United States –- (AmmoLand.com) – Information on this incident was found in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. This correspondent did not find any other media coverage.
The incident is confirmed by the investigation noted in the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team report for 2016, table 16, incident 201414. In the report, the sow bear was counted as probable mortality.
On September 9, 2014, an archery hunter was calling and stalking elk in Montana. He was in the Gallatin National Forest above Indian Creek near Shedhorn Ridge at dusk. The hunter was about three miles, as the crow flies, from their hunting camp. He was in the northwest quarter of Section 11, in Range 2E, Township 9S. It is a remote region. There is no cell phone coverage.
The hunter was on a high bench with a rock face on one side and a line of trees on the other. A prominent game trail led to the area.
The hunter spotted a male moose and approached. As he stalked, he heard a brush stroke. He came to a full draw with the bow and blew out his cow elk call a few times. He saw movement in the brush about 35 to 40 meters away. He blew the cow call once more. A bear emerged from the open brush and stood on its hind legs.
The bow hunter shouted at the bear. Instead of running, the bear got on all fours and charged the hunter. The bow hunter dropped his arrow at the charging bear, aiming for the chest when the bear approached within 20 yards. The arrow hit the bear on the skull, on the muzzle. The impact of the arrow caused the bear to veer sideways, then retreat.
The bow hunter had a defensive gun in its holster, with it a .40 caliber Taurus 24/7. He dropped the bow and drew the pistol, chambered a round, and fired about five shots at the injured bear as he ran away with a one-year-old cub from the previous year. The cub was estimated to weigh around 130-140 lbs. The hunter believed he heard bear sounds coming from what was probably a second yearling in the bush.
Within seconds, the sow charged out of the trees again, with a cub following her.
The bow hunter noticed that the arrow had been broken. He estimated that the arrow had penetrated about 3 inches.
As the bear charged at him for the second time, the bow hunter fired his .40 caliber Taurus, hitting the bear in the chest with the first shot, about 20-25 yards away.
This disrupted the charge as the bear spun in reaction to the shot. The hunter fired again as the bear spun. He thinks he hit the bear the second time.
The bear continued to move closer, as the bow hunter fired several more shots, emptying the Taurus’ magazine. He believed he had hit the bear 3 to 4 more times, with subsequent shots from 15 to 20 yards.
When he had emptied the magazine, the bear was still alive but stopped. As he retrieved his bow, to nick another arrow, the bear stood up and fled out of sight, over the hill.
The Taurus 24/7 .40 caliber has a standard magazine capacity of 15 rounds. As the hunter said he “chambered a round” he probably had 15 rounds or less in the magazine before he started firing. Information on the ammunition used was not included in the FOIA response.
On September 10, the attacked hunter was able to make a call with a satellite phone to report the bear attack and subsequent events to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP).
A Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks sergeant contacted the US Fish and Wildlife Service (F&W). A plan was made to travel to the area and investigate the September 14, 2014 incident. There was a group of four, two Montana FWP guards, the US F&W Service special agent, and a US agent. Forest Service. They traveled on horseback to reach the remote area. They were able to reach the hunting camp around 2 p.m.
When the hunter was questioned, officers learned that he had suffered several false accusations in different encounters in different areas.
He believed it was not a false accusation. He thought the bear might have mistaken him for a moose the first time he charged, but the second time it was in retaliation. He believed that the bear would kill him, or that he would succeed in killing the bear. He was sure the sow was a grizzly and weighed around 300 to 350 pounds. The arrow he had used was described as an Easton torch, fitted with a Ulmer edge hunting point.
The hunter described the area where the incident had occurred. The bear had emerged from a stand of small spruce trees about 16 to 18 feet tall. He didn’t believe a bear spray would have helped. He hunted alone, miles away from any help, without any functional communication device. He intended to spend the night in the hunting area. The area where the incident occurred was approximately 3 miles from the camp as the crow flies.
With the information they learned, officers decided not to search for the bear at the site of the incident. They decided it was too dangerous to do this, as they didn’t know if the sow had been killed. A large grizzly boar was known to be in the area and had recently been able to get rid of its radio tracking collar.
The combination of a possibly injured sow, two large cubs from the previous year and a large grizzly boar in the area made the investigative effort too dangerous to reach the scene of the incident .
They believed the dangers outweighed any advantage in doing so.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten was a peace officer, military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin pistol squad for four years, and was first certified to teach gun safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed porterage course for fifteen years until the goal of the Constitution Carry was met. He graduated in meteorology and mining engineering and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in military research, development, testing and evaluation.