Alaskan 11-Year-Old Kills Brown Bear, Saves Family: Defensive Gun Use of the Day

Did you know Alaskans have a duty to retreat if attacked by a bear? Alaskan legislation governing the killing of bears states: You may kill a bear in defense of your life or property if you did not provoke an attack or cause a problem by negligently leaving human or pet food or garbage in a manner that attracts bears and if you have done everything else you can to protect your life and property.” So, onto our story [via] . . .

[11-year-old] Elliot Clark was returning from a fishing trip with his uncle, great-uncle, and cousin when the animal appeared from the woods near Game Creek in Port Frederick on Chichagof [sic] Island . . .

The bear bustled the two men aside, facing down Elliot and his cousin, who was unarmed. The boy then raised his shotgun and fired a birdshot, a smaller gauge of shotgun shell used to scare off bears.

That first shot hit him in the shoulder and did absolutely nothing. The next shot hit him in the nose and traveled down through the neck, said [Elliot’s father] Lucas.

A third shot forced the bear to the ground, and a fourth killed it.

Young master Clark is one lucky son of a gun. My takeaway: when the sh*t hits the fan, run what your brung and man-up. Like Elliot Clark.


  1. avatar jwm says:

    “It’s coming right for us!” South Park kinda wore that one out. You better be able to prove you had to kill the critter.

    On a side not. Please let it be a .410. That would be screaming funny.

    1. avatar General Mills says:

      Not quite as it seems.

      1. Bear ran right by first two men so likely the bear was running away from something uptrail. So not a charge at all. Just trail congestion.

      2. Kid was shooting in direction of other men who were in front of him.

      3. Kids dad was bear hunter guide so first response is to shoot.

      4. Kid was well versed in shooting. Not your average 11 year old.

      5. They were armed because they knew about the particular bear and that said bear was in the area. Still it got by half the party before being shot at.

      This story is spinning wildly out of control up here in Alaska but in reality it would have been a perfect use of bear spray.

      1. avatar Outwardhound says:

        1. Maybe, maybe not. Should they have just step aside and waited until bear started chomping?
        2. Maybe, but he still put all his shots on the bear and didn’t hit anyone else.
        3. Seems dad taught him well.
        4. Fantastic! Warms my heart that he isn’t a typical dumbass, whiney, self-entitled, irresponsible 11 year old (and BTW I teach 11 years old).
        5. Again, fantastic! They evaluated the risks and went prepared. The fact that the bear ran past or over or through the first two guys only indicates the suddenness of the incident and the young man’s ability to respond.

        Why try to diminish his actions? He did well.

      2. avatar Charles says:

        If they were armed specifically for that bear, why were they loaded with birdshot and not slugs or buckshot? Seems an odd choice for a bear guide.

        1. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Story said *first* shot was birdshot, for all I know the rest were slugs. Think warning shot.

      3. avatar Hank says:

        Monday morning quarterbacking. You weren’t there and only have a reported story to go off of which may or may not be accurate. The kid did what he had to do, and him and his family is alive because of it. Life and death situations are never clear cut black and white events.

      4. avatar Ebby123 says:

        How about you try it again without adding a metric tone of speculative bullsh*t?

        The bear closed to within threat distance, and was shot dead. The end.

        Shoulda-coulda-woulda-maybe if this had happened’s are all IRRELEVANT.
        The bear had the capability, opportunity, and motive to maul someone to death.
        It is not a human, so it does not get a trial, it gets shot dead.

        1. avatar Doktor says:

          Bear encounters happen all the time mostly all without further incident. This encounter needs analysis in order to learn the take-always that can be used again.

          Shooting a bear can get you killed just as fast as not shooting it.

  2. avatar Serpent Vision says:

    What sort of fishing uses birdshot???

    1. avatar David says:

      I want to say for flying fish?

    2. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      The kind you do in bear country.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      The way I read it he had the first round as birdshot to try and scare a bear off and the next 2 were slugs. It didn’t specify the bore but the photo looked like a youth model 20 bore to me. Which makes sense. He’s 11.

    2. avatar Moshe says:

      “The bear ran through the first two men, who were pushed to the side of the trail, leaving Elliot Clark in front of his unarmed cousin.”
      How does the bear decide who to attack first?

      1. avatar jwm says:

        You got to ask the bear.

        1. avatar Moshe says:

          too late. the bear is dead.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          Maybe the bear left a suicide note.

        3. avatar Ebby123 says:

          Nah, you have to have dirt on a Clinton before your suicide note gets written (for you).

      2. avatar Cloudbuster says:

        Predators are looking for a meal, not a fight. The kids looked like easier prey. Easier to kill, easier to carry off. Like they’ll go for a caribou calf and leave the mom alone.

        1. avatar Hannibal says:

          Bears very, very rarely ‘eat’ humans, particularly when you’re talking about in summer and when it’s a group. Most likely it wasn’t looking for a meal but was freaked out by the hikers.

      3. avatar Cliff H says:

        They were fishing. Who was carrying the fish?

    3. avatar Outwardhound says:

      Thanks for the linked article, much better explanation. And from that article:

      “….The bear was so close when Elliot hit it with his third shot, there were powder burns on the bear’s mouth. Still alive, the bear then slid by Elliot’s feet.

      “As the bear slid past him and came to a stop, he put a kill shot it him,” Lucas Clark said.”

      Young man has some serious cojones, congrats to him and to the family raising him right.

  3. avatar bLoving says:

    Pretty sure we talked about this kid a few days ago…
    Didn’t get a DGUotD then though – but this makes up for it.

  4. avatar Hooahberry says:

    Thanks for the link to the article – sounds like 1 round of birdshot followed by some slugs. Way to go, kid!

  5. avatar Grumpyoldtimer says:

    Yep, typical load for the wilds. 1st round is bird/snake shot, all the rest are slugs. Same for handguns in snake/wild country.
    Robert, you need to read these stories more carefully. this is the most recent of several where you missed the key points. Slugs killed this bear, not birdshot.
    Good shootin, Kid.

    1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

      He’s getting old too. Happens to all of us.

    2. avatar Robert Farago says:

      True dat. Headline and text amended. Thanks!

    3. avatar Johnin AK says:

      As there are no snakes in Alaska, having a round of birdshot as first up is NOT recommended. If one is going to carry varied loads in a shotgun intended for bear protection, the standard is for the first round to be 00 buckshot, followed by slugs. The idea is to shoot said bear in the face with the buckshot, ruining the eyes and chewing bits, and to follow that up with as many slugs as is the required dosage for said bear.
      Realistically, all slugs works just fine; No need to get fancy.

  6. avatar penis_is_a_social_construct says:

    Another bear falls victim to gun violence.

    1. avatar bLoving says:

      The bear dindu nuffin and was just starting to turn his life around; and he was holding that picnic basket for that lil’sh!t Boo-Boo.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Hope Lil Boo didn’t get video. We don’t need no more Ferguson’s.

      2. avatar Sergeant Bill says:

        and was working on his GED

        1. avatar Ebby123 says:


          We now take you LIVE to our canned studio where 4 of our talking heads will sit around a table and word vomit for the next 2 hours.

  7. avatar strych9 says:

    Nice work kid.

    Shit. After this hapoening calling him a kid just seems wrong.

    Excellent job young man.

    There. That feels better.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “Shit. After this hapoening calling him a kid just seems wrong.”

      Q – What do you call an 11 year-old that kills a charging bear?

      A – Sir… 🙂

      1. avatar jwm says:

        He’s got an 18yo girl friend. She does his homework for him between sets at the strip club.

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          “He’s got an 18yo girl friend.”

          At 11 years old, I could only *dream* of that kind of ‘education’…


        2. avatar jwm says:

          At 11 most of us facing a charging bear would have bricked in our pants and curled up and waited to die.

          This young man is advanced for his age. Wonder if he uses a wheelbarrow to carry his balls around in.

          I remember some years back where an 11 yo boy killed 2 home intruders with a .22 rifle. Somewhere in one of the southern states.

        3. avatar FedUp says:

          IIRC, the 11 year old home defender had a lot more time to retrieve a gun and prepare himself to use it.
          The bear shooting was literally a ‘split second decision’.

      2. avatar Cory C says:

        Hahahaha. Hell yeah.

  8. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    As I’ve been saying: Alaskans prefer shotguns loaded with slugs for bear and leave the hand-cannons to the tourists.

    A shotgun loaded with modern slugs is a fearsome weapon.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      And a pump action shotgun is the ak47 of the smooth bore world.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Dyseptic Gunsmith,

      On a similar topic about three months ago, I mentioned that I question the ability of a cheap shotgun slug to stop a bear. Those cheap slugs flatten out to a disk about the size/shape of two half-dollars stacked on top of each other. Needless to say, such a projectile has TERRIBLE sectional density and, hence, penetration.

      If I were going to use as shotgun, I would use the Hornady SST slugs which contain something like a .50 caliber, 300 grain bullet in a sabot with a muzzle velocity of 2,000 fps (12 gauge). That is obviously a serious brown bear stopper. It has huge diameter (.50 caliber), heavy weight (300 grains), good enough sectional density to penetrate adequately, and that impressive muzzle velocity for serious smack/shock factor on impact.

      Your thoughts???

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        Check out Brenneke slugs.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          This review from tnoutdoors9 seems to indicate that Brenneke slugs would indeed be pretty darned good for stopping brown bears:

        2. avatar rybred says:

          I gota case of these a few years ago for $0.60/rd but here’s a gel test of DDupleks28 steel slugs going through a railroad tie and an 18″gel block

        3. avatar Big Bill says:

          “I gota case of these a few years ago for $0.60/rd but here’s a gel test of DDupleks28 steel slugs going through a railroad tie and an 18″gel block”

          Actually, that’s an impressive clip, showing that the payload will go through pretty much anything.
          The problem I have is this: In a HD situation, you want the payload to dump all its energy in the target/perp. This slug doesn’t do that at all. In fact, it only dumps a small part of its energy in the target, then goes through whatever is behind the target. And what’s behind that, too.
          That’s not what you want. You really do want that cheap slug that expands, dumps all of its energy doing massive damage, and stops almost through the target/perp.

        4. avatar rybred says:

          Actually for dangerous/charging animals you want MAXIMUM penetration.
          A foster slug if hitting the shoulder or head of a charging bear might deform and glance off. You want it to keep going through whatever it hits.
          TOTALLY different application from home defense. That’s why bear defense rounds are all hard cast

      2. avatar John in AK says:

        That’s not ‘huge.’ ‘Huge’ is .729-calibre, 437.5 grains, at 1650 fps and 2645ft-lbs–which is a standard 1oz 2 3/4″ Foster [no-it’s-not-‘rifled’] slug. A 1 1/4oz slug is 546 grains, and at 1600fps is giving 3100ft-lbs.
        Therefore, a POX ‘pon your piddling .50-calibre, 300-grain pistol bullets!
        By the way, ‘sabot’ slugs are intended for rifled barrels, not smoothbores; They don’t offer much benefit in a non-rifled gun. Both types of ‘slug’ fired from a smoothbore are stabilized by being heavier in the front than at the back, not by spin–because they don’t spin.

        1. avatar Big Bill says:

          Well, in all fairness, they are rifled.
          Not to provide a spin, but to allow the slug to squeeze through a choke.

        2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          John in AK,

          Not sure if you were being somewhat sarcastic about “pistol bullets” when referring to a .50 caliber, 300 grain bullet at 2,000 fps which delivers 2,660 ft-lbs. energy. Needless to say, that velocity and energy is firmly in big rifle territory, not pistol territory.

          I am simply questioning the reliability of a foster slug to stop a big brown bear. Sure, a 12 gauge foster slug is .72 caliber and weighs 437 grains … and it is also totally hollow and made of soft lead that deforms into a disk. If it cannot penetrate adequately to shut down vital organs, it may not work. Unless foster slug impact alone somehow creates enough shock (as in overwhelming the brain and causing the brain to basically pass out), I want to see proof that they can penetrate adequately before I stake my life on them.

          Having said all that, YouTuber tnoutdoors9 demonstrated Brenneke slug penetration which seems to indicate that they are up to the task. I would like to see someone demonstrate similar performance from foster slugs.

      3. avatar Big Bill says:

        If it’s a 12 ga, here’s my thoughts:
        3000ft/lbs is 3000ft/lbs. Whether it smears or not, that’s a lot of energy to shrug off.

      4. avatar rybred says:

        Check out DDupleks Monolit 32 (or the 28)
        The number is how many grams I believe so probably a 1 1/8 and a 1oz slug. Solid steel, not very expensive WILL NOT DEFORM. This is a video of a gel block test on the Monolit32, they did another test on the Monolit28 and shot through a railroad tie before it plowed completely through the 18″gel block

    3. avatar Hank says:

      As heavy as they are, I’d lug around a battle rifle. 20 rounds of .308 and semi auto.

      1. avatar JohnQ says:

        I was actually thinking about the Kel-Tec RFB for just this reasoning…

    4. avatar Mark N. says:

      Shotguns, eh? ll these years they’ve been telling us that the guides prefer lever guns in .45-70 with hard cast flatnose bullets, and you’re saying it just isn’t so?

      1. avatar Cliff H says:

        Ya shoot whut ya brung.

        Nothing says the Kid wouldn’t have preferred a .45-70.

  9. avatar former water walker says:

    What do you call an 11year old who kills a charging bear? SIR?

  10. avatar Joel says:

    I’d be willing to bet that the first round or two were birdshot but the last couple rounds were slugs.

  11. avatar Nanashi says:

    LBJ wanted kids like this disarmed and dead.

  12. avatar That Guy says:

    Cool hand Luke….

  13. avatar rt66paul says:

    Bear goes by 2 full grown men about 6 ft tall and lunges for the smaller humans that are not even 5 ft tall, about the same thing a coyote wouls do. easier pickings. Luckily, the diminutive one had a under powered shotgun, but he decided to use it.

    Just a different take on the same situation.

    1. avatar Frank says:

      My bet is the dogs were not leashed, ran ahead and stirred up some shit with the bear, then turned tail and ran back to get behind their masters when they realized they were in trouble. The bear was probably chasing the dogs.

  14. avatar derek says:

    how did you manage to mess up the boys name in such a short article??? ELLIOT CLARK . . . Lucas Clark is the boys father

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      By somehow managing to live 58 years. Text amended. Thanks!

      1. avatar derek says:

        might have wanted to mention that only the first round was birdshot , the next 3 were slugs

  15. avatar kap says:

    Good Job Boyka! No fear, calm, cool, collected right on. Would be a hoot if gun was a .410 caliber shotgun! heard stories in my youth of a couple of older Scandinavian fellows being successful Deer & bear hunters using the .410.
    Only bad part is now tree huggers and PETA (people eating tasty animals) will be on this kids a** like stink on Sh*t! Only they can euthanize any animal, bet most of them are Fringe demon-crats!

  16. avatar LarryinTX says:

    One good thing about the shotgun, if you’re carrying a sensible caliber for bear hunting, authorities are instantly going to assume you were bear hunting, carrying a fishing pole as an excuse.

    Now, only kid in the 5th grade with his own, honest-to-god bear rug.

  17. avatar Madcap_Magician says:

    “…a birdshot, a smaller gauge of shotgun shell used to scare off bears.”

    What even does this mean?

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      It means the writer doesn’t know $h!t about shotguns.

  18. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    All I know is, if it happened in Illinois, the kid would have been arrested for having more than three shells in his shotgun.

    1. avatar JohnQ says:

      Really? Even if he’s not fowl hunting?

  19. avatar Jason says:

    If that bear was able to be killed with birdshot than that bear was close and justifies killing it. Birdshot will hardly take down a man. The kid did good saving his family. The bear probably rushed passed the 2 men to go for the smaller “easier” targets. The bear was wrong. Good job at not being an easy target kid.

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