A big ol' black bear isn't something to take lightly—they and their cousins, after all, are why many hunters pack pistols in bear country, where legal. That said, an experienced woodsman that knows his surroundings can typically avoid any real trouble with the local bruins. When game's wounded, though, we're aware that all bets are off. Such a scenario played out in Duxbury, Minn., earlier this fall, when an unarmed hunter was attacked by a wounded, 525-pound black bear that he and a few companions had been tracking.
The twist ending? Not only did he survive the encounter; he won the fight.
According to reports, Brandon Johnson was helping track a black bear that his hunting party had wounded with a bow in late September when the attack happened. Fearing that warm temperatures would spoil the bear's meat, the hunters set out to track the bear just a few minutes shy of midnight, four hours after it'd been wounded, with hopes of locating their prey. One member of the party told KARE-11 News that they did catch up to the bear, and found it lying on the ground. The problem? It hadn't expired, and it's grown tired of running. So, instead, it charged.
The bear targeted Johnson who, like the rest of the party, had no firearm on his person. Why no one in the party had brought a gun into the Minnesota backwoods isn't mentioned—but in that moment, at least, it didn't matter anymore. Only survival did. So Johnson drew what he did have—a hunting knife. He'd brought a knife to a bear fight.
Exactly what happened in the ensuing moments isn't clear. In the darkness, no one could quite see how the duel was going—they could only hear the commotion. What's known is that, eventually, the bear turned tail and ran off, eventually collapsing and dying 50 yards from where the sparring match started. Johnson, meanwhile, came tumbling back toward the rest of the party—in awful shape, but alive. His arms, in particular, had sustained severe damage, but he'd used that portion of the attack to continually stab the bruin with his knife. One of his companions was able to fashion some makeshift tourniquets with the gear they had on scene, and the party immediately set out to get Johnson back to the roadside for help.
He'd go on to survive the encounter, at cost. Multiple surgeries would be required to repair the damage the bear had done, but walk away he did. The bear? Not so much. That's not something you hear everyday.
I still wouldn't advise selecting a wounded black bear as your next sparring partner, though. The next time you're tracking wounded game, be sure to take your firearm, folks.