News

Alaskan Hiker Shoots Charging Bear with AK-74

Bears are powerful creatures and best avoided in the wild.

Bears are powerful creatures and best avoided in the wild.

A hiking trail in Alaska’s Chugach State Park remains closed after a violent encounter between a man and an estimated 600-pound brown bear. An unidentified hiker was walking along the Turnagain Arm Trail on Sunday morning when he spotted the bear among patches of berries. According to the Anchorage Daily News, the man made some noise and called out to the bear to let it know he was there. Wildlife experts often advise “talking” to the bear in a calm, monotone voice to alert the animal to human presence, as bears are most dangerous when startled.

“Surprising a bear is usually the worst thing you can do,” said area wildlife biologist Jessy Coltrane.

Unfortunately, this tactic did not seem to work for the hiker, who later told authorities that the bear turned and charged. The man reportedly shot the bear several times with the semiautomatic AK-74-type rifle he was carrying. It seemed to only halt the bear momentarily. The bear ran forward again and was met by more gunfire, at which point it began retreating downhill and eventually crashed into a birch tree.

“There it expired,” said park ranger Tom Crockett.

Crockett was the first ranger to respond to the hiker’s 911 call, along with an Alaska State Trooper. They found the man still on the trail with the bear carcass a short distance away. The hiker admitted that he was too afraid to move and had to be escorted out of the park.

“He told me he’s never been so scared in his life,” Crockett said.

Bear shootings in self-defense are uncommon, but still occur occasionally. A large majority of these cases either involve hunters, who are likely to be in bear territory and carrying a firearm, or well-prepared hikers. Some outdoorsmen carry a spare, large caliber revolver just in case a bear sighting goes awry. Crockett commented that it was unusual for the hiker to be carrying an AK-74 clone.

“Most people carry something larger caliber,” he said.

The AK-74 is a rifle developed in the Soviet Union as a replacement for the AKM, itself a derivative of the AK-47. Semiautomatic versions of the AK-74, often referred to as “clones,” are available to and popular amongst AK enthusiasts in the United States. Unlike its predecessors, it uses a smaller 5.45x39mm cartridge similar to the 5.56x45mm/.223 Remington round that is generally considered less effective against large animals like bears. Popular firearm choices for bear protection are generally heavier revolvers that are still lightweight enough to be carried on a hike. Examples include revolvers chambered in .357 Magnum or its bigger brother, the .44. The legendary–and pricey–.500 S&W is also frequently mentioned when it comes to bear defense. Wildlife experts also advise bringing bear spray.

The brown bear’s head and hide have been removed as part of the investigation, although Crockett believes the hiker did indeed act in self-defense. The bear’s body will be left to nature, where it will eventually be “recycled.” As of Monday the trail still remains closed.

Image from Diliff on the Wikimedia Commons

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
  • Commonsenseralph

    I always carry assault rifles while hiking! Nothing to see here. It’s my constitutional right to blast away at the scary woodland creatures! From my cold, dead hands!!!
    I never truly feel safe without at least 60 rounds of ammo, after that incident where I was being eyeballed by at least 20 squirrels who looked like they were up to no good. Probably welfare squirrels, selling drugs. Why else would they be out in the woods like that in the middle if the day? Don’t they have jobs?

    • divemor

      You sound like someone who thinks a walk in the country is a trip to Central Park in NYC. Would you have been less incensed if he had used a 44 magnum revolver instead of that “evil assault weapon”?

      • Commonsenseralph

        I support the right to arm bears.
        Seems like they’re getting shortchanged.

      • Chris

        You should support the right of a fellow human being to be able to lawfully defend himself in a park that welcomes hikers. I get the feeling you would rather have had the story end with ‘man found partially eaten by bear after surprising it on a trail during a hike…’

      • Commonsenseralph

        As a matter of fact…..
        If the choice is between an innocent animal in his own habitat, or an invader with an assault weapon……

      • Chris

        First, an ‘assault weapon’ as you so ‘liberally’ termed it is FULL AUTO. Second, it is a frakking PARK. He was hardly an invader. Get your head our of your a$$ and quit being such a libtard.

      • William Barnett-Lewis

        Being as idiotic as the OP isn’t going to help anything.

      • Chris

        At least I offered my opinion on the matter and stated the facts, even if from my own viewpoint. All you did was call me an idiot without offering anything of any value. So how did your comment ‘help’ the discussion. Put your two cents in about the topic, and quit being a sideline troll. At least CommenSenseRalph stood up for what he believes, even though I disagree with his views. All his comments show is that he knows literally nothing about bears, AKs and the fact that this guy was in a park where many other hikers go to explore God’s earth, and he did so armed in case something bigger than him tried to take a bite out of him. All you comment showed was two things: jack and shi*.

    • SwampGrouch

      While your sarcastic rant may have some validity in the Lower 48, it has no relationship to reality in Alaska outside of the largest urban areas.

      THE RULES YOU’RE FAMILIAR WITH DO NOT WORK THERE.

  • Polar Opposite

    Wow, lucky guy. AK in grizzly country is sketchy unless you got a whole bunch of comrades with you. Might be okay on a rogue zombie coyote but a bear
    I’d want some bear spray, feel better with a minimum of .308.
    I cant help wonder what a charging bear would look like when stiffened up by a taser or if he’d even be slowed down.
    “I was walking In the woods one day, feeling merry with my mini AK… OH F*#%!”

  • AZPaul

    Good shooten.

  • Charles Tribbey

    I lived in Alaska for eight years. Chugach State Park, is no Central Park, it is wilderness, and the likelyhood of running into a Grizz is entirely possible. Chugach may back right up to Anchorage in certain parts, but it is wilderness for sure. As for carrying an AK-74, personally he was a bit under-gunned in my opinion, however it did the job I assume he intended it to do.