Fishing guide kills grizzly bear as it charges to within feet of his clients

A guide leading a man and his wife to a fishing stream in Alaska shoots and kills a grizzly bear as it charges through the dense brush.


A guide leading a fishing expedition into the Alaskan wilderness recently used a 9-millimeter pistol to kill a large male grizzly bear that had charged to within just a few feet of his two clients.

The harrowing encounter occurred in the remote Becharof Wilderness, within Becharof National Wildlife Refuge, as Phil Shoemaker was leading a man and his wife through dense brush to a nearby stream.

Shoemaker wrote about the incident last week in the NRA's American Hunter, and included photos showing the bear carcass and one of his clients. (Warning: some might find the photos to be disturbing.)

Shoemaker explained that in his 33 years as an outfitter based in the refuge, this was the first time he was compelled "to shoot an unwounded bear to protect ether myself or clients."

He described his clients merely as "Larry and his wife."

They were hiking to a stream popular among male grizzly bears, which typically are "less of a problem than sows with cubs."


Alaska’s Becharof Wilderness. Photo: Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

But something had clearly angered this male grizzly.

Shoemaker writes:

"Before we reached the stream, while we were walking through dense brush and tall grass, we heard a growl and deep 'woof' of a bear approximately 6 feet to our right.

"We had been talking loudly but must have startled a sleeping bear. It sounded like it made a movement toward us, and I shouted loudly and the bear ran back through the brush.... Within 15 seconds, we could hear it growling and charging through the dense brush from the opposite side."

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Shoemaker, who had drawn his pistol by this time, explained that the "highly agitated" bear charged Larry and his wife, who fell backwards into the brush as he took aim and began to fire.

"She said the bear's face was close enough to hers that it could have bitten her," Shoemaker writes, in reference to Larry's wife.

It's difficult to stop a charging bear with a 9-millimeter pistol, but Shoemaker aimed for vital areas - the first shot was to the neck - and struck the animal with seven shots, the last as the bear had turned to try to run off.

Shoemaker could not be reached for comment but Dom Watts, a spokesman for Becharof National Wildlife Refuge, told GrindTV that he was aware of the incident, after which Shoemaker was compelled to follow a specific protocol.

According to state regulations, anyone killing a bear in self defense must notify the Alaska Department of Fish and Game "immediately."

That person must also surrender the bear's head, hide and claws to the agency, as soon as possible.

Lastly, the shooter must fill out and submit a Defense of Life or Property (DLP) form within 15 days of the incident.

In other words, Shoemaker had his work cut out for the next several hours.

Becharof, a fairly obscure refuge in southwest Alaska, is comprised of nearly 1.2 million acres and is adjacent to Katmai National Park.

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