Todd Orr recalls his survival story of a Grizzly Bear attack

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Todd Orr who was happily scouting for Elk in in the Madison Valley. As most of us know scouting in any Elk country there’s bound to be predators involved. That’s exactly where Todd found himself.

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Todd posted on Facebook, “About three miles in, I stepped out into an open meadow and hollered again. A few more steps and I spotted a sow Grizzly bear with cubs on the trail at the upper end of the meadow.”

Why was Todd yelling “Hey bear” every 30 seconds? Well surprising a bear while they’re with their cubs, or gathering for the upcoming winter, isn’t where you want to find yourself. Even though Todd was taking every precaution possible he still found himself in the most gut wrenching of situations.

I could rewrite what he’s said about the recollection but I think it’s best if you read his words in full,

“The sow saw me right away and they ran a short distance up the trail. But suddenly she turned and charged straight my way. I yelled a number of times so she knew I was human and would hopefully turn back. No such luck. Within a couple seconds, she was nearly on me. I gave her a full charge of bear spray at about 25 feet. Her momentum carried her right through the orange mist and on me.

I went to my face in the dirt and wrapped my arms around the back of my neck for protection. She was on top of me biting my arms, shoulders and backpack. The force of each bite was like a sledge hammer with teeth. She would stop for a few seconds and then bite again. Over and over. After a couple minutes, but what seemed an eternity, she disappeared.”

“I was alive and able to walk…”

The moment came when Todd realized he was still alive. I can’t imagine what must have been going through his head other than, “run!”. He quickly glanced over his wounds and going off of how he felt (which was still rough), he knew that staying put wouldn’t get him anywhere. Todd, didn’t waste anytime and took off down the trail. He had just “hoped the bleeding wasn’t too significant.” Best chance of survival, was to put significant distance between himself and the bear.

“I couldn’t believe this was happening a second time!”

Just when you would think this sucks and can’t believe it happened… the sow Grizzly bear comes back a second time.

“About five or ten minutes down the trail, I heard a sound and turned to find the Griz bearing down at 30 feet. She either followed me back down the trail or cut through the trees and randomly came out on the trail right behind me. Whatever the case, she was instantly on me again. I couldn’t believe this was happening a second time! Why me? I was so lucky the first attack, but now I questioned if I would survive the second.
Again I protected the back of my neck with my arms, and kept tight against the ground to protect my face and eyes. She slammed down on top of me and bit my shoulder and arms again. One bite on my forearm went through to the bone and I heard a crunch. My hand instantly went numb and wrist and fingers were limp and unusable. The sudden pain made me flinch and gasp for breath. The sound triggered a frenzy of bites to my shoulder and upper back. I knew I couldn’t move or make a sound again so I huddled motionless. Another couple bites to my head and a gash opened above my ear, nearly scalping me. The blood gushed over my face and into my eyes. I didn’t move. I thought this was the end. She would eventually hit an artery in my neck and I would bleed out in the trail…But I knew that moving would trigger more bites so a laid motionless hoping it would end.
She suddenly stopped and just stood on top of me. I will never forgot that brief moment. Dead silence except for the sound of her heavy breathing and sniffing. I could feel and her breath on the back of my neck, just inches away. I could feel her front claws digging into my lower back below my backpack where she stood. I could smell the terrible pungent odor she emitted. For thirty seconds she stood there crushing me. My chest was smashed into the ground and forehead in the dirt. When would the next onslaught of biting began. I didn’t move.”

“And then she was gone.”

If there wasn’t more to be thankful for, Todd certainly had something to thank God for. Surviving a bear attack is unheard of, of this caliber, but surviving 2 within minutes from each other – now that’s rare. Many have asked, “Why didn’t he shoot?”. To be honest, I have reached out to Todd for an interview but I would imagine his inbox of requests is overflowing but that’s a question I would like to know. Why reach for the bear spray first? One reason I can think of is, most times bear spray will do the trick. Or just yelling. The saying goes, “They’re usually more afraid of you, than you are of them” didn’t really apply here, unfortunately.

With his pistol and holster laying 5 feet from him, he glances to check for the bear. Not seeing her through his blood wrenched face, he picked everything up and moved down the trail again.

I couldn’t believe I had survived two attacks. Double lucky!
Blood was still dripping off my head and both elbows and my shirt was soaked to the waist and into my pants. But a quick assessment told me I could make it another 45 minutes to the truck without losing too much blood.
I continued the jog just wanting to put more distance between that sow and I.
At the trailhead was one other vehicle. I really hoped that person didn’t run into the same bear.
I snapped a couple quick photos and a video of my wounds, laid some jackets over the truck seat and headed for town. I stopped a rancher along the way and asked him to make a call to the hospital.

Todd ends the Facebook post with “Not my best day, but I’m alive.” Todd, I would say you’re right. Thanking God for being alive might be an understatement. Stay safe out there friends.

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