Photo Courtesy of KUTV 2 News Montana

Montana Hunter Mauled by Grizzly, Fights Back As Jaw Is Ripped Off and Chest Scratched Open

Rudy Noorlander was trying to help other hunters track their shot deer.

A 61-year-old Big Sky, Montana, man is recovering after a savage grizzly bear attack Friday.

Rudy Noorlander, owner of the snowmobile and ATV rental company Alpine Adventures, was trying to help locate a shot deer for customers when he was mauled by a grizzly near the Yellow Mule Trails in Custer Gallatin National Forest.

It all started when a father-and-son hunting team that had rented ATVs from Noorlander returned from their hunt and told him they weren't able to track down the deer they had shot. Noorlander, like any good hunter, insisted they keep searching and accompanied the hunters back to the area to help search for the deer, his daughter said.

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Noorlander's daughter, KateLynn Davis, said her father was familiar with the area and was carrying both bear spray and a firearm, but happened upon a deer track that two grizzlies had found first.

"My dad saw a smaller adult grizzly bear from farther away. He started to pull his gun out, just to be safe," Davis said. "He was behind a tree, and from the time that he looked over at the smaller adult grizzly, a different one that he describes as a 10-foot mega-grizzly bear was on him in a second. He didn't have time to do anything. He tried to shoot the bear, but his gun misfired. He didn't have time to play dead. So he punched the bear in the nose."

The grizzly attack was quick and severe. The bear bit Noorlander directly in the face and ripped off his whole lower jaw and part of his trachea, according to his daughter.

"That's the biggest and worst injury," she said. "The bear also scratched his chest open, it bit his right leg multiple times and bit his left bicep. He's a fighter through and through and stayed awake through all of it and was trying to fight the bear off the whole time."

Photo Courtesy of the Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue

Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue (GCSSAR) volunteers from the Big Sky Section and Heli Team responded to the request for aid along with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks law enforcement officers, U.S. Forest Service law enforcement, Life Flight Network Helicopter, and Gallatin County sheriff's deputies, according to a press release. The GCSSAR team members arrived on the scene of the attack along with law enforcement officers and quickly transported Noorlander to a helicopter waiting at a nearby helicopter pad.

The area surrounding the attack is closed to all foot traffic while officials search for the bear, which they believed was injured by defensive gunfire during the encounter, according to a post on the Custer Gallatin National Forest Facebook page.

READ MORE: How to Find, Salvage a Gut-Shot Deer