grizzly bear encounters

Hunters Talk About Their Grizzly Bear Encounters and Being Attacked

These two hunters have had multiple grizzly bear encounters in the Montana backcountry. Listen to what they have to say about dealing with bear attacks.

Greg Benjamin and Marty Hoffman have both experienced grizzly bear encounters while trekking through the Montana backcountry. Both men have been brutally attacked by an enraged bear.

To hear them talk about that experience, and what they do to hopefully avoid such encounters now, is mesmerizing.

It's also instructional, and is solid advice for anyone traveling through bear country.

The advice that Benjamin and Hoffman give is borne of brutal experience. Having survived a vicious attack, they speak with the wisdom of men who have lived through a grizzly bear mauling and yet continue to hunt in bear country.

They've also had more than one up close and personal encounter with bears.

Benjamin says that he now refuses to hunt alone "in areas that have a high population of grizzlies." He also says that he carries two bear defense mechanisms - bear spray and a firearm - on his person, easily and quickly accessible, "just in case you lose one of those defenses..."

Additionally, he emphasizes that he and Hoffman regularly practice potential bear encounter scenarios. "When we were hiking through the woods or coming back to camp, we always had 'what if' scenarios. What if we ran into a bear. What if that bear was there," he says, pointing to an imaginary spot. "What would we do. And we'd practice that, numerous times."

Hoffman adds that the two men practice and rehearse even how they walk on the trail. If the trail is narrow, Hoffman says, Benjamin will take a step to the left while Hoffman steps to his right, "and we're shoulder to shoulder."

"What we've done there," he says, "is made ourselves twice as big. And we're both ready to deploy pepper spray, or whatever means we have with us that we feel is necessary to repel that bear."

"You practice those [scenarios], until those things essentially become conditioned," adds Benjamin. "A conditioned response is what we're looking for."

They then recount an actual bear attack wherein they used the techniques they had practiced. It's an amazing story, and one that could have had a very different outcome had these men not been practiced and ready for just such an encounter.

Advice when traveling in bear country:

  • Know your hunting area.
  • Hunt with a reliable partner.
  • Come equipped to defend yourself: Keep bear spray accessible. Practice. Have a backup defense.
  • Carry first aid and know how to use it: clotting agent, gauze, bandages.
  • Come equipped to shelter in place: emergency blanket, fire.

"These bears are extremely quick," says Hoffman. "They're very fast. They'll outrun a quarterhorse. You don't have time to respond if you're not expecting bear."

Go here to listen to Todd Orr's horrific account of being attacked and mauled by a grizzly twice in the same day. It's a riveting story.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

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