Pistols & Bear Spray Stop Two Bear Attacks on Archery Hunters in Montana


New Mexico Hunter Mauled in Bear Attack Montana 16 Sept photo released by hunter 600
New Mexico Hunter Mauled in Bear Attack Montana 16 Sept 2019 photo released by hunter.

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- Two pairs of archery hunters were attacked by a grizzly bear or bears in Montana, in the Gravelly Mountains. The attacks occurred within 11 hours and one mile from each other.  Because of the proximity, it is suspected the same bear was involved in both attacks.

The attacks are remarkably similar with an interesting difference. In one, the hunters used bear spray. In the other, they used 9 mm handguns.  From mt.gov:

The first attack happened about 7:30 a.m. when two archery hunters from New Mexico were following elk tracks south of Cottonwood Creek, west of Black Butte. The two men said they were walking single file up a hill when they heard a noise. They both turned to see a bear charging toward them. The bear struck one of the men as the other was reaching for his bear spray. The man fell to his hands and knees, then the bear grabbed onto his backpack.

The other man deployed bear spray at the bear. When the spray reached the bear’s face, the bear let go of the first hunter and attacked the other hunter. The man continued spraying the bear’s face, and the bear eventually let go and left.

Both New Mexico hunters were injured, but they were able to walk back to their vehicle and make it to the hospital. According to Terri James of Shedhorn Sports, in Ennis, the New Mexico hunters had guns, but chose to use bear spray instead. From facebook:

Workin at Shedhorn today, a couple of guys came in just after the Grizzly attack! They had guns but said the bear spray is what finally did the trick!

Terri James said the hunter pictured had a bad gash to the back of his head, and the other hunter’s injuries were in the groin area.

The second attack occurred eleven hours later, about a mile away. Again, there were two archery hunters. This time they were from the state of Washington. We know their names, Chris Gregersen and Donivan Campbell.  The attack was very similar to the previous attack. Donivan Campbell was grabbed before he could deploy a defensive weapon.

In this attack, the hunters chose to use 9mm pistols to drive off the bear. From kiro7.com:

“I heard the bear catch Donivan before I actually saw it,” he describes, “and it’s a scream I hope that I never have to hear ever again in my entire life.”

Donivan was on the ground when Gregersen reached him carrying a gun, pulling the trigger just in time.

“I could feel his mouth right behind my head,” Donivan said.

If Gregersen did not shoot, Donivan says he would have been killed.

“I would not be sitting here. I’m 100 percent convicted of that,” he said.

Gregersen says he saw the bear crawl across his friend as it tried to bite him. Donivan was pushing the bear’s face away when Gregersen approached and shot the bear, temporarily scaring it away.

The hunters say the bear kept coming back to attack.

“It charged again just as quickly as it did the first time,” Gregersen explains, “We have never seen an animal that was that furious, that was that terrifying.”

After shooting the bear multiple times, the friends were able to escape.

Chris Gregersen wrote they used 9 mm pistols to defend themselves. He was of the opinion bear spray would not have worked in their situation.  Officials conducted a search, but did not find the bear.

Chris Gregersen and Donivan Campbell After 2019 Bear Attack Image provided by Chris Gregersen
Chris Gregersen and Donivan Campbell After 2019 Bear Attack Image provided by Chris Gregersen

Gregerson has organized a gofundme account to help cover Donivan Campbell’s medical bills and recovery. Donivan and his wife are expecting their first child in the next two months.

Eight days later, on the 24th of September, 2019, another hunter was attacked in the same area. He survived, but details are sparse at this time. From  billingsgazette.com:

After back-to-back grizzly bear attacks last week in the Gravelly Mountains, wildlife officials on Tuesday said that another individual survived an attack earlier Tuesday in the same region.

According to Fish Wildlife & Parks spokesperson Morgan Jacobsen the victim survived and was being treated in Sheridan, Montana, Tuesday afternoon. FWP is investigating the incident and Jacobsen could not provide any more information.

The media reports are emphasizing the effectiveness of bear spray, and mostly ignoring the effectiveness of 9 mm pistols. You have to search to determine pistols were used and effective.

If readers can find national media that are mentioning the defensive use of pistols in the attack on Campbell and Gregersen, please let us know in the comments below.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.