A 54-year-old Canadian hunter and outdoorsman was attacked by a full-grown black bear while out in the British Columbia bush last week, and all he has to show for it is an bloody hatchet.
“I was going out to check for the presence of Armillaria root disease in an undeveloped piece of forest,” Alex Woods, a forest pathologist told OutsideOnline. “As I was going in I saw freshly broken fireweed, so I knew there was probably an animal around, but there are animals everywhere up here.
“And when I’m by myself I always make a point of yelling,” he said, “so I was going ‘Yo, bear, yo bear.’”
He then came upon a small creek about 700 feet into the forest, where he decided to yell louder in order to lower his odds of coming up on and surprising a bear.
“I was about three quarters of the way down the slope,” Woods told the site. “And then I look up, and there’s this bear running at me — full speed, no sounds, just running at me as fast as it can go from 100 feet away, straight up the slope.”
Woods said that, since the bear was running uphill towards him, he had time to maneuver himself behind two fallen trees and pushed himself up onto them to gain the height he needed to kick the bear square in the jaw.
“The bear fell back a bit, but then it came running around the tree and I kicked it hard again in the head, yelling as loud as I could the whole time,” he said. “It took off and ran up another burned tree about eight feet away, still staring at me.”
Woods used this moment of respite to pull out an old hatchet he carried every time he entered the forest; one handed down to him by his father.
“The zipper [on my pack] is broken, so I was able to get at my hatchet fast,” he said. “But the bear was right back on me by then, so I just sank the hatchet into its head. I was lucky enough that it happened where those trees were, and on a such steep slope. I wouldn’t have been able to kick it otherwise, or get it on the head.”
Woods said it looked like the bear was still alive but after waiting a few minutes to be sure it wasn’t getting back up, he scurried up the hill the same way he came down and went straight to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service. Officers later found the bear still breathing but mortally wounded and decided to kill it for humane reasons.
“It’s going to make hunting a little more challenging,” Woods said about his encounter. “I think this is going to be with me for the long haul.”
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