“You’re not going to kill me! I have a family. I don’t want to die, you son of a bitch!”
Todd Pilgrim, a retired senior natural resource officer for the Yukon territorial government, had never killed a bison after 14 years of trying. On Nov. 7, he finally did, but not before he became the hunted. That’s right, he had to fight for his life against a 2,000-pound beast that simply refused to give up.
In the early morning hours of that fateful Tuesday, Pilgrim and good friend Fred Mullett made their way out to a hunting area just north of Twin Lakes. It didn’t take long for Mullett to spot a big bison standing in a field some 800 feet away.
A round from Pilgrim’s .338 Remington seemingly went unnoticed as penetrated the side of the animal. Pilgrim fired twice more then watched as the bison simply walked away.
“He walked into the woods as if I hadn’t even hit him,” Pilgrim told CTVNews.ca. “I know I hurt him.”
After waiting a short while, both men began tracking the bison. It didn’t take long before Mullett grew tired and went back to the truck, leaving the arduous task to his friend. For the next three and a half hours, Pilgrim trudged on.
Finally, Pilgrim came across a large pool of blood and realized he was close to harvesting his first bison. The possibility of the bison having different plans never crossed his mind.
The enraged bison suddenly appeared and knocked him unconscious. When he came to moments later, he found himself pinned under the massive animal, with a set of horns thrashing at him wildly.
“I couldn’t breathe because he was choking me,” he said. “My mouth, nose, my whole face was covered in bison fur, chest fur. I yelled at it, ‘You’re not going to kill me! I have a family. I don’t want to die, you son of a bitch!”
Miraculously, Pilgrim was able to squeeze out from beneath the animal, although it was at that point he realized his gun had fallen out of his back holster during the struggle. He then ran to the closest tree.
The pair played follow-the-leader around that tree until the bison eventually tired and gave up. As it slowly walked away, Pilgrim snatched up his gun that was laying 10 feet away, carefully aimed, and shot the bison straight in the heart. When it fell, he shot it again in the head just for good measure.
“And then you know what I did? I threw my gun down on the ground and I went over and gave him a big hug,” he said. “Poor guy. He was only trying to defend himself. He knew I was going to kill him so he was going to let me have it. I deserved it.”
Pilgrim eventually made his way back to the truck, as which point his friend quickly called for an ambulance. At the hospital, a wound to the hunter’s forehead required 12 stitches to close up. He was lucky he escaped with his life.
A group of friends who retrieved the animal delivered the meat to Pilgrim’s house the next day.
So after a 14-year wait and finally taking down a bison, what are the future hunting plans for Pilgrim?
“I’m done bison hunting. I don’t want to do it anymore,” he said.
We’d feel the exact same way.
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