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Man Shoots Self Accidentally Instead of Grizzly

In an attempt to avoid the second Wyoming grizzly bear mauling in one week, Lee Francis of Evanston, Wyoming drew and fired several rounds from his 10mm handgun as a grizzly closed in on him while he was hunting in the shadow of the Tetons. Francis succeeded in scaring off the charging grizz but shot himself accidentally through the lower leg in the process. 

Francis’ son called the incident in via satellite phone before loading him onto a horse and evacuating him to an area where the local search and rescue team could take over his care. Mr. Francis was life-flighted to the University of Utah hospital where, as far as we know, he remains. 

Our prayers our with Mr. Francis and his family as we ask for a speedy and complete recovery. That said, his accident serves as yet another stark reminder of the realities of hunting in grizzly country. 

Quite often the most dangerous elements of hunting in grizzly bear country are not the bears themselves. 

The Killer H’s

  • Horses: In almost all of Wyoming’s grizzly bear habitat horses and mules are the best way to access good hunting. However, they are also far more dangerous than any bear roaming the mountains. Horse wrecks outnumber grizzly maulings badly each year across the mountain west and are often more deadly. 1 in 10,000 horse wrecks result in the fatality of a human being. Compare that to 1 in 2.1 million for your odds of being killed by a grizzly. 
  • Handguns: As this unfortunate instance illustrates, handguns are not the best defense against bear attacks. In fact, they are woefully ineffective… ‘Our findings suggest that only those proficient in firearms use should rely on them for protection in bear country.” (Copyright The Wildlife Society). I think we would all like to think we are “proficient” but the truth is, even as hunters, we all aren’t. Firearm accuracy in the heat of a fast, stressful and real-life situation isn’t easily tested.” http://www.bear-hunting.com/2019/8/firearm-vs-bear-spray
  • Hypothermia: The silent killer… hunters are much more likely to die from exposure than being killed by a bear. In fact, in Wyoming your odds of perishing via Hypothermia are roughly 1 in 100,000. That’s a chilling statistic. 

I could go on and on and none of this is to question Mr. Francis’ abilities with a handgun or his judgment in choosing one for his defense. His story, while unfortunate, should serve as a reminder to us all of the importance of being prepared for an accident in the backcountry; his son’s satellite phone likely saved Mr. Francis’ life. 

I’d like your opinion on this, as via shared information we might all learn something. What items do you carry for personal protection in the backcountry? 

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  1. Until we know ALL of the facts leading up to Mr. Francis’s injury, we should be careful how we come to conclusions as we can go on an on what someone should or not do in a bear attack. It is unfortunate that Mr. Francis was wounded with his own weapons. Anything can happen while hunting and it will! Hope for a speedy recovery Sir.

  2. Everyone that thinks they are proficient, and haven’t actually tested it, should do a mock test – Find a local range that hosts steel challenge shoots. Test your self under competition standards, not quite grizzly attack, but it does get your adrenaline up and it is timed. Its a good practical test of a defensive shooting situation. I found out that while I didn;t totally suck, I did do worse than I thought I would. It was a good eye opener and now I get something to practice to make me better.
    Check one out near you. https://scsa.org/

  3. Never put your finger on the trigger until it is clear of all body parts. This is especially important when the only Safety on many of these pistols is the trigger! We don’t know how far away the Bear was when he began firing but I’m pretty sure the first shot is the one that hit his leg. If so, his aim was justifiably off. This is the type of guy that Bear Spray was made for. Quick Draw isn’t necessarily the best draw. Friend of mine shot him self in the top of his right foot practicing to be Doc Holiday with his Ruger SBH in 357 Magnum. Slow down just a touch. Wait for the barrel to clear all body parts.
    Whatever the full story, here’s to wishing him a full recovery and he can again hunt the Cowboy State

  4. I don’t believe this article is a great representation of Eastmans. I feel like this author doesn’t truly know or understand all the facts and has a specific agenda that truly surprised me to read as a representation of Eastmans.

    • How are the facts of the matter presented not facts? There was a grizzly attack. The man scared away the grizzly. The man also accidentally shot himself. To the point of not being a good hunting article, the author then points out THAT GRIZZLY ATTACKS ARE GENERALLY RARE, and that other things are far more likely to occur. (OH – there is the agenda – prepare for and now what likely threats you encounter hunting. sounds like a good “agenda”)

      You are reading an agenda into it, not the author writing one in.

  5. How late in the year are Grizzlies active? We’re heading up in a few weeks for a late hunt north of Cody. How concerned should we be in mid November?

  6. Bear spray at all times while in bear country and have it accessible at all times.

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