One Minnesota bowhunter is counting his blessings after a bear attack almost claimed his life. According to KARE 11, Brandon Johnson was hunting with several longtime friends near Duxbury on Friday, September 26 when everything went horribly wrong. The group had arrowed a large black bear that evening in a heavily forested area in Pine County and waited four hours to retrieve it. Worried that the meat would spoil overnight, Johnson and two other hunters decided to track the animal in the darkness. It was a decision that Craig Lindstrom, one of the hunters who followed Johnson into the trees, would later regret.
Tracking a wounded animal in the dark can be both difficult and dangerous, and Lindstrom said that trying to find the bear’s blood trail was no easy task. After more than an hour of fruitless searching, Johnson was the first to find the wounded 525-pound black bear.
“And that’s when they yelled it’s big and it’s coming your way. All of the sudden I heard [Johnson] screaming—felt like 10 minutes, but was probably two minutes—literally screaming, screaming and you knew he was being mauled,” said Lindstrom.
Lindstrom was about a quarter-mile away and was the only one of the hunters carrying a firearm—a .45 caliber Glock. The other hunter, Trevor Nowack, and Johnson both carried only hunting knives. Norwack, who was only about 10 yards away, recalled the bear tackling Johnson and biting the man in the face, hands, and arms. In response, the hunter pulled out his knife and began trading blows with the animal. By the time Lindstrom arrived with his gun, the hunters already assumed that Johnson was dead.
“He was covered in blood. I had to wipe his face off to see that it was really him,’’ Lindstrom, who had first aid training as a firefighter, told the Duluth News Tribune. “I told him to breathe, I wanted to see if the bear had collapsed his lungs. He took a deep breath but he couldn’t open his eyes. He said he wasn’t going to make it and he was telling me to tell his family that he loved them.”
Astoundingly, the hunter managed to survive the encounter. Johnson had managed to kill the bear before it did too much damage, and the animal crawled 50 yards away before it fell over.
“He made that thing die because he stabbed it about 20 times while it was chewing on his arm. He kept stabbing it and stabbing it and stabbing it and it was pounding on him, a quarter of a ton—a 525-pound bear pounding on him,” Lindstrom told KARE 11.
Johnson was hastily carried out of the woods and flown to a local hospital where doctors said he suffered two broken arms and numerous other wounds across the face, hands, and limbs. The hunter is expected to undergo a number of surgeries, but Lindstrom said that he has a chance to recover before the end of deer season.
As for the bear, it was later recovered by Lindstrom and nine other men, who plan on mounting the animal in memory of the event. Lindstrom said that Johnson is in good spirits and even looking forward to hunting again. Next bow season, however, the firefighter recommends that everyone bring a sidearm.
Image copyright Getty Images/Lynn_Bystrom