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Survivor of grizzly attack tells harrowing tale; see video

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A Bozeman man attacked twice by a sow grizzly early Saturday sprayed the heck out of the charging bear, but it wasn't enough.

Curling up in a ball and playing dead — while the bear jumped on, chewed, and bit him — however, probably saved his life.

Todd Orr, 50, survived the attacks — bleeding profusely and bitten repeatedly on his head, back and arms. He actually walked 3 miles out to his vehicle and drove 17 miles to the Ennis hospital to get medical help.

On Sunday, he posted his harrowing tale on Facebook.

He was released from the Ennis hospital after "eight hours of stitching to put me back together," he wrote.

Orr had been out scouting for hunting locations Saturday on the North Fork of Bear Creek in the Madison Range, east of Ennis, when he encountered the sow and her two cubs about 7:15 or 7:30 a.m.

Orr, calm after the second attack — his face blood-spattered and a serious, gaping wound above his right ear — recorded a video, which he later posted on his Facebook page, only minutes after the attack. Standing in an open field near his vehicle, he tells the camera in a cool, understated manner:

"Life sucks in bear country. I just had a grizzly with two cubs come at me from about 80 yards. And, uh, I sprayed the s— out of her with bear spray, and then I went on my face and protected the back of my neck.

"She got my head good. I don't know what's under my hat. My ear, my arm; pieces of stuff hanging out, I don't know what's going on in there. And then my shoulder she ripped up — think my arm's broke.

"But legs are good, internal organs are good, eyes are good. I just walked out 3 miles. Now I gotta go to the hospital."

During the first attack, he yelled, deployed bear spray as the sow charged him from about 25 feet, and rolled into a ball to play dead. The bear repeatedly chewed and jumped on him as he tried to protect his head.

"He did everything he was supposed to do," said Madison County Sheriff Roger Thompson.

Finally the bear took off, and Orr, stunned, "half hiked and jogged" his way back to the trailhead, he said on Facebook.

But the bear wasn't done with him. Five or 10 minutes later, she charged him again, he wrote.

"Out of nowhere, the bear attacked him again and did the same thing to him," said Thompson. Orr was still 2 ½ miles from the trailhead. "He got a small fracture in his left forearm when the bear jumped on him."

Orr's strategy clearly worked in his favor.

"She just seemed to lose interest because he was playing dead," said Thompson. "Then she just wandered off. Bears can be that way when they have their babies with them."

Bleeding profusely, Orr eventually reached the trailhead then drove himself to the Madison Valley Medical Center in Ennis, said Thompson. Along the way, he was able to get cell phone coverage, so he called the Madison County sheriff's office to report his encounters.

"There was a lot of blood in his vehicle," added Thompson, who saw Orr at the hospital.

"It's like being struck by lightning twice in the same day; you don't get attacked by the same bear in one day," Thompson said.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks will determine what, if anything, will happen to the bear, authorities said.

"I think he did an excellent job under the circumstances, but he ran into a bear who wasn't happy with his presence — and he lived to tell about it," added Thompson. "I think he should go out and buy a lottery ticket now."

Demonstrating a strong presence of mind by stopping to record his injuries — even with a hint of humor — Orr posted other details on his Facebook page Sunday evening.

Though Orr is poised in his Facebook account, his blood-soaked clothing, face, and arm tell another story.

"So be safe out there," he says at the end of his video. "Bear spray doesn't always work, but it's better than nothing."


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Education Reporter who also covers features at The Montana Standard, I am a Cascade-Ulm-Great Falls native. Originally a sports writer, I wrote for the Missoulian and the Great Falls Tribune. I freelanced for The Seattle Times and other NW publications.

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