~You, meeting a bear
We’re not gonna front, bears are menacing as shit. They’re giant balls of muscle, teeth, and claws, and while they’re thankfully fairly allergic to bullets and C. Dale Petersens, they’ve been known to wreck American’s shit for as long as there have been people who like to spend time in the woods. According to the bible, all animals have no souls and therefore cannot go to heaven. Bears are the only creatures in the animal kingdom that have ever heard and understood this concept, and they view it as a free pass to be as bloodthirstily murderous as possible. Most bears spent their formative years familiarizing themselves with the concept of negative numbers just so they could properly express how few shits they give when it comes to messing you up.
While many of us will go our whole lives never seeing a bear that hasn’t been stuffed and mounted with the words “fuck you, bear” shaved into its chest, we still know enough to hate, fear, and begrudgingly respect the one animal that can inspire grown men to do this. That’s why, whenever we hear of ordinary Americans doing the tango de la muerta against these homicidal beasts, we have no choice but to react with a strong sense of admiration (and perspiration). So, needless to say, these following Americans can safely claim that they are more fearless than anyone reading this.
The Six Most Badass Bear Attack Survival Stories
For every video of a drunk dude successfully yelling at a black bear to go away, there are a dozen stories of people having chunks of people taken away from them by pissed off hungry bears. And while advice for how to deal with bears range from “play dead” to “please don’t run away” to “fight the fuckers” we think it’s fairly say that none of us has any idea how we’d react if we found ourselves face-to-face with nature’s meat grinder. And why we are both impressed by, and terrified of, the following death defying tales.
Here is a list of things that we’re scared about encountering when we go to sleep. Monsters, bears, our knife-wielding ex, and of those three, we only expect the third one to be encountered in a non-dream setting (deadbolts and restraining orders can only go so far). Jeff Herbert and Ken Scown got to live a real life nightmare when they were awoken by a grizzly bear and their rapidly emptying bladders, in that order. While on a hunting trip, dreaming sweet nothings about all the animals they were going to straight up kill, a six foot tall bear leapt onto their tent, immediately biting Scown. While most people would respond to such an event by saying, “Aw, shucks, looks like that’s the end of the ropes for this cowboy” or, more likely, “AGHHHH JESUS FUCKING BEAR AGHHHH OH GOD HOW HAVE I FORSAKEN YOU!?” the two men instead began struggling against the bear while Herbert attempted to load his gun to shoot the damn thing.
Let’s pause for a moment. When most of us are woken up unexpectedly, our response is to mumble something incomprehensible and cover your sheets so the noon sunlight doesn’t bother you. When these guys were waken up unexpectedly, they immediately launched into “load our gun and kill a bear” mode. There are laws that ban Ken Scown and Jeff Herbert from having children just because government officials are terrified about what would happen if they were ever woken up for breakfast in bed.
So to recap, at this point, a bear is eating one of these men, who is then shouting to the other man, who is loading his gun, “shoot the bear! Shoot the bear!” When Herbert tried to shoot the bear, he found the gun wouldn’t fire because he hadn’t pushed the bullet all the way into position, which is basically the bear attack version of that scene in a horror film where the lead character’s car won’t start. They eventually managed to get free of the tent and chase the bear away despite having been fairly badly gored at this time.
The worst part about this? The bear had been stalking them for days. So either this bear was trying to get cast in an all-bear version of True Grit, or these guys accidentally desecrated a bear church after using a grizzly cub as toilet paper.
And for those of you who actually clicked the link and scoffed, “What is this bullshit? These are Canadians, not Americans,” well then we’ll point out that the same thing happened in Arizona, because bears attacking people in their sleep is a thing that has happened multiple times, and this is the world that your nightmares populate.
We’re going to tear this Band-Aid right off the bat, when Patrick Thompson and Bobby Bryant refer to a rabid bear attacked their “Gator” they’re not talking about a pet alligator, they are talking about a popular utility vehicle made by John Deere. But, if you’re really bummed by that, here’s a video of bear and an alligator fighting. These two men have the distinction of being the only people on this list who got away uninjured, and they also are the only ones on this list who can describe their bear attack in a way that could double as a scene synopsis of a Syfy Saturday Original Movie.
While driving the Gator to a trout pond (again, a utility vehicle, they did not find a giant alligator and ride it like a horse, but here’s what that would look like) an enraged, rabid grizzly bear decided, “Fuck your car” and attacked, gnawing on the passenger-side front tire before moving up a level in difficulty and trying to take out the Gator’s fender (again, utility vehicle, not an alligator playing a guitar, which looks like this). While Thompson and Bryant were thrown out of the vehicle, the bear kept on attacking the Gator. At this point, because movies are far more boring than real life, Thompson jumped onto the top of the Gator (sigh, okay, what you want to picture that as looks like this), had Bryant toss him his 20-gauge shotgun, and shot the bear dead with a single shot. When Thompson tells this story to women in bars, he claims the first thing he said after was, “Well, this is going to be a bear of a mess to clean up,” though everyone knows he really said, “AGHHH! FUCK! YOU! BEAR! AGHHHHHHHH!”
On the plus side, it’s heartening to know that when bears have rabies (oh, we weren’t kidding, the bear tested positive for it) they prefer to attack machine instead of man. Unfortunately, that sentence means we have just invented a new kind of Japanese pornography. Thanks a lot, Rule 34.
When you’re 68 years old, it’ll generally be assumed that you’ve earned the right to take it easy, and that the concept of remote controls still confuse you. That is because most 68 year olds are not Gene Moe, who likes his grizzly bears like he likes his women—clamping their mouths around his upper thigh. Wait, what?
While hunting deer in Alaska one calm autumn day in 1999, Gene Moe booked himself a buck, which normally would be good news, except this one theoretically has the words “property of this big ass bear RIGHT BEHIND YOU” written on it, because Moe immediately found himself face-to-face with a 750-pound Kodiak Grizzly. And we mean “face-to-face” in the most literal, terrifying sense. So while this bear was chowing down on a well-aged 68 year old human steak, possibly while going “om nom nom” Gene Moe decided to fight back in a way that most people with superhuman DNA are wired to—he stabbed the fucker in the throat with his skinning knife to free himself, before sucker punching the damn thing in the nose to knock it to the ground (seriously) before coming back with a gun to shoot it a few times.
We’ll slow that down for you in the replay. The bear was on top of him, biting his arm, leg, neck, and face, and even though this man was old enough to remember how much it cost to see a Shirley Temple talkie in a movie theater, he still managed to muster up the strength to slash the bear’s neck and spine with enough force that the bear backed off for a moment as if to say, “Woah, no fair, let’s take a time out for a second.” At which point, instead of running the fuck out there, Moe said, “Come on bear, I got the Lord on my side” and punched it in the fucking nose hard enough to knock the bear off its feet.
And then he shot the bear, like, three times. Because fuck you, bear.
When Ben Radakovich went out one fateful day this past June, it wasn’t his intention to help prove that you are basically asking for a bear attack if you live in Alaska. But sure enough, after stumbling across a bear and her cub, Radakovich found himself being lifted up and shaken by an angry mother bear like a rag doll.
Most Americans would, at this point, would pick up their leaking spinal fluid and sit against a tree to do their best impression of Tom Hanks at the end of Saving Private Ryan, Radakovich fought off the bear with ski poles and scrambled 30 feet into a tree, since apparently the best way to survive a bear attack is to be part raccoon. He stayed up there for hours waiting for help to arrive, all while shouting, “Go away bear,” either because he wanted to warn other hikers that a bear was nearby, or because he was delirious enough to think that the bear would listen. Oh, except it did, and Radakovish ended up being treated for relatively minor wounds.
Mark Matheny and Fred Bahnson were out longbow hunting one 1992 September morning, when absolutely nothing bad happened to them. Hah, just kidding, they got seriously fucked up by a bear (click that link if you want to see some pictures of the aftermath—warning: blood. Just, so much blood). While Matheny was having his face mauled at, Bahnson came to the rescue with a can of regular pepper spray. No, not bear mace, we’re talking about the kind of stuff you use to stop sexual assaults or to really effectively clear a section of the dance floor at a nightclub.
Bahnson emptied the entire can of mace into the bear while getting a little mauled himself, but it was enough to faze the bear and make it stumble away, forever answering the question of “how many cans of mace does it take to scare away a rampaging bear.” (It’s one).
You remember that scene in Jurassic Park where the lawyer runs away and goes immediately to an outhouse, and in the process helps inform the audience what the most embarrassing place to be eaten by a T-Rex is? If Gord Shurvell hasn’t seen that scene, for God’s sake don’t show it to him, unless you want to see what a PTSD attack looks like.
Really, the best thing about this story—apart from the fact that a man was taking a dump with the door of his outhouse open and survived the subsequent bear attack, is the quotations sprinkled throughout this tale. We’ll just list choice quotations of Shurvell’s discussion of the encounter.
“I’m sitting on the throne, and my feet are sort of up on the ‘poopstool,’ as we call it.”
“I’d already done my business! All the defense I had is a piece of paper in this hand.”
“I just left [the door] open because it was a beautiful morning and I was sitting there, enjoying looking out there. You can imagine what those shithouses [can be] like.”
“I’ll probably put up with the stench and shut the door.”
Thankfully, Shurvell’s friend heard the commotion and showed up in time to shoot the bear dead.
You know, we can’t top anything about this story. Please feel free to come up with your own bear/bathroom puns and share them in the comments, because as scary as this situation must have been, we can’t think of anything funnier than imagining a grown man have his pants eaten off by a bear while doing his business in an outhouse.