A B.C. filmmaker says he's lucky to be alive after narrowly avoiding a grizzly attack while filming in the Robson Valley, southeast of Prince George.
Leon Lorenz, who lives in Dunster, B.C., was filming grizzly bears in a nearby valley last Monday evening when he spotted a bear and her cub.
Lorenz said he was attempting to film the bears without disturbing them, but the mother bear picked up his scent.
She turned suddenly, he said, and looked him right in the eyes.
Then, roaring, she charged through the trees right at Lorenz.
He recalls thinking, "This is for real. This is … no bluff charge."
Lorenz set the camera down on a tripod, capturing everything on film, and grabbed his handgun with the hopes of firing a warning shot to scare the grizzly off.
Crouched behind the tree, he aimed his gun high and pulled the trigger — just as the grizzly burst through the branches of the tree, a few feet from where he was hiding.
Lorenz said the shot spooked the bear, which he estimates weighed between 400 and 500 pounds, and she ran off with her cub.
"I knew if I would have run, I wouldn't be here," he said.
"If I didn't have my handgun, even if I would have fired a shot a quarter of a second later, the blast would have been too late. She would have been on me."
'I just thank God that I'm still here'
Lorenz said it's an experience he'll never forget.
"It's something that will stay with me for life. … It was really something that I never expected and I think I've grown from it," he said.
"I think even if I would have hit her, even a very fatal shot … she would have had enough life left in her to do me in."
He believes it would have been nearly impossible to survive an attack at such a close range.
"They were both so fast. It's unbelievable — the speed — and I just thank God that I'm still here."
Lorenz said he's grateful both he and the grizzly survived the encounter.
"The timing couldn't have been more perfect," he said. "The outcome couldn't have been more perfect as far as, you know, I wasn't touched, she wasn't wounded, she wasn't killed, her baby's OK … and I was able to capture the whole thing [on film]."
Lorenz said he has had hundreds of grizzly encounters in 19 years of filming, but a bear has never charged at him before.
"It just really shows … that their personalities are all different, just like people," he said.
"But also, it shows that they're unpredictable because they can be one way one day and totally different another day and … you just have to be as careful as you can."