Elk Hunter In Grand Teton National Park Injured By Bear

A Wyoming man hunting elk in Grand Teton National Park was attacked by a bear Sunday, but managed to call for help after the bear left the area.

Details were sketchy: The 32-year-old Jackson man could not definitively say whether it was a grizzly or black bear that attacked him, and the extent of his injuries were not immediately known, although they were not considered life-threatening.

Grand Teton spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said the man was hunting along the east side of the Snake River between Blacktail Ponds and Glacier View Overlooks when he was attacked about 11:30 a.m.

The man was carrying bear spray and following the recommended protocols for hunting in bear country, she said. The hunter told rangers that when he spotted the bear he dropped to the ground and covered his head, she added. It was not immediately clear if the bear was acting defensively, or viewed him as prey, said Ms. Anzelo-Sarles.

However, reports that the hunter had fired shots at the bear were in error, the spokeswoman said.

"It took about 45 minutes from the time of his call for the first responder to arrive on scene. He was about three-quarters and a mile off the road, in the river bottom," said Ms. Anzelo-Sarles.

The hunter received initial treatment in the field, and was transported to the road in a litter. An ambulance transported him to a Jackson hospital. Rangers were conducting an investigation Sunday afternoon to see if they could piece together what happened.

Attacks by bears in the park are extremely rare. There have been six reported bear attacks in the history of Grand Teton National Park- none were fatal, according to park records. In 2007 a female grizzly bear with cubs mauled a jogger near Jackson Lake Lodge in a surprise encounter.

Grand Teton's enabling legislation allows for a limited elk hunt in the park. All hunters participating in the elk reduction program are provided with a bear information and safety packet. The following guidelines are suggested for participating hunters:

* Hunt with a partner.

* Carry bear spray (required).

* Avoid “dark” timber during mid-day when bears may be using a day-bed.

* Have a predetermined plan of action for retrieving harvested game from the field.

* Be extra cautious after making a kill and when hunting in areas where animals have recently been harvested.

* Avoid hunting in areas where fresh bear sign is repeatedly observed.

* Avoid gut piles.


What a brave, courageous and savvy young man! An outdoorsman who knew what to do when faced with the dangers of the wilderness. Being knowledgable and staying levelheaded just might have saved his life. (Everyone keeps saying how lucky he is that it wasn't worst, true indeed... But does surviving a bear attack really make you lucky, or is getting mauled just really unlucky??)

Stick with "Duck Hunt" please... Elk meat can't be that good!

Grand Teton National Park does a horrible job educating hunters on how to deal with bears in the park. Many people come from areas of our country where they do not have to worry about bears. They come here and have no idea how to handle a bear encounter. I understand that the man was from Jackson but in general hunters in the park are poorly educated. I have talked to many hunters and am really surprised how little they know about bears. I tell them about the effectiveness of bear spray and how guns are a poor means of defense against a bear attack. This year I was telling them about the incident where two guys were out hunting and a bear attacked. The person not getting attacked accidentally shot his partner, fatally, when trying to shoot the attacking bear. The park needs to do more to educate its hunters if they want to keep the bears alive.
Poorly educated hunters is reason Grizzly 615 is dead today. 615 was shot from nearly 100 yards away by a hunter who was frightened because she looked at him. A short video on cohabiting with bears in the park could have made the difference of life or death for 615. The park is seriously slacking in its duties to keep its visitors save and the bears safe in bear country and I hope they do better in the future.

A victim of the bear spray cult? We'll see. Instead of giving hunters useful information on how to use their firearm effectively for self-defense, Grand Teton NP tells them to carry bear spray and know how to use it. Which is nonsense. Hunters need at least one hand to hold their rifle. You need two hands for bear spray. Yeah, yeah, I know: it's possible to deploy bear spray one-handed. It would be possible for Tiger Woods to play golf one-handed, but that's not a stunt he'd want to try during the Masters. Two hands is best.
Just today in an AP article about a reputed focus on bear safety after all the attacks this summer, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator said people needed to train like the military until they can "react without hesitation to threats."
Hunters using the cradle carry or two-hand ready carry will never ever ever ever be trained to let go of their rifle with one hand so they can try to use bear spray with their free hand. Hunters using the shoulder carry will never be trained to try to use bear spray with their off-hand.
I'm all for bears, but hunters should not have to get maimed and killed to keep bear spray zealots happy. Hunters in grizzly country should train to use their rifles instinctively for self-defense against grizzlies during surprise encounters.

Oh, but it is good, very good! You might try it. It's lean and very good for you:).

Well said, Dave. You are one of the very few people who comment on these boards.

Dave Smith, do you not have thumbs?
I just walked out on my porch with an inert UDAP can (bear spray minus the active ingredients), and I really have no problem removing the safety with my thumb and firing it one-handed. It's even easier when the can is in the elastic holster. I'm not sure why you think it's akin to playing golf one-handed.
If the safety is too tight to easily slide off, a person can always file it down to make it slide easier.
If you really DON'T have thumbs, I hope I am not hurting your feelings with my callous remarks.

Dave -
Those are ridiculous comments. What does a hiker do with their walking staff when encountering a bear? They drop it and use their bear spray. Bear spray has proven far more effective than firearms for bear defense.
Your chances of being maimed by a bear increase when you injure it with a firearm.

The bear startled and attacked the young man before he could even reach his spray...do you really think he had time to get his rifle set and shoot the thing?? No, and had he attempted to "use [his] rifle instinctively for self defense" as suggested, he would be dead right now. Luckily, this man was smart enough to educate himself about hunting, being in the wilderness and what one should do in case of a bear encounter... which was/is to get down on the ground curl up and cover the head. The young man, who currently lives in Jackson, but is not native to any kind of "bear country" sustained a broken scapula and multiple puncture wounds, the worst being a bite to the upper arm. They expect him to be released tomorrow morning. He should be lauded for taking the responsibility to educate himself about hunting safety before going out there!

Last time I checked the statistics bear spray was 89% effective vrs 60% for firearms. With a firearm you have to hit your mark very precisely under the most stressful circumstances possible. With spray you have a wide dispersal area making it easier to deter the attack. In instances where the bear is surprised at close range neither method is good as there is not time to react. I will go with the odds, thank you very much Dave.

Statistics don't lie. A study of human/grizzly encounters in Alaska showed that those who used bear spray came away uninjured 92% of the time. And of the remaining 8%, none of killed and all suffered only minor injuries.

Firearms, on the other hand, were only effective 63% of the time. Those who were actually attacked suffered more severe maulings, and some were fatal. Oh, and the bear dies too.

So, stastically, if you use bear spray during a grizzly encounter, you have a less than 1 in 10 chance of being contacted by the bear. By contrast, you have a more than 1 in 3 chance of getting mauled if you choose to use your firearm.

As for the above poster's claim that hunters are seemingly unable to do two things at once (carry a firearm and use bear spray), it's a weak argument. In most cases, the bear will be spotted from a distance, so a hunter will have time to shoulder his rifle while removing his bear spray. I can do this in 2-3 seconds. In other cases, as in this particular instance, the encounter will be a surprise, and the hunter will have little time to use either the bear spray or their firearm. This hunter did exactly the right thing for this situation and has lived to tell about it.

What it comes down to is that each bear encounter is unique, and hunters need to respond to them individually. There is a time to use a firearm and a time to use bear spray, but the above argument that hunters can't use bear spray in a grizzly encounter is laughable. There was no reason grizzly 615 needed to be shot. Had the hunter been carrying bear spray there is a 92% chance that bear would be alive and the hunter wouldn't have been found guilty of illegally killing a grizzly.

In an article titled "Spray then pray" in the 9/29/11 Coeur d'Alene Press, "Chuck Bartlebaugh, director of the Be Bear Aware campaign for the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee" said the bear spray can "must be held with two hands so it doesn't tilt upwards." http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_c2828ade-7fad-5a77-be46-6cf1209e9023.html
Bartlebaugh is the #1 bear spray zealot in the world. Who am I to disagree with the master?

Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska says, "In 96% (69 of 72) bear spray incidents the person's activity at the time was reported. The largest category involved hikers (35%), followed by persons engaged in bear management activities (30%), people at their home or cabin (15%), campers in their tents (9%), people working on various jobs outdoors (4%), sports fishers (4%), a hunter stalking a wounded bear (1%), and a photographer (1%)."
That data does not suggest that bear spray is an option when a hunter carrying a rifle startles a grizzly, .
There's no data on firearms vs. bears in Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska or Herrero's Field use of capiscum spray as a bear deterrent. There's no data on firearms vs bears in a U.S. Fish & wildlife Service "fact sheet" on Bear Spray vs. Bullets.

So, Dave Smith, if "the bear spray cult" got this guy hurt, who do you blame for Steve Stevenson's death in September? He's the man who got killed by a gunshot when his partner started shooting at a wounded grizzly in NW Montana.
Is he dead because of "firearms propaganda" from the "firearms cult"?
Scour the records: no bears have died from bear pepper spray. No people have died from being accidentally sprayed while fending off an attack. Nobody has died because they chose to use bear pepper spray for You should be able to put together a comparable database for firearms used against attacking bears. However, I would request that you leave out the cases that were essentially shoot-on-sight, "I saw a bear and was afraid for my life" cases. Shooting a stationary bear at 50 paces doesn't really tell us much about the efficacy of firearms.
And the two-handed bear spray deployment? Maybe if you were shaking really bad, or were very weak, you'd need two hands. Try it for yourself. I am removing the safety on my inert can right now; the "kick" when discharged isn't enough for me to need two hands on it.

Dave, your views are black and white, and you think a gun is the only solution to every bear encounter while hunting, which is quite simple-minded.

If you see a bear at 100 yards and you feel you have time to shoulder your rifle and take out the spray so you're ready if the bear charge, do it. Stastically, you'll have a MUCH better chance at survival. If you see a bear at 50 yards and it charges you, by all means, use your rifle as a defense. You probably don't have time to take out your bear spray. If you surprise and are charged by a bear at 10 yards, you'd better do exactly what this hunter did: roll up in a ball an play dead, because you won't have time to use your bear spray OR your gun.

The fact of the matter is carrying bear spray is IN NO WAY a detriment or hinderance to hunters. None. Zero. It can only help them in the right situation. Your comment that hunters are simple-minded Neanderthals seeminglyincapable to switching from carrying a gun to deploying bear spray is an insult to hunters everywhere.

I was involved along with five other rangers in killing a grizz back in 1968. Three of us were carrying .357 magnum revolvers loaded with SuperVel. Three had 12 gauge shotguns all loaded with rifled slugs. We opened fire after a dart filled with a lethal dose hit fat tissue. The bear reared up on its hind legs and we opened fire from about 70 - 80 feet. As each of us emptied our weapons, we jumped into a vehicle. The bear finally stopped about ten feet from us.

When we autopsied the bear the next morning, we found that all 36 rounds had hit the bear. One of the rifled slugs, fired when he was standing up, had cleaned out his heart.

That bear covered about 60 feet without a heart! I'm not sure I'd have wanted to stand there with bear spray (it wasn't available back then), but after that experience, I almost think I'd be safer. As it was, I almost wet my pants.

So about the only thing I can say for sure is be prepared and be sure your will is up to date no matter how you try to face down a bear. But I do think spray might very well be the better bet.

Lee Dalton:
That bear covered about 60 feet without a heart! I'm not sure I'd have wanted to stand there with bear spray (it wasn't available back then), but after that experience, I almost think I'd be safer. As it was, I almost wet my pants.
I think the point of any kind of tear gas (including concentrated pepper spray) is that it practically would blind an animal if it gets close enough to the eyes. If the bear can't see, maybe it just keeps on charging but can't find its target.

Sounds like that bear could still see and move without a heart. Now it you're talking a direct head shot deeply penetrating the skull, I think it would have stopped right there. I have heard of rounds either bouncing off a skull or even sliding along the edge under the scalp without penetrating.

Sorry to bring facts into the discussion again, but when Interangecy Grizzly Bear Study Team leader Chuck Schwartz reviewed bear-hunter conflicts in the Yellowstone region from 1992-2004, not once in 12 years did a hunter "switch" from gun to bear spray.

Dropping a loaded firearm is taboo.

One or two headshots either grazed it or bounced off. There were a couple of wounds in the fur, but none penetrated. In any case, it was a very impressive experience. I carry bear spray now, but hope never to use it. However, I did think about it one night recently when I encountered a very stoned individual who was trying to break into a neighbor's home while we were waiting for police to arrive. But after that experience in the old Old Faithful campground, I think I might believe that spray would be good weapon of choice. All that firepower took a while to work. Spray, however, might carry enough startle factor to persuade the critter to go another direction.

I just don't want to be the guy who has to find out.

An ex-marine up in Alaska carrying his 30-06 decided to challenge a griz from 20 yds last month. The bear was hit, but this man ended up severely mauled. The rangers found the blood trail but elected not to pursue it.

Hunting partners had to bail out the initial shooter twice in the last month by firing fatal shots to keep the bear from killing their hunting companion. Both incidences were fortunate that they didn't end up like the one on the ID/MT border where one hunter killed his partner trying to save him from being mauled by a wounded griz. Both guys were lucky they had partners backing them up.

Guns are great, but you better be both good and lucky to save your arz. Get the spray!

In the Sept/Oct 2012 issue of Sports Afield, BYU professor Tom Smith, the author of Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska and Efficacy of Firearms For Bear Deterrence in Alaska, says "If I'm actually out hunting and I have a gun in my hands and a bear comes at me--do you think I'm going to lay the gun down and pick up bear spray? Are you out of your mind?"

Smith says comparing stats on bear spray to stats on firearms to prove hunters should use bear spray--the bear spray versus guns argument--is "ridiculous."

Smith says it's "not about bear spray versus guns . . . both guns and bear spray have their place."