≡ Menu

Bear With Me: When Pepper Spray’s Got Nothing to Say to the Bear Eating Your Leg

Bear and man stopped downslope, wedged into brush and boulders. Bridger could feel the bear and frantically attempted to disentangle. The bear reared erect, jaws ready to strike. Bridger shot him again, in the front of his chest before falling/sliding further down the slope. The bear pursued him. He screamed at Janelle to stay away.

Bridger tried to kick the bear away from him as it tried to get at his upper body. He couldn’t shoot for fear of hitting his own legs.

The bear dodged a kick, and grabbed Bridger’s right inner thigh in its jaws, lifting him like a dog lifting a rabbit. Bridger shoved the muzzle of the GLOCK against the bear’s neck, trying to shatter its spine and shut the bear down. He fired.

The bear released his lower thigh, then grabbed his calf, just below the knee. The shot missed the spine. Man and bear are still moving fast, but in Bridger’s hyper-aware state, time slowed. He saw an opportunity for a headshot and pressed the trigger on the GLOCK.


Later, Bridger found bear hair between the guide rod and the slide of the G20 pistol. The hair prevented the slide from returning into battery. Bridger knew he should still have ammunition left in the magazine, so he racked the slide and saw a live round eject in slow motion.

Fractions of a second later, another opportunity for a head shot presented itself. The bear ripped at his leg. As the bear tried to tear off his calf muscle, Bridger saw his chance and pressed the trigger.


Man and bear went down together, rolling and sliding a bit further down the slope…

RTWT [And the Comments] @ Glock 20 Ends Bear Attack, Just Barely – AllOutdoor.comAllOutdoor.com

[HT: Never Yet Melted サ People Recently Attacked (or Killed) by Mountain Lion, Black Bear, Grizzlies, Cinnamon Bear]

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dave J September 21, 2018, 10:29 AM

    Its a strangely written story. Regarding your title G, I believe it was a cinnamon phase/ colored black bear.

  • Snakepit Kansas September 21, 2018, 10:48 AM

    A Glock 20 shoots the powerful 10mm cartridge. It is a .40S&W cartridge on steroids. Close to a .41Magnum.

  • Vanderleun September 21, 2018, 11:14 AM

    Dave, Check and double check.

  • Marica September 21, 2018, 11:18 AM

    “… bear hair between the guide rod and the slide… ”

    I think one should always have a revolver handy, just in case.

  • ghostsniper September 21, 2018, 11:55 AM

    “I think one should always have a revolver handy, just in case.”

    If it has moving parts it can get jammed.
    Solution: Gerber Quick Draw, clipped to right pocket.
    Snaps open in a second, razor sharp, jam it to the hilt in the bears eyeball.
    It’ll break global speed records getting away from you.
    So chase it.
    When it hears you coming it’ll kick in the turbo.

  • tim September 21, 2018, 12:29 PM

    I wanna kill
    a cinnamon bear
    I could be happy
    the rest of my life
    With a cinnamon bear…

    A dreamer of pictures
    I run in the night
    You see us together,
    chasing the moonlight,
    My cinnamon bear.

  • JiminAlaska September 21, 2018, 12:32 PM

    Good post G.

    I searched the web for more of the story & found the reason the head’s sitting on the tailgate; they had to cut it off (with a 3 inch pocket knife and a folding saw to cut the spine) to get it’s teeth out of his calf so they could move and medivac Bridger.

  • ghostsniper September 21, 2018, 2:28 PM
  • Casey Klahn September 21, 2018, 8:38 PM

    I have no authoritative thing to say about killing bears; the closest is my father’s stories of having killed 5 bears on the Olympic Peninsula, most of them over a garbage dump. I grew up there, too, and was never afraid of the black bears in the Olympics. I never heard of any having killed a man in that region.

    However, the confrontation the guide had happened to me, too, and with a cinnamon-phase large black bear, bigger by about 25% at least than the one here. My estimate was that he was 600 lbs. minimum. Let’s just say the head was big and round and his shoulder height was f-ing tall. Another interesting trait was that his coloration was all over, from the toes to the tips of his ears. Beautiful bear, who, when I spied him, was looking intently at me from about 50 yards away, slightly uphill and on a rock footing. The sun grazed his fur, and it was up, in display, because he didn’t know what he was seeing. I was camouflaged, and neither one of us had winded the other (crosswind).

    Winding a bear is unmistakable. They smell like a garbage dump.

    I reckoned that my 12 gauge shotgun, loaded for turkey (#5), was maybe a good potential splint for a broken leg, but way too little shell for this bruin. Well, I didn’t actually think that. I thought: shotgun too little. I can’t believe this is happening. I’m not afraid of bears, but this guy is of a different order of magnitude altogether! My life flashed before my eyes, I said penance, and I drew my…

    .357 magnum revolver, with 6 inch barrel. That advantage, in aiming, and in power (more powder is burned in a longer barrel and that provides more velocity), was much better than the 10mm or the 4 inch revolvers shown in the links out. I still wondered if I had enough pistol; I knew my life, if threatened, would depend fully on remaining calm enough to hit where I aimed, and a heavy dose of grace and good luck.

    All this to say that I did not rule out the head shot. My plan was to render two shots to the head, above and between the eyes by about a half inch (aiming point), and then to expend 4 rounds center mass trying for a soft tissue wound. I was well within the pistol’s range capabilities, although it was a bit far; the scenario in my head had him charging, anyway.

    I opted not to start anything that would escalate. He gave me the side look (trying to “make me” because I was mostly a noise and an irregular shape to him), and otherwise kept the stare down contest going. I made the decision to back out slowly, and there are a bunch of tactical things that go with that (had had me at lots of disadvantages). Never move quickly around a predator, which is what a bear is. He’s not a berry eater only; he kills big game for a living. Most people don’t realize that. Keep your face and eyes on him. After maybe a dozen or two footsteps I began to get some small trees between us, and I was able to turn in the direction of travel and fast walk now. I looked back, and saw red coming through the trees on his bench, after me.

    But, as he was walking and not stalking me for a kill, I was able to open up the distance and eventually very-fast walk (when I knew he didn’t have sight of me) and made it the half mile to home. I was kicking myself for having been aroused; but holy ship he was a big one! Some of my neighbors had gotten trail cam shots of him, but had no real idea of the size. Another neighbor saw his track on the gravel road and about wet himself because of the size. Big head red did remain in the canyon for some of the summer. The deer who usually liked the woods debouched from there and took up residence in the open fields.

    So, anyway, I have no idea what handgun is the right one. I wouldn’t have wanted that 40 mm, however my compliments to the guy who survived this encounter.

    For the record: I have since lost that handgun in a river crossing.

  • Casey Klahn September 21, 2018, 8:40 PM

    Crap! I wrote my nice red bear story and it went to comment purgatory. I copied it; it’ll probably come up soon enough. I had an encounter with the same kind of bear; written about it here, before.

  • John A. Fleming September 21, 2018, 9:36 PM

    Now that’s what I like. An almost fair fight. I like bears. I hate to see ’em get killed. Every once in a while, the bear wins. That’s the way it should be. You go into the bear’s home, you accept the risk. It was different in the pioneer and Indian days. Lewis and Clark reported sighting lots of grizzlies on the Missouri, and they were able to mostly avoid grizzly trouble, but occasionally had to kill one to keep their party alive.

    That bear should be alive. The dude did two things wrong, by the description I read. First, he lost control of his dogs. Second, he decided to seize the opportunity to film the bear, instead of respecting him. I have encountered bears 4 times in the wilds. The most important thing is, don’t give the bear a reason to notice you. Sit your damn dogs down and shut them up and let the bear be in peace. Bears don’t want to mess with you. They’re looking for food. But sometimes they’re starving and ornery. If the bear notices you, then somehow you have to signal that you could be trouble to mess with. It’s a fine line and you don’t know where that line is, you have to stand your ground and yet not make a direct challenge.

    Bears are like cops. Bears have agency. Bears are individuals. Bears are unpredictable. Bears are one of God’s noble creatures. At every encounter you are always seconds away from death, and what triggers it is and will be unknowable to you. Do everything you can to give bears a wide berth. Because unlike cops, if you lose to a bear the Fish and Game folks are going on a shameful bear hunt. Bears don’t know our laws, so they should be left in peace.

  • Casey Klahn September 21, 2018, 9:44 PM

    OK. Rewrite.

    I am no authority on handguns for bear killing. However…

    I did encountered an even larger cinnamon phase black bear a number of years ago. I was forced to draw the .357 magnum, 6 inch barrel, which is provably better than the subject’s 4omm auto. I did not rule out the head shot. In fact, I planned 2 to the head, and then 4 to center mass. As it was, I backed away from danger slowly (predators, which most people don’t know bears very much are, do not ignore quick movements).

    So, I’m no expert, except I do know what the intro phase to this encounter is like, and the decision making matrix that ensues. Have enough gun! Did I? Apparently, by all research I was able to muster after the fact. It is hard to find actual experts who actually killed bear, and deuced easy to find pontificators online.

    The handgun in my story was subsequently lost in a river crossing.

  • ghostsniper September 22, 2018, 4:27 AM

    “….357 magnum, 6 inch barrel, which is provably better than the subject’s 4omm auto…”
    I went to Alaska to run trap lines for wolf and beaver.
    I had a Ruger Blackhawk .357 DA hollow points on my hip and a Remington 870 slug gun strapped across my back.
    The game plan was to get 6 head shots at close range then step out of the way.
    Now, I’d not do that.
    But now isn’t then, perspective sometimes changes over time.

  • revjen45 September 22, 2018, 7:37 AM

    ” It is a .40S&W cartridge on steroids.”
    Actually the .40 is a 10mm on Valium, since the 10mm was developed 1st and the .40 is a 10mm with reduced power. I agree that the 10mm is the power round for an autoloader.

  • Casey Klahn September 22, 2018, 7:51 AM

    Ghost, I went immediately out and got some slugs for the 12 gauge. Practiced at 50 yards – my sight picture changes compared to double ought buck; otherwise very effective. I don’t think you need to be an expert to figure out no bruin would get past that SOB, but of course tactical things come into play and he’s got a whole lot of advantages over you almost all of the time. At such close ranges, it is not a fair fight, even when you are a man armed to the teeth as described. The Cin Bear is an other-worldly figure, but not compared to a large griz. Those are another level of ohsh!t.

    I did the online study: “is a .357 magnum sufficient for killing a griz?” The pantheon of bullshitters was impressive. I finally found one guy with a backlog of killed bears, and another guy with maybe 1 or 2. The really good guy said yes, it is sufficient, as does my record-holder firearms pro hunting buddy (USMC sniper trainer). The trope about the impenetrable skull does not hold up to the test: .357 vs cinder block. But, one does advise caution!

    My own pappy kilt 5 bars; mostly over garbage dumps. Said it was easy hunting. I never respected bear or feared them, and have had multiple solo encounters with them in the woods. That was my only interesting one.

    I own no firearms now; gd boating accident…

  • Jack September 23, 2018, 8:45 AM

    I’ve never hunted bears but I do know a thing or two about pistols and revolvers and a little about shooting under stress. A properly stoked .357 mag revolver would certainly have the power to kill a bear in close proximity but most people I know would probably not handle the round well enough to make head shots under stress due to that round’s recoil and even more so if they’re shooting a single action, Ruger style revolver.

    I do know this. That if I were planning a trip into bear country my first choice would be a .375 H&H. If I was relegated to packing a handgun, I’d take a .44 mag in S&W and spend time at the range in advance of my trip.

  • Casey Klahn September 23, 2018, 9:30 AM

    I agree with everything you said, Jack. There are evn bigger handguns, but at some point you have to make your choices. The day I saw Big Head Red, at handgun range, I had no intention of combatting a bear with a handgun, and the possibility of such was so near zero that carrying a bear pistol would’ve been weird. Cougar is my main nemesis, and wolf, although I have no pretentions that a wolf encounter would offer me a shot at him. If it’s ever wolf vs handgun, I feel the handgunner would never know what hit him.

    Back to the bear. My handgun that day was a GP100 style Ruger, which is a double action. Also, the 6 inch barrel controls better than the shorties, which are not nearly as much fun to shoot. Anyway, it shoots fine for me for 6 rounds and I do hit what I aim at. I give myself credit for staying calm enough in that encounter; the only critical thing for the man is to keep his shit together. If it’s of any interest, I also knew there was no way I was going to miss that massive head! It was maybe double the size of the one in this picture.

    I also (used to) have a lever action Marlin that chambers the same round. That, the handgun, and a slugged 12 guage, are my bear guns (of choice – I don’t own them anymore as I was robbed of them by a band of gypsies).

    I am not a fan of the AR rifles, BTW, having carried one to the point of it becoming my third arm. Ask the cowboys from the 19th Century, and let them know the AR carbine is known for shooting rice-eating irregulars. They will first stare you down, then laugh at you.

    But, I digress. Jack is totally right about the stress factor. I actually don’t know how I’d do in that event, but I have cheated death a few times, and in my youth, anyway, I did usually keep my shit tight. As an older man, though, I am interested to know how things would roll. Probably shittily, I guess.

  • ghostsniper September 23, 2018, 1:26 PM

    My Blackhawk was double action too and I was proficient with it, having put at least a thousand rounds through it. Watch charging bears on a documentary, watch the head. They lumber, even at speed. The head bobs up and down, drastically.

    You’re standing there, adrenalin through the moon, in your modified 2 handed weaver stance, hawgleg trained on the approximate vicinity of that quarter ton of razor sharp beast racing toward you. Your dovetail and post are true but that head is moving up and down rapidly and so is your gun. Then you steel your weapon and time your shot on the bobbing. When that head is low but heading upward you pull the trigger and bullet meets bone halfway up the upstroke. That 158 grain missle goes all the way through it, coming out it’s ass, but it doesn’t know it yet. And you don’t care because you’re in the middle of pulling that trigger 5 more times as fast as you can. As fast as it’s coming, whether you kill it or not, it’s going to bowl you over unless you get out of the way. What’s worse than a charging 800 pound bear? When it’s dead and laying on top of you.