Man survives struggle with black bear in Oregon
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
GLIDE, Ore. -- Aaron Wyckoff didn't start to panic until his .45-caliber pistol quit firing, and the bear kept chewing on his arm.
So, he recalls, he tried to pull the bear's jaws apart. Then he tried to roll down the ridge where he and the bear were wrestling. But the bear grabbed his calf, pulled him back and went for his groin.
Wyckoff said he countered by shoving his pistol and his hand into the bear's mouth. But by then, the struggle in the Cascade Range in Southern Oregon attracted the attention of Wyckoff's party, and other hunters rushed over.
Justin Norton fired a round from his .44-caliber pistol into the black bear's stomach, to no avail. He approached the bear, put the gun behind its ear and fired again. It finally rolled away.
"I walked right up to his head, and he didn't even look at me," said Norton, 26.
With the dying bear still struggling, a final round finished him off.
"He was dead. He just didn't know it," Wyckoff said. "It was just all adrenaline."
Wyckoff was helping friends track a wounded bear May 31 on the last day of the hunting season.
Fifteen-year-old Chris Moen of Glide, who had drawn the tag, hit the animal in the shoulder with a .338-caliber rifle round, but he and his father couldn't pick up a trail of blood.
They called on Wyckoff and friends to help track it. A few hours later, Wyckoff went up a hill for a view.
He heard a rustling in the bushes behind him, then a grunt. The bear had apparently circled around the group.
"We never even heard him," said Wyckoff.
Wyckoff said he fired a round into the bear's forehead, but the animal kept coming and climbed on top of him. From beneath, Wyckoff said, he got off three more rounds.
Then he tucked the gun beneath the bear's chin. But it quit. Wyckoff, left-handed, said he had accidentally released the ammunition clip.
After the attack, Wyckoff sat still, not wanting to move for fear the bear had ruptured the femoral artery in his groin. Mustering the courage to look down, he saw his shredded jeans, but not much blood.
At the hospital, a surgeon sewed him up, astonished that the bear had missed every major artery, as well as Wyckoff's tendons.
After two days in the hospital, Wyckoff was discharged, with orders to stay home from work for at least two weeks.
His right arm remains bandaged. Silver staples hold gashes together.
His .45 is covered with teeth marks but still works.
The bear weighed more than 260 pounds after field dressing. It has since been sent to a taxidermist.
Wyckoff said he's grateful for his friends' quick actions and that he stayed firm when his 10-year-old son tried to go along that day.
Would Wyckoff hunt down another bear?
"Oh yeah," he said. "Fall bear season starts back up in August.