HomeOutdoorsNewsWyoming Man Makes Key Decision That Helps Him Survive Scary Grizzly Bear Attack

Wyoming Man Makes Key Decision That Helps Him Survive Scary Grizzly Bear Attack

by Brett Stayton
Grizzly Bear Walking on Snow
Photo by Marcus Timms/Getty Images

Not sure if there is anything more terrifying in North America than grizzly bears. There isn’t an animal I’d less like to get attacked by, that’s for sure (except maybe ticks). Grizzly bear populations in the lower 48 states used to be so low that the sustainability of the species was in doubt. However, bear populations have rebounded strongly over the last few decades, and conflicts between people and bears have also increased. 8 people have been killed by grizzlies in the U.S. since 2020. A deer hunter in Wyoming is lucky not to be number 9 after surviving a grizzly attack back in October of 2022.

65-year-old Lee Francis, a dentist from Evanston, Wyoming got a closer look at the snarling teeth of a live grizzly than dental school prepared him for. He was attacked by a big bad brown bear earlier this year and lived to tell the story. According to Laramie Live, he was mule deer hunting in Northern Wyoming with his son, also a dentist, when the run-in with the bruin went down.

No Strangers To Grizzly Bear Encounters

The two experienced outdoorsmen from Wyoming are no strangers to grizzlies. They previously had two close encounters with bears earlier in the hunting season. They were able to scare off the first grizzly before it charged them in the first encounter. The second time around, a grizz entered their camp and spooked the horses.

The horses weren’t the only ones spooked by the close calls with the bears though. After those two encounters, Lee Francis decided he was going to start carrying his Glock with him in the field. It’s a decision that ultimately saved his life.

Pistol Shots Scared Away Charging Grizzly Bear

While out surveying the landscape for mule deer, Lee stumbled upon the entrance to a grizzly bear den. A bear then quickly popped out and charged toward him. Just as quickly, Francis started shooting. The bear knocked him to the ground while he was pulling the trigger. He was trying to kick the bear off of himself while simultaneously shooting. Though he didn’t hit the bear, he did unfortunately shoot himself in the leg. The sound of the gunshots was enough to scare the bear into running away though.

His son quickly administered first aid, and the two men were able to saddle up and ride to a rendezvous point where a Search and Rescue Team airlifted them out of the mountains.

Deer Hunter Airlifted To Hospital After Grizzly Attack

The deer hunter was airlifted to the University of Utah hospital where he had several surgeries on the leg that caught the bullet. Francis then spoke with a reporter from KSL TV while recovering.

“So I’ve been around these big bears, but it’s a whole different deal when they’re coming after ya and they’ve decided they’re going to take you out,” he said. “I’ll probably have a nightmare or two, the next time I’m up in the mountains.”

A few nightmares are certainly better than being dealt a fatal blow or having a limb mauled off by a grizzly. It’s important to be bear-aware while recreating in grizzly country. Bear spray or a pistol should always be brought along for protection. Those are better options for self-defense than trying to fight off a bear with just an axe.