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As both black bear and grizzly bear populations increase around the country, experts are predicting record bear attacks in 2011. Last month U.S. News and World Report reported that while fatal black bear attacks in the U.S. and Canada are still rare, they are on the rise. Also, with a growing grizzly bear population in the West and ever-shrinking wilderness areas, most bear experts expect to see a rise in grizzly attacks this summer and fall. With that ominous news in the background, we’ve ranked the 30 best Outdoor Life bear attack covers. The images and quotes from each story should serve as a not so subtle reminder that we’re not always on top of the food chain when we head into the wilderness. And while we always hope that our readers stay out of bear trouble, the fact of the matter is that the more time you spend in the outdoors, the higher your chances are for a bear encounter. So the next time you head into the woods remember these stories and stay out of trouble by following these bear safety tips.
#1 – This Happened to Me!
September 1963
“I turned to shoot but my safety was on. Before I could flick it off, he hit me. He knocked me flat, grabbed my leg, and sank his teeth into it. I tried to shoot him in the head, but held off for fear of hitting my leg.”
#2 – Creek Swamp Bear
November 1961
“He took his only chance, and gave us no warning. He came out of the opening with a mighty surge, heading straight at us.”
#3 – Bear Attack!
January 1980
“The bear came at me with no warning. Ears flattened, neck hairs stiffly erect, it growled fiercely as it charged, full bore right at me. I saw its flashing teeth as it came, and I knew in an instant it was a grizzly, although I’d never seen one in the wild before.”
#4 – Bear at Bay
March 1943
“No sooner had he started to climb than the dogs grabbed him by the legs and pulled him down in a shower of bark. The side of the mountain here was steep. Dogs and bear rolled together down the slope and into the river. The uproar was terrific.”
#5 – Of Terrible Courage
February 1956
“I’ve seen fear in grizzlies even as they’ve charged. But that doesn’t stop them. They quit when they die.”
#6 – Anything Can Happen
August 1968
“That’s the last time I’ll walk up to a bear just because it looks dead without chucking a rock first just to make sure.”
#7 – The Dog Who Forgot Fear
August 1976
“Alex dropped Rex’s leash and reached for his revolver. The bear came on at full speed to within seven yards and reared up on hind legs to tower over man and dog while moving forward. Rex launched himself at the bear’s throat before Alex’s gun was out of the holster.”
#8 – My God, I’ve Gotten Too Close
January 1978
“I broke the rules and now I was going to pay for it, I knew the grizzly wouldn’t stop his ravaging attack until I was dead.”
#9 – Bear Call
November 1980
“I stood up and waved my hat and yelled at the bear, but he kept on coming. Up until then he’d been silent, but now he began growling and popping his teeth. I was breaking out in a cold sweat by the time he was 30 yards away.”
#10 – A Grizzly Bear Hunted Me
September 1960
“I hope that some day a great-grandson of mine will be able to match wits with a grand animal that can fight back. He’ll experience the call and thrill of holding his life in his own hands, and he’ll learn something important about living.”
#11 – Hardest Way to Hunt Bears
February 1974
“A wild bear has great native intelligence and the bigger they get, the smarter they get. Once a black bear outsmarts a pack of dogs, he’ll never forget how.”
#12 – The Kodiak Bear War
August 1964
“It reared up on its hind legs to face him, surly and growling. Holding his flashlight in one hand and the rifle in the other, Tom slammed his one bullet into its middle, clearly hearing the plunk as it hit. The bear dropped to all fours and ran into the timber.”
#13 – The Giant Silver-Tip
April 1908
“We both took aim and at a given signal, the two reports ringing out as one. The bear straightened out, clawing blindly and viciously at an unseen foe; the great body retched out and quivered and then lay still – bruin’s life was ended.”
#14 – Too Many Bears
February 1957
“From a position about halfway across the flat they opened up simultaneously, and two of the bears went down. One stayed down but the other was up immediately and headed downhill toward them. Bill and Jay took a dim view of this and both fired again. The bear went down for keeps.”
#15 – Cinnamon Rodeo
January 1938
“Anyone who thinks bears are slow-moving should have seen him then. With flashing sweeps of his paws, he seemed to fill the air with flying dogs. Three were killed in less than that many seconds.”
#16 – This Happened to Me!
September 1959
“In a rage, the huge sow made for us. I maneuvered desperately to let my wife get away first. My horse panicked and almost threw me as the bear took a vicious swipe at him.”
#17 – Kill or be Killed
September 1962
“Eyes blazing, and swinging his great blocky head from side to side, he lunged from the brush with a low growl. A giant bear out of a long-past age, he was now the hunter, I the hunted.”
#18 – Old Wino’s Last Stand
August 1966
“The infuriated bear smashed dogs all around him. I was 25 feet away and I knew he’d charge, but I had to shoot.”
#19 – Bear To Be Thankful For
September 1967
“The bear didn’t move a muscle. He just kept his eyes riveted on me as though trying to figure out what I was. Or maybe he knew, and tried to stare me down. Except for his head and round ears, he looked like a low-slung black bull, and he was so big he stunned me.”
#20 – Old Ephraim Country
December 1967
“He had no gun, and when the silver-tip charged him with her mouth open, he shoved his binoculars down her throat.”
#21 – Dinner Bell Bears
January 1988
“When a rifle fires, these bears come running. They want venison, and they’re willing to kill for it.”
#22 – Staking Out the Sportsman’s Claims in Alaska
February 1931
“It looks that way now because the bears have long been taught that they are safe along these stretches in the summer. Start shooting at them and they would soon be as wild and as hard to see as they are in the spring and fall high up in the hills.”
#23 – How Your Guide Sees You
August 1973
“The sight of the bear lifting the cow was too much for my hunter. Moments went by before he recovered and got off a shot.”
#24 – The Black Bear as Fishermen
February 1973
“After about 40 yards of this futility, the bear paused for a moment, spotted another fish, and then lunged at it, biting the salmon behind its head.”
#25 – Grizzly Showdown
January 1975
“As Bob and the guide topped the ridge, the bear let out a blood-thinning bawl and came at them in an angry, headlong charge. A bear may look clumsy when he’s going about his everyday affairs, but once rage explodes in him, there is nothing clumsy about the way he moves.”
#26 – Bonus: 500-Pound Bear
January 1966
“He drove his best shot at the shoulder, but the bear whirled and ran as nothing had happened. The second shot pulled the bear over. He couldn’t get back on his feet, but he could still crawl and bawl and bellow, and he did all three.”
#27 – The Great Bear Men
November 1988
“Someone has now got within 60 or 90 feet of the bear, with his ears laid back, and his hair erect, with the dogs formed in a semicircle around him; the most courageous have approached within a few feet – when, with a bound or two he makes them all give back; and, having made the dogs stand back a little, he makes a stand, when he receives a shot; but the shot has not been fatal, and the bear starts off at the top of his speed, with the whole pack in hot pursuit.”
#28 – The Killing Ground
November 1978
“The caribou was on a gravel bar in the river, and the sow charged through the shallows, her cubs close behind. The bull had been wounded by wolves and seemed to know he couldn’t run from the bear. He fended off her charges, and when the bear got a neck hold, he forced her into the water. Then the bull fell on his side, and the bear went for his throat. The bone-crusher jaws severed the bull’s jugular vein, and the fight was over.”
#29 – Getting Along With Grizzlies
November 1969
“When a bear whose presence you were unaware of suddenly rushes at your from cover, that kind of charge is a traumatic experience, whether you are physically injured or not.”
#30 – A Bear that Wouldn’t Stay Down
November 1939
“Another bullet spanged into him and he dropped again, but he was up in a moment, eyes flashing and paws waving as he loudly roared his furious challenge.” VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE COVER IN THE COMMENTS SECTION

With bear attacks on the rise it’s time to take a look back at some of our best bear coverage. We rank the 30 best bear attack covers of all time.