If you think you are having a tough day and nothing seems to be going right, put on your big boy pants and let this mother of all bear attack stories remind you how much worse it could be. By the end of it, you will think Todd Orr’s terrifying experience should be made into a movie. Kind of like Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”, but exactly twice as bad.
Orr was just beginning his hike into the mountains in Montana’s Madison Valley. It was the first day of October and he was planning on doing some scouting for elk since the season was about to get underway. We have all heard the advice “the early bird gets the worm”. But that saying does not relate to Orr’s experience. He didn’t get the worm, he got a vicious bear instead.
A Montana Grizzly Bear. Grizzlys in Montana can grow up to 800 pounds and 7 – 1/2 ft tall.
It was just beginning to get light out that morning and he had gone three miles already. Orr made sure to yell out “Hey bear!” every 30 seconds or so to alert any bears in close proximity. Usually, it will scare them off. This time, however, was like calling your dog to you on the porch.
Orr spotted a grizzly and her cubs a bit further down the trail. The bear noticed him as well and ran off into the woods with her cubs. Orr waited a bit and stood still like he was playing a game of freeze tag. He then decided he should head in the opposite direction just in case. Bears can be awfully protective of their cubs.
This bear was no exception. Orr heard the sound of branches snapping and turned around to find the grizzly charging right at him. She was still about 40 yards away, but she quickly closed the space separating them. Grizzlies can cover 50 feet in one second. Just as Dwight Schrute pointed out in The Office: A bear can run even faster than a horse.
Orr pulled the bear spray from his chest holster. It had worked against a bear years earlier for him, forcing it to run away quickly. He let out a burst of bear spray at the charging grizzly, but the bear emerged almost instantly out of the orange cloud of pepper spray. Bear spray is quite the deterrent, but this bear did not spend a long enough time in the mist of the spray and did not inhale any of it. Plus, this grizzly was angry at Orr for interrupting her day with her cubs.
A Grizzly with two young cubs. Not as cute or cuddly as they look.
Orr dropped to the ground with his back facing the bear. He covered the back of his neck with his arms and locked his hands for even better protection. He thought the bear would maybe sniff at him and then run off, but the bear had something else in mind. She started tearing into his back, arm, and shoulder. The long canines were diving deep into his skin. Orr said the attack seemed like it lasted an eternity, but it was probably just a few seconds. The grizzly disappeared into the woods.
The backpack that he was wearing protected him from a lot of the attack. The injuries were mainly to his right arm, shoulder, and upper back. They were definitely serious injuries, but not life-threatening. All in all, he felt pretty lucky to be able to walk away from a bear attack.
But you know how in those horror films you believe the villain has finally left and the main character is free to escape only to be attacked again at the most surprising moment possible? Welcome to Todd Orr’s life. He was hiking back to his truck to drive to the hospital and had put quite a bit of space between him and where he last encountered the grizzly. He completely thought he was in the clear and safe from any more danger. Then he heard the terrifying noise behind him. The bear was back for round two.
I would imagine his reaction to be similar to Shaggy and Scooby when they see a ghost. Orr was carrying a pistol and the rest of the bear spray, but he had no time to react. He once again went to the ground and protected his neck and head. The bear went back to tearing into his shoulder and arms. She was biting down deep and he heard what sounded like bone cracking underneath the pressure. He made the mistake of flinching from the pain and this just riled up the bear even more. He rolled up into a ball and tried to stay as still as possible. The bear just kept on attacking with a claw to the side of his head and more bites to his upper extremities.
As Orr tried to lay still, he imagined the grizzly had to have torn one of his arteries and he would just bleed out there on the trail in a matter of moments. The bear finally sat still right on top of Orr, think of it similar to buzzards sitting on a dead animal carcass. Orr was being crushed by the weight of the bear. He must have felt like the bear was King Kong Bundy and he was Little Beaver from Wrestlemania III.
This guy had a slightly different experience with a Grizzly. Source: Wrestling a Grizzly
The bear finally left Orr alone and quickly disappeared into the woods. Orr tried to assess the damage as best as he could and even though there was quite a bit of blood, all his arteries seem to be okay. He wasn’t going to bleed out as he thought. He picked up his pistol that was laying ten feet away and then hightailed it the best he could back to his truck. He didn’t want to have a third round with the bear because he was sure it would be a TKO.
As he climbed into his truck, he laid some jackets across the seat to keep it from being soaked with his blood. Some men just really love their trucks. While he was driving to the hospital with blood pouring down his face, he saw a man out on the road checking his mail. Orr probably frightened the guy half to death with his appearance and asked him to call the hospital to let them know he was coming. The man asked if Orr would like it if he drove him himself. Orr turned him down because he didn’t want to get blood all over the man’s vehicle.
Once he was finally able to get a signal on his cell phone, he called up his girlfriend and tried to make some small talk with her before informing her that he had just been attacked by a bear twice and was driving himself to the hospital. Imagine how that conversation must have sounded. “Hey honey, how is your day going? Not so good, huh? My day has not been much better. I’ve been attacked by a bear two times and a chunk of flesh is hanging from my head. I guess it’s just one of those days for both of us.”
By the time he arrived in the emergency room, Orr could not use his left arm at all. He had to have surgery to repair the torn tendons and chewed up muscles. It took eight hours of stitching to close up all his wounds. After months of physical therapy, he was pretty much back to normal except for the five-inch scar on his head. All in all, Orr was pretty fortunate to survive two bear attacks in a matter of minutes, especially with no permanent injuries. Plus, that scar will make for one heck of a story every time someone new sees it.
See Todd’s Facebook Video Below: