The three greatest fibs that we're told as children are as follows: "This shot will only feel like a pinch"; "This hurts you more than it hurts me"; and "The animals are more afraid of you than you are of them." That last one always struck me as disingenuous because it cannot be true unless it makes certain assumptions about our level of fear. It's extremely common--normal, even—for people to have phobias about the critters we find outdoors that are out of proportion to the actual threat level. However, unlike the first two fibs we tell children, "the animals are more afraid of you than you are of them" can and should be true. Here's why:
Human Beings are Metal
If you've spent much time in the outdoors hunting or just observing wildlife, you've garnered a healthy respect for those animals. It's easy to be intimidated by a critter that can run about three times faster than you, leap 30 feet in a single bound, or charge through heavy brush like a hot knife through butter. But, as a species, we humans made it to the top of the food chain for a very good reason, and our intelligence and opposable thumbs are only part of it.
One of the most ancient hunting techniques is called "persistence hunting" or "endurance hunting," and we're good at it. If you've ever seen the movie "The Terminator," then that's the image you should have in mind when we talk about endurance hunting. Essentially, the hunter chases his or her four-legged prey on foot, running at times and walking at others. The point of this isn't really to "catch" the animal—we're much too slow for that--but to wear it out. Fast-running critters can't sustain those speeds for long; they must rest. The persistence hunter "wins" this contest by refusing to do so. Instead, the endurance hunter just keeps following the signs of the animal over a period of hours, driving it up from its rest until the animal is exhausted and unable to run anymore.
When you venture out into the backwoods, remember that this is your heritage, too.
You Smell Terrible and Taste Worse
Don't get me wrong; you smell just fine to me, but as far as the animals are concerned, we're somewhere between lutefisk and durian fruit. Most of the North American animals that are potentially dangerous--canids like wolves and coyotes, mountain lions, black and grizzly bears, even some wild hogs--have exquisitely acute senses of smell. And what do they smell when they smell you? A piquant mix of hydrocarbons, plastics and the unmistakeable aroma of a meat-eater. It comes out in your sweat and your breath, and avid hunters will do everything in their power to hide that smell.
As far as "tasting bad," there is a prevailing theory that about why human beings are not and have never been at the top of any predator's menu...and it's that we taste bad. As far as the evidence goes, that's a difficult thing to prove ethically (I certainly am not volunteering any of my flesh for an experiment), but there are some indications that it's true. But whether or not that theory is correct, know one thing for certain: There is only one animal in North America that views you as a prey animal, and that's the polar bear. So if you're south of the Arctic Circle, you can confidently assume that nothing you'll encounter wants to—or even can—eat you.
You Have the Tools to Prevail
The final and most important reason an NRA Woman should never fear the wilderness is that you have the tools, skills and judgement to prevail. With planning and forethought, you can prepare yourself for any expedition and any eventuality with a few simple tools and the training to use them. Legally carrying a firearm while on your wilderness adventure is chief among those tools, and you can get started with everything you need to know to safely and effectively use that firearm right now.
All of the above may or may not mean anything when you've just rounded a corner on a trail only to be greeted by a sow bear and her cubs, or a giant rattler unfurling itself through the grass. Feeling fear at that moment is normal and natural, but there's another feeling that should outweigh it at all times. That feeling is best encapsulated in the following quote from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series: "[She] ought never to be frightened in the darkest forest, because she should be sure in her soul that the most terrifying thing in the forest was her."