When a New Mexico hunting guide reportedly found himself the target of a bear, he dropped his phone and reached for his pistol. It would turn out to be one of the best decisions he ever made. An earlier decision, though, threatened to cost him his life.
He’d been working out his dogs in preparation for the upcoming hunting season when they’d struck a bear’s trail.
The only way to put an end to that was to catch up with his dogs, so he pursued, with family members following. As he approached the fight, he grabbed his not-fully-loaded pistol as he left his UTV.
As an afterthought, he took the GLOCK 20 10mm pistol from his vehicle and shoved it in his waistband behind his cowboy belt.
It was loaded with 175 grain Hornady Critical Duty FlexLock loads. The magazine only had 10-12 rounds in it.
A few months earlier, he had heard the theory of “spring set” and decided not to keep the magazine fully loaded.
He approached the melee, expecting the bear to run at the sight of him. And when he spotted the bruin, he grabbed his phone to take some video of its unusual cinnamon coloration. But the bear had other ideas.
Bridger’s first thought was to get video. It would be an incredible image. Big cinnamon bears aren’t common. The bear would run at any moment, once he saw or smelled the man. Bridger grabbed his phone.
That bear never read the rule book. It didn’t run.
The bear saw Bridger, turned toward him, and flattened its ears back along its head. Its eyes had locked on Bridger.
He’d watched hundreds of bears in similar situations and he knew he’d been targeted. He dropped the phone and snatched the GLOCK from his belt.
A lot happened very fast, but for Bridger, everything slowed down as he went into tachypsychia.
It’s a common occurrence in high stress life-or-death situations. The mind speeds up and events appear to be happening in slow motion. In reality, the person is acting faster than they ever have before.
The bear was coming for him. Bridger elected not to aim for the head. He didn’t want to hit one of his dogs.
He triggered two or three shots aimed at the bear’s body. The bear started to spin, snapping at the wounds, about six feet away.
Bridger decided to retreat. He turned and hopped to the next boulder, then the next. He was mid air to the third when he saw dogs moving past him.
In his fast mind-state, he realized this was bad. As he landed and turned, the big GLOCK in his hand, and saw the bear coming at him like an over-sized NFL linebacker with claws and big, pointy teeth.
Before he could fire again, the bear hit him. They went over the edge of the shelf together, tumbling down a steep, rocky slope in mortal combat.
Although he has no memory of shooting as they fell, empty shells were later found along the path of their descent.
Bear and man stopped down slope, wedged into brush and boulders.
Bridger could feel the bear and frantically attempted to disentangle.
The bear reared erect, jaws ready to strike. Bridger shot him again, in the front of his chest before falling/sliding further down the slope.
The bear pursued him. He screamed at Janelle to stay away.
Bridger tried to kick the bear away from him as it tried to get at his upper body. He couldn’t shoot for fear of hitting his own legs.
The bear dodged a kick, and grabbed Bridger’s right inner thigh in its jaws, lifting him like a dog lifting a rabbit.
Bridger shoved the muzzle of the GLOCK against the bears neck, trying to shatter its spine and shut the bear down. He fired.
The bear released his lower thigh, then grabbed his calf, just below the knee.
The shot missed the spine. Man and bear are still moving fast, but in Bridger’s hyper-aware state, time slowed. He saw an opportunity for a head shot and pressed the trigger on the GLOCK.
Later, Bridger found bear hair between the guide rod and the slide of the G20 pistol. The hair prevented the slide from returning into battery.
Bridger knew he should still have ammunition left in the magazine, so he racked the slide and saw a live round eject in slow motion.
Fractions of a second later, another opportunity for a head shot presented itself.
The bear ripped at his leg. As the bear tried to tear off his calf muscle, Bridger saw his chance and pressed the trigger.
Man and bear went down together, rolling and sliding a bit further down the slope.
Although the bear was dead, its teeth were still hopelessly tangled in Bridger’s calf muscle. When rescue personnel arrived — quickly, thanks to his family’s close proximity at the time of the attack — they struggled and failed to free the meat from the fangs.
Only after cutting the bear’s head off with a pocket knife could they transport Bridger and his now-gray leg muscle.
Which was another problem. After seeing the aftermath of a helicopter crash months before, Bridger had sworn never to ride in a chopper. But that was his only choice…
As he heard the rescue helicopter come in, Bridger started saying “I am not going on that thing!”
The helicopter landed asd [sic] shock was setting in. Bridger started convulsing. Bridger told one of the flight paramedics from the helicopter, a lovely young woman, that he couldn’t ride in that machine.
She hooked up an intravenous drip as they transferred him from the mountain litter to a gurney. “Let me help you get more comfortable,” she said. She reached across and fastened the chest strap, leaned over, lips close to his ear, and said, “Honey, you don’t have a choice.”
The morphine started to hit. The world changed, and Bridger said, “Lets go!”
Surgery took more than 4 hours, and he received more than 200 stitches.
The article says Bridger is “thinking about heavier, deeper-penetrating bullets in 10mm cartridges designed for bear defense, to carry in his GLOCK.”
I’d say that’s not a bad idea… although a revolver chambered for a more powerful round might be a better one.
________________________________ Myself am a fan of the Sig 220 with some GI 45 acp 220 gr FMJ in the magazine. None the less this man put up one hell of a fight! Grumpy