You know something that's way bigger than you? A mammoth.
A mammoth, that's what. In this day and age, "mammoth" is an adjective for something really big. But thousands of years ago, "mammoth" meant a 2-story tall, 8-ton elephant covered with shag. It was basically a mammalian truck. Common knowledge understands that mammoths died out back when your grandpa was doing his thing - before that even. But did they really? No one knows for certain. And unless you want to be caught with your britches down in a mammoth invasion, you should have a Mammoth Survival Plan.
So. What are mammoths? How do you know you're looking at one? Couple of clues: mammoths are like elephants, but with smaller ears. Other differences: Their bodies are significantly larger and heavier, their tusks are longer and curvier, and they have long, shaggy fur. Though we have never encountered a live one, evidence suggests that mammoths move in herds, are very territorial, and tend to be pretty standoffish. That means they don't get along well with people, even your grandpa.
There are literally millions of places on the planet that mammoths could be hiding completely obscured from humanity. We haven't seen any for a few thousand years so we've concluded that they're gone. But Rome wasn't built in a day (whatever that means). Mammoths could very well have just gone into hiding up in the arctic, where they've been breeding like rodents. Let us consider:
As the population expands, the herds will need more space to grow. They will gradually take over larger and larger tracts of land, starting in Canada or Russia. Some natural barrier will be holding them back (and keeping us from finding them) until one day, without warning, the pressure of expansion becomes too much and they explode across the barrier into human territory.
Deep in a mammoth's psyche is the understanding that land, once occupied, must be fought for. This means clearing out pests and predators in the area. Mammoths will attack and destroy human settlements in their new territory; and such an invasion would be totally unprecedented and unanticipated.
Thousands of environmentalists and scientists would strongly urge against fighting the mammoths. Many would even seek to be human shields (dying in the process). Police would seek to respond but are ill-equipped for facing hundreds of crazed charging mammoths that can crush their cars with one stomp. It takes a lot to bring down a mammoth. Small arms fire is not enough; flash bangs and gas will only make it more angry.
Military Police will be dispatched onto the scene, but instead of using the most effective possible measures, they will try to subdue the animals in humane ways. Elephant tranquilizers and traps will be too few and too small; the MPs will be overwhelmed, and in the face of billions of dollars in damage and thousands of lives lost, the honest-to-goodness military will move in. Mammoths will charge at what ails them and are hard to stop when they start. This means safe ways of fighting them involve air-to-ground weapons and evasive ground maneuvers (which is a military term for driving away as fast as you can, firing your machine gun backwards and screaming like a maniac). After extensive damage and a protracted search-and-destroy campaign covering much of the continent, the mammoths will be contained.
So, mammoths don't necessarily threaten your way of life. They won't end life on the planet. But what do you do to keep from getting stepped on?
First: consider the chances of a mammoth return in your area. If you live in Baja, you have nothing to fear (of mammoths - but don't worry, there are plenty of other things to keep you awake at night). If you live in the Northwest Territories, you're definitely in danger. If you live in the Ural Mountains, you've probably already seen a mammoth and you're not telling anyone about it.
You sneaky devil.
Having assessed the threat level, you can determine how much time you'll have to react to a mammoth invasion. If you're in the forefront - with little or no warning - your plan should be very simple. Find a way to get out and stay out until the military gives you the go ahead to come back. Don't go back to your house for your photo album or your lucky blanket or to turn the stove off - go.
If you have a limited amount of time to prepare (less than 24 hours), go to your home or the home of a fellow survivor, form a party, build a few survival kits (you should have these lying around anyway in case of zombies, biochemical attacks, and vise versa), then boogie. Make a goal of putting as much distance as possible between you and the mammoths. Don't stop at what looks like a safe place - just go. Minimum safe distance is one hundred miles. You'll probably pass a police/military barrier or two on your way; don't allow that to increase your sense of safety. Just go already.
If you have a healthy amount of time to prepare (more than 24 hours), form a survival party and standby; keep an eye on the news and be ready to evacuate. You may not have to leave - awesome!
Of course, all the planning in the world won't guarantee that you won't be forced to fight a mammoth. If you are, your options aren't that great.
This next section may get a little unpleasant.
If you have a gun, use it. A .45 or thicker rifle round behind an ear or 4 inches above the eyeline should stop a mammoth cold, but you're safer using a bona-fide Elephant Gun. Popular with big game hunters is Nitro Express (so named because it used to be powered with nitroglycerin - cool!). Lots of great choices there; you want a gun with the maximum possible impact.
If you want to go "all the way" in preparing for the return of the mammoths you've got two solid options:
The legal one: the CZ550 from American Hunting Rifles. This beauty - sometimes referred to as the Dinosaur Rifle - puts a massive hole in anything it shoots at. Be sure you're trained to use this weapon, as discharging it incorrectly can knock you flat on your back, break a few bones, and deafen you permanently. Remember that mammoths are larger than any big game known to modern man, and this calls for extraordinary measures. Look into the .600 overkill - a cartridge that can penetrate six feet of solid oak. Downside -it feels like holding a cannon.
The illegal one: Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs) are convenient, reasonably portable, highly effective, and fully biodegradable. They were originally designed for use against tanks and light vehicles but are perfectly respectable against mammoths. Attaining an RPG can be tricky, and for legal reasons, we can't really tell you how to do it.
We can tell you how to use it, however. Good news: firing an RPG is so easy, even a terrorist can do it. All you do is rest it on your dominant shoulder (if you're right handed, put it on your right shoulder) and hold the handle/trigger with the corresponding hand. Use your other hand to steady yourself. Before firing, you may want to cup your other hand over the barrel directly above your firing hand.
To aim, peer down the barrel. There should be iron sights at the very end. Line the sights up so the mammoth is between them. Then squeeze the trigger. The rocket will fire, and the rest is easy.
Safety guidelines: do not fire at a target less than 60 feet away (that's about two RV lengths). Make sure the area behind you is completely clear, as rocket exhaust will shoot back behind you about 3-5 feet. Do not fire this weapon up, as the exhaust will bounce off the ground and burn you. Do not fire with your back to a wall. Do not fire in a crowd of screaming people.
Oh, and for the record, none of that is from experience, and F definitely didn't accidentally burn down half a national forest playing with the RPG he bought on eBay. Just so we're clear on that.
If you don't have a gun, your options are significantly more limited. Everything you learned about killing mammoths in the 10,000 BC movie is wrong. Forget 10,000 BC. Your chances of killing a mammoth by penetrating the heart are a million to one. You could try to stab the mammoth in the eye - but not while it is charging. If you get close enough to stab a charging mammoth the purpose has been defeated.
Consider these two tactics popular with Africans, who have to deal with mammoth's smaller cousins. First, you could dig pits with sharp spikes at the bottom. Downsides: this will only stop one mammoth, at which point the rest will just charge over the corpse and keep going. Also, it's extremely time consuming and not very mobile. Another option: slash their hamstrings with machetes, then start stabbing. This method is very messy and risky.
Your best bet may be to do it with your bare hands: sneak up on the mammoth while it's sleeping and stuff its trunk down its throat, suffocating it. This really does work, folks. We are not making this up.
We think it's pretty obvious by now that even if you've got heavy weaponry, your best chance of survival is putting distance between you and the mammoth herds. This really shouldn't be that hard to do if you're alert and prepared, so be alert and prepared already. Remember: it takes 15 minutes of Mammoth Survival Planning to prevent a lifetime of heartache.
Of course, there may be other creatures hidden away in unexplored regions - zombies for instance. But if zombies break loose, well ... you know what to do.