Although bear attacks are very rare here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, they do happen. Four years ago my neighbor was attacked by a mother bear while walking a big ole 12 year dog he just adopted a week prior from the humane society. He got between the mother and the cubs and she attacked him several times; grabbing him by his lower arm as he raised it to protect himself. While he was fighting the bear, his dog barked and nabbed at the bear until finally the bear let go and went after the dog. In essence, my neighbor saved the dog from being put down at the humane society and the dog thanked him by quite possibly saving his life from the bear. The bear messed up his arm pretty bad and I think he had to get a series of rabies shots. After the attack, whenever my neighbor came over to visit he always had a sidearm strapped to his side.
This summer I had a run in with a mother bear while I was mountain biking and running my dogs on an ole two track road near my house. Far in front of my dogs, as I came down a long hill and turned a corner at the bottom, there she was; a mother bear and 3 cubs. The cubs instantly took off but the mother stood her ground and aggressively charged several times. Finally, my dogs caught up and when she saw the dogs, the bear took off.
It was the scariest moment of my life, and quite frankly, I didn’t know what to do. In the few seconds of the encounter I thought about fighting back, using my bike as a shield, or perhaps playing dead. It was a surreal moment. Although I didn’t do anything except stand there straddling my bike while she false charged, I now realize being educated and prepared for bear attacks is important if you spend a lot of time in the woods.
On the way home after the incident, I told myself I’d never again venture in the woods without a handgun or some kind of protection. The next week, I bought a 10mm Smith & Wesson 1006 specifically for UP black bear protection. I wish I would’ve know then that I’d be going to Alaska as I probably would have bought a bigger gun such as the 44 or 454. Guns and ammo were much easier to find and cheaper to buy last summer compared to today.