On Tuesday, 61-year-old Allen Dewitt Minish was working a surveying job near Gulkana, Alaska. He was used to the rugged terrain and its contents, but he had far too close a brush with one of its inhabitants.
According to a statement by the Alaska Department of Public Safety, he was surveying about a half-mile off the roadway when he stumbled across an adult brown bear.
“I basically started hiking from the Richardson Highway into the woods,” Minish told KTUU-TV. “I found the old survey line that was de-brushed in, probably, ‘79. And then I had a, basically, a 1,320-foot walk, or a quarter of a mile, in.
“All of the sudden, I looked over, and about 30 feet away, here is this nice-sized brown bear. And it looked at me, and it came at me. And I thought, ‘Great …’”
Minish tried to put some brush between himself and the oncoming beast, but it did little to slow the charging animal. He then put up his hand to grab the bear’s jaw — something that takes guts when a large bear is heading right for you.
But Minish had a plan — he was hoping that sacrificing his hand would spare more of him.
“Because if you grab a dog’s lower jaw, it can’t bite you,” he said. “So I grabbed the lower … jaw, punctured my hand with a lower molar, and — but he couldn’t close his mouth. And all he did is barely scratched the top of my hand with his upper one.
“But he twisted his head so fast, it knocked my hand free, and when he did that, he lunged, grabbed my head, took the first bite, relaxed, and then he took the second bite that was stronger.
“And that’s when he cracked all the bones and part of my head.”
While Minish described the scenario very calmly, he did say that in the moment, he was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the bear.
“I was like, ‘Holy s***, this is a big bear,’” he admitted. “It’s still very vivid in my mind.”
By some miracle, after the bear had bitten him twice, it let go and walked away while Minish tried to cover his face with his arms and hands. He knew he was very badly injured, but he managed to dial 911, despite the amount of blood that repeatedly clouded his vision.
He used his shirt and vest to try to staunch the flow of blood from his head, but he still had to lie there for an hour while help searched for him. And when help arrived, he managed to stand up and walk out on his own power.
Minish was taken to Providence Alaska Medical Center, where he was determined to have a crushed jaw, a cut so deep on his head that bone was visible, and so many lacerations that it took over four hours in surgery to stitch him back up, according to The Associated Press.
Doctors said he was in good condition, though there is some concern about the state of Minish’s right eye, which he was wearing a patch over.
Minish was told he might be able to leave as soon as Thursday, and had plans to return to work Monday.
While authorities looked for the bear after the attack, it appeared to have fled the area.
Though he was certainly shaken up from the incident and has had some nightmares regarding the incident, he appears to be in good spirits and doesn’t seem to hold a grudge against the bear that very nearly took his life.
“The bear was a male bear, wasn’t doing anything wrong, was just walking, he was two and a half feet to three feet at the shoulder,” he said. “Four to 6 years old, a brown bear.
“And it was just, wrong place, wrong time for me and the bear, is what it was.”