The bear snarled and slobbered as it tore first into Anders Broste’s right arm, breaking the radius and dislocating the arm, before focusing on Broste’s left ankle.
He was face to face with the bear, having fallen on his back while trying to backpedal through thick brush to retreat.
Broste, 36, lives north of Columbia Falls and was hunting with a friend Sunday morning in the Trumbull Canyon Road area near Columbia Falls when the bear attacked.
Broste said he is “99.9 percent sure it was a grizzly.” He said Monday night that he has not heard again from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which is investigating the incident. Broste remains hospitalized at Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
The attack occurred Sunday morning as Broste struggled to move through the brush with his rifle. He had an elk tag. His friend, who had never hunted before, was after deer and probably about 150 yards away. Broste thinks the bear was bedded down in the brush.
“It was on me in seconds,” he said. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God, this is actually happening.’ I started backpedaling, trying to get the gun off my shoulder. I think I just fell to the ground immediately.”
Broste said he believes he kicked the bear a couple of times. And then, suddenly, the bear just ran off.
“I started screaming for my friend to come help me,” he said.
Broste told the friend to fire a few rounds in the direction of the bear’s flight to scare the animal away from returning.
The men had cell service and the friend first called Broste’s wife and then dialed 911.
Ultimately, both Two Bear Air and ALERT helicopter responded, as did North Valley Search and Rescue.
As the medics worked on Broste at the scene others stood guard.
“I’ve never been so thankful to see high-powered rifles and shotguns,” he said.
His voice broke.
“I’m thankful to be alive. I’m thankful for all the people who helped me.”
He said the attack won’t keep him out of the woods.
“The outdoors is where I feel alive,” Broste said.
“I don’t blame that bear. I was in its territory. It did what a bear does.”
Meanwhile, he said his friend told him he’s done with hunting for this year.
Reporter Duncan Adams may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 758-4407.