For a lot of people, summertime means camping. I mean, I don’t really get it, voluntarily spending an entire weekend in the woods, with no access to online pornography and miles from the nearest friendly toilet. Frankly it all sounds a little too much like a Solzhenitsyn story to me. But, as the great shaman-prophet Sly Stone once said, different strokes for different folks.

So, besides the leeches and the ticks and those spiders that crawl into your ear while you sleep and lay eggs in your brain and then the eggs hatch four weeks later while you’re at your desk at work and you die right there in front of all your co-workers and you’re forever remembered for shitting your pants and unleashing a torrent of baby spiders from your nose, there’s also bears.

Bears will just straight up kill you like it’s their God-given duty, because it is. The scientific name for a grizzly bear is ursus arctos horribilis. No, seriously, that’s what it is. That’s Latin for “what in the golden fuck are you doing sleeping in a nylon sack in the forest?” There’s less between you and a bear’s mouth than there is between me and a microwave burrito.

Nevertheless, if you’re one of these insane idiots who insists on “getting back to nature” or whatever you call getting horsefly bites on your dick, there are steps you can take to ensure you don’t get mauled into a coma by a common bear, even if you really do kind of deserve it.

There are the preventative ones everyone knows, like store your food up really high in a tree, and don’t menstruate, but I’ve got a few more that can help if those fail you and you’re actually confronted by an angry bear because you didn’t put your food high up enough in the tree or went and bled out of your genitals too much.

And before you go asking how exactly I’m such an expert on the subject, I’ll tell you my qualifications. I’ve literally never been mauled to death by a bear. Not even once. I think that track record speaks for itself. So, remember these bear safety tips when you head out to the campground this weekend. Oh, and also remember to bring that extra canister of fuel for your Coleman stove. You don’t want to forget that.

Compliment the bear. Bears are nature’s most notorious binge/purgers. The bear spent the entire winter sleeping and lost a lot of weight. Now it’s out there getting fat on salmon and bugs and people and probably, like, I don’t know, grouses or whatever bears eat. Honey, I guess.

The bear’s weight is fluctuating wildly, and it likely has crippling self-esteem issues. Tell the bear it’s looking good. Even if it knows you’re just saying it to be polite, it will probably really appreciate the consideration. Don’t lay it on too thick, though. You don’t want the bear to think you’re hitting on it. You’re not trying to have sex with the bear.

Although, I mean, let things happen organically. If the bear’s into it, and if you are, why not gently move things forward into a bit of playful flirting? Maybe you will end up having sex with the bear. Make sure you’re both on the same page, though, and don’t lead the bear on. It deserves to know where you stand on this. It’s casual, just a summer fling, there’s no reason that anyone needs to get hurt come Labour Day.

Tell the bear a joke. Jokes are great icebreakers, and there’s a good chance that the whole reason the bear is rearing up, swiping its claws, and frothing spittle is because it’s a little awkward socially and not great at meeting new people. A good, short joke could be just the thing to diffuse the situation.

So, if you know a decent one, bust it out, make the bear chuckle, and you never know, you might end up making a friend. Try to keep it clean, though. There’s no bigger gaffe than delivering an off-colour punchline and being met with nervous titters, avoided eye-contact, and having your entrails scooped out in one lumbering swoop.

But a well-timed observational quip about modern day life in the forest could be the difference between you ending up as so much bear droppings the next day, and you headlining at the Shady Grove Watering Hole or the Comedy Cave. A lot of bears are in the business, and it’s just a matter of getting some exposure, so this horrific attack could end up being the serendipitous break you’ve been looking for.

I know this guy who a few years back was having the flesh of his neck and shoulders ripped to shreds relentlessly, then he started in on his bit about how polar bears talk like this and black bears talk like this. Well, turns out that bear was a big-time producer at Comedy Central, and long story short, my buddy has his first hour-long special coming out this fall. Most of his act is about being permanently quadriplegic due to a nightmarish bear attack, but you gotta find your voice, right?

Probably the best advice I can give is to just admit that you were wrong. Face it, if this bear is so angry at you that it wants to pop off your head like the cap of an internal organ-flavoured Jones soda, you probably did something. Even if you don’t know what.

Maybe you didn’t notice the new way it’s styled its fur. Maybe you got really drunk with your friends the night before and didn’t respond to the bear’s texts, even just to give it the courtesy of letting it know where you were and who you were with. Maybe the ever-encroaching progress of your species is threatening its natural habitat with alarming speed. Who knows. Who cares, really, all it’s looking for is an apology. Just tell it what it wants to hear.

That’s about all there is to it. It’s all pretty common sense stuff. If all else fails, just take a deep breath and be at peace with the fact that it’ll soon be over and you’ll always be remembered as someone who died doing what they loved; shitting in the woods.

Photo by Andrew_N via Flickr