A hunter was retrieving a pheasant Saturday along the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana when something unexpected flushed from the nearby willows. A sow grizzly came charging from the brush, barreling toward him and his gundog. His armament? A 12 gauge loaded for birds, and nothing else.
The Spokesman-Review reports that the dog was the cause of the griz’s advance. The bird dog caught the bear off guard—a sow with three cubs. That led to it bursting from cover and heading straight toward the dog and hunter.
“She emerged from the willows and charged the hunter’s dog,” Bruce Auchly, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman in Great Falls, told the Spokesman-Review. “The hunter yelled at the bear, which turned and charged him. The hunter shot in the air once with his 12-gauge shotgun.
“As the bear continued to charge, the 69-year-old hunter finally shot at the bear twice, hitting it in the chest and face. The final shot came when the animal was within ten feet.”
The bear fled back into the willows and the hunter and his dog escaped unharmed. FWP officials reportedly returned the next day and found the sow dead and her cubs gone. She was later estimated to be 9 years old and weighing roughly 500 pounds.
As always, hunters are urged to take precautions when moving in bear country, whether that’s bear spray, making loud noises, or carrying a handgun or other firearm when and where legal.
“We’ve had a few instances, just in recent days, of hunters encountering bears—both black and grizzly,” said Ken McDonald, wildlife division administrator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “Hunters should remain vigilant because even though we’ve got quite a bit of snow on the ground in some places, bears are still active.”