U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)-– This is another in a series of self-defense against bear events uncovered in a Freedom of Information Act request done by AmmoLand. It seems they have not been published before.
On October 18, 2010, an elk hunter was successful in collecting a bull elk at the head of the North Crandall Creek drainage in Wyoming. It was late in the day, so they field-dressed the elk, moved the gut pile about 50 yards away, and left the elk to be retrieved the next day, with horses.
On October 19, 2010, three men were on their way to retrieve the elk. Because the identities of the three have been redacted, they will be referred to as Guide, Wrangler, and Hunter. After increasingly difficult travel, they had to leave their horses because of the downed timber and steep terrain. They ate a sandwich and glassed for bears. They continued on, over very steep terrain.
The guide had a holstered .44 magnum. Wrangler had a 12 gauge pump shotgun, loaded with three rounds of 7 1/2 birdshot and a round of low recoil 00 buckshot. The hunter had a holstered .45 semi-auto pistol.
The guide told Wrangler to make sure a round was chambered in the shotgun. He said they needed to go slow.
The three men carefully approached the kill site, looking for bears. At about 200 yards from the kill site, they saw a florescent orange hat one of the hunters had hung in a tree to mark the site. Hunter used binoculars to look for bears. He did not see any. After the three men had traversed about half the distance to the kill site, traveling upslope, a grizzly bear appeared and charged Wrangler. Wrangler had forgotten to put a round in the chamber of the shotgun.
Guide yelled for Wrangler to shoot a warning shot. In the excitement, Wrangler could not chamber a round. Wrangler moved downhill toward Guide. Guide grabbed the shotgun and fired three warning rounds of bird shot behind and over the bear. The bear and a cub moved away and into a gully.
Hunter stated the gut pile had been completely eaten. The three men continued to the elk carcass, and found only one small bite had been taken from one hind quarter. They started processing the elk into quarters and the cape/head. After about an hour, the bears reappeared. The three men threw rocks at the bears and rolled stones downhill toward them. The bears retreated again.
The three men decided to make one trip to retrieve the elk meat, cape, and head, to minimize the exposure to the bears. This left all of them heavily loaded.
Guide and Hunter were carrying packs and dragging hind quarters. Wrangler was carrying a pack, the head and cape, and the shotgun. They took a route on the far side of the drainage to maximize the distance from where they had last seen the bears. Hunter was in the lead, Wrangler in the middle, with Guide bringing up the rear. Guide had a walking stick to help on the steep terrain. Guide was having difficulty keeping up while dragging the hind quarter. Wrangler kept looking back to check on Guide.
They had traveled about 200 yards when Wrangler yelled “Guide!”
Guide believed it was a warning about the bear, but did not see the bear.
Wrangler yelled, “She is right behind you!”
The guide said the hair stood up on his neck and he swung the walking stick as hard as he could behind him, looking as he did it. The guide said he just missed the grizzly bear, and the bear retreated a step.
Wrangler said “moving left”, presumably to get a better line of fire at the bear. The hunter drew his .45 but did not have a clear line of fire at the bear.
The bear turned and came at Guide from nine feet away. The guide drew his .44 magnum and fired one shot. Wrangler fired the shotgun with the 00 buckshot round almost simultaneously, but slightly later than Guide’s shot. The bear took a couple of steps, dropped, and rolled downslope.
The three men presumed the bear was dead. They caught their breath, then continued to transport the elk quarters and cape/head to the horses. The guide said he was so shaken up he did not tie his elk quarter on properly and had to stop later and re-tie it.
The guide said that he had no doubt if Wrangler had not been checking on him, he would have been mauled or killed. Guide said:
“The bears are getting more aggressive every year. We use to yell at them and they would head for cover. Now you try to scare them and the come at you.”
The Guide contacted Wyoming Fish & Game on the morning of October 20, 2010. The Wardens made arrangements to meet the participants later that day. They interviewed the participants and took written statements. They traveled to the shooting scene, took pictures and did a field necropsy of the bear.
The physical evidence was consistent with the oral and written statements of the participants.
On February 15, 2011, the Special Agent for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recommended the case be closed as they had received a letter of declination to prosecute from the US Attorney’s office.
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.