On 29 July at about 4 p.m. Kim Woodman [above] was attacked by a sow brown bear at Humpy Creek, (Alaska). Kim had a GLOCK 20 10mm pistol with him, loaded it HPR 10mm 180 grain JHP ammunition made in Payson, Arizona. Kim shot the bear as it charged. Mr. Woodman was kind enough to grant me an interview.
Kim was born in Alaska and is 57 years old. His father homesteaded in the state in 1938, one of the first bear guides in the region. Kim has spent nearly all his life in Alaska, spending a few winters in Nevada going to high school. He’s very familiar with bears and how to deal with them. He’s encountered many bears on a lot of creeks.
I have been in that situation a lot, you are going up a creek, you see a bear, you back up.
Generally you can back out, and the bear will just slink off.
On Friday, the 29th of July, Kim decided to take a day hike up Humpy Creek– hiking up the creek instead of following the trail. He didn’t expect trouble. Almost as an afterthought, he placed his GLOCK Model 20 10mm pistol and a box of ammunition in his day pack.
I was just moving up Humpy crick there, I had just thrown the gun in my pack.
I saw bear scat, so I loaded the gun, with 15 rounds in the magazine, none in the chamber. That is the way I grew up and was taught by my dad.
I put the pistol in my pants pocket . . .
You think it isn’t going to happen until it does. So it’s best to be prepared.
Kim didn’t want to shoot a bear. But even more, he didn’t want to be mauled. As Kim puts it:
I didn’t want to be the guy shooting a sow with cubs. But even more I did not want to be the guy mauled.
It was about 4 1/2 mile out from my skiff. I had just downloaded an app to show topographic details. I used that to find the trail for heading back out. It was very thick. I did not want to fight the brush on the way back.
There was no cell phone service.
Kim was making some noise as he went up the creek. The cover was very thick.
There wasn’t a lot of noise, and I was not making a lot of noise. I was busting through brush and mosquitoes and sweat. It was a pretty ugly mosquito year.
It was just another creek with some bear sign, and the chance of meeting a bear.
That’s when Kim saw bear cubs and a sow.
I’m moving up this really thick stuff, too much fallen over the creek itself to go up it. There was a deep hole in Humpy creek, and the bears were in the hole.
The cubs and I saw each other first, across about a 30 foot opening. The cubs went scampering off and the sow saw me and came straight at me.
She had to come up a little bit of bank, that gave me a little extra time to make sure I chambered a round. I was shouting at her when I realized that I had to shoot. I let about three go, and then she was right on top of me.
I hooked my heel on something while backing up and firing. Thick alders and brush.
It wasn’t even like I was falling. There was tunnel vision, concentrating on the shot.
I instinctively put my foot up at the same time, and snapping a shot off . . .
She was right up on me when I let go with the last round that took the tip of my toe off.
Even if she had only got me for a few seconds, I do not know if I would have been able to crawl out.
Kim said he didn’t have a choice. The sow was totally committed. She’d made the decision to attack, and was in a full-out charge. Kim said that he clearly remembers shooting two-handed.
It wasn’t until the action had stopped that Kim noticed that he had hit his own foot while shooting at the bear. He saw blood coming out of his boot.
Everything happened so fast, four seconds, and you are standing there with a dead sow, and I see blood coming out of my boot.
Kim chose to walk out immediately, before his adrenaline rush wore off. On the way out, his leg started to cramp up. That’s when he made the video of his booted foot with the hole in it on his iPhone.
Once he got back to the skiff, Kim had a 12-mile ride back to Homer. He tied up the skiff at the 160 foot landing craft that is parked there, walked to his truck,and drove to the emergency room.
The final shot was very close. During his investigation, Park Ranger Jason Okuly found Kim’s sunglasses at the scene next to the bear’s body. They were only two feet from the bear’s head.
Okuly told Kim that they recorded at least three hits. One in the left eye, one in the mouth and one in the chest. They didn’t look too closely because the carcass was bloated and stinking pretty badly by the time they were able to reach it. Okuly retrieved two empty cases and returned them to Kim.
The sow was eight years old, and about 400 lbs.
This was not Kim’s first rodeo. Twenty-four years ago, Kim was stalking a moose when a bear attacked.
I saw a moose out on the swamp, real early in the morning.
I heard something behind me, and it was padding up on me. I had a bear tag, but I wanted a moose first. I had just enough time to swing the rifle around. I yelled at it, and got a real aggressive response. There were a lot of problem bears around, a bad berry year, a guy had gotten eaten by a bear.
The bear was so close that Kim couldn’t use the scope on his .338 Winchester Magnum. He sighted down the side of the barrel. The bear was coming at him, but not full out. It was only 15 feet away when he shot.
The bear went down as if he had scrambled its brains, but the bullet had gone through the muscle alongside the skull, just nicking the bone. It knocked the bear out. Kim thought it was dead.
All of a sudden I heard a growl, so I went back in there, obviously you can’t leave a wounded bear around. It was whirling in a circle, tearing out chunks of the tundra.
I stuck the barrel up against its neck, and the 250 grain .338 did not make it out the other side of its neck.
Kim said that he’d learned lessons from the recent bear shooting. He’s going to buy a holster or two. He’s going to practice not backing up, and shooting rapidly. He says that in a crisis, you act as you’ve trained to act. He also said that when you are around bears a lot, familiarity can cause you to lose the healthy respect you need to survive.
Very few people have to kill two bears in self-defense in their lifetime. Kim does not view it as something to aim for. It was a necessity of survival.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Gun Watch