Todd Orr may be the only man alive to tell the tale of 30+ bites, dozens of lacerations, and countless puncture wounds after surviving not one, but two attacks from the same Grizzly bear sow.
It’s been over four years since that hellish hike, but Todd Orr recounts it as if it were yesterday. What started out as a simple elk scouting expedition amidst bow season quickly turned into not one, but two beyond-brutal encounters with the same Grizzly bear sow. Both of the angry mother bear’s attacks should’ve killed him separately, let alone combined. Instead, Orr lives to tell the tale – in incredible, gruesome detail.
It feels trite in lesser circumstances, but be forewarned that said details are genuinely not for the faint of heart.
“I hollered out regularly to let any bears ahead know I was coming up the trail, giving them time to fade into the brush and avoid an encounter,” Orr begins of his morning, a trek into Bear Country that began before dawn. His warnings, however, were in vain. Mere hours into his scouting, Orr would spot a large sow grizzly bear. The mother was walking her two cubs along the path. He recounts that all parties froze at the sight of one another. Then, as is often the case, the mother bear didn’t attack – but turned to guide her cubs away.
“I watched and waited a minute or two,” Orr says of the first encounter, “before deciding she was long gone over the ridge, and I headed up the trail to the east, opposite of her direction. I assumed she was not fond of human contact and I would not see her again.”
Orr: First Attack was “Immediate”
In horrible fashion, this would not be the case. Mere steps into his journey away from the sow, Orr heard the snapping of branches over his left shoulder. Instinctually, he turned to discover the cause of the sound. It was the Grizzly sow. Again, out of instinct, the trained forestry agent retrieves his bear spray and unloads on the titan of nature now charging him at 30 mph.
“For the last 25 years, I only had the protection of bear spray while working at the Forest Service. I was not allowed to carry a firearm, so all my training, practice and thoughts were of bear spray and proper use,” Orr tells AGWEB. “I had practiced dozens of times for this moment, and hundreds of times in my head.”
What happens next would be, for most, a blur. Orr, however, remembers every single second of each attack from the 400+ lb. mother bear. The sow hit his 170 lb. body at 30mph, flooring him in a millisecond. Just before she did, Orr’s wildlife training led him to turn his body sideways and wrap his limbs in to protect his vitals.
“As I hit the ground, she was immediately standing upon me with her front paws, and repeatedly bit my right arm and shoulder a half dozen times, before coughing and wheezing from the bear spray, and disappearing just as quickly,” Orr says.
Then, as quickly as she had appeared, the Grizzly vanished into the foliage. In a flurry of seconds, the bear attack had left him with five or six bites to his right arm, alongside a full bite to his right shoulder. As a result, Orr was bleeding heavily all over his torso: a full bite from a grizzly consists of 42 enormous teeth.
But Orr wanted to survive, not bleed out. His vital organs were intact, and he felt steady enough to return to his truck outside the forest. So he set out to do just that.
Second Bear Attack Came “Full Rage”
What happens next for Todd Orr is straight out of a film yet to be made. As Orr walked his mangled body toward safety, not five minutes would pass before he would hear the same tell-tell heavy cracking of branches. Again, his eyes darted over his left shoulder. But there was no time for bear spray, his pistol, or anything at all this time.
The second attack came from the same bear in body only. What further triggered the mother sow we’ll never know, but Orr recalls the second attack as the one that should’ve ended his life swiftly. The sow was in full rage and had found her target once more. Her intent was no longer to maim but to gore. To neutralize any threat to her cubs permanently.
“I remember the pain from her first bite into my left arm, and the sound of the bone breaking,” Orr recounts. “I pulled my arm away and made an audible sound, which triggered the bear into a frenzied attack, biting, clawing, shaking and tossing me.”
He would later find out the mother Grizzly had torn away two tendons, ripped away the muscle, and bitten through to shatter the ulna in his left arm.
He had managed not to make a sound toward the bear during the first attack. But the pain was too much this time. Orr let out a groan that sent the sow into an even deeper rage.
“She would bite into me, pick me up with her mouth, and shake me back and forth until I was flung to the side into the dirt,” Orr recalls of being rag-dolled by the Grizzly. “The adrenaline and the will to survive took over and I blocked out all the pain after the first bite, and focused on staying quiet and still, while she continued to chew on me.”
30 Bites, Shattered Bones, and Partially Blind
Orr would endure 30 bites across his back, sides and arms as a part of the second Grizzly bear attack. In the following moments, he would go partially blind from a 5″, claw-driven gash that had split open his scalp.
“There was no chance of fighting back against a beast like this,” he says. “A grizzly can kill an elk or bison, and one wrong bite or swipe of her claws could crush my neck or skull, or rip me open to bleed out. A bear’s claws are very sharp when they emerge from the den in the spring. They are dulled, roughed and chipped over the summer and fall as they dig for food. But with the immense power behind them, the claws are still plenty sharp to rip most any animal to pieces.”
“I don’t believe I ever felt fear or thought of death or family. I was too focused on survival and not moving or making a sound. Each time she would toss or roll me, I would instantly roll back to the face-down position to protect my vitals.”
But none of this is what still gives Todd Orr chills to this day. That honor belongs to the sensation of the sow lowering her head down to his skin as she breathed onto his exposed neck… Wafting on the scent of his near-death with nostrils the size of saucers.
4 Hours In: The Will to Live Prevails
After continually biting him, then breathing to check for life for nearly a full minute, the sow finally stopped. At this moment, Orr was sure his end was to come. But it never did. Whether she thought him dead or was satisfied with her message, the Grizzly disappeared.
And Todd Orr pulled himself to his feet. Two death-defying Grizzly bear attacks later.
“I hiked out at a steady pace, but not hurried or running,” he recalls of the moments after. “I didn’t want to increase my heart rate and the bleeding. My left arm did hurt terribly after the attack was over and the adrenaline subsided. The torn tendons, muscles and nerves felt like my arm was being crushed in a vice. I don’t believe I was ever in shock during the hour hike out. I was thinking straight and stopped to assess the wounds and check my bleeding two or three times.”
His elk scouting venture had begun that day at 4 a.m. in the Bear Creek woods. He would exit the trees into the parking lot at approximately 8 a.m. Alive.
“Within 15 minutes after the attack, I was sure the bear wasn’t going to track me down for a third attack. But with 3 miles of wilderness to go, the thought of encountering a different bear on the trail did cross my mind. I would have been nearly helpless at that point with all my wounds. At the parking lot, I felt 100% safe and knew my injuries were not life-threatening.”
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Yet the tallest part of this all-too-true tale comes from the parking lot – not the forest. Something – and not even Orr is sure what – compelled him to film the moments after his escape. Whether subconsciously to serve as a testament to what took his life if he were to drop dead… Or a simple memento for friends from a hell of a day as Orr describes: we now have direct footage of what it looks like for mortal man to defy Mother Nature.
“Yeah, life sucks in bear country,” Orr begins his statement to his cellphone. He is drenched in blood. His baseball cap covers further splitting of his scalp, which leaves his ear hanging half-attached to his skull. And the sight of his left arm upon panning down is… not one to be described.
“I’ve always had a high pain tolerance and the drive to push myself to succeed or overcome most anything, both physically and mentally,” Orr adds of himself amidst direct proof you can view below. “I took the photos and video with just a couple of good buddies in mind. And I really didn’t know how Facebook worked, and never expected more than a dozen friends to even see it. I seriously didn’t know what a viral video was until about 24 hours after posting it.”
It would take two doctors, side by side, a total of eight hours to stitch Orr back together. The next day, he would undergo surgery for shattered bone, severed nerves, shredded muscles, and severed tendons.
Watch: Todd Orr’s Unbelievable Testimony after Dual Grizzly Bear Attack
Yet Orr stood in defiance – adrenaline pumping so hard he’s unable to blink – to film this message below. Once again, Todd Orr’s unbelievable testimony contains graphic gore and is not suited for the young or faint of heart.
Todd Orr of Bozeman Montana takes a short video after mauling by a Grizzly Bear sow that had two cubs… Not once but TWICE!Hunting Product Guru
As for what Orr has been up to since that day, he certainly hasn’t abandoned the woods: his home.
“I went back to the attack site with a buddy [to face] my fears, knowing my life was meant to be in woods. The will to survive is strong and it’s amazing what the human body can endure in a survival situation,” Orr concludes.
“The attack, as well as watching my father fight cancer for the last 10 years, also reminds me of the importance of enjoying those things in life that make us smile.”
Wise words from the toughest Outsider we’ve ever known.
For much of the same tips from wildlife experts that saved Orr’s life and could save yours, too, head to Surviving a Bear: How to Prevent Encounters and Deter an Attack next.