Grizzly bears are the most important predator in North America, however they seldom pose a severe risk to outdoorsmen who’ve taken the correct precautions. In keeping with the Nationwide Park Service, historic information reveals that on common one particular person a yr dies from a grizzly assault, and for the reason that flip of century, grizzlies and black bears collectively have killed fewer than 50 individuals in North America. So, although deadly bear run-ins are uncommon, annually a handful of hunters come face-to-face with these mighty animals and are compelled to battle for survival—or just get fortunate and live on.
One such hunter was Richard Wesley, who late final month survived a black bear assault whereas turkey looking in Ontario. A video of the encounter, seen practically four million occasions, serves as a reminder of why bears shouldn’t be taken frivolously. Right here, we’ve collected six related tales from the F&S archives of hunters who narrowly escaped shut calls with bears, which solely additional illustrate why these nice creatures demand respect. —JR Sullivan, affiliate editor
A Impolite Awakening in Ram Nation
In October 2016, Stephen Vouch, 29, was attacked by a 275-pound black bear whereas on an Idaho sheep hunt.
I’ve hunted with my mates Bobby and Chris rather a lot over time, however this was our first time floating the West Fork of the Salmon River. It was day 14 of our journey, and we hadn’t seen a good-size ram but, so we have been nonetheless pushing it laborious. That day, we’d run some massive rapids, so we have been exhausted by the point we stopped on Sheep Creek.
We arrange camp and ate, then I crashed at 10:30. I used to be sleeping in a bivy sack subsequent to Bobby, with a tarp strung up over us. Effectively, at 2 a.m., one thing woke me—it felt as if I have been being pulled by the hair. The very first thing I did was seize the again of my head, which was all moist, after which I noticed this shadowy determine over me. With out realizing it, when the bear had bitten my cranium, I’d whacked him within the mouth out of reflex, which made him bounce and knock the tarp down on prime of us, with my head nonetheless proper between his entrance paws.
I yelled and began reaching for my pistol, however the bear had shoved it out of attain whereas rummaging round. However then Bobby wakened and noticed him standing over me and grabbed his Decide revolver. He lifted the tarp to see after which, sticking the gun proper above my head, shot the bear within the face from, like, a foot away.
After that, the bear ran up a tree above us, however I managed to seek out my rifle and put him down rapidly. There was blood all over the place. Bobby and Chris helped me clear the injuries and pores and skin the bear. Then we simply slept late the following day and saved on the lookout for sheep. It was one of many biggest adventures of my life, and additional instilled why it’s best to be sure the fellows you’re looking with know what they’re doing. This might’ve ended rather a lot worse than it did. —As advised to JR Sullivan
Caught Between a Grizzly and Her Cubs
Within the fall of 2010, Kim Wunderlich was bowhunting for elk in Montana’s Gravelly Mountains when a grizzly bear charged.
It was Sept. 17—my 49th birthday. I used to be bowhunting with my good friend John Wasser, and on at the present time we rode our ATVs about 5 miles from our camp earlier than strolling right into a drainage.
We may hear bugling on the ridgeline, and by late morning we would gotten on some bulls, however no pictures. It began getting scorching, so we determined to hike out. At round 1:30 we have been scaling a timbered hillside once we heard a department break above us. I regarded up and there have been two grizzly cubs, about 25 yards away, standing on their hind legs. I turned to John and mentioned, “Bear!”
Simply then, the sow got here at me at full velocity. I simply bear in mind seeing claws and her mouth. This wasn’t a rear-up assault; it was like getting hit by a automotive. Proper earlier than she barreled into me, I caught my longbow sideways in her mouth. As we tumbled down the hill, John was screaming, attempting to get the bear’s consideration. He thought she was going to kill me. This bear most likely weighed 5, 600 kilos.
After we got here to a cease 15 or 20 yards beneath, she bit me actually excessive up on the inside thighs. Then she launched me.
For a second I simply lay nonetheless. I did not transfer till I heard her woofing up the hill a methods. When John acquired to me, he was shocked to see that I used to be standing. My arrows have been all over the place. I may really feel blood operating down my legs, however I did not wish to have a look at them–fear would not enter in till what you are up in opposition to.
It was a few mile and a half to the ATVs, and we had about 1,000 vertical toes to climb. However from that time on my solely objective was to get out of there. We packed the injuries with gauze and went.
By the point we acquired to the hospital in Dillon it was eight:15 at night time. The physician mentioned the bear missed my femoral artery by 1 centimeter. Officers from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks took DNA samples from my pants due to one other bear assault within the space. To this point we’ve not heard the outcomes. —As advised to Tom Tiberio
An Empty Rifle and a Charging Bear
In October 2016, a grizzly bear attacked Rick Hollingsworth, 47, whereas he was looking elk in Alberta, Canada.
That morning, my cousin Rob and I have been headed out to hunt close to the Simonette River, however solely I had a rifle with me, since Rob didn’t have a big-game license on the time. We have been about half a mile from the truck once we seen contemporary wolf tracks within the snow. As we saved strolling, we noticed a spot by means of the woods the place crows have been scavenging on a useless animal.
I loaded my rifle as we slowly approached, considering we would encounter a wolf consuming the carcass. I heard this low calling sound, however a giant spruce was blocking my view, so I couldn’t see what was the reason for it. That’s when Rob yelled, “Grizzly!” The bear charged straight at him, and with no time to raise my gun, I fired from the hip and hit the bear’s shoulder.
As quickly as I shot, the grizzly turned and charged at me. I shot once more—from perhaps eight yards—however it simply saved coming. It swiped at me, spraying its personal blood all over the place, however I ducked out of the way in which. Once I shot the third time, the bear was not more than 2 toes away. Now we have been face-to-face, and my gun was empty. It swiped at me once more, however its arm was harm. That’s when the bear opened its mouth to chunk me—and I shoved my gun’s barrel proper down its throat. It chewed on the rifle for just a few seconds, however I had shocked it, I believe. It backed up 20 yards, giving me an opportunity to reload and fireplace a closing shot. Ultimately, the bear went off and died within the forest.
The entire occasion lasted simply 10 seconds or so, however it was probably the most scared I’ve been in my life. I simply tried to remain on my toes and stay as massive as potential. Grizzlies are lovely animals, and if there have been one other approach, I might’ve let it reside, however it didn’t give me an possibility. —As advised to Charlotte Carroll
Wounded Bear Mauls 80-12 months-Previous
In 2009, Orval Sanders, 83, was mauled by a black bear that was wounded throughout a hunt within the Tahoe Nationwide Forest.
A gaggle of my mates wished to get their first bear, so I introduced my Plott and Walker hounds to assist. Once they opened up and began operating, I knew they sniffed one thing massive.
We caught up with them 30 minutes later below a pin oak, the place they have been barking up three bears. My knees give me bother, and I wanted a relaxation. I knew that you just should never get below a treed bear, so I walked to an outdated deer path that I believed was a secure distance from the motion. In the meantime, my good friend shot and hit one of many bears. After one other shot, the bear all of the sudden jumped from the tree, cleared my mates, and bounded straight for me.
I attempted to tug myself up from the place I sat, however it was solely a second earlier than he was 6 toes away and rearing up on his hind legs. I threw up my arms to guard my face, and the bear latched onto my arms together with his enamel and claws. Then I heard a bang. My good friend Charlie had shot the bear within the head.
What occurred subsequent is a blur. I bear in mind blood operating to the ground of my good friend’s truck as he doubled the velocity restrict to the closest Forest Service station. Subsequent factor I knew I used to be in a helicopter, with tubes popping out of my arms. Then I fell into blackness.
I awoke two days later within the Sutter Roseville Medical Heart. The physician advised me that if I had arrived one hour later, I might have died. I had misplaced four pints of blood. The bear, which weighed virtually 300 kilos, had damaged my left arm in 4 locations. Even after remedy, my left thumb is partially paralyzed and a taking pictures ache comes and goes. It is a reminder of how highly effective these animals are. I used to be achieved for the season, however I am not achieved endlessly. I am simply going to observe the place I sit.
A Ravenous Grizzly Costs
On the afternoon of Sunday, August 2, 2009, one outdated, emaciated brown bear turned of nice private concern to Greg Brush. That is his story.
Brush, a veteran salmon fishing information from the city of Soldotna, was strolling his canines on a uncommon time off from work. On his hip was a big handgun, a Ruger chambered for the highly effective .454 Casull cartridge. Brown bears are a continuing presence in Brush’s neighborhood, and plenty of residents really feel the largely-unhunted animals have little worry of man.
Due to many bear-related incidents on this space, Brush at all times has brown bears on his thoughts, even when strolling a well-maintained highway. On simply such a highway, lower than 500 yards from his home, Brush stopped when he heard a twig snap behind him. Turning his head towards the sound, Brush noticed a monstrous brown bear charging towards him. “There was no warning,” he stresses. “Not one of the traditional teeth-popping or woofing, elevating up on hind legs, or bluff-charging that you just examine. Once I noticed him he was inside 15 yards, his head down and his ears pinned again. He was coming like a freight practice, in whole chase-mode.”
Brush instinctively back-pedaled to keep away from the cost, drawing the Ruger from its holster. “I fired from the hip as he closed the space,” Brush recollects. “I do know I missed the primary shot, however I clearly hit him after that. I consider I fired 4 or 5 pictures. “
Brush lastly fell on his again on the sting of the highway. Miraculously, the bear collapsed a mere 5 toes from his boot soles, leaving claw marks within the highway the place Brush had—solely seconds earlier than—been standing. The bear was moaning, his large head nonetheless shifting, as Brush aimed the Ruger to fireplace a ending shot. “By then my gun had jammed,” Greg says. “I frantically referred to as my spouse on my mobile phone and advised her to convey a rifle. When she arrived I completed the bear.”
Greg needed to file a Protection of Life or Property (DLP) report after the incident. Biologists decided that the bear, a boar that measured 9′ 6″ from nostril to tail (10′ 6″ from paw to paw), was between 15 and 20 years outdated and weighed between 900 and 1,000 pounds–and was underweight by an estimated 400 kilos. “His enamel have been simply worn out, and you possibly can see his ribs by means of his conceal,” Brush says. “Usually they’re consuming primarily salmon, moose calves, or carrion proper now as they placed on fats for the winter. This bear had grass in his molars, a certain signal he was ravenous to dying. He wouldn’t have survived the winter.”
Brush says the boar’s head was large and heavy. “He had many scars and wounds, indicating he might have been run off by different bears. Two biologists and two veteran bear guides have advised me that this was a predatory cost. There was no carcass close by that he was defending and, clearly, no cubs to guard. Had I not been in a position to kill him, he’d have killed and certain eaten me.”
Within the days following the assault, Brush has spent a variety of time “pondering many what-ifs,” he says. “I am simply so grateful that it wasn’t my spouse and/or women strolling down that highway [Greg and Sherri have two daughters, Kelsey and Kendra]. And there are such a lot of little issues. What if I hadn’t heard that twig? What if I would missed these pictures? I am not an exceedingly spiritual man, however somebody was watching over me that day. Simply getting that heavy Ruger out of the holster and fired in that time-frame is almost inconceivable. After the incident, I attempted to duplicate that taking pictures, and probably the most I may pull off was two pictures within the seconds it took for the assault to occur.”
Incidents like these show the problem of managing brown bear populations in areas just like the Kenai Peninsula. The Alaska Division of Fish & Sport says that some vital brown bear habitat is threatened by human encroachment from industrial, leisure and residential developments. Subsequently, they severely limit trying to find browns to assist maintain populations viable.
However such safety is coming at a price to the human residents of the Kenai. Whereas incidents as dramatic as Greg Brush’s are uncommon, human/bear encounters should not. Certainly, 31 DLP shootings have been reported in 2008 alone. “There are individuals who don’t take correct care of their rubbish and don’t respect bears, which I view as a wild and important image of Alaska,” Brush says. “They’re a part of the explanation I moved right here a few years in the past. However there we do take precautions, and do every part we will to present them their house. Sadly, bears right here have little worry of individuals. Once they scent or see a human, their response isn’t one in all worry, such as you see with bears in additional distant areas. Right here, many bears encounter individuals, and as a substitute of fleeing, they affiliate them with meals.—Scott Bestul
Lights, Digicam, Grizzly
Bear information Charles Allen led Cabela’s Clothes shop Journal host James Ladis and cameraman Kerry Seay on a grizzly hunt alongside Alaska’s Tsiu River, the group was charged by a bear. Allen tells the story:
We had noticed a superb boar and have been working inside vary. There have been heavy rain and winds of 25 to 30 knots, however Jim made an ideal coronary heart shot together with his .375 at 55 yards. The bear went down, acquired up, Jim shot once more, and it went down for good. “There’s two extra,” mentioned my assistant information, James Minifie. And 90 yards away was a really agitated sow and cub. The sow was bouncing up and down. She most likely could not make us out as people by means of the storm. I gathered everybody up and we started to maneuver away, off the rise we have been on. However she noticed us and instantly started charging. You possibly can see me on the movie, yelling “Hey bear!” and waving my arms. I hoped she’d determine me as human, as a result of these are hunted bears and customarily very cautious. However at that second, she locked onto my eyes in a approach no bear ever had. I knew she was coming, so I shouldered my .404. She was a blur arising that rise. There was little doubt in my thoughts that she was going to kill or significantly maim me after which work her approach by means of all 4 of us. I shot simply as she got here up on her hind legs to start her launch into me, and hit simply left of useless middle. That rolled her over backward, and he or she got here up dealing with the opposite approach. She was fairly damaged up. She solely made it 20 yards earlier than she died.
We marked it off, and I shot her at 12 toes. She had a 23-inch cranium and was about 9 toes squared. She was 15, which may be very outdated for a bear up right here.
That .404 is a pre-1964 Mannequin 70 in .375 that was necked as much as a .404. I am taking pictures 400-grain Sierra mushy factors—a variety of recoil. I used to be going to go away it up right here over the winter. However now I am taking it dwelling to observe. If you get a reminder like this that your life relies on your taking pictures, it type of motivates you. —As advised to Invoice Heavey
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