Bear Attack Stopped by Man with Knife, Tarzan Style

Black Bear iStock-482557323
Missouri just wrapped up their first-ever black bear hunt. IMG iStock-482557323

U.S.A.-( On July 20th, 2006, Tom Tilley of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada was on a canoeing trip with his dog, Sam. A predatory black bear stalked them during a portage.

Sam, an American Staffordshire, warned his owner Tom of the bear’s presence. As the bear closed in, Tom’s dog Sam interposed himself between the bear and Tom. When the bear attacked Sam, Tom leaped on the bear’s back, Tarzan style, and killed the bear, using a hunting knife with a six-inch blade.

Wawa is a township not far from Lake Superior, about 400 miles North and West of Waterloo. It is about a 600-mile trip by car.

Buck Knife 119 (there are several variations of the 119, mostly in handle material)
Buck Knife 119 (there are several variations of the 119, mostly in handle material)

Kanawa is the screen name Tom uses on the conservative discussion website, freerepublic. His fight with the bear is discussed and detailed there.

The night before the fight with the bear, in his trip journal, Tom wrote: “Finding it quite easy to wear the knife on belt”

The Buck 119 has a six-inch blade, Tom said he considered a longer blade, but wanted it to be easy to carry. It was on the fourth day of a planned 12-day trip when the attack occurred near Abby Lake. Tom and his dog, Sam, were on their third trip across the portage when the bear stalked them. A portage is a trail used by canoeists to move from one body of water to another.

The bear appeared and Tom waved his arms and shouted. The bear moved off the trail, into the woods. Then it suddenly reappeared, blocking Tom’s route back.  Tom had already drawn his Buck knife, as a precaution.

Sam moved from behind Tom to be between Tom and the bear. The bear approached the pair, then pounced on Sam, grabbing him by the back.

Tilley ran behind the bear, jumped on its back, and started stabbing it with his Buck knife. He said the first stab sank the blade to the hilt in the bear’s neck. After the first few stabs, the bear weakened considerably. Tom Tilley continued to stab the bear until he was sure it was dead.

During the investigation of the incident, the 200 lb bear was found to be ten years old and underweight.

Tom found reason to carry a fixed blade when he read the story of Jacqueline Perry, who was killed by a bear while her husband attempted to defend her with a Swiss Army Knife. From The Record, recorded on

Perry’s husband attempted to fend off the animal with a Swiss Army Knife — the only weapon he had.

“When I read the report about her death, it really hit home to me that these things are possible,” Tilley said.

“I owe her husband a real debt of gratitude because if I hadn’t heard her story and got that knife, I wouldn’t be telling this story.”

The July 2006 canoe trip was the first time Tom had carried the Buck knife into the wilderness.

Tom’s dog, Sam, eventually recovered from the bear bite.  Tom said because Sam was a little on the chubby side, the layer of fat under the skin kept the bear from breaking Sam’s back. Nine years later, in 2015, Tom celebrated Sam’s 14th birthday with a box of biscuits and a new bowl.

Sam died in July 2017, as he could no longer walk and had no appetite. (post-1008 of freerepublic thread).

In Canada, it is very difficult to obtain a permit to carry a pistol in the wilderness.  Long guns are easier to obtain but are more cumbersome to carry.

There are plenty of black bears in North America. The population has to be managed, to keep bears from inflicting significant damage on human crops, livestock, and, occasionally, humans.

The few bears which are killed as they present direct threats to humans are a tiny fraction of the overall black bear population.  They are a small fraction of the number of bears that must be harvested by hunting.

The numbers are so small, if all of them are killed, the numbers will have no measurable effect on bear population numbers.

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

Bear Attacks
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Matt in Oklahoma

If the same event happened today the guy would be charged with a racially motivated attack, animal control would take the dog for it being abused, the bear would be declared non binary with self esteem issues from weight loss in a mental crisis, the government would immediately pass a monetary bill for surviving bear families, a declaration that “nobody needs a knife….” would be made along with “think of the bear children” and they would try and pass a law or an agency rule against such a weapon of mass destruction

Matt in Oklahoma

And if it was a military dog it woulda been because no pt belt


Oh no! No one needs a military style dog.

old guy

There still are REAL men in this world.


What’s surprising is there’s REAL MEN in Canadastan. Of course that’s a joke. He’s quite a brave man IMHO.

It doesn’t surprise me however, as a REAL MAN in Canadastan that he’s a Freeper.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bigfootbob

That was the “first time he had ever carried a fixed blade knife into the wilderness” ?? Really? What kind of Forest Gump was this guy? (Stupid is as Stupid does) A “REAL” man? I don’t think so. Ignorant? Yes. Naive? Yes. But hey, he’s a Hoser in Canada – what’d ya expect..


I know many of my friends used to have property in Canada just for bear hunting. Until Canada started getting really stupid with crossing the border. And gun ownership. I think most of it started in the late 90s. Most sold out & quit hunting in Canada. And not one person I know wants to even venture there now, because of the Govt interference. I believe a lot of those bears are migrating South all the way into SE PA. No need to see Canada for bears. Just not worth the hassle. Even going there for fishing is to big… Read more »


10 years old and 200 lbs? Yeah, that’s seriously underweight. I sure wouldn’t tackle one of our Black Bears in NE Georgia with a 6″ knife. Females up to 350lbs, males commonly well over 500. It takes either something with extreme penetration or a well-placed shot between the eye and the ear.

Watch um

If a knife is all you had and you loved your dog you would


If you loved your dog, you wouldn’t take them out into the wilderness with nothing but a knife to begin with.


Buck knives are great tools; Buck family great Americans. I own most of their traditional size models. But, those black phenolic handles are a major risk once blood gets on them….slicker than the proverbial snot, nearly impossible to hold onto. I have a 602 (think now discontinued), same as 102 Woodsman, but with a rubberized handle that is perfect for maintaining a grip when bloody…..102 NOT. Ditto for that 119 pictured above. I have actually wrapped those phenolic handles with a rubberized tape for improved grip


He was a tough player in the NHL for St.Louis and is obviously still pretty tough!!


That explains it. At the bar later, he probably shrugged and said, “What’s the big deal? It was just a bear.”


I wonder if he tried yelling “Ungowa!” first? And did he do the yodel after making the kill?

Seriously, I don’t know how he can walk. He must be packing a pair of bowling balls.


The embedded link to the fatal bear attack the sait it occurred the “previous September” (i.e. September 2005). The story of the man who attempted to save his wife with a Swiss Army Knife was just as interesting as the tale of the man with the “6 blade who saved himself and his dog, Sam. The article Dean linked was silent on the size of the man with the Gerber 6” knife. And the story of the man with the pocket knife also said nothing about his size or age. Nor did the report of the previous fatal attack mention… Read more »


Blessings he is safe! But, where was Jane?