A 9mm pistol is not what many people think of as an ideal defensive weapon against large animals, especially bears or moose. Experienced hunters and hikers often pack large caliber revolvers or rifles to deal with these kinds of threats, but one Montana man found that the humble 9mm was more than adequate to save his life, and that of his girlfriend’s.

According to the Ravalli Republic, the unidentified young man and his companion were walking their dogs on a popular trail near Victor, Montana earlier this month when they were confronted by an agitated moose. Officials say it was likely that the moose was spooked into a defensive response by the dogs, and by the time the canines were reined in, the animal was ready to attack.

“The kid looked up and saw the moose kind of moving toward them,” Aaron Berg, a wildlife warden with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, told the Republic. “He went up and grabbed his dog and yanked it back. When he looked up, the moose continued to advance.”

The dog sensed the danger and quickly fled down the trail, but its owner was slower to act. At only a few feet away, the moose launched into a charge and sent the man backpedaling. Berg said the hiker tripped over some roots as he was moving backwards, but had the presence of mind to quickly draw his pistol and open fire. Most of the shots went wild, but one struck the moose squarely in the throat, severing its jugular and piercing its esophagus. The animal hesitated, turned and died about 100 yards away.

Berg said that evidence from the scene corroborated the man’s story and it seemed that the moose was in full charge when he shot it. If the hiker was unarmed, he would have likely suffered severe injuries.

“He was protecting himself,” Berg said. “If that moose would have got on him, he would have been hurt pretty badly. He was lucky that one round hit it.”

This is not the first moose attack in Montana this year. In June, a mountain biker was charged and trampled by a cow moose, suffering a broken arm and hip injuries in the process. Moose, especially bulls, are much more likely to be more aggressive in the rut and officials warn residents to give the animals all the space they need. In this case however, the hiker acted accordingly to protect himself.

Officials say the meat from the moose was donated to the needy.

Image from Fisherga on the flickr Creative Commons

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  • tom

    Moose can be quiet dangerous for certain. I have been threatened by bulls twice during September, although not actually attacked, and chased by cows while in a canoe in the spring. Once charged from shore,but she quickly gave up, and once vigorously swum after out into the lake. We had to paddle with all out might to stay out of her reach. They can swim very fast. In both instances I think she had calves nearby. Of the two I believe that cows are far more dangerous if they have calves. Very scary!