Wyoming Shed Hunter Recovering from Grizzly Attack

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Bear likely stopped attack after biting into the man's canister of bear spray

A Wyoming shed hunter survived a bear attack after startling a grizzly from its bed. (Image by Stephanie Mallory)

Spencer Smith didn't get a chance to discharge his can of bear spray when a grizzly attacked him a couple of weeks ago, but it may still have saved his life. 

According to Cody Enterprise, Smith, 41, was hunting sheds in Sunlight Basin, Wyoming, on May 1, when he likely startled the bear from its bed, and it attacked. Officials believe the bear bit into the bear spray canister on Smith's hip, releasing the chemical and causing the bear to abort the attack. Smith then walked a mile and a half to his ATV, where he was assisted by Powell game warden Chris Queen. He was then flown by helicopter to Billings for treatment of a serious neck injury.

“This appears to be a surprise encounter that occurred at close range,” Dan Smith, Cody regional supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said. “The bear was likely behaving in a defensive manner resulting from an unexpected, close encounter.”

After Smith was taken to the hospital, WGFD personnel investigated the scene of the attack and discovered the tracks of a single, adult male grizzly bear. They also located a bed in heavy cover approximately 30 yards from the site of the attack. Evidence at the scene indicated the bear was at or near the bed at the time of the encounter. 

The WGFD said in the release that Smith, who was hiking through moderately thick timber, was unaware of the bear until it made contact with him. 

Since it was likely a surprise encounter, and the bear has not been identified, no management action will be taken at this time, and no area closures have been implemented. The WGFD will continue to monitor bear activity in the area.

“This is a very traumatic experience for a person to go through,” Smith said. “We wish Spencer the best for a full and speedy recovery.”

For more crazy outdoor stories, visit The Realblog and check out Realtree's Facebook page