A Montana hunter who was viciously attacked by a grizzly bear on Saturday recounted the harrowing ordeal on video before he was able to reach help – with his head and face still covered with blood.
(Warning: The video and photos posted below are graphic.)
“Yeah, life sucks in bear country,” Todd Orr says in the clip, which he posted to Facebook on Sunday. “I just had a grizzly with two cubs come at me from about 80 yards…. I sprayed the sh** out of her with bear spray. Then I went [to the ground] on my face and protected the back of my neck…. She got my head good.”
Orr, a 50-year-old Bozeman resident, is panting in the footage, but remarkably calm considering the numerous wounds inflicted during the initial attack – and a second attack as Orr tried to escape down the trail.
The photos reveal what appear to be bear-caused injuries to Orr’s face, head, arm and shoulder. (Attempts to reach Orr on Sunday night were unsuccessful. A spokesperson for the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks department said it had no reason to believe that Orr’s account “was untrue.”)
“Legs are good, internal organs are good, eyes are good,” he continues. “I just walked out three miles, and now I need to go to the hospital. Be safe out there. Bear spray doesn’t always work, but it’s better than nothing.”
Orr, whose Facebook cover photo shows him posing with a trophy elk, stated in a separate Facebook post that the encounter occurred in Madison Valley, in southwest Montana. He had hiked up a trail looking for elk sign, while shouting periodically to warn bears of his presence (advisable in bear country). He spotted the sow with her cubs as he entered a meadow.
“The sow saw me right away and they ran a short distance up the trail,” Orr wrote. “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.”
The bear was said to have charged through a vast plume of bear spray as Orr fell face-first and curled up to try to protect the back of his neck. But the bear began to bite repeatedly.
“The force of each bite was like a sledge hammer with teeth,” Orr wrote. “She would stop for a few seconds and then bite again. Over and over. After a couple of minutes, but what seemed an eternity, she disappeared.”
The bear attacked again as Orr walked and “half-jogged” back down the trail, hoping to put distance between him and the bear.
“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 carried a pistol during this scouting mission, but was not able to reach it before either attack. Once he reached the trailhead, finally within cell-phone range, he dialed 911 and asked the operator to alert the hospital that he was coming.
Doctors spent several hours stitching his wounds, including a 5-inch gash on the side of his head, and tending to other injuries that left the hunter severely bruised.
“Not my best day, but I’m alive,” Orr concluded.