Quick action from a Hoonah boy saved a fishing party from a charging brown bear on June 18, the Empire has learned through Alaska State Troopers and family members. …
When the attack occurred, Elliot Clark, then 11 years old, was walking through the woods near Game Creek in Port Frederick several miles south of Hoonah. The young outdoorsman was heading to a nearby fishing hole with his uncle, Craig Stoltzfus, Stoltzfusâ€™ father, a cousin and three dogs.
Stoltzfus and Elliot Clark were armed when a brown bear came out of the woods, charging the group head on. The other members of the party were not armed.
Lucas Clark, Elliotâ€™s father and himself a bear hunting guide, told the story in a Tuesday phone interview with the Empire. Elliot Clark declined to be interviewed at this time. …
â€œThere was four of them in a line â€¦ my son was third,â€ Clark said. â€œThe bear came down the trail at them, fella in the front, who was his uncle, the bear was on him so quickly that he didnâ€™t have time to take his rifle off his shoulder.â€
The bear ran through the first two men, who were pushed to the side of the trail, leaving Elliot Clark in front of his unarmed cousin. The boy raised his pump action shotgun and shot the sow, hitting it with birdshot, which is often used just to scare bears off, Lucas Clark said.
â€œHis first shot was a light load of birdshot. That first shot hit him in the shoulder and did absolutely nothing. The next shot hit him in the nose and traveled down through the neck,â€ Lucas Clark said.
The third shot went into the bearâ€™s shoulder and his back, dropping it to the ground. The bear was so close when Elliot hit it with his third shot, there were powder burns on the bearâ€™s mouth. Still alive, the bear then slid by Elliotâ€™s feet.
â€œAs the bear slid past him and came to a stop, he put a kill shot it him,â€ Lucas Clark said.
Stoltzfus finished it off with another round.
The moment could have turned out differently. Lucas Clark hadnâ€™t gotten around to putting a sling on his sonâ€™s shotgun, leaving the 11-year-old to carry it in his hands. He credits this and a lot of shooting practice with preparing Elliot for the moment.
â€œHe was carrying it in his hands rather than on his shoulder. That was the problem with the other ones, when the bear came at his uncle, he had his rifle on his shoulder and the bear was very close, so he couldnâ€™t get it off in time,â€ Lucas Clark said.
03 Jul 2017