also like the prey that are attracted to the salt. 

Individuals with children in a rural area should have a fenced, secure area for the children to play in. Attacks on people are rare but they do happen. Attacks on groups of people that have four or more people in them do not happen. The biggest mistake you can make is being alone. Do not wear headphones when running in the country or the city. It leaves you vulnerable to attacks from four legged predators as well as two legged predators. 

When entering an area with dangerous snakes make certain you are carrying trekking poles or a walking staff. Your pole always leads so the snake will strike the pole first. Watch out for blind spots. Be careful you don't surprise a snake. They can't feel your vibration until you are less than fifteen feet away. Paint the bottom of your stick bright red. The snake is more attracted to this color and is more likely to attack it. Do not enter areas with high brush unless you are wearing the proper protective clothing (chaps and boots). Snakes love these areas. Do not climb where you can't see where your hands are going. 

When facing smaller predatory animals like coyotes it is important to understand the habits of the animal. They don't pose a serious threat to humans but we are born with built in fears of these types of animals. Wave your arms at them and make a lot of noise. Always carry bear mace with you on the trail. It works on all types of predatory creatures, including two legged ones. The most vulnerable family members to these types of predators are our furry ones. Many domesticated animals are lost to coyotes, bobcats, etc. each year. 

Bears can pose more or less of a threat depending on the type and the population density. Brown and black bears are the most common types of bears. They are also the smallest. Then there are bigger bears like the grizzly and the Kodiak. In high density areas like Chichagof, Alaska, the bears are attracted to the sound of gun fire because they know a kill has been made. Bears in all areas are highly motivated by food. They will frequent junk yards and garbage cans. Most incidents with bears happen because of an accidental meeting. Make sure you make noise and don't surprise them. Lookout for cubs because mommas are not patient animals. Young male bears may shadow you. They are young and haven't figured things out yet. Usually a couple of warning shots with a fire arm will deter them. Dogs barking usually will intimidate a bear enough to leave the area.


When fall approaches the bears will begin to get even more calorie driven to fatten up for the winter. In high density areas like Alaska, October is know as maul month because this is when hunters are out and the bears are hunting. In lower density areas a common area for bears to be a problem is anywhere fishing takes place and the fish are gutted in a specific location. If you are in a high density area and you make a kill, make sure you watch the tree line for bears. Always have a buddy with you. Never leave your rifle behind. Always carry bear spray and a backup fire arm.  

Above all, never go into a thick area where you can't see. They are the favorite hangout spot for all predators. This is true even in a city. You wouldn't go down a dark alley in a bad neighborhood. You would walk around it. If you choose to take the risk, understand that natural selection may take place. 

Mountain lions or cougars are also a threat in many areas. Make sure to make noise. They are solitary animals and usually don't want a confrontation. They like their world quiet. Bear mace is effective on all animals. It is a simple insurance policy that is easy to carry. You need to measure 60 ft and know how far away from you that distance is. You need to use it when the animal is 60 ft away to ensure that the animal will encounter it at 30 ft. You need to ensure that you have access to the mace within two seconds of the encounter (as with any weapon). Any longer than that and the weapon is of no use to you. Don't spray it at yourself! You will be out of commission. Practice drawing the can and putting the clip in and out. When using bear mace you can spray directly at the 30ft mark. If you were using the small hand held mace in a city scape against an attacker, you want to spray in a figure eight pattern. Either way make sure the wind is not blowing back into your face. 

Once an animal attacks, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to stop it. They become super focused. Bear mace is a non-lethal way to ensure that you can protect yourself. It has been proven effective ninety two percent of the time. Firearms are only effective seventy five percent of the time. 

When you are hiking in rocky, open, hot areas, realize that the same shade we seek is the same shade animals will seek. Look for animals to be there. Be aware of any sign that a predatory animal may be returning to that spot. Stay clear of predator dens.

Spiders can also be a major concern. Black widows and brown recluses are two of the top dangerous spiders in the US. Make sure you look where your hands are going. Be aware of thick webs. Men need to watch out when using backwoods outhouses. 

Ladies need to be aware of their menstrual cycle when entering nature. Swimming in the ocean can attract sharks. Also animals can smell blood for miles away. Menstrual padding needs to be carefully disposed of so it does not attract predatory animals. Two legged predators can also be on the lookout for women. Female voices often carry further than male ones. Bear mace will take care of that predator as well. 

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Dark Days in Denver Ch 5

~Doug Huffman~

People often ask me where I learned to master so many different skills. My father was an avid backpacker and outdoor enthusiast. Our family grew up hiking, backpacking and camping from California to Missouri. At the age of 17, I started my first of many multi-week solo backpacking trips throughout the deserts, mountains and Indian reservations of Arizona. Since that time I have worked with or instructed many organizations, including: Special Forces, Navy Seals, Homeland Security, Search & Rescue, FBI Special Agents, and Sheriff Departments. I have also guided professionally from the Grand Canyon's Colorado River to Oregon's Rogue River and many points throughout the Sierras.

Sierra School of Survival and/or Doug Huffman, have been featured in Sunset Magazine, The Fishsniffer Magazine,
The Sacramento Bee, Western Outdoors News, The Folsom Telegraph, Prime Ticket Sports Network(cable-tv),
Point/Counter Point(cable-tv), Good Day Sacramento Show, Capitol Public Radio, ABC, NBC, CBS and many local newscasts.

The last several years I have been training military, law enforcement and civilians in wilderness/urban survival, tracking/counter tracking, escape & evasion, close quarter combatives, pointman/scout/recon, team movements & communications. I also conduct survival seminars for REI in Northern California and Nevada. In 2009, Sierra Survival was featured live, over 10 times on local and national television stations.


Please realize that at Sierra School of Survival our office is the outdoors.  Because we only make it into the office a few times a week we can not respond to e-mails and phone calls within the same timeframe as most businesses you may deal with.  We realize this may appear unprofessional to those who live and work daily in the concrete jungle and we appreciate your understanding as we conduct our business in the wilderness, beyond the range of our cell phone.


I look forward to training with you or your group in the near future.

Doug Huffman
Owner/Chief Instructor

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