Ron Niziolek's Link
This is what elk hunting northwest Wyoming is like.
A couple quick notes: I carry a Glock 10 mm in a holster on my pack. I also carry bear spray and wear it on my belt if I drop my pack I still have a form of protection. After this I will be experimenting with other options to keep the pistol with me 100% of the time.
On September 25, while closing the final distance on a bull, I dropped my pack, and nephew, Sam, and I continued on. We crossed a creek and while climbing to a clearing, spotted a grizzly in the creek we just crossed. We kept an eye on it, and were finishing the stalk when all of a sudden the bear spooked, crashing away through down timber. When we reached the clearing, the elk were already leaving. We guessed it was from the commotion the bear made. We moved into the clearing and while standing there discussing our next move, Sam noticed another griz 55 yards away in the same clearing. The large bear was digging and grubbing and we were unable to get his attention. As the video shows, when Sam finally threw a log towards the bear at 40 yards, he finally heard it, and us, but immediately charged.
The video briefly shows the beginning and end of the charge. I wish it showed it all. Bear sprays were already in our hands. The video goes wonky at the start because I dropped that hand to make sure my safety came off. Usually I do it with one hand but I had a little time and wanted to be damn sure it came off. We waited as he quickly closed the distance. It was not a bluff charge like they sometimes do. It was serious. When you’ve experienced some, you just know the difference!
As he quickly got to around 15 yards, Sam stepped up maybe a half step so we were even with each other. Maybe that’s the reason the griz changed direction or maybe it’s because we were yelling at him but that’s when he angled slightly to the side and passed us at about 8 yards. We never sprayed but both were putting pressure on the trigger. Don’t quite know why other than the breeze was swirling and I knew we’d take some spray as well. For me, even though his momentum might have mowed us down, I wanted him to really take the majority of it in the face!
So the final analysis is: although the encounter resolved itself, had my pistol been available, the bear would have been shot. No question. Unless killed outright, he then would have focused on us more intently, possibly causing us injury or death.
I’m not looking for any advice but realize I’ll get it anyway. Lol. I’m content with how it played out. I just wanted to share the story and lousy video so it might possibly help others think in advance about what they’d do. Think about different scenarios and practice getting pistol, rifle or spray into action. Most encounters happen way closer and faster than this one from 40 yards.
We’ve been asked why we didn’t just leave instead of trying so hard to get his attention. Valid question! At the time we thought getting his attention was our best bet. There was a huge mess of blowdown at our back and either leaving or proceeding after the elk would require us to turn our backs on him. Not an option for us. It’s nasty there and you really have to pay attention where you’re stepping. I’ve also had decent luck getting other bears attention and having them leave, either spooked or just walking off.
Edit: One more thing. Fight or Flight - Make sure you have a hunting partner without a "flight" instinct. You want the "fight" instinct. Discuss it ahead of time. An encounter or charge like this is not the time to find out your buddy doesn't have your back. Sam and I have been through these scenarios before and know without doubt that we have each others back.
Thanks for sharing.
IF I ever hunt Griz Country...I plan on spending the better part of the Year preparing myself for such an encounter.
Don't know how you hunt around those bastards solo all the time! Glad you guys came away unscathed!
Glad you guys were both unscathed.
Thanks for sharing.
We need a Griz season that’s for sure.
I like to talk a pretty big game, but filming it and being preppered like that I'm not so sure I could do. The only charge I've had, I thought about filming, but pulled the pistol. Jacking in a round stopped him dead in his tracks and he bolted. I carry with hard cast in the pipe at all times now-a-days. Definitely going to be practicing my quick draw techniques more often after seeing that one.
My hats off to you for holding it together with him getting that close !!!
Not sure if you are wearing a bino harness on your final stalk or not but the Razco holster was really good on my recent hunt. Would keep that 10mm on you and out of the way.
Just read on Archery Talk, (not a confirmed news story) some guys shot one with a 9mm in Montana. They tried spray but it didn’t do the job. The bear came into cow calls while hunting the Flint Range.
Glad it turned out well. Not for the faint of heart!
Hearst, no situation is ever the same, but we’ve probably had a dozen or two similar encounters, 4 just this fall, not counting the one at 30 yards in the headlamps one night my son and I were hiking out. That bear just turned and left..
So besides this encounter, did fire my pistol a couple times when another griz stole Sam’s elk from us.. That was a longer, more tense situation.
And since ND mentioned it, a third pucker situation that involved pulling my pistol but not firing was during a calling setup with Sam and my son. A griz suck in behind us coming to the calls. It’s happening more each year.
Freakin Sam is bad luck! Nah, love the guy.
Last time I was up there hunting elk, the bear numbers were pretty surprising. We were south of where you were hunting. Bumped into bears about every day and the most in one day was 5. A dang sow with 3 cubs was living right where we were hunting. Then found an elk carcass in the timber that was probably what they were working on, along with some big berry patches.
Wyoming needs to start thinning them down! Crazy thick in that NW corner!
Hindsight is 20/20. Generally yelling at them as early as possible is the way to go, but I also had a really scary charge after yelling at a bear that was 200 yards away that my raft was probably going to intercept - you just never know beforehand.
Don, I hope so as well. Thing is, changing hunt areas probably wouldn’t help. They are quite literally everywhere around here.
My buddy finished eating first and stared down the rock slide to get onto the glacier. I was waiting for him to clear so as to not kick rocks on home when I hear huffing and running to my right. I see A mature Grizzly runnning right towards me coming from down wind!
I thought I was going to be mauled for sure. I try to unstrap my rifle but the buckle catches under the scope. I brace for impact but the bear veers past me at the last second and crosses the slide knocking rocks toward my buddy who turns to see the bear.
Though shaking I finally free the rifle and send a couple shots it’s way in spite, though ineffective.
I learned my lesson not to be caught unprepared. I will have spray on my harness if packing a rifle, and a chest holster 10mm when bowhunting. Happens so fast you only have seconds to react.
If I had my pistol on that would have been unloaded on the bear for sure. No worries in AK since it was open season, no tag required.
So glad ya got years of experience for these type of normal encounters Ron.
Nothing wrong with always believing in your knowledge and experiences
So glad it played out well,