Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Alaska, Grizzly Bear, .44 Magnum, The Longest Minute


Doug White with Bear and .44 Magnum

On September 7th, 2006,  Alaskan moose hunters, Doug White and Reed Thompson, were working on packing out the meat and head from a successful moose hunt. They were attacked by a large grizzly bear. As the attack was in 2006, it did not get the coverage it would today. 

I found the account as I was searching for bear attacks where pistols had been used as a defensive measure. I vaguely remembered the incident. 

The bear moved from one hunter to the other during the attack, giving Doug the chance to access Reed's .44 magnum, that had been hung in a tree. Doug shot the bear and stopped the attack.

Because of intense interest from his family and friends, Doug wrote a detailed account of the attack and the aftermath. He includes several photographs. Here is an excerpt. From  thegreatwhitehunter.com:
When Reed distracted the bear from its attack on me, I had time to concentrate on the holster. I saw a buckle with a strap running through it. I could not figure out how it held the gun in place, so I grabbed the buckle and attempted to rip it off. To my surprise, the buckle was actually a snap and the strap peeled away. As I pulled the revolver out, a sudden calm came over me, and I knew everything would be fine. I looked in the direction of Reed only to once again see the bear charging at me. He was about ten feet away coming up and over the initial log that I had tripped over. That was when I pointed the revolver and fired at center mass. The .44 magnum boomed in the night and the boar fell straight down, his head three feet away from where I stood. As he fell, he bit at the ground and ended up with a mouthful of sod. I stood in a dumbfounded stupor. I had no expectation that the pistol would kill the bear. My hope was that the shot would sting the bear and help scare him away along with the flame and loud report. As his head sagged to the ground, I shot him three more times in quick succession, out of fear and anger.
While not stated in the account, one of the pictures indicates the first, crucial shot, was to the center of the bear's chest. It might have continued on to hit the spine, resulting in the instant collapse of the bear. 

The pistol, from the picture and account, appears to be a Ruger stainless single action .44 magnum. This attack makes  29 pistol defenses against bears that I have found. Only one of them ended in failure.

The account is worth reading for anyone interested in the dynamics of bear attacks and the effectiveness of pistols for defense against bears.

Link to the account of the attack, The Longest Day.


©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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