A family outing of fishing became more interesting than this group of anglers had bargained for.
An 11yr-old boy saved his family from a charging bear as they, and three of their dogs, were walking through the Alaskan woods to go fishing.
Elliot Clark, the young boy, was near Game Creek, south of Hoonah, with his uncle, cousin and grandfather, when the brown bear came charging at them.
Thanks to Elliot’s quick thinking, everyone survived the charge.
His father, Lucas Clark, was in Washington State when the incident happened, but his recount of the events lined up with state trooper’s investigation.
‘There was four of them in a line … my son was third,’ Clark said. ‘The bear came down the trail at them, fella in the front, who was his uncle, the bear was on him so quickly that he didn’t have time to take his rifle off his shoulder.’
For some reason the bear ran through the first two men, being pushed off the trail and to the side, leaving Elliot and his unarmed cousin on the trail.
Elliot, in front of his cousin, raised his pump action shotgun and shot the sow. He struck the bear in the shoulder with birdshot. These loads are typically used to scare bears off, not stop a charge. But Elliot had to work with what he had.
“His first shot was a light load of birdshot. That first shot hit him in the shoulder and did absolutely nothing. The next shot hit him in the nose and traveled down through the neck,” Lucas Clark said.
It seems like the third shot was a dropping blow as it impacted the bear’s shoulder and back, to which it immediately collapsed.
According to Juneau Empire: The bear was so close when Elliot hit it with his third shot, there were powder burns on the bear’s mouth. Still alive, the bear then slid by Elliot’s feet.
“As the bear slid past him and came to a stop, he put a kill shot it him,” Lucas Clark said.
His uncle finished it off with another round.
The moment could have turned out differently. Lucas Clark hadn’t gotten around to putting a sling on his son’s shotgun, leaving the 11-year-old to carry it in his hands. He credits this and a lot of shooting practice with preparing Elliot for the moment.
“He was carrying it in his hands rather than on his shoulder. That was the problem with the other ones, when the bear came at his uncle, he had his rifle on his shoulder and the bear was very close, so he couldn’t get it off in time,” Lucas Clark said.
Just the day before, Elliot still had a plug in his shotgun, meaning his gun only carried three rounds: the “topround” of birdshot and two slugs. He had taken the plug out the day before, Lucas Clark said, after calling his father to ask permission to do so.
The family had seen bear in the area for a few days, and had been carrying guns for protection.
Between Alaska Wildlife Troopers and Hoonah Police Department, three brown bears were killed in DLP in the Hoonah area last summer and fall. In one of those killings, Hoonah man Josh Dybdahl was bitten in the leg and almost killed before his hunting partner was able to shoot the bear.
Lucas Clark said the family practices caution and safety when it comes to living in bear country. But nobody can control mother nature, and no amount of preparedness can guarantee safety.
“It’s not just a matter of skill or preparedness. It can happen to anybody and it can go wrongly, especially a kid,” Lucas Clark said. “We pray for our kids every day and in my mind that’s the biggest factor right there.”
Bravo Elliot for taking action and good job dad, preparing your son for dangerous scenarios like this!