Hunt Leads to "Worst Thing I've Had to Do in My Life"

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On Wednesday Ben Laster was elk hunting in the Badger-Two Medicine Area of the Rocky Mountain Front. With the opening of rifle season more hunters are quietly stalking elk at dusk and dawn. Laster heard something while he was walking, and stopped, he thought it might be an elk he spooked. Then he heard huffing sounds. He had not startled an elk, but a sow grizzly that was charging at him.

"I took the safety off and fired from the hip — and the bear landed at my feet," Laster said.

This is not a one time occurrence as this is the 8th grizzly that a hunter has killed in self defense since hunting season started in the North Continental Divide Ecosystem.

This was Laster's first hunt in the Badger-Two Medicine Area. He regrets putting his bear spray on his left hip, as he is right handed. The bear came out of nowhere, she was defending her two cubs that were estimated to be about 2 years old. It was just the wrong place, and the wrong time for both parties. Both of the cubs have high potential of survival because they are old enough to live on their own and are about to den for the season as well.

Laster, in an interview said it was "the worst thing I've had to do in my life. It's going to haunt me 'til the day I die. As it was running away, I could hear that bear bellowing and bawling." From GreatFallsTribune.com.

Comments

COMeatHunter's picture

We sure have read about a lot

We sure have read about a lot of bear attacks on elk hunters in Montana this year.  I think it would be very unnerving to hunt in areas knowing grizzly bears are active and have been attacking hunters.

Also thought it was interesting he had to shoot it from the hip, presumably no time to bring up the gun and take an aimed shot.  He also made a comment about his bear spray being on the wrong hip (left versus right), which isn't something I would have thought too much about myself either.

GooseHunter Jr's picture

I do not know if I would feel

I do not know if I would feel guilty as much as I would be as lucky to be alive.  We all have to defend ourselves not matter the maens.  She was protecting her cubs her way and the hunter was just doing the same for himself.  You never want to have to that but it's either you or them.  2 year old cubs will do just fine, so that would have not bween a concern for me.  I do feel for the hunter in the means that it is no way to have to take care of an attack but he has to look at it from all sides and jusy say he did what he had to do.

hunter25's picture

I agree with Mike here. I

I agree with Mike here. I know some of us see things differently but I would feel no remorse in this situation. Like was said the cubs are big enough to fend for themselves so there will be no other loss because of what happened. He's just lucky he was able to make the shot he did and save his own life. Even if the cubs were younger he did nothing wrong. It's not like he was out looking for trouble and trying to provoke something like this. Even if his pepper spray was on teh right side I think it was a better choice to go for the rifle. A gun in habd is far faster than trying to drawa can out from your belt no matter what side it's on. I say don't be down about it and just be happy your still alive to tell your story. Many others have not been so firtunate this year.

groovy mike's picture

no bad feelings needed on this one

In my humble opinion this guy doesn't need to eel guilty at all.  Two year old cubs should be just fine fending for themselves and if he truly acted in self defense then there is absolutely no reason for him to feel bad about saving his own life.  That would be a very scary situation.  He should be THANKFUL that he survived!  Don't feel bad Ben, be GRATEFUL that it was not your family that was crying!

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Very unfortunate situation. 

Very unfortunate situation.  And, you can tell by the hunter's comments, it affected him deaply.  That's what some of these nutjobs out there that are against hunting don't understand, that it's not all about the bloodlust like they claim.  Here is a hunter, who feels deeply sorry for what he has done. he had no choice to do it, as he was protecting himself, and the bear was only doing what  mother of any species would do, which is protect her kids.

Very sad to see, but it just adds to the numerous number of bear and hunter encounters this year all over the west.  It is unbelieveable how many there have been.

Anyway, good advice about practicing with your bear spray, and about where to holster it.  You won't have time to cross-draw it, when the perverbial stuff hits the fan.  Glad to see the hunter got out of it unharmed, and hopefully he will see in time that he had no other choice. The cubs look like they can survive on their own, and heck, at 20 years, it seems that the mom had lived a pretty good long life.

Retired2hunt's picture

  I think I would have messed

 

I think I would have messed my pants on this one!!!  Having shot the bear and it landing at my feet would have done it for me.  They way I read it the bear must have then got back up and ran off at this point.  That is darn lucky for this hunter.  Darn lucky!

The article doesn't state how far away the charging grizzly was... however close enough that pointing the barrel and pulling the trigger may have been faster than pulling out bear spray from a pouch, pointing, and spraying.  Definitely I think the hunter shot in self defense.  Wearing bear pepper spray on your opposite hip as you are handed is not condusive to being able to use the deterrant efficiently.  In this case it was most likely good that the pepper spray was not readily available as the article also states the bear did not smell the hunter due to the winds at the time.  The pepper spray if not directly hitting the bear may have a cloud of spray blowing all over the place and be less affective.

Bottom line - great that this hunter was able to defend himself and do it quickly enough to save his life.   It is just too bad the scenario had to play out and this long lived sow doing what was natural is now gone.  Great that the cubs are old enough too that they should survive the winter months.  It is a definite greater additional factor to hunting elk in Montana. 

 

jaybe's picture

Yup - I've got to agree with

Yup - I've got to agree with all that's been said. I know that there are some who would say that if he hadn't been out in the bear's territory trying to kill its food supply this never would have happened. But utilizing the animals that God has put on the earth is a legitimate activity, and if a predator (bear, lion, whatever) attacks a man, he is perfectly justified in killing it.

 That was a hairy situation, to be sure - one that Ben said he would never forget. I don't blame him - who could forget almost being pounced upon by an angry bear?