One tough or lucky guy with a couple of good dogs.
"Cariboo man kills black bear with makeshift club"
Jim West thankful to be alive but saddened by death of the bear and her two cubs
Published: Wednesday, October 08, 2008
A B.C. man bludgeoned a black bear to death with a stick after it attacked him near Green Lake in the Cariboo.
"She put me down twice. I knew if she put me down again, chances are I wouldn't get up," Jim West, 45, said Tuesday.
"It wasn't fight or flight. It was live or die."
West, a resident of 70 Mile House, and his two dogs were out scouting for moose when he crossed the path of an angry mama bear last Saturday afternoon.
He was walking into the wind watching his black labs, Shadow and Chopper, happily flushing out grouse when he heard a loud growl.
"All of a sudden I heard a loud huff and growl to my right and I turned and there was a bear six feet away," he said.
"I realized I had no time to do the smart thing -- to hit the ground, put my arms behind my head and play dead.
"I had only one option and that was to stop that bear from putting me down on the ground."
He kicked at the bear as its claws came crashing down on his upper lip, splitting it.
Seconds later the bear's heavy paws were on his shoulders and West was on the ground.
Quickly flipping over, he covered his head with his hands just as the bear took a couple of "good chews" out of the rear of his skull and left arm.
The dogs came back, distracting the bear long enough for West to take cover behind a small tree.
But the mama bear, whose cubs were on the other side of West, came back for a second round, knocking West back to the ground, biting him and slashing his right arm.
The dogs came back again to help, distracting the bear who pawed one of the dogs.
"I heard a yelp and my first thought was, 'you're not killing my dog,' " West said.
Grabbing a nearby stick that was about eight centimetres in diameter and a 1.5 metres long, West turned to see the bear running at him.
He lifted the stick just as she came up on him, hitting her smack-dab between the ears.
"She stopped in her tracks. I had stunned her and she shook her head.
"My mind immediately turned to driving in 10-inch spikes with a sledgehammer and I hit her until I crushed her skull," he said.
West whacked the bear five times before she hit the ground.
He whacked her another three times until he saw blood coming out of her nose.
He wrapped his head with his shirt, gathered himself and the dogs and headed to a nearby restaurant to call paramedics.
"He came in and his hands were covered in blood and he had a bloody shirt wrapped around his head," said Ellie Scott of Little Horse Lodge, who patched him up while waiting for the ambulance.
"He was so calm. And I honestly thought he would be bleeding more."
West received a total of 60 stitches to his skull, upper lip and left arm and is already back at home and back in the woods.
Conservation officers who found the dead bear told him it was unnaturally, overly aggressive.
The mama bear's two cubs had to be put down in case the aggression had been passed down in their genes, he said.
"I feel great regret for having to kill that bear and even more that her cubs were put down. But it was her or me," said West.
As for West's dogs? They got their reward Tuesday -- a steak dinner.
© The Vancouver Province 2008