Thursday, October 14, 2021

Grizzly Attack on Moose Hunters Found with FOIA Request


This is one of a series of detailed accounts of bear attacks found with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by AmmoLand. The author believes this is the first publication of this account.

On September 7, 2010 a pair of out of state archery hunters were stalking moose in a remote part of Wyoming out of Pinedale. The area is known as Horse Creek. They were attacked by a large boar grizzly bear. Fortunately, they were able to shoot the bear and stop the attack.

In the morning, one of their guides had been scouting the area. He had seen two bull moose and what he thought was a large black bear. When he told the hunters about the moose and the bear, the guide mentioned he had a black bear tag. He asked the archery hunters if they would mind him taking a gun along in case they saw a black bear to be harvested. The gun belonged to the lead guide.

The gun was a Marlin lever action rifle chambered in .450 Marlin, sporting iron sights. It was loaded with four rounds of ammunition. It is not clear if the guide carried any additional rounds. It was reported the lead guide took the rifle from a saddle scabbard and handed it to the guide.

The hunters were able to spot two moose, one of which was a bull. They proceeded to stalk the bull. They stalked to withing 60 yards, but the wind changed, the bull winded them, and walked away through the burned out timber. They decided to go back to the horses to see if they could get downwind of the moose for another try.  It was about 2 p.m.

As they cautiously worked their way through the dense cover, they passed near where the guide had seen the bear. They did not see the bear. Suddenly, the guide heard a roar and turned to see a bear charging from his left, very fast and very close. From the report: 

I hear a big roar. As I looked I saw a bear charging, he was coming very fast and was very close.  I acted all on instinct and knew I only had 1 chance. I shouldered my rifle and shot at the bear which was way close, probably 10 feet. My bullet hit him and he sorta rolled but was still clearly alive and moving so I shot again. I had backed up 3 to 4 steps and he was still wanting to get up so I placed my shot in the neck.

The lead guide reported he was shouting "Hit him again!" after the first shot, then "Hit him again! after the second shot.  The attack was stopped.

The adrenaline aftermath set in. The guide who shot had kept his calm as the attack occurred. Shortly after, he felt nauseous; his legs started to shake so much, he had to sit down. 

Many hunters have experienced variations of this. In Wisconsin, it is called "buck fever". This correspondent recalls similar reactions after shooting his first buck.

When they saw the dead bear, they discovered it was a grizzly. This immediately changed their plans. The lead guide, who owned the rifle, told everyone not to touch anything. He told them not to even take a picture. (This correspondent believes taking pictures is a good idea, to preserve evidence) They left the area to return to where they had cell phone coverage. They reported the incident to the Wyoming Game and Fish office in Pindale, Wyoming. The Game and Fish officer was able to receive the report less than two hours after the attack.

The next day two wardens came out to investigate the incident. They accompanied the lead guide back to the location of the attack. They investigated the area, took pictures, and performed a field assessment of the gunshot wounds. They found two bear day-beds 45 feet from where the men were attacked. 


Two cartridge cases were recovered. It wasn't clear if the third case had been ejected. The bear had been hit with all three shots. The first shot hit the bear in the back over the top of the head, about two inches right side of the spine. The second shot hit the bear in the middle, about six inches down from the spine. The third shot hit the bear in the neck, from the side. The bear was in good condition with about three inches of fat over the rump.

The wardens interviewed the hunters separately. One of the hunters had bear spray in a fanny pack. The fanny pack had been left with the horses. 

Given the speed of the encounter, it was unlikely a hunter would have been able to drop a bow and access bear spray from a fanny pack in time to be of use. 

The hunters all agreed to give written statements to the wardens for their investigation.

The physical evidence and the written statements were consistent with the verbal account. The wardens secured the bear head and four paws as evidence.

A report of the incident was forwarded to the the US Fish and Wildlife service.

On September 27, 2010, a letter of declination to prosecute was signed by the Assistant United States Attorney, Darrell L. Fun, because  no crime had been committed. The letter was sent to the Fish & Wildlife Service in Lander, Wyoming. 

It is not clear when, if ever, the hunters and guides were informed of the decision.

Both guides noted it was fortunate they had decided to take the rifle with them.

This points out the advantage of a pistol over a rifle. Pistols are designed to be worn on the person. A pistol you have with you is far superior to a rifle left in a scabbard.

Pistols can be very effective in such scenarios as this. It is a very similar attack to what happened in Alaska in 2018, when Jimmy Cox stopped a charging grizzly with a 10mm Glock at 10 feet.

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

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