Wyoming man describes fighting off grizzly bear, accidentally shooting leg in attack

Oct 25, 2022, 7:06 AM | Updated: May 21, 2023, 4:31 pm

PINEDALE, Wyo. — A Wyoming man is recovering from a bear attack that sent him to the hospital with a gunshot wound.

Lee Francis, 65, from Evanston was elk hunting with his son Friday in the Rock Creek area of the Sawtooth Mountains. He did not realize he came across a bear’s den until the grizzly started to charge at him from 10 feet away.

“I pulled the pistol and then the bear just came flying out at me,” Francis said. “I put my foot up to stop his head from grabbing me, I just defensively shot my leg.”

Francis said the rounds hit and scared off the 8-foot, 700-pound bear. The avid hunter had encountered bears in the past but said this time was a much different experience.

“I’ve been around these big bears, but it’s a whole different deal when they are after you,” he said.

Now on the ground bleeding, his son loaded him onto a horse to get to an area where a medical helicopter could land.

“He got me on top of the mule and we worked our way out,” Francis said.

He was flown to the University of Utah Hospital where doctors treated a gunshot wound to his lower leg. He was discharged from the hospital Monday evening.

(Sublette County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook)

Francis said this experience will forever impact his future hunting trips.

“I’ll probably have a nightmare or two next time I’m out in the mountains,” Francis said.

The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office said wildlife officials are still working to locate the grizzly bear.

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Wyoming man describes fighting off grizzly bear, accidentally shooting leg in attack