Todd Orr. 10/8/16
Update to Grizzly attack story on 10/1.
Why didn’t you shoot the bear?
1. I am a hunter and an outdoorsman and I do not shoot a bear just to kill it.
2. It is illegal to shoot a Grizzly bear unless you can prove you were defending your life.
3. I certainly wouldn’t care to shoot a sow with young, defenseless cubs that would likely not survive the winter without their mother, unless necessary to protect my life.
4. Bear spray has been proven to be more effective than a pistol at stopping a bear charge.
5. The quickness of the charge and uncommon behavior did not trigger the thought of using the gun before the bear spray.
6. Shooting a Grizzly charging at up to 40mph with a pistol and with accuracy is nearly impossible.
7. I carried a large, heavy, scoped handgun made for hunting and not an easy quick-draw, self defense type pistol.
8. Shooting a charging bear at close range while aiming through a handgun scope is nearly impossible.
When I first saw the Grizzly and her two cubs of the year, they were approximately 70-80 yards away, and ran immediately into the timber upon seeing me. I felt quite comfortable that the situation was over at that time, due to my experience with other bears and known typical behavior of a sow with cubs. She would likely continue west, putting distance between us. I planned to continue up the mountain moving eastward and away from her.
But suddenly she appeared without the cubs and about 20 yards closer to my left and was at a full charge from the trees. I pulled my bear spray out at that time, yelled a number of times so she was aware I was human, and slowly backed away.
Again it would be common behavior for a sow to retreat to her cubs, stop and smell for my scent, woof, snap her jaws, or change direction and run past me. Attacks are very rare.
A Grizzly can run up to 40mph. When I saw her charge from the trees, she was closer than before, so approximately 50-60 yards. At full speed, she could be on me in as little as just 3 seconds.
Bear spray has proven to be more affective than a pistol at stopping a charge, so my first instinct was to pull the bear spray. Unfortunately, she did not behave as 99% of bears in that situation do, and she continued her full charge attack. So I had about 3 seconds to notice the charge, pull bear spray from its holster, remove the safety clip, point and assess the situation.
No time for plan B and pull a heavy, long barreled and scoped hunting pistol from a shoulder holster, cock the hammer, locate her within the scope and somehow expect accurate hits on a charging bear.
The thought never crossed my mind to even make that attempt because I knew there just was no time to do so.
I used bear spray when I thought she was at about the max distance my spray would reach, and kept the trigger down until she burst through the fog and was literally on me. At that time I went to the ground and was protecting the back of my neck a face from the claws and teeth.
At no time during that first attack, did I feel comfortable exposing my neck or face or losing the position I was in, in order to attempt to pull the pistol, turn to face the attack and shoot. In my opinion, it would have certainly invited a frontal assault on my face throat and soft stomach area. Even reaching for the pistol would have exposed the back of my neck and spine, or reduced the stability of my position and possible allowed the bear to roll me over and gain a frontal assault.
During the entire attack, I used every ounce of strength and determination I had to keep my face down, hands and forearms protecting the back of my neck, elbows locked down protecting the sides of my face, and knees and legs tucked under me to lock along my elbows and protect from as many angles as possible with minimal exposure of my body. Only one bite on my right side along the ribs and just above my hip, rolled me to the side for a split second where I viewed the side of the bears face, but I was instantly back in my almost a “ball” position before she could get to me.
Then the first attack was over and she was gone…
Within a few seconds, I was on my feet and immediately headed down the trail, in the opposite direction of where I had last seen her cubs and where she charged from. I wanted nothing more than to put distance between us. I jogged for a few hundred yards and then alternated between a fast hike and a jog as the terrain would allow.
For some reason I really can’t explain, that was the only morning in my life that I had grabbed a second can of bear spray and hooked to my backpack before leaving the truck.
As a hiked, I shoved the 2/3 empty can into my pants pocket and grabbed the second full can to carry in my hand. I think it just made me feel better even though I was quite sure the bear was now headed in the opposite direction with her cubs and I would never cross paths with her again.
Five minutes later as I neared the first stream crossing, the second attack occurred. I was regularly glancing over my shoulder as I hiked and jogged, but I had no warning of the second attack. Likely a combination of the noise from the adjacent stream and the reduced hearing in my right ear didn’t help the situation. I heard something, turned and she was on me.
I don’t really remember if I fell to the ground or was knocked to the ground, or maybe a combination of the two. There was zero time to use bear spray or a pistol. I hit the ground on my face and immediately went to the defensive position to protect myself from the attack and biting, which was more intense than the first time. Her bites were deeper and would lift me off the ground when she pulled back, and then smashed me back into the dirt and squashed and almost hugged or pinned me. A very eerie and helpless feeling.
Then one more aggressive bite went deep into my forearm and I heard and felt the crunch of bone, tearing of tendons, and damaged nerves. My hand and fingers were completely useless. A claw ripping along the right side of my head also opened a 5″ gash to the skull, filling my eyes with blood. I could do nothing but hold my defensive position as still and quiet as possible and hope she got off my back and left. Again, I never considered turning to use bear spray or the pistol and expose myself to likely further and much more severe injuries.
A minute later, I was left alone and all was quiet. It was then I think, I feared a third attack would be the end of me and I would go out fighting. While still on the ground, I slowly reached under my chest to extract the pistol without making any sound or movement, in case she was still nearby and watching me. The holster and pistol were gone. They had been ripped off me during that second attack.
Desperate for that pistol, I wiped the blood from one eye, looked out under one arm and spotted the holster a few feet away. No bear in sight, I got to my knees pulled the pistol and cocked the hammer. If she had returned, I likely would have been shooting for my life.
Had I shot and only wounded the bear, would she have been more aggressive and attacked with more ferocity or for a longer period of time, doing more damage?
If she was shot and wounded, would her sounds have called the cubs in to us, now putting me in the position of her not leaving the attack scene?
Had I a do-over, I may have drawn both the pistol and the bear spray. However, with the speed at which the situation unfolded, the outcome may have been worse. Had I been lucky enough to get off a shot, it certainly may not have been lethal and could have led to a wounded and irate bear.
I am going to look into a lightweight, short barreled revolver in a 44mag, that will be accessible quickly from my hip. Although one more level of safety in a future incident, it still may not have made any difference in this situation.