At least one Idaho bowhunter is now thankful that the state allows archers to carry handguns while hunting.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported on Monday that a bowhunter was attacked by a grizzly bear in Caribou-Targhee National Forest earlier that morning. The 55-year-old man, identified as Mike Adams, apparently encountered a sow with three cubs while hunting for elk. He was able to use a .44-caliber handgun to scare the bear off, but sustained severe injuries to one arm. Despite that, officials said the hunter was able to hike out of the area and reach help.

“The hunter reportedly was carrying bear spray but apparently couldn’t access it when the attack occurred. He tried to shoot the bear several times with a .44 magnum revolver pistol at point-blank range. Idaho Department of Fish and Game personnel are heading to the area of the incident to access the situation and try and determine the condition of the grizzly,” officials said.

According to the Associated Press, Adams was unable to reach the bear spray on his left side during the attack, but did have a free hand to pull his revolver holstered on his right side. Adams said he believed he hit the bear but could not be sure.

So far conservation officers have not found any signs that the bear was injured in the encounter. They located a deer carcass cached nearby and suspect that the hunter may have unknowingly stumbled upon the bear family during breakfast. One of the unfortunate side effects of being quiet enough to sneak up on elk is that hunters can also startle bears, and bears do not usually react well to being startled.

“This definitely sounds like a surprise encounter with a bear and her cubs,” Fish and Game spokesperson Gregg Losinski told EastIdahoNews.com. “When hunters are out they are trying to be stealthy, and not doing the things that would normally prevent them from running into a bear.”

The hunter’s injuries were not life-threatening and Adams was treated and released from a local hospital. Officials said they are still searching for the bear and its cubs, but did not specify whether they will euthanize the sow if it is found. Typically, bears involved in defensive incidents (rather than predatory attacks) are not destroyed. Fish and Game also stated that the hunter will face no charges as he did nothing wrong.

“To be a good hunter you have to do everything we recommend people not do,” Losinski said, explaining that hikers and campers are generally advised to be loud when traveling through bear territory.

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