When a .380 Isn’t Enough – Namely, Bull Moose

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 5 months ago

Pretty much any time in the bush.

A bull moose spent nearly an hour stomping and attacking a rookie racer and her team of sled dogs amid a training run for the Iditarod in the frigid wilderness of Alaska.

Bridgette Watkins said the massive animal paid her little mind when she first spotted it on her 52-mile trek along Salcha River trail system, near Fairbanks. She told Outdoor Life she paused for the moose several more times, trying to keep plenty of space between them, and then suddenly it was charging at her.

A bull moose spent nearly an hour stomping and attacking a rookie racer and her team of sled dogs during a training run for the Iditarod in the frigid wilderness of Alaska.

The rookie racer aimed her .380 firearm at the animal, which had recently shed its antler, and then fired off half of its six rounds before it jammed. But the moose didn’t stop, so she dashed for cover beneath her sled, cleared the jam and then checked on her team. The moose was milling about her dogs, so she quickly cut free six of them, who were attached to snowmobile being driven by her friend and dog handler, Jen Nelson.

The moose again charged in their direction, prompting Watkins to fire another few rounds.

“We’re standing there and I said, ‘I’m out of bullets, I’m out of bullets, I have no more bullets’ … and I’m like, ‘this is it,’” she recalled. “I can count the whiskers on his nose. He’s two feet from me.”

Instead of attacking the women, the moose turned his attention to the remaining four dogs.

“Any time a dog would move or bark, the moose would go into attack mode. Over and over and over,” Watkins told the magazine.

“And we would yell and hit things and scream and try to distract him. And when he would stop, we would talk to the dogs. Because they’re standing there looking at me, terrified, and I’d try to keep them calm.”

Sled dog team attacked by moose.

She also said this.

“Everybody wants to tell me what kind of gun I should have or shouldn’t have, or how I should have or shouldn’t have shot,” Watkins says of the social media backlash. “I’m prepared now, and I was prepared then. I’m a lifelong Alaskan—I have every gun I need to kill even an elephant. It’s not that I don’t have the weapon, I’m just not going to a gunfight” when I’m running trails in February.

I’ll be the next somebody to tell you what to do.  When I went to the Weminuche Wilderness I was warned about Moose.  Bears … eh … not so much a problem up there, but “a Moose will stomp you to death and there are plenty of them.”

I carried a big bore handgun.  You should too.  Get yourself a .44 Magnum so this doesn’t happen again.


  1. On February 10, 2022 at 12:24 am, Dan said:

    Typical of a LOT of females. Even after an encounter PROVING she was inadequately armed she still refuses to listen to advice…..accurate advice. Next time it should be a big ass brown bear awake early and hungry. And hopefully before she passes along her defective genes.

  2. On February 10, 2022 at 1:53 am, Georgiaboy61 said:

    Re:”I’m prepared now, and I was prepared then. I’m a lifelong Alaskan—I have every gun I need to kill even an elephant. It’s not that I don’t have the weapon, I’m just not going to a gunfight”

    Ms.Watkins, in her arrogance, is apparently too dimwitted to realize that she is lucky to be alive. She very nearly won a Darwin Award, and almost improved the gene pool by removing herself from it. Being a “life-long Alaskan” and living near wildlife doesn’t make her some sort of expert any more than owning a piano makes someone a musician. In fact, on the basis of the evidence, one could say she has learned remarkably little about “nature red-in-tooth-and-claw,” from her time there.

    A real pioneer woman would not act or speak in such an idiotic manner. Nor would a genuine field biologist or experienced trapper, hunter or anyone else who actually knows his way around out in nature. She doesn’t deserve such loyal dogs, but then that’s dogs for you….

  3. On February 10, 2022 at 7:08 am, Bob in NC said:

    Some people can’t handle a large caliber handgun accurately or confidently due to the recoil.
    Back in the days when I was able to hike in wilderness areas, I always took my lever action .30-.30 rifle with me. That would be a better choice for her.

  4. On February 10, 2022 at 9:35 am, Ned said:

    Well yes – of course people were giving her advice on what to carry. Funny that her takeaway after this incident is “I’m prepared now, and I was prepared then.” That’s some amazing level of denial.


  5. On February 10, 2022 at 10:34 am, ragman said:


  6. On February 10, 2022 at 11:03 am, Arthur Sido said:

    My mantra is have the right tool for the job. If she was shopping in Anchorage, a .380 in her purse might be the right tool, but if you are carrying in the wilderness what did she think she might need to shoot and how did she decide on a .380 out of the arsenal she allegedly has?

  7. On February 10, 2022 at 11:15 am, Fred said:

    “And when he would stop, we would talk to the dogs. Because they’re standing there looking at me, terrified, and I’d try to keep them calm.”

    And now the dogs know. They know that women are terrible leaders. They really can’t, at a physiological level, understand dominion, and the necessity for violence under the Noahic Covenant.

    “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.” Genesis 9:5


    “And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; 10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.” Genesis 9:9-10

    Study Genesis 9:1-10. It’s NOT about a rainbow. It many respects, post flood, the sin curse upon Adam and all men, and upon the woman and upon the earth becomes even deeper.

  8. On February 10, 2022 at 11:31 am, blake said:

    “As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire; ”

    Rudyard Kipling: The Gods of the Copybook Headings

    The gal is also carrying a gun that is not reliable. 3 rounds and it jammed? No bueno. She needs some serious range time to find a carry gun she can trust when the chips are down.

    But, she’s a strong empowered woman, so, any advice from a man is going to be ignored.

  9. On February 10, 2022 at 11:59 am, Eat or Get Ate In Nature said:

    Moose attacks are a construct of the white male capitalist patriarchy.
    Did she go with hashtags or try a group hug with the dogs? (sarc)
    I would learn about the anatomy of all animals in that region before going on trails in order to know where vital organs are located and where to aim.
    Watched one of those Alaska trail shows once where a bear charged a group by a creek full of salmon and the guide scattered everyone to the winds and let loose with a hunting rifle.
    He was in tears afterward with the comment hated to do that but it was the bear or us.

  10. On February 10, 2022 at 12:04 pm, Dov said:

    I also read another comment elsewhere where she mentioned changing to a bigger caliber after this, but who knows. Perhaps she got tired of everyone jumping down her throat and said this. It is amazing the palpable hate and contempt poured out on this woman in the comments, and then spread generously to all women. Sad to see. I wonder if the owners of such contempt have ever done anything like run a 10 dog team in the wilderness?

    I used to run teams of sled dogs in the mountains (including overnights) and carried a .45. Bears were the concern. We have moose all over where I live and they are not normally this brazen because everyone has guns and they seem to know it.

    Sled dogs will swarm an opponent; twice I had a situation where my 10 dog team killed an animal attacker. All that has to happen is for an animal to bite at or swat at one dog, then all 10 would turn and attack until it quit moving. When 10 dogs attack all at once it is hard for an animal to fight them off. Her dogs must have gotten tangled up, or perhaps when the 6 got cut loose the 4 were not enough to fight.

  11. On February 10, 2022 at 12:09 pm, 41mag said:

    I bet she limp-wristed her 3rd shot.

  12. On February 10, 2022 at 12:23 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    Her dogs were still tied up. Had she been able to get them loose the team might have killed the Moose.

    Notice that I didn’t hurl hate at her. I respect what she does and is doing.

    Her recalcitrance and insistence that she was properly prepared in the bush might get her killed in the future, or get more of her dogs killed. She should just take the advice.

    ALWAYS carry a big bore handgun in the bush.


  13. On February 10, 2022 at 12:23 pm, Fred said:

    @Dov, few, very few, have a nature to teach and to be constructive in criticism. We expect too much of lost sinners and too little of born again saints.

  14. On February 10, 2022 at 2:13 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ Dov

    Re:”I also read another comment elsewhere where she mentioned changing to a bigger caliber after this, but who knows. Perhaps she got tired of everyone jumping down her throat and said this. It is amazing the palpable hate and contempt poured out on this woman in the comments…”

    Oh please…. not with that again….

    If you’d genuinely like to know why so many men are upset with females like this one, it stems from the fact that folks like her demand respect but refuse to be accountable for their actions, and instead when things go wrong, they then claim to be victims or blame others. Mature people – male or female – don’t do that. They accept responsibility for their mistakes and cowboy up and try to do better next time.

    That’s not what this gal did. She blew it and made a mistake that could have killed her and her team of dogs, and instead of owning up to it, doubled-down on her position that she knows what she is doing and that there was no problem.

    Who are we kidding? If some guy had done this, he’d be getting roasted and ridiculed on late night TV coast-to-coast, but you won’t see that here. See, part of being a “modern empowered woman” is the freedom to screw up at an epic level, but never being held to the same standards as a man would be.

    Arrogance and ignorance make a hazardous combination, especially in the back-country. Maybe she ought to try logic, reason and accountability instead. I’m sure the critics would disappear quickly if she did that.

    Oh, and being in a dogsled race doesn’t make anyone an “expert” on survival in the wilderness. That competency, like any other, has to be earned and there are no shortcuts.

  15. On February 10, 2022 at 3:14 pm, George R. said:

    Did the moose live? What pisses me off is that there is some wounded animal out there in pain because of this idiot woman.

  16. On February 10, 2022 at 3:15 pm, Fred said:

    @GB61, that’s a great comment and all true.

  17. On February 10, 2022 at 3:33 pm, Ambiguousfrog said:

    .308 and .380 are pretty close ;-)

  18. On February 11, 2022 at 1:13 am, Ohio Guy said:

    Pride goeth before the fall. Or so I’ve read somewhere.

  19. On February 12, 2022 at 3:30 pm, xtphreak said:

    Sounds like a friend who backpacks and asked for advice about a handgun to carry.
    Appalachian Trail, Smokeys, all eastern stuff.

    Regardless of my advice, he bought a pocket .380 (six shot) because it was small and LIGHT WEIGHT.

    He had no intention of carrying a 2 lb revolver, OMG the weight!!!!

    I advised him to not shoot a bear with it, in an emergency, better to shoot himself if alone. If hiking with others, shoot the slowest one and run.

  20. On February 12, 2022 at 8:02 pm, BRVTVS said:

    There are plenty of small, lightweight revolvers stronger than a 380. A bulldog in 44 special would not be underpowered, yet not too heavy for the trail.

  21. On February 13, 2022 at 11:50 am, joh said:

    I read the story about a week ago. Have had time to ponder. Same thoughts as above…
    I just had a further thought, unclear to me.
    Did she SHOOT the moose? or did she fire into the air- to “scare it off”.
    I don’t see any blood on that animal.
    I find it hard to believe a face full of even lil 380 wouldn’t leave a mark.

  22. On April 25, 2022 at 5:34 pm, Sly said:

    For Bear (I’ve killed Black Bear and they are not tough to a head shot)
    I’d recommend looking at .460 rowland with their recoil reducer.
    It turned my .45 cal Glock compensated into the equivalent of a .44 magnum, with NO KICK.
    I went crazy, leupold red dot, with co witnessed tall open sights and a green laser.
    Bad to the bone at .50 yards with a 2″ group.
    It’s easy to put down a 180 lb deer at 15 yds with a .380 head shot.
    It would probably not go thru a moose skull. No experience there.
    I’d feel comfortable with a moose with a 460 rowland and their compensator.

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You are currently reading "When a .380 Isn’t Enough – Namely, Bull Moose", entry #29294 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Animals and was published February 9th, 2022 by Herschel Smith.

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