Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Grizzly Bear Attacks Three Bowhunters Armed with Pistols

Wind River Peak from wikipedia, Chiffre01, 1 August, 2010 CC BY-SA 4.0, Cropped and scaled by Dean Weingarten

On the East Fork of the Wind River, near Lander, Wyoming, three bow hunters were walking to their hunting grounds, bows in hand.  An old boar grizzly suddenly charged them from a few yards left of their approach.

The bow hunters had set up base camp the day before at the East Fork trail head. The next morning, they rode horses six miles up the trail, turned west and rode uphill until the terrain was too steep for the horses.  At about 7:30, they dismounted and continued up the steep slope of the trail on foot, in line. 

The three men had covered about 500 yards from the horses when it happened. They heard loud crashing noises above them to their front left. The lead hunter started to reach for an arrow, thinking it might be an elk. He saw the grizzly coming at them. He dropped the arrow and bow and drew his Taurus .45 1911 semi-auto. He yelled at the bear and started backing away. As the bear saw the two other hunters behind the lead, it momentarily paused, giving him time to rack the slide and chamber a round. The Taurus had eight rounds in its magazine.

The pause was momentary; not a full stop of the charge. The lead hunter was able to start shooting from a range of six feet. The grizzly grabbed the lead hunter by the left thigh and the hunter went down with the bear on top of him. 

As the bear closed with the lead hunter, the middle and last hunters had seen the bear, dropped their bows, and drawn their pistols, a .44 magnum and a 9mm. They started shooting. 

With the lead hunter down and the bear in his lap, he put the .45 against its head and shot his last rounds. The bear went limp. The lead hunter was able to crawl out from under the big bear.

Shortly afterward, the bear was seen to move, and the hunters fired two more rounds into the chest cavity from the side. The hunters estimated they had fired 19 cartridges at the bear; 8 rounds of .45, 6 rounds of .44 magnum, and about 4 rounds of 9mm.

The event occurred on 20 September, 2014. Detailed reports of the incident were discovered in a reply to a Freedom of Information Act (FOID) request about bear attacks. This correspondent has not discovered any detailed reporting in searches of public media on the Internet.

The hunters rode back to base camp. There, they were able to access a cell phone booster in a friend's truck. They made contact with Wyoming Game and Fish (WG&F).  The WG&F warden made arrangements to contact the men the next day, on September 21,  2014. 

Two WG&F wardens interviewed the three hunters and took statements.  They went to the attack scene and investigated. Everything they found collaborated what the hunters had told them. 

At the scene, they collected 12 cartridge cases, including 9mm, .45, and .44 magnum. They examined the bear, which was an old male with worn teeth. The age  of the bear was estimated at 17 years. The wardens found seven bullet wounds in the bear, five of which were from the front, and two of which were from the side. They recovered four bullets from the bear in three different calibers.

Each of the three hunters had hit the bear at least once.  They concluded the hunters has shot and killed the old boar grizzly in self defense. The grizzly had been feeding on white bark pine nuts a few yards off the trail.

The WG&F took the four bear paws and the bear head.

After the reports were filed the Special Agent for the US Fish and Wildlife Service met with the Assistant United State Attorney assigned to the case on 20 November, 2014. They determined the shooting of the grizzly was in self defense, and fell under the self defense exception in the law. It was recommended the case be declined for prosecution. 

On 3 December, 2014, the Special Agent received a letter of declination from the Wyoming United States Attorney's Office, determining the shooting was in self-defense, and thus not a violation of the law. The investigation was recommended to be closed.

The attack appears to have been unprovoked. There were no cubs. The bear started charging the hunters before they became aware it was in the vicinity. The attack started from only eight yards. The hunters were able to draw their pistols and direct effective fire in order to stop the attack.  While the bear had grabbed the lead hunter by the thigh, the combination of clothing, worn teeth, and quick shooting by the victim appears to have prevented the need for hospitalization. 

If their had been any penetration of the victims flesh, some medical treatment would have been necessary. None was mentioned in the FOIA report. All three hunters were interviewed a few hours after the attack. No mention was made of a trip to the hospital.

In the investigative documents, it was mentioned the incident had been posted on facebook, with pictures. This correspondent has been unable to find those posts. 

It is likely most defensive uses of pistols against bears are not reported in public media, especially if no hospitalization of people is required. Readers are encouraged to report any incidents of defensive uses of pistols against bears which are not recorded in the latest update of the database of known and documented incidents.  Send the information to to Dean Weingarten, via AmmoLand.

All incidents which can be documented are included, whether the defensive action was successful or not.

©2021 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch



Anonymous said...

Thanks for this story. It is fascinating to hear these stories. I am glad all three were armed but if I was in bear country I would be armed with nothing less than .44 magnum.

Anonymous said...

Until the pro gun culture understands there are no valid gun laws in this country there is little hope of destroying them. Too many people are ignorant of what the constitution says. The power of the constitution is that the constitution was ratified for the people to control the power of the government Not to give that government power over the people. There is a little book any one can buy it has the constitution printed in it and the bill of rights. It has various sections of the constitution labeled such as powers forbidden to Congress. Article one, section nine, Item Three No ex post facto laws shall be passed. Congress has NO authority to Amend the Constitution. The constitution was written to be enforced as written. We are a nation of laws not a nation of changing opinions. The Phrase " Shall not be infringed is an absolute legal command to congress There are only 26 words in the second amendment and Congress has no authority to construe those 26 words to mean any thing but what is physically written. The words a little control do not exist. Shall not be infringed means No control is permitted. There is no states rights, constitutionally to amend the federal constitution. in order to join the union all states must accept the federal constitution as the supreme law of this land If the U. S. Congress has no authority to amend the second amendment the state legislatures have no authority to amend the second amendment. Therefore "Shall Not Be Infringed also applies to the individual states. In summation, there are no federal or state laws that are valid because the Second Amendment has never been amended by a ratified amendment , ratified by the citizens. Arms are any thing an individual can carry to defend themselves their family, their property , others and our borders when necessary. there is no mention in these 26 words of race, gender or age. The constitution states any male between the ages of 18 and 45 are in the Militia if ever called up to serve. If you can be called up to serve in the militia at age 18 It would be good to know something about weapons. State laws 21? The supreme law of this land says 18!! Liberals and anti gun people think the Constitution is a document to be interpreted as they desire. The Constitution is a legal ratified document biding on the government it created. The oath of office requires upholding and enforcing the constitution not opinions of what they would like it to say. To pass infringing laws is a violation of their oath of office and an impeachable crime. The 1934 NFA, a little control cant hurt. Give a mouse a cookie and he will want a glass of milk. Now the mouse wants the refrigerator and everything in the kitchen cabinets. The revolutionary war was won with mostly home made firearms. the government had no arsenals to issue weapons from.

Anonymous said...

The Government created by the ratified Constitution never gave the citizens their rights we had those rights before the constitution existed the Bill of rights simply codified those rights in to law into constitutional law. none of those rights can be infringed by government without permission from the people . To change any thing in the constitution requires a ratified amendment of no less than 37 of the current states. there are no guaranteed rights that require a permit or registration. to exercise freely. any person in government must take the oath of office violating that oath of office is nn impeachable offense. The oath of office requires the oath taker to up hold and enforce the constitution as written or violate that oath and get impeached. there is no one in government that can not be impeached.

Anonymous said...

What most people fail to understand in todays world is that government agencies have the authority to make rules and regulation for the day to day function of that agency like things to be worn, dress codes , Black tie No hip boots and so on but they have no law making authority that is why we have a congress to make laws and define penalties for violating those laws. ATF, DOJ have no law making authority an opinion that this gun cant be that long or short or this stock is not permitted for what ever reason requires a law Sadly no laws constructed by some anti gunners opinion are or have the legal ability to be enforced I say sadly for the liberal idiots that think they have such authority. Congress can nor give any agency the authority to make laws.