Quick-thinking and a trusty shotgun allowed a young Alaska boy to save his family from a charging brown bear sow on June 18. According to the Juneau Empire, Elliot Clark was walking through the woods on his way to a fishing hole several miles south of Hoonah, Alaska, with three family members and three dogs when the bear charged the group head-on.
“There were four of them in a line,” said Elliot’s father, Lucas Clark, in an interview with the Juneau Empire. “My son was third. The bear came down the trail at them, fella in front, who was his uncle, the bear was on him so quickly that he didn’t have time to take his rifle off his shoulder.”
Face to face with the bear, Elliot was left to defend his unarmed cousin who stood behind him. Acting fast, the young outdoorsman raised his pump-action shotgun and shot the sow with birdshot, which is often used to scare away bears. The second and third shots were with slugs and struck the bear’s nose and shoulder area, bringing it to the ground. Elliot’s fourth shot was followed by a shot from his uncle with the rifle he carried, ending the attack.
Alaska Senator Shelley Hughes praised Elliot in a Facebook post with photos of the incident stating, “What a shot. What bravery.”
Clark noted that along with Elliot’s shooting skills, the fact he had never gotten around to putting a sling on his son’s shotgun could have been what saved the family’s lives, as he was able to quickly ready himself. “He was carrying it in his hands rather than on his shoulder,” Clark explained to the Juneau Empire. “When the bear came at his uncle, he had his rifle on his shoulder and the bear was very close, so he couldn’t get it off in time.”