Generally, the only time hunters ever want to see a bear up close is when they’re actually hunting for one. Otherwise, running into a bear can be a tense situation, especially if you got several pounds of deer or elk meat on you. Brown bears are indisputably the most powerful land predators in North America, and a confrontation with one could ruin your day very quickly. Black bears may be smaller, but that does not make them any less dangerous if they get it in their minds that you’re a threat. This goes double if there are cubs around.
Here is our list for the top seven scariest close-range bear encounters caught on video.
1. Bowhunter gets charged by his target
For a bear hunter, having the opportunity to hunt on Alaska’s Kodiak Island is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Rugged and untamed, the island boasts one of the largest land predators in the world and hunters come well-prepared to make sure the hunt isn’t an end-of-a-lifetime experience as well. Armed with a bow and hunting at uncomfortably close ranges, hunters are often accompanied by their guides with a defensive weapon at the ready. This video uploaded to YouTube by Luke Randall demonstrates that hunting a Kodiak bear can be a very dangerous endeavor, perhaps even more so after you let your arrow fly.
2. Bear investigates treestand
The incident happened several years ago when Saskadrenaline Outfitters released a much-publicized video of a bear climbing over a hunter’s tree-stand. Hunter Coleman and his guide, Mike Grundman, had set up a barrel containing bear bait and were waiting patiently in their blind when a small black bear wandered over to the bait. It was soon followed by a large sow who made threatening advances toward it. In the blink of an eye, the sow charged the other bear straight up the tree Hunter and Grundman were sitting in.
“What do we do?” Hunter asked.
“Just don’t move,” Grundman replied with a black bear staring over his shoulder.
3. A lucky shot scares off two grizzlies
Photographer Leon Lorenz was filming grizzly bears in Canada’s Robson Valley when he attracted the attention of two grizzly bears who weren’t too happy about being on camera. It was the first time in his 20-year career that Lorenz had to pull out his handgun, which he discharged as a warning to the oncoming bears. Thankfully, the bruins turned tail and retreated, but Lorenz still remembers what a close thing it was—and how close that sow came to him.
“I think even if I would have hit her, even a very fatal shot […] she would have had enough life left in her to do me in,” he told CBC News.
4. A textbook response to a bear sighting
Only a very small fraction of bear attacks are predatory in nature. Most of the time, it is a sort of cross-species miscommunication. This is especially common for sows with cubs, which are notorious for their overprotective tendencies. Steven Rinella shows how to deal with a false charge in this video.
5. Just take a seat
Photographer Drew Hamilton spent a lot of time observing the bears of the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge in Alaska, but he’s never been this close to one before. This 2012 video shows the cameraman playing it cool as a large brown bear saunters over to his vantage point and sits down.
6. The bear is a symbol of Russia, after all
Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. That phrase has never been more true than in this situation, in which a strange reversal has seen a bear chasing an unfortunate victim up a tree. Unfortunately, the video ends abruptly before the conclusion of the stalemate.
7. Abandon ship!
This group of bowhunters had the bad luck of startling three young cubs, with their mother not far behind. In an instant, momma grizzly charged out of the brush and into the river where the hunters were nearly helpless on their raft. Thankfully the guide was able to pull out his revolver and fire a shot into the river, causing the bear to turn back.
For hunters, only the proper precautions (and perhaps a can of bear spray or large-caliber firearm) will keep your bear encounter from making the local news. If you’re interested, these suggestions from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources are a good resource for hunters in bear country.
Featured image copyright iStock Images/Dennis Donohue