10 seconds of terror: Man survives brown bear mauling

BY Herschel Smith
5 months ago

From a reader, news from Alaska.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Allen Minish was alone and surveying land for a real estate agent in a wooded, remote part of Alaska, putting some numbers into his GPS unit when he looked up and saw a large brown bear walking about 30 feet away.

“I saw him and he saw me at the same time, and it’s scary,” he said by phone Wednesday from his hospital bed in Anchorage, a day after being mauled by the bear in a chance encounter.

The mauling left Minish with a crushed jaw, a puncture wound in his scalp so deep the doctor told him he could see bone, lacerations and many stitches after a 4½-hour surgery. He also is wearing a patch over his right eye, saying the doctors are worried about it.

All that damage came from a very brief encounter — he estimates it lasted less than 10 seconds — after he startled the bear Tuesday morning just off the Richardson Highway, near Gulkana, located about 190 miles (306 kilometers) northeast of Anchorage.

The bear, which Minish said was larger than 300-pound black bears he has seen, charged and closed the ground between them in a few seconds.

Minish tried to dodge behind small spruce trees. That didn’t stop the bear; he went through them.

As the bear neared, Minish held up the pointed end of his surveying pole and pushed it toward the bear to keep it away from him.

The bear simply knocked it to the side, the force of which also knocked Minish to the ground.

“As he lunged up on top of me, I grabbed his lower jaw to pull him away,” he said, noting that’s how he got a puncture wound in his hand. “But he tossed me aside there, grabbed a quarter of my face.”

“He took a small bite and then he took a second bite, and the second bite is the one that broke the bones … and crushed my right cheek basically,” he said.

When the bear let go, Minish turned his face to the ground and put his hands over his head.

And then the bear just walked away.

He surmises the bear left because he no longer perceived Minish as a threat. The bear’s exit — Alaska State Troopers said later they did not locate the bear — gave him time assess damage.

[ … ]

Minish, 61, has had his share of bear encounters over the 40 years he’s lived in Alaska, but nothing like this. He owns his own surveying and engineering business, which takes him into the wild often.

“That’s the one lesson learned,” he said. “I should have had somebody with me.”

He left his gun in the vehicle on this job but said it wouldn’t have mattered because the bear moved on him too fast for it to have been any use.

That’s a hard-learned lesson.

I’ll accept that he couldn’t have deployed a handgun from a holster fast enough to defend himself if he says so.  He was there and I wasn’t.

But I’ll tell you what.  If it was me and I had to go out in the bush alone, I’d keep a tactical 12 gauge shotgun loaded with 00 buck or slug on a sling at the ready on my body.  I say a tactical 12 gauge shotgun because I’d want something with a shorter sight radius than a fowling piece – where I could drop what I was going and pick the gun up within a second or two.

Still better, go out with someone.

Maybe The Alaskan has some better suggestions.


Comments

  1. On May 20, 2021 at 9:42 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ Herschel Smith

    Safety in numbers is a very good idea when venturing into bear country, not only because one person can work or otherwise have their attention diverted while the other keeps watch – but because bears are sometimes deterred by multiple humans being present. And if the worst happens, and the bear attacks, then there is also safety or at least less-danger in numbers.

    Special ops personnel don’t like going “into Indian Country” alone, and with good reason. One man, no matter how skilled, can’t cover 360 degrees alone even if he is constantly scanning the environment around him, whereas two mean can do a pretty good job of it, and three or more can do even better.

    The same applies in bear country. While your gun is slung or not at the ready, your partner can cover you crossing that stream or other obstacle and you can do the same for him, and so on. Which of course means you have to carry a firearm and so does he. Leaving it in the car or truck might as well be miles away. Bears are too fast, too quick to cover ground, for that eventuality.

  2. On May 20, 2021 at 10:17 pm, George 1 said:

    “He left his gun in the vehicle on this job but said it wouldn’t have mattered because the bear moved on him too fast for it to have been any use.”

    I have read a few accounts of bear attacks where the bear walked away and then came back to finish the job. So just because the attack seems over and the bear seems to be walking away, I would not count on it. If you have a weapon but were unable to use it prior to or during the attack, when it walks away I would draw it from the holster, if I was able, in case it returns.

    As Mr. Smith says: “Have a large bore handgun.” Or the tactical shotgun is good too.

  3. On May 20, 2021 at 11:55 pm, TheAlaskan said:

    A surveyor who had his gun in his truck who ventured afield like he’s done countless times before with no issues with bears that he’s encountered before. Geez packing all that survey equipment afield, plus that heavy gun….

    “It wouldn’t have mattered anyway”….as the bear neared, he raised the pointy end of his survey pole to the bear which the bear knocked to the side….bet he wished that survey pole had a trigger attached to it.

    When in bear country in Alaska, pack lead-slinging bear medicine, period.

  4. On May 21, 2021 at 12:12 am, TheAlaskan said:

    Herschel,

    A 44 magnum in a chest rig. My rig when I’m choking salmon from a beach. All salmon streams/beaches will also have bears…mostly
    brownies.

    Both arms free, still armed.

    And yes, a tactical 3″ shotgun loaded full magazine with slugs…my favorite black magic magnums…sabat.

  5. On May 21, 2021 at 9:31 am, Whocares said:

    Another example of self deception leading to tragic consequences.
    40 years of experience with no problems.
    Prior bear encounters with no problems.
    Led to feeling so self confident in going alone he had no need for a firearm.
    40 years of the same experiences or closely related experiences led him to discount other possible experiences that put him in the ground or the hospital.

  6. On May 21, 2021 at 11:27 am, billrla said:

    Lucky guy.

    We have bears in cities, too, but, they walk on two legs.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Animals and was published May 20th, 2021 by Herschel Smith.

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