British Columbia

Bow hunter uses arrow to battle grizzly

A B.C. man is thankful to be alive after fighting off a grizzly bear sow with only his bare hands and an arrow he managed to grab from his quiver.

A B.C. man is thankful to be alive after fighting off a grizzly bear sow with only his bare hands and an arrow he managed to grab from his quiver.

Rory Chapple, an autobody worker from Fort St. John, was out for the opening of the hunting season last week in a remote area of northern B.C. near the Yukon border when he was surprised by a charging bear.

Chapple said he and his hunting buddies had travelled nine hours by car and then four hours by boat up the Kechika River to a remote camp "way up there in God's country" for their annual elk hunting trip.

Hunting alone

Early in the morning the veteran bow hunter ventured out alone with his bow and arrows to hunt, following a game trail along a mountain ridge.

As a bow hunter, Chapple said, he needs more skill than other hunters because of the need to get closer to the animals. But this time, the hunter became the hunted, as the grizzly bear sow sneaked up on him.

He was only a few hundred metres from the camp when he heard the bear charging behind him.

"I heard huffing behind me — just 'huff, huff, huff.' I turned around to see this sow grizzly on a full charge, coming straight at me," Chapple said.

"All that was going through my mind was just, 'Save myself.' Everyone says you think about your family. Well, you don't have time," he said.

Stuck grizzly in throat with arrow

Instinctively Chapple started to back away, but he tripped and fell, and that's when he ended up face to face with the angry grizzly.

Kechika River, B.C.

"She lunged to try and jump on top of me," said Chapple. But he fought back with the only thing he could grab.

"I'd pulled an arrow out of my quiver, stuck the arrow in her throat [as] she come down on top of me," he said.

He managed to stab the bear hard enough that the wounded animal took off, leaving Chapple screaming for help.

His buddies got him back to camp, where he collapsed in shock. They launched a search for the wounded bear, but she was never found.

Broken arrow and torn pants

Chapple said he was thankful to survive to tell his tale, with a sore back, torn pants and a piece of the arrow he used to spear a grizzly.

The attack was a surprise for the group, because they hadn't seen bears in the area and weren't expecting them. But next time he goes hunting, Chapple said, he won't hunt alone — and he'll bring bear spray.

Conservation officers said this is only the second bear attack in the province this year, making 2009 a quiet year.

With files from Betsy Trumpener