As It Happens

Hiker attacked by bison months before his date was gored at the same Utah state park

Hiker Kyler Bourgeous told As It Happens host Carol Off he's "probably cursed" after bison attacked him and then a woman he was dating within the span of just a few months.

Officials say they're the only ones to be attacked by bison at the park this year

Kayleigh Davis recovers in hospital in Ogden, Utah two days after she was gored by a bison. (Winston Armani/KSL-TV via The Deseret News via AP)
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Transcript

After a hiker became the first reported person attacked by a bison at Antelope Island State Park this year, his date has become the second. 

Kyler Bourgeous, 30, was in the park in June when a bison charged him, piercing his armpit and hip and fracturing one of his ribs.

A few months later, he was back at the same park with a date, Kayleigh Davis, 22. The plan was to watch the sunset together — but that didn't end up happening. 

Instead, Davis was also attacked by a bison, launched 15 feet into the air and gored in her thigh and ankle. She had to be airlifted to the hospital. 

Kyler Bourgeous on his first hike after his injury, still with a drain in his hip wound. (Submitted by Kyler Bourgeous)

Utah State Parks Lt. Eric Stucki doesn't believe either victim "did anything out of the ordinary" to antagonize the bison. 

Bourgeous spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off about the attacks. Here's part of that conversation.

What happened to you back in June at Antelope Island? 

I was running up the Frary Peak Trail, which is a favourite trail of mine that I've done almost 150 times before. 

As I crested a ridge below one of the peaks on the way to the main peak — because of the angle of the trail — I couldn't see the bison until I was way too close to them. 

I turned around immediately and started walking away. But I looked back and saw one of them was charging me right away. 

I tried to run, but there's no way I was going to outrun a bison.

What kind of an impact do you get when a bison hits you?

It's like getting hit by a very precise car because they can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. They can go to like 35 to 40 miles an hour, and it has got sharp horns that pierced me in the armpit and hip and made a good sized hole in my hip.

It sent me flying through the air, rotating before I hit the ground. 

Did it come back then after that?

The impact sent me flying and it came and trampled me while on the ground for a minute, so I'm just in this whirlwind of hooves. 

It moved off a bit and just stood on the side waiting to see if I was going to move again, so I was just kind of side glancing at it, you know watching it, but not moving too much. 

Is that what you're supposed to do … you just lay still? 

Yeah. Don't give it any reason to think you're still a threat. And Kayleigh actually said that's what was echoing in her mind when she got hit.

Kayleigh Davis on her first date with Kyler Bourgeous. (Submitted by Kyler Bourgeous)

[Despite] that encounter, you were anxious to get back out and to get under the big sky again I understand? 

I don't know if you've been to Utah, but it is a beautiful place. 

I would just pace my yard every day and then started walking to the corner. 

It was only eleven days after when I went back hiking again. It hurt quite a bit, but I just like being outside too much to sit down. 

Going back to Antelope Island was a whole other deal. I waited a while on that one. 

But you didn't just go back to Antelope Island, you took a date. … How did you convince her that it was a good idea to go to Antelope Island? 

We'd actually gone running out there on a different trail one week earlier and she lives in this area. She has been out there before and she's also an avid hiker. 

When I had called her Friday to go out there, she was already headed out there alone. So I didn't actually have to convince her. 

A bison is pictured during the annual bison roundup on Antelope Island, Utah in Oct. 2016. (Rick Bowmer/The Associated Press)

So you were out there with Kayleigh. She started up the trail before you, right? 

Yeah. I had just gone for a run up on a different trail on a different mountain range and she wanted to run. She has been training to do a half-marathon. 

So I brought my dogs along and she said, "You just go ahead and take off."  We had a designated spot we were going to meet to watch the sunset. 

I was probably a quarter mile behind her when her incident occurred.

At what point did you realize or learn that something serious had happened to Kayleigh?

There are a couple of small hills between us and I see a bison pretty far off that was now right by the trail. So I just stopped there and waited because there was a group of bikers that had passed me and half of them had passed her. 

They were up ahead near the bison, so I just stood really far back watching and I see the bison bluff charge. 

It was a scout troop. So it bluff-charged the scout leader, [who] I came to find out was actually helping [Kayleigh]. 

She was lying on the ground next to that bison but I couldn't see her in the grass there. He was distracting it, trying to get it away from her. 

So I saw it charge him. Thankfully it stopped short and didn't hit him too. 

How is her recovery going — is she OK? 

She is actually. 

Even though she got flung in the air, she didn't get any spine or head injuries. 

Her [recovery] is going to be quite a bit longer than mine was because of her foot injury.

It will be about six weeks before she can walk on it properly, so she's able to get around with crutches. 

Apparently there have only been two bison attacks at Antelope Island State Park this year. So are you taking this personally?

It's kind of hard not to — and I'm often reminded that I'm probably cursed.

I don't know how to take it. I know everybody kind of thinks that it was probably your fault if you got attacked by a bison because they hear stories of people deliberately getting too close to take a picture or whatever.

So that's the common first reaction. 

But we talked to the rangers and they'll say, "It sounds like you didn't do anything … It is just a really unlucky accident."

Will Kayleigh go out with you again? 

We have been hanging out still, yeah.


Written by Katie Geleff with files from The Associated Press. Produced by Chloe Shantz-Hilkes and Richard Raycraft. Q&A edited for length and clarity.