With steely nerves, an 11-year-old boy armed with a shotgun saved his family from a charging brown bear when he put the beast down mere feet away.
With a presence of mind and nerves of steel, 11-year-old Elliot Clark stood his ground as a charging brown bear barreled through two adults and ran straight for him. Young Elliot was armed with a shotgun loaded with birdshot and fired multiple times at the bear at point blank range.
Reports indicate that Clark was hiking with three family members to a fishing hole in Game Creek a few miles south of Hoonah, Alaska on Chichagof Island. Elliot was walking in a procession that included his uncle Craig Stoltzfus, his great-uncle Stoltzfus' father, a cousin and three dogs.
Stoltzfus and Elliot were the only armed members of the party but when a large brown bear burst from the undergrowth it immediately knocked Stoltzfus and his father to the side of the trail as it charged for Elliot and his cousin.
"There was four of them in a line. My son was third," Elliot's father Lucas Clark told the Juneau Empire. "The bear came down the trail at them, fella in the front, who was his uncle, the bear was on him so quickly that he didn't have time to take his rifle off his shoulder."
Elliot raised his shotgun and fired a load of birdshot into the bear.
"His first shot was a light load of birdshot," said Lucas Clark. "That first shot hit him in the shoulder and did absolutely nothing. The next shot hit him in the nose and traveled down through the neck."
Elliot quickly fired two more times, his third shot being so close that it left powder burns on the bear's lips. This shot dropped the bear and Lucas indicated that "As the bear slid past him and came to a stop, he put a kill shot it him."
Elliot's uncle fired another round into the bear to make sure it was dead.
Lucas said that the fact that Elliot didn't have a sling on his gun made all the difference.
"He was carrying it in his hands rather than on his shoulder," he said. "That was the problem with the other ones, when the bear came at his uncle, he had his rifle on his shoulder and the bear was very close, so he couldn't get it off in time."
The family was prepared for a possible bear encounter, which is why they were carrying guns. Elliot had birdshot as his top round in his shotgun to scare a bear off should they see one. Fortunately the rest of his shots were slugs.
Perhaps even more fortunate was the fact that 11-year old Elliot Clark had the presence of mind and grit to face down a charging brown bear.
"It's not just a matter of skill or preparedness," said Lucas Clark. "It can happen to anybody and it can go wrongly, especially a kid. We pray for our kids every day and in my mind that's the biggest factor right there."
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