Learning animal dominance with a lion.
(Photo by iStock)

Animal Dominance: A Quick Guide To Establish Dominance When Confronted With Different Members of the Animal Kingdom

People can’t talk to animals, it’s not a thing. Dr. Doolittle was full of shit. We don’t have the God-given gift to speak with animals, so we can let them know that we would appreciate it greatly for them to not kill us. Therefore, we can only rely on tips and tricks that have been passed down to us from those folks who have fallen prey to, and thankfully survived, the most vicious animal attacks. More often than not, these confrontations will occur in the wild; however, there have been countless attacks in neighborhoods and on private properties as well as in the wilderness. This implies that there truly is nowhere these animals won’t go for food. In the United States, some of the most dangerous and unpredictable wildlife include bears, cougars, wolves, moose and bison. 

Let’s dig in…


Cougars typically operate in smaller groups, likely at a bar or some kind of venue that has significant night life. They will go after younger men, but—wait, sorry. Wrong cougars. Puma concolor (because we’ll be scientific with this one, so there’s no confusion) are primarily located in the western half of the United States, with the exception of Florida. Because why wouldn’t Florida have a man-eating cat in addition to their already horrible track record of exceptional residents, including the Florida Man, Bath Salts and my father? 

What To Do:

  1. Don’t you dare fucking run, stand your ground. Stand tall. OWN YOUR PRESENCE.
  2. Do NOT crouch down or try to hide. This isn’t your ex.
  3. Make yourself appear larger than the cougar. 
  4. Never turn your back, and don’t take your eyes off of it.
  5. Shout, wave your arms above your head and throw rocks or sticks at it if it begins to display aggressive behavior.
  6. If it makes the decision to attack, stay standing. Once you go down, that’s it. Consider yourself dead.
  7. Fight back with everything you’ve got; grab rocks, branches, a knife, anything. Gouge your fingers into its eyes. Be as aggressive and as violent as possible. 
How to be the alpha with a wolf in the wild!
(Photo by iStock)


When following the trajectory of wolves over the last few centuries, you can see they have been relocated due to deforestation and other manmade interferences with nature. Therefore, if you’re going to be out and about in the northwest, likely you’ll bump into a few along the way. The wolves will be more than happy to remind you that they are there because civilization felt the need to put a Waffle House right where their den used to be. (I’m not complaining, who doesn’t love a Waffle House?) If you live in Alaska, more power to you because holy shit, the majority of the animals on this list are in your neck of the woods … literally. Of course, there are also wolves living in the Southwest, but not nearly as many as live in the Northwest, the western Great Lake states, and the approximately 10,000 lupine living in Alaska. 

What To Do:

  1. Once again, DO NOT RUN (notice the trend?) Not only will it most likely trigger an attack, but it will create a scenario that you will 100% be unable to escape from. Wolves have had their top speed clocked at over 30 mph, so running would just be a waste of time. For you, at least.
  2. Shout at a wolf. Oftentimes, the noise combined with your presence will be enough to make them back off.
  3. These animals are smart. Way smarter than you’ll likely give them credit for. They are pack animals, and often engage in coordinated attacks. Remember, you are their dinner. Unlike other animals, they will kill you because they are hungry. If you find yourself surrounded, time to break out your firearm and shoot to kill. 
  4. As with the cougar, mind your footing. The second you go down, that’s it. 
  5. If they’ve cornered you or have you surrounded, position yourself so they remain on your front side. If you are with others, stand back to back facing the wolves and fight with everything you’ve got.


Those of you in New Mexico can rest assured that unless you go up north, you’ll never have to worry about encountering a moose in the wild. They are predominantly found in Alaska, the Northeast and as far down as the Rockies in Colorado. For those of you who are unfamiliar, think of a buck, but now picture him being the size of an Airstream. Absolutely massive. 

What To Do:

  1. Keep your distance and don’t approach it. It DOES NOT want to be your friend—at all.
  2. Back off and change your direction. 
  3. If you find it with its young, stay clear. It will consider you a threat and attack accordingly.
  4. RUN! (We’ll break the trend with this and the Bison.) You can run from a moose without threatening it or triggering an attack. 
  5. Take cover, whether that’s behind a tree or a boulder, as long as you have something between you and it. If you’re more athletic than I am, climbing a tree would be your best option.
  6. One way to tell if it’s going to attack is if it lays its ears back and raises the hair on its shoulder. Once it begins to stomp the ground and swing its head around, get the hell out of there.
  7. If it knocks you down, curl into a ball to protect yourself. Don’t get up until it backs off or else it will attack again.


Talk about a species that we singlehandedly managed to nearly eliminate then brought back from the brink of death! As of right now, there are approximately 500,000 bison split primarily between South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Colorado and Oklahoma. From the way they act, I can assure you they are well aware of the fact that we brought them to the edge of extinction.

What To Do:

  1. Find cover immediately and run for it. These are not slow animals.
  2. Keep moving as the bison tries to get at you. 
  3. Work on your athleticism, climb a tree. It doesn’t want to eat you, it just hates everything about you—just like my ex. 
  4. Lastly, keep your distance.
Bear waving, wanting to be friends.
(Photo by iStock)

Bears (Black And Grizzly)

So, here’s the deal … easiest way to sum it up is that at some point in your life, you will encounter a bear, whether that’s out in the wild, on vacation or at your buddy’s backyard BBQ. For those living in the Northeast or Northwest, your odds will spike drastically. Black bears are the most docile of the bunch but will still come for your ass if they feel threatened, or worse, if their young feel threatened. Grizzlies are a whole other group that are much more aggressive. 

What To Do (Black):

  1. As mentioned, they are the least aggressive of the bunch. That doesn’t mean they aren’t aggressive though—back to the trend! DO NOT RUN!
  2. Do not approach it; it isn’t going to teach you about wildfires or picnic baskets.
  3. Create a presence, bang anything to make enough noise to deter it, just keep your clothes on.
  4. Wave your arms above your head to make yourself come across as larger.
  5. Find a way out for it, so it doesn’t feel forced to fight out of being cornered.
  6. Establish wind direction and move upwind of the bear so it can identify you as being human. They don’t go out of their way to eat us.

What To Do (Grizzly):

  1. Acting big and tough won’t work on this bad boy, so show it that you are being submissive and yielding to his place in the wild.
  2. Don’t run and don’t turn your back to him. 
  3. Avoid direct eye contact.
  4. You may find yourself in a bluff-charge scenario, but if it lowers its head and puts its ears back, get ready.
  5. Lie down on the ground, face down, cover your head and play dead. You may make it out alive, but if not, you’ll at least have had a spectacular death.
  6. If it continues to maul you while playing dead, it’s time to fight. At this point in the interaction, it has decided to move forward with the entrée portion of the evening.  Attack the eyes and nose with as much rage as possible.

If, after all of these encounters, you find yourself still breathing, congratulations! You have now proven yourself among those in the animal kingdom. By using these tactics, you can over time work your way into their social hierarchy and attack them back. This is how we take the woods back. 

Check out our podcast Skillset Live, for even more wilderness fun! Get in on the conversation on our social media pages or pick up a back issue at OutdoorGroupStore.com

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