I don't think many people would live to tell about the time they got in a fist fight with a brown bear, but dad Toby Burke has defied the odds. While on a bird-watching hike along the Alaskan Kasilof River Beach with his wife, 11-year-old daughter, 8-year-old son, and 7-month old infant, he and his family were approached by the determined animal in an extremely threatening way.
They raised their arms and made as much noise as possible to scare the bear away, but it kept coming, then bounded right for them.
Toby yelled at his wife and kids to get behind him, and he grabbed his camera's six-foot tripod and shoved it in the bear's mouth as it lunged toward him. It swatted the camera stand away, severing the end, which Toby then used to stab the bear's nose.
The bear eventually knocked that out of Toby's hand, and all he had left between the bear and his family was his body. He shoved his left arm into the animal's mouth and started punching it in the face with his right arm.
After several minutes, the bear gave up and ran away. Miraculously, Toby walked away only with deep bruises on his arm -- the thick jacket he was wearing protected him not only from the 30-degree temps, but the bear's bite, as well.
If you ask me, Toby's a hero, for sure, but certainly not an accidental one. He knew a visit from a bear in the Alaskan woods was a possibility, albeit a rare one, and was prepared. Well, prepared enough to know how to scare away any normal bear ... no one is likely prepared to go mano a mano with a furry beast that weighs a ton.
Regardless, it's a great reminder to take mother nature seriously. As parents, it's our job to make sure we know the potential danger of our children's surroundings and to have at least a cursory knowledge of how to protect them.
Had Toby not known what to do, the story could've been horrifyingly tragic.
The bear was determined mentally ill by authorities after it was spotted "erratically attacking" a car, a telephone poll, and a man on the beach, and was put to sleep.
Do you brush up on your outdoor skills before taking your kids into the woods?
Photo via katsrcool/Flickr