He was looking for deer for sport. But a Lumby hunter ended up shooting a grizzly bear to save his life.
The 39-year-old man had been out with his dog hunting for white tail deer 13 kilometres up Harris Creek Road at around 3 p.m. Oct. 19 when a 550-pound male grizzly started charging at the dog.
The hunter yelled at the bear and it stopped. With its hair raised, the bear turned its attention to the hunter, who was carrying a 444-calibre Marlin hunting rifle.
“The investigation shows that, from approximately 10 yards, the hunter fired two shots at the charging grizzly bear,” said Sgt. Josh Lockwood, conservation officer. “The animal went down, got back up and took off.
“The hunter did not hang around to find out what happened. He gathered up his dog, left the area and called our office.”
Lockwood said because there was no food source present, that is, an animal that the bear had killed and was protecting, or baby cub in the vicinity, and because the hunter was in an area of second-growth forest, he did not see the bear until it started charging.
Due to the lateness of the day and poor lighting, and the possibility the bear survived the shooting, officers did not return to the area until early morning the next day.
They discovered the dead grizzly, estimated to be a seven-to-nine years old, in an area about 50 to 75 yards from where the shots were fired.
The bear had been hit once in the shoulder and once in front of a shoulder in a vital organ.
Lockwood said the hunter did the right thing.
“In this case, there is no doubt in our minds that had he not shot the bear or had a smaller calibre rifle, the hunter would have suffered grievous bodily harm or death,” said Lockwood.
“In our opinion, this was a predatory attack on the dog and then turned into a defensive attack on the individual.”
The North Okanagan is not known as a grizzly habitat but the species has been seen in the region.
Lockwood estimates his office deals with five-to-six grizzly sightings a year.
“We had one at Kal Lake Provincial Park this year, and one was seen at the Kelowna airport,” he said.
“We had one at Bluenose Road (in Lavington) and I suspect that’s the same one that was shot. We’ve had reports from Cherryville and Mabel Lake as well.”
Lockwood encouraged hunters that if they’re taking their pets to keep them close by, and, if they’re in an area where there are grizzlies, to use their wits and play it safe.
He also suggested letting somebody know where they’re hunting and where they’re going, in case they get lost in the woods, as well.