Hollywood has certainly given us some spectacular insight into what it’s like to be attacked by a bear. Heck, working with Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino couldn’t win Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar, but one bear attack in The Revenant later and they practically threw the golden statue at him. This is proof positive that people find bear attacks to be strangely compelling, in a terrifying kind of way. But the movies ain’t got nothing on Todd Orr’s tale of being mauled by a bear twice in one day.
Orr was hiking through the Madison Valley in Montana scouting for elk when he had the great misfortune of running into a grizzly bear mama and her cubs. Via his Facebook account of the encounter:
The sow saw me right away and they ran a short distance up the trail. But suddenly she turned and charged straight my way. I yelled a number of times so she knew I was human and would hopefully turn back. No such luck. Within a couple seconds, she was nearly on me. I gave her a full charge of bear spray at about 25 feet. Her momentum carried her right through the orange mist and on me.
I went to my face in the dirt and wrapped my arms around the back of my neck for protection. She was on top of me biting my arms, shoulders and backpack. The force of each bite was like a sledge hammer with teeth. She would stop for a few seconds and then bite again. Over and over. After a couple minutes, but what seemed an eternity, she disappeared.
Covered in puncture wounds from the bear’s teeth but not mortally wounded, Orr began the three mile trek back down to his truck when that jerk of a bear reappeared and took another go at him.
She either followed me back down the trail or cut through the trees and randomly came out on the trail right behind me. Whatever the case, she was instantly on me again. I couldn’t believe this was happening a second time! Why me? I was so lucky the first attack, but now I questioned if I would survive the second.
Again I protected the back of my neck with my arms, and kept tight against the ground to protect my face and eyes. She slammed down on top of me and bit my shoulder and arms again. One bite on my forearm went through to the bone and I heard a crunch. My hand instantly went numb and wrist and fingers were limp and unusable. The sudden pain made me flinch and gasp for breath. The sound triggered a frenzy of bites to my shoulder and upper back. I knew I couldn’t move or make a sound again so I huddled motionless. Another couple bites to my head and a gash opened above my ear, nearly scalping me. The blood gushed over my face and into my eyes. I didn’t move. I thought this was the end. She would eventually hit an artery in my neck and I would bleed out in the trail… But I knew that moving would trigger more bites so a laid motionless hoping it would end.
She suddenly stopped and just stood on top of me. I will never forgot that brief moment. Dead silence except for the sound of her heavy breathing and sniffing. I could feel and her breath on the back of my neck, just inches away. I could feel her front claws digging into my lower back below my backpack where she stood. I could smell the terrible pungent odor she emitted. For thirty seconds she stood there crushing me. My chest was smashed into the ground and forehead in the dirt. When would the next onslaught of biting began. I didn’t move.
And then she was gone.
Orr credits his backpack with taking the brunt of the bear’s attacks to his back and spine, probably saving his life. Once again, he began to limp down to his vehicle and made it without any more bear sightings. He then drove himself to the hospital, but not before taking pictures and a video of the damage done by the attack. He also called his girlfriend and asked her to meet him at the hospital with a clean pair of clothes since his were soaked in blood.
He ended up getting off easy with his injuries: other than a number of stitches to his arm and shoulder, his worst injuries were a chipped ulna bone in his arm and a five inch gash from his ear to forehead (which is very visible in his bloody video as he describes the attack). Other than that, the worst damage seems to be to his truck.
“My girlfriend says it looks like I had gutted an elk in the drivers seat,” he said. All in all, Orr may be the luckiest unlucky man in the world.