Monday, November 14, 2022

Black Bear Attack in Alaska Park Stopped with .40 Smith & Wesson Pistol

The bear who attacked the Bates family was a sow about 20 years old, estimated at 350 lbs. It was starving, with nothing in the stomach but parasites.

The attack occurred as the Bates family, Weatherly Bates, her husband, their 12-year-old son, Rockwell, their 10-year-old daughter Vera, and two family dogs, on leashes, were hiking on the Glacier Moraine Trail in Kachemak Bay State park.

Weatherly Bates had a .40 caliber S&W in her backpack.

The bear came at them, at about 3 p.m., on October 12, 2020,  even though they yelled at it and bunched together.

Weatherly Bates explains what happened:

"It did attack. It was a predatory bear.

That year we had a lot of problems. The bears were starving. There was, like, no berries.

We were hiking and we noticed there was a bear spray cap on the ground.

A couple of minutes later a bear came up behind us. 

I tried to yell and scare it away, but it kept coming. 

I did have a gun in my backpack, so I started backing up to my husband.

Weatherly's husband accessed the pistol from her back pack.

Weatherly continues:

I could tell this bear wasn't stopping. 

Our dog got in between the bear and our son. She didn't even bark at it.

It tackled her and started biting her head. 

We let our other dog go, he was on a leash. 

He started biting the bear. We think that is what saved our female German Shepard.

My husband had to grab the bear and get it so he could dispatch it without shooting our dog.

He shot it point blank in the spine. It took two shots before it let go.

Then he shot it about five more times."

Weatherly said about two weeks previously, a biologist had been waking in the park with her dogs. She had pepper sprayed the bear at that time.

Weatherly said:  "When we put it down, it smelled like heavy pepper spray. " 

Weatherly said it was the same bear which attacked them. Its head was down, its eyes locked on them.

The bear was a 20 year old sow full of parasites. She was starving, and had worn teeth.


The old sow's teeth were worn, but capable of inflicting deadly damage.

Weatherly said the attack happened fairly quickly. The bear came on at a brisk walk, not a charge. Her husband bruised his shins as he fought with the bear to move it, so he could shoot, without endangering their dog, Sally.

Her son, 12 year old Rockwell Bates, had a .22 rifle for hunting spruce grouse.

The bear was killed before Rockwell could bring the rifle into play, which would have required a precise shot.

This shows another advantage of a handgun for defense; it is easy to maneuver in close quarters, with one hand.

The pistol used in this case was a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson model SW40F, loaded with Federal hollowpoint ammunition.

Weatherly believes if they had holstered pistols when the attack occurred, they could have prevented the damage to their dog.

Weatherly says the family does a lot of hiking. They now carry a 12 gauge, and pistols in chest holsters.

Weatherly now carries a Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol in a chest holster.

The bear was reported to the authorities and a Defense of Life and Property (DLP) form was filled out.

The Bates family obtained the help of friends to remove the bear from the park.

Weatherly believed the bear was desperate for food. She said dozens of bears had come into Halibut Cove searching for food because of the failed berry crop, and wildfires, in 2020. She reported many other bears were shot and killed in their community.

Sally, the German Shepherd, had puncture wounds, and had to get massive amounts of antibiotics, but she recovered.

Weatherly was kind enough to give this correspondent leads on another couple of bear attacks in the area, which were stopped with pistol fire.

It remains to be seen if those attacks can be documented.

The attack on was also covered by as reported on October 15, 2020.

©2022 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch


Anonymous said...

That is why many cops stopped using the 9mm. the .40 caliber has better stopping power, larger slower bullet. the 9mm was too fast great penetration but they were shooting each other in a cross fire the 9 simply passed through like a high seed drill bit nice round hole with no stopping power. Like an arrow fired from a 50 pound pull bow will pass through both sides of most body armor. They recently posted an article on what is the best pistol round for taking deer. Last I heard you had to use any center fire cartridge but they were showing a .22 magnum pistol in the article. A guy was killed near Kingman many years ago and all they saw on his chest was what looked like a pink freckle when they turned the body over there was a hole big enough to put a soft ball in that pink freckle was the entry wound of a .22 mag. Several different slugs for the .22 mag full metal jacket half jacket hollow point and all lead Now they have a .177 round that has an explosive tip. supposed to be great for varmints. If you like to explode varmints.

Anonymous said...

Of course ever round depends on the actual bullet slug One kind will pass through and the other will create the stopping power as it flattens out. It really depends on the alloy in the slug. the harder the slug the more wear on the barrel. as the barrel wears out the accuracy deteriorates. I used to be able to put two bullets in the same hole on the target at 25 meters. But that was over 50 years ago. same gun and I'm I still fairly accurate. We nobody wants to be my target any way. The army issued me an expert rifle medal. But I was an expert before I got drafted.