A Montana man mauled by a grizzly bear, twice, took to Facebook before he even received medical treatment to share a warning with fellow residents and visitors to the area; carry bear spray and “be safe out there.”
Todd Orr, 50, of Bozeman, knew he was lucky to be alive. He set out for an early morning hike in familiar terrain on Saturday and dutifully shouted out every so often to give any lurking bears a chance to clear off, but it didn’t work.
A mother grizzly bear with a couple cubs saw him and charged from about 80 feet away. Orr said in a detailed recount on Facebook that he fired bear spray in the animal’s face as it charged, but that failed to stop the double attack that was about to unfold.
“I went to my face in the dirt and wrapped my arms around the back of my neck for protection. She was on top of me biting my arms, shoulders and backpack,” wrote Orr in a long message posted after the intial, blood-drenched video. “The force of each bite was like a sledge hammer with teeth. She would stop for a few seconds and then bite again. Over and over. After a couple minutes, but what seemed an eternity, she disappeared.”
He was badly chewed up, but he was able to get up and start walking and jogging the roughly three miles back to his truck. Ten minutes later, his nemesis was back.
For the second time that morning, Orr dove to the ground and tried to play dead while covering the back of his neck.
“One bite on my forearm went through to the bone and I heard a crunch. My hand instantly went numb and wrist and fingers were limp and unusable. The sudden pain made me flinch and gasp for breath. The sound triggered a frenzy of bites to my shoulder and upper back,” he wrote. “I knew I couldn’t move or make a sound again so I huddled motionless. Another couple bites to my head and a gash opened above my ear, nearly scalping me.”
Orr had been carrying a holstered pistol, but it was torn off him during the attack. Finally his efforts to appear lifeless seemed to pay off. The bear stopped its attack, stood on top of him, crushing his abdomen and head into the ground, but then left.
He made it the rest of the way back to his truck and, in spite of extensive injuries including a left arm he couldn’t use at all, managed to drive the 17 miles to the Madison Valley Medical Center in Ennis.
On the way he called his girlfriend and asked her to meet him at the hospital with a change of clothes, and he called the emergency services and told them he’d soon be at the hospital.
“I was met at the front door by the doctor, nurse and an officer. I had to ask the officer to open the door, put my truck in park, and unbuckle my seat belt. My left arm was useless. He was impressed I had taken the effort to buckle,” Orr said on Facebook.
X-rays showed a bone fragment chipped off in his arm, and he also needed “eight hours of stitching to put me back together.”
There were many puncture wounds to his upper body, but what could have been the worst wound, had it been deeper, is the 5-inch long gash over his right ear.
“It will leave a nasty scar, but I’m hoping my balding doesn’t come on too quickly and leave that one exposed,” Orr said, adding a smiley face.
“Not my best day,” concludes Orr, “but I’m alive. So thankful I’m here to share with all of you.”