My friend Igor and I were hunting south of Anaheim, BC, just off the Kappan Mountain Road. We were on a bush trail with our quads and headed toward Telegraph Creek (not the one on the Stikine River). I was ahead and about 600 yards off the main road when a swamp appeared on my left. Igor was well behind me as he had his dog with him and was going slower. I saw a trappers Marten box and decided to have a look and go for a walk up along the creek, give Igor a chance to catch up. As I walked in a hundred meters or so I had a strange feeling, as if something was there, or something watching me. I looked to my left and there was a large grizzly right in the creek. I stopped and started to walk backwards because if I had continued walking forward, it would have taken me even closer to the bear. Then two cubs appeared, jumping through the bush. I was between the cubs and the mother, I knew I was in trouble. She charged instantly and I brought up my .308 gun and pulled the trigger. It went ‘click’. Misfired, the cartridge was faulty.
I tried to hit her with the gun but she hit me like a body check and the gun and I both went flying. As I lay on the ground she swatted and bit my legs. It was like a cycle – I would kick at her and she would stomp then swat my legs and bite and I would kick at her again. She was working her way up to my belly. At least six times she bit my legs. They were bleeding and I was losing energy and pretty soon could not kick back at all. I curled to protect my innards and then she began to bite my head.
It seemed like shutter speed, slow motion. It happened so fast, yet time seemed to slow down. I could hear teeth grinding on my skull. This is how I die, I thought at first, then no way, its to soon too die, not the time to feel sorry for myself. The bear’s stink was obvious, a musky smell and a hot rotten breath.
At that point I knew I had to fight, full on fight mode. I am over six feet and in good shape. I began punching the bear in the face, not thinking about it but with adrenaline, tons of adrenaline, just driving my fists into the bear. Hitting the bears shoulders and head and missing its head as it avoided my punches. I don’t know if driving my fists hard into the bear caused it, but I tore my shoulders rotator cuff and still now have difficulty raising my arm.
The bear constantly bit and chewed my right side until it was all chewed up, but I kept pushing my legs forward and managed to worm a short distance in between three pine trees. Because it was a big bear, I guess about eight feet tall when it stood on its hind legs, its shoulders could not squeeze between the tree trunks. I was able to get my self up to a standing position and she kept going around the three trees trying to bite and swat me with her paws between the tree trunks. I moved around and around trying to avoid her. I had no energy left, knew I was about done. Then she suddenly became concerned about where her cubs were, and she turned and walked off a short distance. I saw my gun on the ground about ten feet away and made for it and got it in my hands. She turned and came at me again but this time I had a good round in the chamber and I shot from the hip and hit her in the shoulder, then shot her again in the head. Lucky for me the two-year old’s were not in sight.
I was able to make my way back to the quad in time to meet Igor and we were able to make the first aid center at Anaheim Lake where I was flown to a hospital. The whole attack took maybe ten minutes. I had bites right through my muscle, still have holes in my muscle. 48 staples were used to stitch up my head. I did go through a couple bad nightmares, punching at my partner while dreaming!
I know that I am lucky to be alive. I believe that if I had not got between the sow and her cubs she likely would have walked off. If I had made more noise while walking in the woods I feel she would likely have just moved off with her cubs. I still spend a lot of time in the woods running and hiking and hunting.
Andrew Thomps, Bella Coola, B.C.