BTW--editing this 12/30/08--when my name is searched (under Chris Deile) this link comes up. But the link to my wordpress site that comes up is way outdated. Try: www.azorka.wordpress.com
That will bring up the latest, even though not all that recent since the site is extremely difficult to edit/manage.
Also, my YouTube site is: www.youtube.com/azorka82
But that get's a little funky too. Blame it on public library computers and sites easily being hacked...
Pepper spray not enough to stop grizzly in its charge...
ADN Article of Our Bear Attack/Pepper Spray 1996
More detail at my site 'Bewildered Yet?':
Subject: Requested NewsBank Article
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 16:04:37 -0500
Paper: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Title: A CAN OF SPRAY, A LOT OF LUCK
Author: Craig Medred Daily News Outdoors Editor Staff
Date: September 29, 1996
Moving quickly along the trail through the fast-darkening forest,
Chris Deile heard a deep woof that made his blood run cold.Less than
an hour earlier, he and fishing buddy Keith Benner of Anchorage had
watched two brown bears grab a salmon from the Kenai River and depart
along this trail.
Nervous about that, Deile and Benner had decided to delay their
planned return to their car parked along a nearby road and find a new
Some thrashing around in the thick spruce forest in the dusk,
however, soon convinced them the four-wheeler trail remained the best
choice. They started down it sensing some risk; Benner told Deile to
take the can of bear spray out of its holster, just in case.
When they shouted at the bears earlier, the animals fled. Similar
behavior was to be expected along a trail regularly traveled by
As the men started up the trail now, Benner kept shouting ”Hey
bear! Hey bear!” to warn the animals people were in the area. The
anglers knew, he said, how unwise it is to surprise a bear.
”It didn’t occur to us that we were in any particular danger,”
Benner said. ”We yelled at them and scared them away (before). I
think they were pretty big grizzlies.”
Before leaving the river, Benner, a man more than 6 feet tall, had
gone and found the bears’ tracks and put his hand in one. It was a
couple of inches larger than his hand all around.
That is probably the track of a young adult bear. Because there
were two bears of about the same size hanging around together,
wildlife biologists say these animals were probably 2- or 3-year-old
siblings on their first summer alone after being driven off by their
Those are among the most unpredictable bears an angler or hiker can
expect to meet, and Deile and Benner now were heading toward them on
the trail in the evening.
”Toward dark around 9 p.m. (on Sept. 15), we decided to hike
out,” Benner said. ”We didn’t want to go where the bears had gone,
but we couldn’t find a (different) trail. So we went back to where we
had originally come down.
”I told Chris we’re going to go right through where the bears went
so maybe he should get the pepper spray out. I was yelling, ‘Hey
bear!’ every 30 seconds or so just to keep them scared away.”
Both Benner and Deile figured that would be enough. In his 18 years
in Alaska, the 32-year-old Deile had learned that making noise was a
sure way to keep bears away, and the few animals he’d seen seemed to
understand that rule: They would flee when spotted.
These brown bears, unfortunately, behaved differently.
Deile and Benner, with Deile in the lead, were not far down the
trail when they discovered that at least one of these two bears was
still hanging around.
”We heard two loud snorts,” Deile said, though Benner remembers only one.
”We both just stopped,” Benner said.”I guess Chris saw (the
bear) a second before it charged. It charged right for Chris.”
His attention drawn to the sound of the snort, Deile said he looked
ahead to see the bear standing 10 to 15 feet away and looking back.
”I put my arms up in the air and started screaming,” he said. He
thinks he might have run toward the bear to try to scare it off. He
admits he doesn’t remember what happened too clearly.
It all comes back, he said, in bits and pieces, ”though certain
things really stand out.
”He knocked me down. His paw hit me in the chest, right in the
lower chest. It didn’t break the skin. It didn’t rip my clothes,
which I can’t understand.”
The next thing Deile remembers is staring into the bear’s muzzle.
”His teeth were just like when they’re stuffed,” he said, ”nice
and white and in right in my face.”
It was a lot like staring into the face of one of the stuffed bears
in glass cases at Anchorage International Airport. Only this bear was
very much alive.
”The next thing I remember,” Deile said, ”is a stream of pepper
spray going right down his throat.”
Deile doesn’t remember how he came to get the can in the bear’s
face, or even how he hung on to the can. He speculates that his
finger must have been stuck in the fingerhole of the canister when he
was knocked down. He is not sure whether the bear spray did much to
”I wasn’t conscious of (the spray) until it was going in his
throat. Keith tells me (the bear) was swinging one paw at me at the
time. I shot the whole thing down his throat,” Deile said. ”I
remember my thumb going down and the button stopping.
”He turned around and ran away 10 yards. Then he did a U-turn and
started charging again.”
A religious man studying at the Alaska Bible Institute to become a
missionary, Deile said his last prayers and prepared for the worst.
”I turned my back because I didn’t want to see him get me,” he
said. ”I thought I’m going to get mauled now and die. I don’t know
why he didn’t grab me.”
For some reason — possibly because Deile was now on the ground and
no threat — the bear went past him and turned its attention to
”There are three scenes I remember very distinctly,” Benner said.
”A lot of it is a blur. But the first was the bear coming right at
Next, he remembers the bear hitting Deile, and Deile going down,
and the pepper spray gushing out of the can.
”And then the next thing I remember is the bear being right in
front of me, and it was crouched down,” he said. ”The next part is
kind of a blur. It made some sort of move for me. I don’t know if I
was in its way or it wanted to attack me or what.
”I remember I was in front of the bear, and the only thing I was
doing was screaming, ‘Hey bear! Hey bear!’ because I was just in
total terror and panic.”
After that, he remembers the bear running away. He does not
remember the bear even touching him, ”but something happened
there,” he said. ”I got a little nick on my shoulder from the bear.
I don’t know how that happened.”
When his shoulder started burning later, he thought he might have
run into a tree in the confusion, but closer examination found where
claws had ripped through his clothes and scratched his skin.
That discovery would not come until the next day, however, after
the men endured a long, frightful night wrestling with post-encounter
”Earlier in the evening when we were wandering around, we’d found
a (deserted) cabin that we didn’t know was there before,” Benner
said. Immediately after the bear attack, the two men took one look at
each each other and came to the immediate conclusion they should flee
for the safety of that structure.
”It was kind of a rickety old cabin,” Benner said. ”It had two
Visqueen windows and a broken window.”
Worried that the bear might follow, the men begin putting old bunk
beds and whatever else they could find over the windows.
”We were pretty scared,” Deile said. ”We were pretty scared all
night. About two hours after it happened, I had a little
hyperventilation problem I went through.”
”We were talking about it until we had ourselves so scared we
decided not to talk about anymore,” Benner said.
Nervously then, they waited out the night. They stayed in the cabin
until they heard a boat on the Kenai River about 8 a.m. the next day.
They immediately ran out and flagged it down.
Two surprised anglers agreed to take the men by boat to nearby Dottie’s Camp.
”They said, ‘We don’t blame you for not wanting to go back,’ ”
Benner said. Deile left behind a backpack that contained his fishing
equipment and a plump, 12-pound silver salmon wrapped in plastic bags.
”He never went back and got it,” Benner said. ”It was just
incredible, I think, that we survived that. I think it was a miracle.
The pepper spray, I think, is what saved us — and some divine
”I’ve never been that close to a bear before. When I saw the bears
on the (river) bank, that was the closest I’ve ever been to a bear
except at Denali (National Park and Preserve). It was 50 to 100 feet
”It was probably the most terrifying thing that has ever happened
in my life. I’ll never forget the bear being in front of me.”
”It’s incredible,” Deile said. ”Neither one of us got harmed.
Keith’s a little scratched, but that’s it. I think (the bear) was
just protecting his territory.”
Copyright (c) 1996, Anchorage Daily News