As it turned and ran the ice axe fell out of his head

Friday, January 6th, 2023

Clint Adams was mountain goat hunting on Alaska’s Baranof Island in October with his friend, Matt Ericksen, his girlfriend, Melody Orozco, and their guide, when he heard the guide yell three words that nobody ever wants to hear in bear country:

“Oh, fuck. Run!”

By the time Adams realized what was happening, his guide was already running past him and reaching for the .375 H&H bolt-action rifle that was slung over his shoulder. Adams’ own rifle was strapped to his pack, and the only weapon at hand was the ice axe he’d been using to claw his way up the mountain. When the big boar chased after the guide and passed within arm’s reach of Adams, he took the ice axe and swung with both hands, burying the pointy end in the bear’s skull just behind its ear.


Adams then watched as the bear tackled the guide from behind, and the two rolled down to a flat spot below. The guide was on his back trying to shoulder the rifle as the eight- to nine-foot boar reared back on its hind legs. That’s when Adams saw that the axe was still lodged in the bear’s head.

Adams is 6’6” and weighs 285 pounds.

The impaled bear then reared up over the guide, who shouldered his rifle and fired a shot straight up into the air. Adams says he distinctly remembers seeing the muzzle blast ruffle the bear’s fur. The shot spooked the bear just enough for it to step back and hesitate. At this point, Ericksen drew the .357 revolver strapped to his chest and fired three shots at the bear through the brush.

The boar charged the guide again, and the guide leveled his rifle and shot a second time. Ericksen fired two more rounds from his pistol. Adams says they still don’t know if any of those shots even hit the bear, but they all kept screaming and eventually the bear ran off. They never saw the bear again, and although the guide reported the incident, Adams has no idea if the bear died or not. He did, however, get his ice axe back.

“After that second shot [from the guide], the bear looped down and got level with me about 30 yards away,” Adams says. “We’re making a ton of noise at that point, and it bluff charged once or twice. It took two steps forward, two steps back, and as it turned and ran the ice axe fell out of his head.”


Adams also says the whole experience opened his eyes to how gunshots help stop a charging bear. He says that because they were in dense brush in tight quarters, bear spray would have been useless, and he thinks that the muzzle blast from the guide’s rifle might have deterred the bear even more than the bullet.

“This might sound silly, but after going through that and seeing how the bear responded, I honestly would feel the most safe from a charging bear with a foghorn in my hand,” Adams says. “When I saw that .375 go off, it was not only the sound, but more so it was the air that hit the bear in the face. It was just amazing how that bear reacted when it got hit with the muzzle blast.”

He adds that, in his opinion, if you’re going to carry a pistol in bear country—which, of course, you should—your best would be to carry a 10mm Glock with a 19-round magazine and “make as many bangs as you can.”

Posturing is an important part of fighting. With that in mind, a compensated pistol might be especially effective.

Speaking of Glocks and bears:

Sam Kezar reckons he’d be either dead or disfigured if he hadn’t spent all summer fast-drawing his Glock. He bases that conclusion on a sobering calculus of time and distance—the two seconds required for a Wyoming grizzly bear to cover 20 yards—and the fact that Kezar somehow managed to get off seven shots from his 10mm in that span of time as he was staring terror in the face. As the bear was closing fast, and he was backpedaling into the unknown.


  1. Douglas2 says:

    In the Baranof Island article, I thought at first that we were talking about a boar, then that it was some bizarre simultaneous bear AND boar attack, then began to wonder if either “bear” or “boar” was a typo.

  2. Isegoria says:

    I must admit that I did a double-take on “boar” when I expected “bear”, but that’s the correct term for a male bear.

  3. Longarch says:

    Posturing is a human habit, and it is very important in military situations. It might also be the root of a great deal of evil perpetrated by governments. Soldiers learn to lie about their prowess, then soldiers learn to stab their spears into fleeing does. But then politicians learn to lie about their conflicted loyalties, and then politicians learn to stab their daggers into the leaders to whom they had sworn loyalty.

  4. Longarch says:

    Fleeing foes. As in foemen. I did not intend to write about female deer.

  5. Freddo says:

    Nothing wrong with attacking fleeing foes, that is traditionally the moment when most casualties are inflicted. At least in modern Western warfare surrendering is the thing you are supposed to do.

  6. Albion says:

    Beware the fleeing army. In 1066 Harold Godwinson’s army saw the invading Normans retreating and broke ranks to charge after them. The Normans turned, slaughtered the disorganised English and hence, the nation got a new king.

    Whether Harold died as the Bayeux tapestry seems to indicate because of an arrow in his eye, we will never know. Undoubtedly Harold died on that battlefield, possibly while shouting to his over-eager troops to stand their ground as they had the advantage of the hill. On the other hand, we also then got the Domesday book which tells us all about who owned what in eleventh century England.

  7. Lu An Li says:

    The feigned retreat. That most [?] difficult maneuver accomplished only by well trained and disciplined troops. The Mongols particularly good in this regard. One feigned Mongol retreat lasted for nine days!!

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