Despite being the number one predators on the planet, without guns and our technology we humans are pretty useless when it comes to fighting off a wild animal. And despite how far-fetched it sounds, I can assure you that the reality is dire. Animal attacks are a frequent occurrence, and if you're spending any amount of time in the wild you need to use your common sense.
Many situations can be avoided if you have a healthy respect for the animals around you. You want to avoid drawing their attention. And the best way to do that is to keep a clean camp.
Food should be stored in bear-proof containers, and never stored inside your tent.
Store any garbage the same way, and take it with you for disposal once you leave.
Prepare, cook and eat your meals in a separate site, away from your campsite for the night.
And of course, it goes without saying that you should always have a way to defend yourself. I personally always carry my pepper spray with me, and if I'm camping somewhere truly remote you can bet I've got my rifle with me too, and a large hunting knife.
But when we start getting into the specifics, there's a few things to know about the animals you will encounter.
Surviving a bear attack
Again, the best way to avoid an attack is avoidance, so stay calm if you see a bear. If they approach you want to make your presence known, so stand tall, make loud noises and do not run. It'll trigger their chase instincts. Simply back away slowly, stopping if the bear decides to follow you. If you're charged it can be rather scary, but this is often a bluff. They want to figure out if you're a predator or prey. Run, and you'll be in big trouble. Stand your ground. You're really only going to be in trouble if you've surprised a bear, or they are protecting their cubs. When attacked, curl in a fetal position to protect your organs and play dead. They'll usually stop attacking once you're "dead."
Surviving an elk or bison attack
In national parks these animals can often far outnumber the people, and during certain times of the year, like mating season or in the spring with young calves, can pose a significant threat. Again, keep a safe distance from any herds, and do not approach any young calves. You may find yourself quickly coming face to face with the angry mother. My advice is to stay at least 100 feet away, just in case. But if you are attacked, your best bet is to run. Put as much distance between you as possible, as they aren't trying to eat you, they're simply annoyed at your presence. Climbing a tree can get you to safety, but if you're caught, curl in the fetal position and lie still until they leave you alone.
Surviving a mountain lion attack
Whilst mountain lion attacks are rare, it's a risk, especially if you're hiking with young children who are straying off by themselves. If your family is hiking in an area with a mountain lion population, always position your kids in between the two adults. The mountain lions are usually hunting at dawn and dusk and can attack if they're surprised. My advice is to make a lot of noise when you're hiking to drive them away and keep a close eye on any kids or pets in your party. If you're approached and the mountain lion isn't backing down, stand your ground and stand tall. Bending down to grab a stick or a rock can trigger their pounce instincts. If you're caught, fight back with everything you have. Many hikers have successfully fought off mountain lion attacks.
Surviving a moose attack
Of all the animals in this list, the moose is probably the most dangerous you will come across in the woods. In addition to being massive, they are incredibly territorial and will usually choose fight over flight. They can kick forward with their front feet, knocking an opponent down, before stomping and kicking with brutal effectiveness. My advice is to stay totally clear of any moose you encounter, especially a mother and calf. If the moose pins its ears back and starts stomping on the ground like it's preparing for an attack, run. A moose won't chase you like a mountain lion or a bear would, so use your speed to get out of sight, putting trees and other obstacles between the two of you. If you're caught, use a similar technique as a bear, using your arms and legs to protect your organs, and stay still until the moose leaves the area.
Surviving a wolf or coyote attack
These attacks are becoming more common, as they're cunning predators and humans are easy prey. Often, they'll stalk victims for hours, before sneaking in to take you down. Once you're on the ground, you'll be swarmed by the rest of the pack. In this situation you need to yell and scare the animals back. If it doesn't work I'd start shooting. They're carnivores and if you lose the fight there's little hope they will leave you alone. You need to win this one. So grab whatever you can to fight back.
It's a sad fact of life that animal attacks are getting more common, but as we spend more and more time in the outdoors it's important to know how to react when you're confronted with different types of animals. I always recommend having a way to defend yourself when you're camping or hiking, and don't be afraid to fight back. Sometimes that's your only choice.