Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting

MI: Bow hunter attacked by bears

October 11, 2010

Deer hunter fights off bears in Bear Creek Township

Chad Fortune says he can't recall all of the details.

But he remembers lots of yelling (his own) and snarling (from the bears) and frantic flailing with fists and feet as he fought off two black bears among a group of four that attacked him as he was perched in a tree-stand bow hunting deer Saturday evening.

Fortune, who spoke to the Free Press this evening, said the fight ended in a draw, though he's the only one that went to the hospital. He needed surgery and 40 stitches to repair a gash in his leg.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment officials described the attack, in Emmett County's Bear Creek Township, as one of the weirdest outdoor events in memory.

They said it may have been an instance of a sow bear protecting her young. But Fortune said there was nothing childlike about any of the bears.

'Those were full grown bears'

Fortune, a 21-year-old service adviser for a car dealership, called the Free Press today to dispute a characterization by state officials of his attackers as "a sow and three cubs."


He described his evening this way:

Just before dusk, Fortune said he'd been in his tree stand at the edge of an alfalfa field and adjacent to a swamp for a relatively short time when the bears appeared "from out of nowhere." He said he first saw two crossing in front of him from about 20 to 25 feet away. Then another pair, including the largest, appeared.


Fortune said when two of the bears began to approach he shouted and yelled, which seemed to have little effect. Then, suddenly, one was clambering up the 8-inch diameter popple to which his stand was attached, just 15 feet off the ground. It was snarling. He was yelling some more.

Fortune said he didn't have time to stand, had dropped his bow and just started flailing at the animal from a seated position, landing six to eight blows until the bear fell to the ground.

He scrambled to his feet as a second animal mounted an assault. Fortune said he was better prepared the second time and got in a good kick that precipitated the bear's descent.

He was not attacked a third time as reported by the DNRE, Fortune said, and he didn't know which of the four attacked.

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