When a brown bear charged a family fishing party, the quick action of a then 11-year-old boy potentially saved the lives of everyone present. Elliot Clark, who was armed at the time, managed to shoot the bear before it harmed anyone. The incident is the first Defense of Life or Property (DLP) killing to occur near Hoonah this year.
As reported by Juneau Empire, the group was fishing near Game Creek in Port Frederick, a few miles south of the town of Hoonah, Alaska, when a brown bear came bursting out of the woods.
Clark was walking through the woods nearby, heading towards a fishing hole with Craig Stoltzfus, Clark’s uncle, and a few other family members and three dogs, but quickly took action when it was apparent the bear was a threat.
The brown bear came out of the woods and charged directly toward the group, who were standing in a line. Stoltzfus, who was upfront, was caught off guard and wasn’t able to unshoulder his rifle before the bear knocked him down. Stoltzfus’ father, who was second in line, was also pushed to the side.
Clark was third in line, and his unarmed cousin was behind him. Clark raised his shotgun, fired at the bear, and hit it with birdshot. During an interview, Lucas Clark, the boy’s father, said the birdshot is normally used to “scare bears off.”
When the bear kept coming, Clark fired a second and third time. According to Lucas Clark, “The first shot hit [the bear] in the shoulder and did absolutely nothing. The next shot hit him in the nose and traveled down through the neck.” The third shot, which hit the bear in the back and shoulder, caused the bear to drop and slide across the ground.
“As the bear slid past him and came to a stop, [Clark] put a kill shot in him,” said Lucas Clark.
Stoltzfus also fired a round into the bear. Only Clark and Stoltzfus were armed at the time of the encounter.
Lucas Clark admitted the situation could have ended differently. He had yet to add a sling onto his son’s firearm, leaving Clark to carry it with his hands during the trip.
“He was carrying [the shotgun] in his hands rather than on his shoulder,” said Lucas Clark. “That was the problem with the other ones. When the bear came at his uncle, he had his rifle on his shoulder, and the bear was very close, so he couldn’t get it off in time.”
The family was also carrying the firearms for protection at the time of the attack, as they had recently spotted a bear in the area. Lucas Clark confirmed the families dedication to caution and safety since they live in bear country.