U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- This is one of a series of detailed accounts of bear attacks found with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by AmmoLand. On September 7, 2010, a pair of archery hunters were stalking moose in a remote part of Wyoming near Pinedale. A large boar grizzly bear attacked them. 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. The gun belonged to the lead guide.
The gun was a Marlin lever action rifle chambered in .450 Marlin, sporting iron sights. The guide loaded the rifle with four rounds of ammunition. It is not clear if the guide carried any additional rounds. The lead guide reportedly 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 within 60 yards of the moose. The wind changed and the bull 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 worked their way through the dense cover, they passed near where the guide had seen the bear. They did not see the bear. 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 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, they call it “buck fever”. I can recall similar reactions after shooting my 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. 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 Pinedale, 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. The wardens investigated the area, took pictures, and performed a field assessment of the gunshot wounds. They found two bear daybeds 45 feet from where the attack took place.
Two cartridge cases were later recovered. It wasn’t clear if the third case was ejected from the rifle. All three shots hit the bear. 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 was with the horses. Given the speed of the encounter, it is unlikely a hunter would have been able to drop a bow and access bear spray from a fanny pack.
The hunters 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.
US Fish and Wildlife Service received a report of the incident. On September 27, 2010, Assistant US Attorney, Darrell L. Fun, sent a letter declining to prosecute. The hunters had not committed a crime. Fish & Wildlife Service in Wyoming received the letter. It is not clear when, if ever, the hunters and guides knew 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. 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.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.