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Bear attack: ‘She started snapping her mouth’


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.

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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.”

[Read the rest of this amazing story at]

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. “Instant Karma’s gonna get you 
    Gonna knock you right on the head 
    You better get yourself together 
    Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead…”
    John Lennon

    • Explain your sick karma to everyone Steve.
      Tell us how this guy had it coming because he dared go out into your sacred outdoors to kill an animal. We all should know that your sacred outdoors are yours alone and no one else except those you approve doing only what you approve should be allowed out in it with you.

      • Well “Ig Nutz”…
        It is as simple as this:
        All life is “sacred” on earth.
        I feel blessed to have arrived at this understanding at a younger age than most of my peers.
        Like many Alaskans, I too was raised in a family that valued a “successful hunt” only my experience has taught me that there was a different path to take.
        Perhaps after surviving an attack like this the victim will also look at the act of hunting differently?

      • I prefer the term “plant based diet” since it refers directly to the food you eat, not your political ideology.

  2. Can’t feel sorry for them. Moose hunters? Seriously? Go home. Stay out of the woods and let the animals live and you will live, too.

    • That bear was doing what brown bear sows do with cubs. And those guys did what they could, under those circumstances. Chance encounter that resulted in a dead bear and one man with severe injuries. Pretty typical situation and just amazing the amount of damage a bear can do in less than a minute.
      Sure hope that Willis recovers well.

  3. The amazing part of the story is they were hunting (in bear country) and both their guns weren’t prepared to discharge; not on safety with a round in the chamber. Mind boggling.

    • That’s a personal choice Monk, and it may well be that accidental discharges are more dangerous than bear attacks. I would not be surprised if this event were to change their minds about carrying a round in the chamber.

        • KENAI, you just assume. I’m pretty certain that these young men will approach hunting a little differently in the future and if they have brains, will own it. It’s not like they were hikers, rattling and making noise along their way to this unfortunate encounter. they’re lucky ducks and I’ll bet they know that, I hope.

          • Monk
            I’m assuming nothing.

            Did you read Steve’s and Laura’s and Karen’s comments.

            Claiming these men were “wrong” to be hunting or to even be in the woods! That is ignorant of life in Alaska. Good grief, where is the tolerance for others and their choices. (Rhetorical)

            Sure, I’ll bet they do some things differently in the future.

            Empty chamber until it’s time to shoot; full magazine; and the rifle in-hand and not slung.

      • Well Bill, one of these guys had to take a round from his bandolier. The time THAT took meant more munching. Of course it’s a personal choice, and obviously a bad one. Seat belts, they actually work.

        • I must admit that choice was hard, for me, to fathom. I can’t think of a single reason that one would not carry rounds in their clip or magazine even if they felt the round in the chamber was not needed (for safety reasons).
          I personally carry a round in the chamber but do understand why some do not.

  4. Another thought on this situation is whether/not the person in the field is hunting offensively. By that I’m talking about carrying a gun for defense or offense. Many people who have a handgun claim it’s for defense and further many keep the gun handy, loaded and with the safety off. Then there is the Glock with no safety.
    Had these guys realized the chance of a bear attacking them that day, I suspect they would have prepared differently. They were not carrying their rifles for bear protection, but as an offensive weapon for moose.

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