Grizzly Bear Attacks Three Bowhunters Armed with Pistols

Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear

U.S.A.-( On the East Fork of the Wind River, near Lander, Wyoming, three bow hunters were walking to their hunting grounds, bows in hand.  An old boar grizzly suddenly charged them from a few yards left of their approach.

The bow hunters had set up base camp the day before at the East Fork trailhead. The next morning, they rode horses six miles up the trail, turned west, and rode uphill until the terrain was too steep for the horses.  At about 7:30, they dismounted and continued up the steep slope of the trail on foot, in line.

Wind River Peak from Wikipedia, Chiffre01, 1 August 2010 CC BY-SA 4.0, Cropped and scaled by Dean Weingarten

The three men had covered about 500 yards from the horses when it happened. They heard loud crashing noises above them to their front left. The lead hunter started to reach for an arrow, thinking it might be an elk. He saw the grizzly coming at them. He dropped the arrow and bow and drew his Taurus .45 1911 semi-auto. He yelled at the bear and started backing away. As the bear saw the two other hunters behind the lead, it momentarily paused, giving him time to rack the slide and chamber a round. The Taurus had eight rounds in its magazine.

The pause was momentary; not a full stop of the charge. The lead hunter was able to start shooting from a range of six feet. The grizzly grabbed the lead hunter by the left thigh and the hunter went down with the bear on top of him.

As the bear closed with the lead hunter, the middle and last hunters had seen the bear, dropped their bows, and drew their pistols, a .44 magnum and a 9mm. They started shooting.

With the lead hunter down and the bear in his lap, he put the .45 against its head and shot his last rounds. The bear went limp. The lead hunter was able to crawl out from under the big bear.

Shortly afterward, the bear was seen to move, and the hunters fired two more rounds into the chest cavity from the side. The hunters estimated they had fired 19 cartridges at the bear; 8 rounds of .45, 6 rounds of .44 magnum, and about 4 rounds of 9mm.

The event occurred on 20 September 2014. Detailed reports of the incident were discovered in a reply to a Freedom of Information Act (FOID) request about bear attacks. This correspondent has not discovered any detailed reporting in searches of public media on the Internet.

The hunters rode back to base camp. There, they were able to access a cell phone booster in a friend’s truck. They made contact with Wyoming Game and Fish (WG&F).  The WG&F warden made arrangements to contact the men the next day, on September 21,  2014.

Two WG&F wardens interviewed the three hunters and took statements.  They went to the attack scene and investigated. Everything they found collaborated with what the hunters had told them.

At the scene, they collected 12 cartridge cases, including 9mm, .45, and .44 magnum. They examined the bear, which was an old male with worn teeth. The age of the bear was estimated at 17 years. The wardens found seven bullet wounds in the bear, five of which were from the front, and two of which were from the side. They recovered four bullets from the bear in three different calibers.

Each of the three hunters had hit the bear at least once.  They concluded the hunters had shot and killed the old boar grizzly in self-defense. The grizzly had been feeding on whitebark pine nuts a few yards off the trail. The WG&F took the four bear paws and the bear head.

After the reports were filed the Special Agent for the US Fish and Wildlife Service met with the Assistant United State Attorney assigned to the case on 20 November 2014. They determined the shooting of the grizzly was in self-defense and fell under the self-defense exception in the law. It was recommended the case be declined for prosecution.

On 3 December 2014, the Special Agent received a letter of declination from the Wyoming United States Attorney’s Office, determining the shooting was in self-defense, and thus not a violation of the law. The investigation was recommended to be closed.

The attack appears to have been unprovoked. There were no cubs.

The bear started charging the hunters before they became aware it was in the vicinity. The attack started from only eight yards. The hunters were able to draw their pistols and direct effective fire in order to stop the attack.  While the bear had grabbed the lead hunter by the thigh, the combination of clothing, worn teeth, and quick shooting by the victim appears to have prevented the need for hospitalization.

If there had been any penetration of the victim’s flesh, some medical treatment would have been necessary. None was mentioned in the FOIA report. All three hunters were interviewed a few hours after the attack. No mention was made of a trip to the hospital.

In the investigative documents, it was mentioned the incident had been posted on Facebook, with pictures. This correspondent has been unable to find those posts.

It is likely most defensive uses of pistols against bears are not reported in public media, especially if no hospitalization of people is required. Readers are encouraged to report any incidents of defensive uses of pistols against bears that are not recorded in the latest update of the database of known and documented incidents.  Send the information to Dean Weingarten, via AmmoLand.

All incidents which can be documented are included, whether the defensive action was successful or not.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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Carrying without a round in the chamber? Really?


I generally carry without a round in the chamber. It has worked for me. It worked for this person. Carrying with a loaded chamber has not worked for other people.


They got lucky, that 2-3 seconds could mean your life. Always have a chambered rd.


True much of the time, but not universally. Instead of “Always”, you may want to set some levels of “arms ready”.


You said it HLB! Anyone who says “always” and “never” are always wrong and never right! Everything is situation dependent. Always is not a thing. That is just people who don’t want to think, so they want rules to cover everything. The problem is, such rules don’t exist. There are always exceptions. But to find them takes thought. More thought than some want to do.


Oh, they do. Parsing things like this is stupid. Always use your head.


“Anyone who says “always” and “never” are always wrong and never right! Everything is situation dependent. Always is not a thing. That is just people who don’t want to think, so they want rules to cover everything. The problem is, such rules don’t exist. There are always exceptions. But to find them takes thought. More thought than some want to do.” Really??? You actually wrote and believe that… or was it supposed to be some asinine attempt at sarcasm? I would have believed a sarcasm excuse if you had left it after the first sentence I quoted above, but then… Read more »


It only takes once.

I’d being willing to bet that everyone who’s ever died while trying to chamber a round into their gun would do it differently given a second chance. I’d also be willing to bet that most people who happened to survive a life threatening situation after having to take the time to chamber their first round changed their minds about the practice.

Xaun Loc

Wow! OR you might try learning how to rack the slide of your pistol.

I am not advocating Israeli Carry, but if chambering a round adds 2-3 seconds to your engagement time something is seriously wrong with your pistol handling, or perhaps you’re thinking of carrying the pistol and the magazine in separate locked containers FOPA-style.

Last edited 1 year ago by Xaun Loc

Stop being ignorant, you know not everyone goes through tactical training they just need the arms at the ready. I’ve been carrying for 40 years and it’s always been chambered. It’s the fastest was to be ready. Try dueling with someone like that. You will be the one shot first every time. Bank on it.

Last edited 1 year ago by UncleT

The way I carry, racking the slide takes no more than 1/2 second. Yes, you introduce some risk of a non-chamber, but that has never happened to me. Risks on the always-chambered side include safety malfunction, which has happened to me, impact firing if the weapon is dropped, modern non-safety arms peculiarities, which are documented, and so on.



From unconcealed holster on the range, ready for the signal and knowingly what to do – beep to shot with round chambered ~0.25s, empty chamber (from what you said) 0.75s. That’s three times as long in situation where milliseconds count (and cops are only minutes away). When you say 1/2 second I assume you are using both hands? I find my hands are generally occupied. Quite often in ways which significantly restrict use of my left hand. I for one am capable of quickly or surreptitiously drawing and racking with one hand. Empty chamber might almost have been left at… Read more »


Well, at least I now know that people actually do read these posts 🙂


“Grizzly Bear Attacks Three Bowhunters Armed with Pistols”

Question: Where did the Grizzly Bear get the Pistols??


LOL! Good one!


I support the right to arm bears.


If some of the Greenies had their way, the hunters would have been prosecuted and the bear memorialized.

Elisa Delaurenti

If they had their way, the hunters would have been turned into a pile of bear scat.


“…it momentarily paused, giving him time to rack the slide and chamber a round.”



>Fictional> He heard the slide rack and grabbed the weapon from his 4 year old. Thank goodness.



had a run in with a grizzly while hunting in 1987 ,8 rounds of 44 magnum was enough to make it go elsewhere ,but we did not find it dead! I now carry a 50when in the woods ; if you have never seen one up close they are huge


I am wondering if, at that close range and imminent encounter, you should put all your rounds in the head area and hope that one will make it through.



Well, their mistake was that they didn’t have any bear spray and they weren’t wearing any of those little bells! Everyone knows that would have prevented the attack!!!

The Crimson Pirate

You know how to determine what kind of bear one is by their scat? Black bear scat smells like berries and contains squirrel fur. Grizzly bear scat smells like pepper spray and contains hiking boots.

Of course, if you are going to get eaten by a bear it is only polite to bring your own seasoning. There is a role for bear spray, after all.


That basic story is why I mentioned the little bells. The difference was that the version I heard mentioned little bells instead of hiking boots.

WI Patriot

Suicide by hunter…


Great story and glad it turned out well. But I have to say, who carries a 9mm in bear country? Even a .45ACP is a little weak for dealing with an attacking bear. When I hiked in bear country I carried a .357Mag, and nowadays I would really rather carry a .44 Mag or a 10mm and I would always keep one in the chamber ready to go.


Awareness and avoidance are key. However they are not always sufficient. Firearm is a backup if you screw up. Like a fire extinguisher on a diesel boat – you always have one AND it must be rated for fuel fires. No tossing water on burning fuel! Maintenance and awareness are key, but sometimes “stuff” happens.


Sounds like your responses include many “What if’s”. Go with the reported facts and make your decisions or comments based on that. If you want to consider the all the possibilities you might consider why the bow hunters were not carrying a 240 LMG.


Yet hunters have reported 9 mil and 45 bouncing off the skull in head on attacks or just stopped by 9 to 12 inches of fat on the broad side of the body.


Carrying with no round chambered, especially in bear country, is a good way to earn a Darwin award. Sure you “might” have the chance to chamber a round but why take that chance when your life is at stake. The only guns that are potentially dangerous loaded are the old style single actions if you’re carrying with a round under the hammer. There’s every reason to carry with a round chambered and other that one exception, every reason not to carry an unloaded gun. I’m a big fan of the .45acp and I like the 9mm but those are terrible… Read more »


Having shot several bears with 41 and 44 mag revolvers.

I have come to realize I prefer bullets that have give at least 16 inches of pentation in ballistic gel. I also prefer velocities over 1000fps.

Perfect Shot placement is very nice. But when something is attacking you getting hits is what counts.

One really needs to study the skull structure to be sure of shot placement.

Here is an article by Dean showing skulls and shot placement for those who don’t know.


Thank you for the link. Very good information.


Elisa Delaurenti

I worry quite a bit about taking my dog out in the woods to run around. We’re out there nearly every day, just exploring new spots and looking for good, secluded places to relax. Yesterday, while out in the Lolo Nat’l Forest, we came across several fresh piles of bear scat. That’s when we turned around and got back into the Jeep. I’ll shoot a predator if I have to, but I’d rather not take on the legal headache.


they sure make a big deal out of people defending themselves from being killed by bears,more so than certain groups of people. and you would get more jail time.

Elisa Delaurenti

Same with their precious wolves.


Better her than me to go after a record Grizzly with a .22.


If you have three seconds to shoot someone at three yards, you are not acting in self defense. I assume when you say three shots in three seconds, that you are including draw from deep concealment. Even from deep concealment, that is not quick shooting by any measure. Have watched people draw from light concealment, put two A zone hits on each of three targets AND start moving toward their next target in not much over three seconds. BTW a bear may not be moving 60mph, but they are both quick and fast. 30 mph is slower than a car,… Read more »


When I go into bear country, a 6 1/2″ 500 S&W Magnum accompanies me. WHY such a large powerful cartridge? Because I’m going to tell that bear…being this is a 500 S&W Magnum and can blow your body clean off your head, you’ve got to ask yourself a question…do I REALLY want to charge this guy?


I just wonder how I survived all those summers at my Uncle’s place in the middle of “bear country” and my cousins doing it year round. Of course there is that hibernation thing during the cold months. I didn’t start carrying a gun until I was 14 or so. But some of you continue on regaling us with your “bear” stories. I was only present for one bear charge and it was a big black bear across a wide and somewhat deep stream and my father had his 357 Colt Trooper. Bear made it’s “scare” charge then ran off. Just… Read more »



The Bella twin story took place around Lessor Slave lake in Canada.


I read an article a while back that said if you shoot a bear between the eyes, you’ll just make him angry. You need to shoot directly up it’s nose where there is a clear path to the brain.


A CNS shot is the only shot that is going to save someone from injury. Bear skulls don’t stop the right bullets placed properly. There is endless evidence of this.

I assure you a heavy, non-expanding bullet in a 35 caliber or larger handgun is going to punch though a bear skull if shot between the eyes at a relatively perpendicular angle. A centerfire rifle using 22 caliber bullets will do the same.

The Crimson Pirate

You have to do what the hunter in the article did; distract the bear and properly position yourself by offering it your thigh. Then you will be in the right place to put your gun up the shnozz de grizz.


So contact shots to the head with a .45 will drop a grizzly. Filing that in “information I hope never to need….”

Think I’ll still take the hand cannon if I think I might meet a murder-bear.


You’d be better off with a gun you can fire well and quickly with the ability to place your shots well. CNS hits are the only ones guaranteed to stop a bear, (just like what happened here) though others will sometimes work.

Elisa Delaurenti

Did you hear about the Montana lady who chased a bear out of her garden with a zucchini?


That lady was missing a few cards from a full deck.


I’ll stick to .45-70 in bear country, TYVM.


I was confused by wardens finding 44 mag cases. He shot six rounds, if that’s what is in the gun then why did he drop the cases when the bear was down? Why did they not all police their brass?

Guess “shovel” part of SSS includes digging bullets out of the body and collecting your brass. With eleven misses, you’ll never track down those bullets – just hope warden’s don’t either. Probably wouldn’t matter as they shouldn’t have any comparative data on your gun and a bullet or two in the wilderness aren’t proof of anything significant.

Last edited 1 year ago by Finnky
Ansel Hazen

With the lead hunter down and the bear in his lap, he put the .45 against its head and shot his last rounds.”


I’m not going into bear country with you unless you are man enough to:

1 Keep a round chambered in your handgun

2 carry at least a .40 cal and/or respectable caliber magnum round, (no 9mm pu##y rounds)

3 willing to shoot an attacking bear, shovel said bear, and shut up about said bear.

Last edited 1 year ago by RepealNFA

Was with you until that last line. True self defense won’t bring more than a little hassle in the legal department. If you shovel, better do a good enough job because if it is found they will investigate and conclude you were illegally hunting bears – why else would you hide it? Of course without witnesses, good enough shoveling could just consist of hiding evidence it was you.


Two things strike me in this story. 1) 18 rounds fired. Two from side after it was down, one in head from contact, leaving 15 at moving bear. Wardens found five hits from the front and two from the side. Sounds like only four shots out of fifteen hit the moving bear from extremely close range. Sounds as though combat marksmanship is an issue, and it is easy to be overconfident. Bears are quite tough to stop with a pistol even with magnums, and is a decent shot. 2) I’ve ridden but I am no horseman, so asking what is… Read more »


Speaking of ATTACKS…
We see the muslim scum fake palestinians in America beating, stabbing and chasing with vehicles our Jewish brothers and sisters.
So, where are all the tough-talking folks on this board stopping these muslim terrorists?

Exactly the same place you were when it was time to vote for (anti-gun, as you on Ammoland called him) Trump…sitting on your ever-expanding butts.

You WILL NOT stand, but you certainly will kneel.
Yellow cowards whose yellow stripe on your backs is so bright it can be seen from Mars!


Stick to the subject, please.


I made his downvote of you go away.


This is really weird. The comment that my screen showed being berated by JohnLloydScharf indicated that “Will” made a short comment and that Will was on the receiving end of Sharf’s comment. I upvoted a one or two line comment that was indicated as having been made by Will. Now that comment is gone and it shows my comment to Will as being made to tetejuan. I did not upvote tetejuan’s comment. Weird! As to JLS, take a Midol. If bad words hurt you so much, maybe you should confine your internet exploits to the children’s section of YouTube or… Read more »


Why would anyone back apartheid in Isreal. The mainstream media reports Isreal fighting back against unarmed adults and children. I doubt you have a clue whats going on over there.