Shot bear
An Alaska wilderness guide used his 9mm handgun to save a husband and wife from a bear attack during a fishing trip last week.

Phil Shoemaker, a guide for over 33 years, was accompanying the couple on a fishing trip to a small stream deep in the wilderness when they startled a brown bear. He wrote in American Hunter that he decided to bring a 9mm pistol with him for protection since he knew bears might be in the area.

"Larry and his wife were fishing with me, and because we were going to a small stream I had fished before, which had numerous large male brown bears, I decided to take my Smith & Wesson 3953 DAO 9mm, rather than the S&W 629 .44 Mag. Mountain Gun I have carried for the past 25 years, as the larger boars are usually less of a problem than sows with cubs," Shoemaker said.

As they neared the stream Shoemaker heard a growl and a "woof" he said is associated with an aggravated brown bear. Shoemaker yelled loudly to scare away the bear and it ran off. Moments later, however, the bear came charging back towards the group.

"I had my pistol out by then, and the bear first appeared from where the photographer in photo No. 2 was standing," he said. "It went straight for my clients; Larry and his wife fell backwards in the deep grass."

"She said the bear's face was close enough to hers that it could have bitten her!" he continued.

Shoemaker said the bear was visibly agitated and his clients were in grave danger. He decided to shoot the bear once he had a clear shot.

"My first shot was at its neck, and then it began growling and spinning toward the impact," he said. "I wanted to hit the head but the bear was moving so fast I simply began shooting each time I could hit a vital area. I hit it six times before it turned to run off, and my seventh shot was into its pelvis area as it ran. When it dropped within 6 feet of the last shot, I checked my pistol and found I had only a single round left in the chamber so decided against walking in and finishing it."

Shoemaker said the encounter was the first time he had ever had to shoot a bear in defense of himself or others.