How to Handle Unexpected Wildlife Encounters on Your Hike

One of the best things about overlanding is the freedom to travel and explore remote wilderness locations – just you, your truck and Off Grid Trail utility trailer. Although you may feel like you’re the only living being for miles, you’re most likely not.  Depending on what areas you’re exploring, a number of wild animals may call that same area home.  There may be times where you catch wildlife by surprise and there’s nothing worse than being caught off guard when it happens.  It’s critical you know how to handle unexpected wildlife encounters safety.

There are certain situations that create opportunities for wildlife encounters:

  1. Going on trails after dark
  2. Seeing a mother with babies
  3. Getting too close
  4. Surprising an animal that might not see you
  5. Having your pet or a child get a little too close

While seeing wild animals can be exciting, always remember that wild animals are unpredictable. Being aware of these situations is your cue to be more cautious and alert to your surroundings.

If you find yourself face-to-face with a wild animal, it’s critical to respond in the right way.  You may need to respond to different animals in different ways. Knowing how to react is the key to walking away from the encounter unscathed.

Below is a guide on what to do when you encounter certain wildlife while off grid:


If the bear hasn’t seen you or is asleep in a bush, back away slowly and try to leave the area quietly If the bear sees you and charges, use bear spray and stand your ground by calmly waving your arms over your head. 

If you are attacked by a brown or Grizzly bear, drop to the ground and play dead, lay flat on your stomach, protect the back of your neck with your hands and guard your face with your elbows.  Remain still until the bear leaves the area. 

If you are attacked by a black bear DO NOT PLAY DEAD. Try to escape or find something you can use to hit the bear with.  Concentrate blows on the bear’s muzzle and face.  Read National Parks Service recommendations on bear safety


Most of the time Moose will leave you alone if you give them space, unless there’s a baby near. A moose will warn you by smacking its lips, stopping to stare at you, or whipping its head back it before charges. If it does charge, run behind a large tree in between you and the moose. If you get knocked down, curl up in a tight ball and protect your head and neck with your arms.  Stay there until the moose leaves the area.  Read more recommendations from


If you encounter a mountain lion, maintain eye contact, stand tall and back away slowly while shouting or banging something loudly.   Never turn your back, crouch down or run away.  If attacked, fight back using your fists or anything you can find such as tree branches or rocks.  Always remember to protect your face and neck.  Read more recommendations from


Like moose, Elk will tend to leave you alone unless provoked or there are young nearby.   If an elk does charge at you, run to the nearest tree and climb if there is time. If you get knocked to the ground, curl up in a tight ball, protecting your head and neck with your arms and stay on the ground until the Elk has left the area.


Always check logs and rocks for snakes before sitting down along the trail. Be sure to use caution when spotting a snake.  Give the snake as much space as possible as you calmly and quietly move away. If you are bitten, seek medical attention immediately. Read more recommendations from The Outbound Collective.

Most of the time, your wildlife encounters while overlanding with your Off Grid Trailer will be at a safe distance and creating lasting memories of your adventure.  However, it’s always best practice to know what to do if the encounter isn’t so fun.  Your adventure awaits!  Safe travels!

Interested in starting your own adventure? Contact the OGT team with your questions!


For more information on Off Grid Trailers or to build your own trailer, contact us today!

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