About The Author

Kim Hiss, an associate editor at Field & Stream, has hunted ducks, antelope, turkeys, and deer throughout the country, enjoying a number of women's hunts along the way. She lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Click here to email Kim.

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July 25, 2008

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On the Attack

     In the past few days, three women made headlines when they were attacked by wildlife. None were hunting at the time, but their stories are yet more reminders that freak encounters like these can happen at the unlikeliest of times.
     The first incident was a severe black bear mauling in Bakersfield, Calif., on July 22. According to this BakersfieldNow.com story, the victim was 57-year-old Allena Hansen, who had gone out to work on her property with two of her dogs. After the attack -- which left her with serious facial lacerations -- she managed to drive herself to a fire station, from which she was air-lifted to UCLA Medical Center.
     Also on July 22, a Memphis woman was at a Pensacola, Fl., resort, when she was trampled by a deer. This Walton Sun story reported that 68-year-old Shelia Potts was walking back to her rental unit, when she was struck by a deer running from a nearby wooded era. Among Potts' injuries was a cerebral hemorrhage, five broken vertebrae, several broken ribs, a pulmonary contusion, and a laceration to the scalp. She also has no memory of the event.
     As if that's not enough, on July 25 The Salt Lake Tribune reported that a grizzly bear attacked a 21-one-year old woman in Alaska. The bear reportedly pounced Abby Sisk around 11:00 p.m., near the lodge where she worked, grabbing her head in its jaws and dragging her several feet. She was listed in critical condition at Providence Alaska Medical Center, where she was suffering from head injuries, a broken jaw, and puncture wounds on her legs and arms. Her family, however, said she seemed to be in good spirits.
     Sisk had reportedly been returning from a hike when the bear came out of the woods and attacked. She played dead, but when she got up after the initial encounter, the bear came at her again. A guest at the lodge spotted the bear on top of Sisk and ran toward it screaming, at which point the bear moved off.
     Pretty sobering what can happen when you're just out for a walk. -K.H.


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Terry Scoville

It is a sad reminder that one must not let their guard down when in rural or wild areas. Wild animals are unpredictable. I saw a video last Spring of a bow hunter in Idaho getting the "you know what" kicked out of him by a Mule Deer buck. With human populations having encroached into wildlife habitat areas there will continue to be more reports of conflicts taking place.


I generally carry bear spray with me anymore whenever I'm out in the woods. Especially when turkey hunting because I'm probably, no, make that definitely, looked on as a meal when I'm sounding like, or at least trying to, a hen turkey. Don't know if bear spray would have helped these women but it does make me feel a little better.

Jackson Landers

Say, K.H.;

Perhaps you are wondering why you don't get all that many comments. The reason is that you never appear to even read them, as far as your readers can tell. You never respond to what anyone says. Even when you ask a question in your entry that the reader assumes is intended to start an actual dialog, the conversation stops right there. It's like talking to a wall.

David Petzal gets oodles of comments because it's clear that he actually listens to what other people have to say and frequently responds. You know, like as if multiple human beings are having some some sort of communicative interaction. Imagine!

You'd be better off getting rid of the comments feature if you are just going to ignore what people have to say. The whole thing comes off as a bit rude. This is the point where I officially give up.


Laura Bell

Thankfully, where I live, we don't have that many bears. I've only seen one in the wild and that was plenty for me, even with a shotgun in hand.
Crazy deer on the other hand... I haven't run into any as of yet, but you never know.


Don't mean the nickname in any bad taste... I just like the Pastry.

Personally, I'm not sure why KH should be worried about responding to our comments at all let alone comments like the one above.

It's not enough that she writes this blog for you? Now you need her to be your own personal pen pal? And if so, what's wrong with the rest of us?

I think the idea of the comments section is that we're supposed to talk to each other about that which she is posting. If we need help talking to each other, I fail to see how that's anyone's fault but our own.

I come here and I learn information that I share with my friends and family. If I feel the need to comment I do. If I enjoy or even disagree with something I read in a post or another's comment, I say something (right now would be a perfect example).

Often, no one gives an darn about what I say here... at least not that I can tell. Yet somehow I manage to cope.

If this bozo has truly given up, the rest of the folks here can only be better off for it.

Now who wants to talk about bear attacks?

My question is this? I don't have a lot of experience with Grizzlies. I just usually wear a bear bell if hiking and pray a lot if hunting (or trying to keep quiet).

What's the suggested way to survive a Grizzly attack? Not that there really is one.

I know Black Bear attacks are best dealt with by playing dead. But black bears aren't ever going to eat a person. If they think you're not a threat anymore they'll leave you alone 99 times out of 100.

But that's not how Grizzlies go. As we know, they have eaten people. So what's the skinny on how to deal with one?


Bearclaw's question on how to survive a Grizzly attack reminded me of some research I did a year ago prior to a salmon fishing trip to Alaska: "when an attack is unavoidable, curl up in a fetal position, cover your head with your arms, chin tucked in tight, and after the bear bites on you a couple of times, he may realize that you're no threat, and leave." "If he continues the attack, fight like h---!!! He may just let you go anyway."

I didn't like that advice any better than I liked the Ranger who said, "Don't give the bears your salmon; if you do, you're teaching them that they can just come right up and take the fish from fishermen, and they aren't the least bit bashful about doing so."

While fishing Montana Creek, in July 2007, 2 Grizzlys came out of the brush, and headed right for my stringed catch. I gave them the fish and the stringer, and ran for my life.

Kimberly Hiss

I'm sorry to hear that, Jackson. Of course, I read all our comments -- many weeks they're by far what I love best about the blog. I wish on a daily basis I had more time to respond as much as I'd like - a certain post on "Finding Field Time" comes to mind.

As for grizzlies, Esquire magazine has a series called "What It Feels Like." Here's a recent first-person account of what it feels like to have your skull in a grizzly's jaws. Obviously the person writing survived to tell the tale.

By the way, Jan, I'm glad to hear you made it out of your scrape so quickly! -K.H.



This is for Bearclaw. I've actually heard the opposite of what you were saying. In more than onle article I've read the general concensus was to cover up if a grizzly was mauling you but to fight back if a black bear "came calling" because it was felt the black bear was more likely to be treating you as food but the grizzly was looking at you as just a nuisance. I hope to never be in either scenario and I carry bear spray which will work with either animal as a precaution when hunting or hiking in the boonies.


I am so glad I read this. This past week my 8 year old has been going to the woods behind our house because he has spotted a couple of does and a buck. He stands @ the top of the hill and shoots his bb gun close to the deer(but not directly at it) so he can see them moving. I caught him going across the creek to try to get closer to one yesterday. When I expressed my concern to my husband and one of his friends they replied he would just scare the deer off. The area is a residential area - he stays on our property which has only about 1/2 acre of woods. As soon as he wakes up tomorrow morning, he will be told he can stand at the top of the hill to watch the animals but he cannot go into the woods without an adult present.


This is also for Bearclaw.
I've always heard it like Duane tells it. Grizzlies could give up and leave you after no threat is determined. On the other hand, if a Black bear is coming for you, he intends to kill and eat you and you better fight back because your life depends on it.