Saturday, May 25, 2024

May 5, 2024 Colorado near Border with Wyoming, South of Dixon Black Bear, 9mm

 On Saturday, May 4th, 2024, in an oak brush patch near his house, Ethan Daubs surprised a large boar black bear. Ethan is 23 years old. The boar climbed a tree as Daubs drew his Ruger Security 9 from his military style holster. The bear was about seven yards away. Ethan yelled at the bruin and it took off across country at speed. Ethan considered the speed of the respectful bear as it retreated through the woods. He made a policy decision. In the future, if he heard strange noises in the brush, he would draw first, evaluating as events unfolded. As Ethan tells it:

"You are far more safer to just have to put the pistol away when it was nothing, compared to having trying to get it out in a matter of life and death."

On Sunday, May 5th, 2024 Ethan was near the northern border of Colorado. He  had left camp about 7 a.m. hunting shed antlers. A little after 11 a.m. he found himself about seven miles from camp, near the border of Wyoming, south of Dixon, Wyoming. He saw something he thought might be a shed antler across a creek, in a flat patch of sagebrush. He crossed the creek and climbed the far bank. The sagebrush was tall, over his head. He heard a bleat/bawl, which he thought might be an antelope fawn. Antelope were common in the area. Then he heard a grunt. He drew his pistol, and clicked off the safety, just in time to see a charging black bear emerging from the sagebrush 10 feet away. He was able to get his first shot off at five feet, aiming down on the charging bear. He is sure he made a solid hit. He fired a second shot as he dodged away from the bear. He is not so certain about the second shot. Then he was diving off the bank, jumping across the creek and back to where he had started the misadventure.

He called his parents. They were in church. As he talked to his father, the bear reappeared with two cubs of the year, about 60 yards away.  The sow wasn't happy. Ethan fired another round into the dirt near him. The sow shook her head and took a step toward him. He yelled at the bear.  His father, on the phone, said if she comes closer, just drop her. Then the sow backed off, became respectful, and retreated. On the way back to camp, Ethan saw her one more time, much further, moving away. She was moving her head in an odd manner, and favoring one leg.

When the Colorado Wildlife and Parks warden investigated, he found large quantities of bear scat a little further than Ethan had proceeded. He said it looked like a denning area.

Ethan's holster had a push-button type thumb break military style release. His Ruger Security 9 contained a 15 round magazine loaded with Magtech 115 grain full metal jacket (ball) cartridges.

Ethan's experience is considerably different from people in similar circumstances who say they did not have time to use a pistol.  In most of the cases this correspondent has studied, there is some sort of warning before the bear is extremely close. Consider U.S. Fish and Game worker Jess Coltharp's description of what happened just before he was mauled:

“I remember looking over my shoulder, and I was saying something to them when I kind of heard the bushes crashing, and that’s when I looked up and looked over toward [where] the sound was coming from,” he said. “I couldn’t even really see it all at first because the brush was pretty thick, but about 20 feet away … this bear comes charging out of the brush at full speed.”

Coltharp was unable to unsling his shotgun and chamber a round before the bear made contact. Coltharp appears to have had more warning than Ethan Daubs. Fortunately,  Coltharp's colleague was able to shoot the bear off of him.

Ethan was by himself, far from any other human. There is little excuse to avoid drawing a pistol when an attack seems possible under such circumstances.  A second or two of preparation may make all the difference in whether a person is able to successfully defend themselves.

©2024 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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