By JOE FERRONATO
In the evening hours of Sept. 6, two Alaskan moose hunters ventured out for a quick glassing session. Scott Willis and Shane White, both native Alaskans and lifelong hunters, are no strangers to bear country. They were prepared—it is Alaska after all—but an attack was the last thing they expected.
White owns a cabin near the Eureka Roadhouse in the Matanuska Valley east of Anchorage. He says it’s bear country, but he’s barely ever seen them nearby. The pair took off on four-wheelers, traveling about 5 miles from the cabin to glass.
“When we were going out that evening we were only going to go out and glass until it got dark, then head back to the cabin,” Willis said.
They located a good bull and wanted to get a better look, so they hiked about a mile closer. The moose was still far off, so they weren’t concerned about being loud hurrying through brush. They were making enough noise that they didn’t believe they would startle a bear.
As they came into the bottom of a small drainage, a 7-foot grizzly appeared out of the brush.
“When I first saw her, she was already at full speed, ears pinned back coming out from behind the bush. She was set on Shane,” Willis said.
However, the bear turned wide and targeted Willis instead. He was able to get his rifle off his shoulder and chamber a round.
“I remember bringing the muzzle up to her and she was about a foot away when I was able to pull the trigger,” Willis said. “I heard a shot go off. I could see the blast from the muzzle kind of ruffle her neck. She didn’t act hit.”