Jeff and the Bear that Almost Got Him

-----It was an Autumn day and Jeff was out moose hunting in a remote area off the Susitna River all by himself. He had gone paddling in his canoe down a small creek which went out into the middle of a swamp. Nearing the edge of the treeline along the swamp he heard some crackling noises in the trees that sounded like a moose walking around so he pulled the canoe over to the edge and got out to look around. He grabbed his rifle in one hand putting a shell in the chamber and making sure the safety was on and he put his moose call and spotting scope in his other hand and under his arm. He walked about 40 or 50 feet and there were these two huge cottonwood trees about as big around as a car hood. He walked over to them and looked around one and there 5 feet away from him was a huge bear which stood up and looked his way. It took all his wits to keep from gasping as he froze silent in his tracks. The bear was facing the sun and didn’t appear to see him at first but started lifting his nose in the air and sniffing loudly which sounded like a vacuum cleaner. Just as Jeff thought to take a step back the bear’s eyes widened and locked in on him. There was no doubt the bear had seen him. This all happened in an instant and BAM just like that the bear lunged at him. In the next instant Jeff dropped his moose call and spotting scope and poked the barrel of the rifle in the bear’s mouth to keep the bear from biting him while bringing up his other hand to help him release the safety so he could pull the trigger.
-----Jeff was a mailman and had been trained that when a dog attacked him to take the mail or the bag he was carrying and shove it in the dog’s mouth to keep it from biting him. This was a tactic that he had used many times to avoid being bitten by dogs. This is the instinct that took over as the bear charged him. In the next second he got the safety off and the very powerful blast of a 375 H&H with a 300 grain silvertip bullet blew into the bears left nostril shattering the left side of his skull. A fine mist of blood flew through the air in the sunlight as the bear fell to the ground gurgling. Jeff’s heartbeat was almost pounding out of his chest and he was thinking Holy shit! What just happened?! It had all happened so fast. It crossed his mind that possibly there were cubs also because of the way the bear attacked so aggressively - it’s the kind of thing a mama bear defending her cubs would do but there were no cubs around. After checking his pants he went over to the bear to make sure he was dead and then tried to move him. He was so heavy Jeff had to put down his rifle and use both his hands to grab the bears feet to drag him into a clearing. At this point the unexpected, unpleasant job of gutting a bear started. First off most bears smell terrible but this one was worse than terrible and then along came the flies and the bugs attracted to the blood. It was 5 pm, getting dark and Jeff was a mile and a half from his 6 wheeler. He didn’t have time to skin it so he stopped after gutting it. Using a rope that he always carries with him he dragged the bear 5 feet at a time until he got it to the canoe.
-----Then the dilemma was how to get the 300 plus pound bear into the canoe. There was no way Jeff could lift it into the canoe. So he had this brilliant idea to pull the canoe up alongside of the bear and tipping the canoe over rolling the bear into it. That worked out pretty good, however, Jeff failed to secure the bear in the canoe so when he pushed the canoe out into the water the bear shifted and tipped the canoe filling it up with water and sinking it. So then he had to drag a canoe full of water and the bear back up out of the water and start the process all over again. This time he made sure to tie the bear to the front seat so it couldn’t shift again. Finallly, with the bear secure he set off for the 6 wheeler and by the time he got there it was pitch black out. To make it easier he used the 6 wheeler to pull the canoe with the bear still inside of it out of the water. He then arranged the 6 wheeler with its dump bed over the bear that was still inside the canoe, and using three ratchet straps he had with him he was able to get the bear into the bed of the 6 wheeler and head back to his cabin finally making it home around 11pm.
-----When he took the bear in to tag it Fish and Game said the bear was about 14 years old and measured 7 feet 1 inch long. This is a big black bear for the Susitna area. The person measuring it said “it’s too bad you shattered his skull it might have qualified for the record book for size if you hadn’t”. Jeff said he wasn’t thinking about breaking records when he pulled the trigger. He was thinking about staying alive! Which he did. It’s a story not many people can tell… literally coming face to face with an angry bear and surviving to tell the story. The bear hangs on Jeff’s cabin wall to this day as a reminder of the bear that almost got him!
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