Warning: This story contains graphic images.
Depending on your viewpoint, Todd Orr is either the most fortunate or unluckiest man alive right now. The 50-year-old hunter barely survived not one but two separate bear attacks on Friday, Sept. 30.
The Montana man was scouting for elk in southwest Montana when he spotted a grizzly bear and two cubs in a meadow. He had been practicing all of the standard procedures while hiking—clapping every so often, hollering out “hey bear” every 30 seconds or so. But it was to no avail. Orr described what happened next in graphic detail on Facebook.
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.
Orr was able to pick himself back up. He had some puncture wounds but was more concerned about getting back to his truck three miles away than stopping to bandage himself. But a few minutes later, he encountered the same bear. “She either followed me back down the trail or cut through the trees and randomly came out on the trail right behind me,” Orr wrote. “Whatever the case, she was instantly on me again.”
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 was able to make it back to his vehicle and drive back to town, stopping to ask a stranger to call the hospital on the way. He required eight hours of stitches to get pieced all back together. He’s expecting a gnarly scar from the five-inch gash on his head, but he knows it’ll serve as a reminder of just how lucky he is.
“Not my best day, but I’m alive.”