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Slung Rifle too Slow to Stop Grizzly Attack in Montana

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Article first appeared at Ammoland.com

U.S.A. -(Ammoland.com)- On 11 November 2018, on Sunday morning, Anders Broste was hunting with a friend. He had already harvested his deer, weeks earlier. He had an elk tag, so he had his rifle along in case he was fortunate enough to encounter an elk. He knew there were plenty of deer in the area.

Broste was using two hands to move through heavy brush and alders. His friend was about a hundred and fifty yards away. It is a common and successful hunting technique.

Broste saw the bear as it lifted its head from its bed. Then, the bear charged. Broste had his rifle slung. It was not in his hands and at the ready. He tried to get the rifle off of his shoulder. He was only able to interpose it partly between the bear and his body before the bear was on him.

Broste said he did not have a plan for a bear attack. He said it was mere seconds from the time he saw the bear until it was on him.

A practiced rifle shot, with a rifle in his hands, can hit a close, moving target in less than a second and a half, if he is ready.

Anders Broste
Anders Broste
Once Broste was down, He might have been able to use a handgun or bear spray, if they had been holstered for easy access. He is not clear if he kicked the bear. He remembers shouting. After mauling Broste in both arms and legs, the bear ran off.

From greatfallstribune.com:

Broste, 36, said he was trying to get his gun off his shoulder and was backpedaling when he fell. “It was on me in seconds,” he said Monday.

The bear bit Broste’s arm, breaking a bone, before turning to Broste’s ankle.

Broste said he thinks he kicked the bear a couple of times and the bear ran off. He’s 99.9 percent sure it was a grizzly.

Broste, in an interview with the Daily Interlake, said he was glad to see other people with guns.

As the medics worked on Broste at the scene others stood guard.

“I’ve never been so thankful to see high-powered rifles and shotguns,” he said.

His voice broke.

“I’m thankful to be alive. I’m thankful for all the people who helped me.”

As the medics worked on Broste at the scene others stood guard.
As the medics worked on Broste at the scene others stood guard.

Broste gave a 15-minute interview with some details here. He correctly mentions that every activity carries risk with it.

This late in the season, with considerable snow on the ground, most bears have denned up for the winter.  Bear behavior is highly individual and unpredictable. There have been several bear attacks in the middle of winter, but it is unusual.

People who have hunted in thick cover know you can move through it while keeping a rifle at the ready. It will take a little more time, but you want to move through cover slowly and quietly if you are to see game. A common practice is to move a short distance, slowly. Then, with rifle or shotgun at the ready, scan the area to locate game.

Bear attack expert Dave Smith has noted you cannot carry a rifle at the ready and handle bear spray or a handgun at the same time. If you are hunting, it is better to have your rifle or shotgun at the ready. From Ammoland:

There are 6 field carries for rifles, and Boddington is using the “sling” carry. In a 1983 Forest Service paper (Safety in Bear Country: Protective Measures and Bullet Performance at Short Range) Meehan and Thilenius wrote, “Because there is almost no possibility of a slung rifle being brought into action during a short-distance confrontation, rifles carried in bear country should not be permanently equipped with slings. The sling should be mounted on detachable swivels, and should be removed when conditions exist for a possible confrontation.”

In Broste’s defense, he did not expect to encounter a bear. He had already harvested a deer, and while he had an elk tag, it does not seem he expected to encounter an elk in the area.

In a surprise grizzly attack, there may not be time to unsling a rifle.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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