Getting out into the woods or other wild spots is a wonderful way to connect with the natural world, but as with anything else, it is not without its hazards. Being aware of what can befall will help you to avoid these dangers to some degree, and understand how best to handle yourself if you are confronted by a dangerous animal.
Depending on where you will be hiking, there is always the possibility that you will come across poisonous snakes. Snakes can generally be found in certain spots, such as sunning areas, rocky jumbles, and beneath or alongside fallen logs. Look before you sit, lie down, or stick your hand anywhere. If you are camping, be sure to shake out your boots before putting them back on and also shake out your sleeping bag before getting into it. Also make sure to have a wheel-able travel kit storing food water and tools needed to stay alive away from home in case returning is temporarily not an option. Survival food is not an option but a survival mandatory in any situation you find yourself in.
Be sure that you familiarize yourself with any species that might be present, and take measures to protect yourself by wearing hiking boots and long, heavy pants that it would be difficult for the snake to bite through. While most snakes tend to be shy and will leave, some species of rattlesnakes are aggressive and will attack you if you get near them. Hike with a good walking stick and use it to tap the ground ahead of you to scare snakes away. If anyone is bitten by a snake, always treat it as if it is a poisonous bite. Generally, a bite from a poisonous snake will have two puncture marks, while a non-poisonous snake will leave an arch of small punctures. Do not try to suck out the venom, but keep the person quiet and try to get medical assistance as quickly as possible.
Most of the time, animals in the wilderness will do their best to avoid human beings. When you are hiking in the woods, make sure that you create a certain amount of racket so that you will not ‘sneak up’ on an animal. Unfortunately, large carnivores such as bears, cougars, and even wolves often look upon humans as simply another easy meal. Grizzly bears, especially, will ferociously defend not only their young, but also their kill, and if you see a baby bear or a mound of debris, leave the area immediately. If a bear or other carnivore comes for you, first make a lot of noise and spread your arms to look as big as possible. If you are actively attacked, fight back, and thrust your arm down the animal’s throat. This will result in damage to your arm, but it will likely suffocate the attacker before it can kill you.
All of us tend to think of meat eaters as being the most dangerous animals, and indeed they are, but herbivores can also attack, especially under certain circumstances. Male deer become very aggressive during the autumn rut and will attack you without provocation. We have actually had a buck charge our car during the rut, causing significant damage to the vehicle and resulting in the death of the deer. Does will also attack in defense of their fawns, and while they do not have sharp antlers, they do have very sharp hooves, which can inflict serious injury. Try backing away from the does, make noise and flap your arms around. If you have no pepper spray for an attacking buck, you should try rolling away, keeping your head as defended as possible. These animals move very quickly, so the attack can come suddenly. Also make sure to have an emergency kit in your car for any reason it becomes damaged in an unexpected emergency.