Cape Native Stops Charging Grizzly Bear in Montana

Daniel Willingham in Montana days before an encounter with a charging mother grizzly bear and its two cubs.

While on a 60 mile backpacking trip with a group through Glacier National Park in Montana, I spooked a family of grizzly bears in some brush right off the trail and literally just a few feet from me. I noticed there was a mother and two cubs. The mother ran up the hill a bit with the cubs and then charged back down to within 15 feet or so of me, so I pulled out my revolver that was loaded with six .454 Casull rounds, dropped the hammer back, aimed right at her face, and yelled “stop!” Miraculously, she stopped and stood up on her hind legs. Keeping my gun’s sights locked on her, I told the bear “do not come any closer”. Convinced this would almost certainly have to end by me shooting and fatally wounding the bear, I attempted talking to the bear to settle her down and at least give a better solution a chance. I told her “we don’t have to do this, I don’t want anymore to do with you than you want with me.”

I continued to keep my gun locked on her vitals and held my ground while we had a bit of a standoff. Just then, a group of hikers came around a turn and were now unblocked by trees and I could hear them and glanced over to see them. With my gun still drawn and aimed at the bear, I told the hikers there were three grizzly bears right in front of me. They started yelling and making noise and slowly walking backwards the way they came. Soon after they disappeared back around the corner, one of the cubs made a whining noise, probably tired and scared of the people around. That’s when the mother turned around, took off the direction opposite of me into the woods, and disappeared with the 2 cubs following. I stood waiting for the mother to come back alone and ready to attack. About 20 or 30 seconds or so after the three bears disappeared into the woods, they reappeared crossing the trail 40 yards down where the hikers had been just a little bit ago, with the bears walking in a single-file line. After giving them plenty of time to get far away from the trail, we continued our hike in that direction, explained to the other hikers what had just transpired, and completed the final 4 miles of an incredible trip.