Wild Awakening Part 1 with Greg Matthews

WTR Greg | Wild Awakening


Hunting is a relatively safe activity, until you come face to face with a grizzly. Avid hunter and outdoorsman Greg Matthews barely survived a near-fatal grizzly attack when he was out on an idyllic hunting trip through the backwoods of Alaska with his brother. Greg recounts the harrowing attack and how he thought that he would die out in the Alaskan wilderness. He shares the terrifying moment when the hunter becomes the one hunted, and how the thoughts of his family and God helped him survive the whole ordeal.

Listen to the podcast here:

Wild Awakening Part 1 with Greg Matthews

We’re here with Greg J. Matthews. If you’ve been in social media, you might have seen Greg’s book, Wild Awakening. It was about the grizzly attack that almost killed Greg in Alaska. He was bow hunting in Alaska. He’s going to start off by giving some of his backgrounds and then we’re going to get into the story about how he survived a grizzly attack in Alaska. Greg, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Bruce, for having me. It’s really an honor to be here with you. I know we’re going to talk about the grizzly attack but if it’s alright with you, I’d like to share some of my background through my careers and what the Lord has allowed me to do. I come from a family of people that have served in the military. My grandfather was a retired Air Force Master Sergeant. My dad was a Marine and then went on to do a career with the California Highway Patrol and then with NCIS. My uncle was a Marine who served in Vietnam. My other uncle was in the Coast Guard and he served in Vietnam also. My other uncle was a paratrooper. My brother served in the Navy. I served in the Air Force and my other brother, my little brother who saved my life, he’s retired from the Air Force up in Alaska.

The framework was set that it was going to be, at least for me, entering into careers in public service. I became a reserve firefighter in San Diego County at seventeen and then I went on to do four years as a firefighter in the United States Air Force. From there, I retired from my four-year enlistment and then went into being a firefighter up in Seattle, up in the Puget Sound area and did a career for 21 years there. I was on an engine company, truck company, rescue paramedic unit, BLS aid car and fire service. Usually about every five years, you rotate into different skill sets. I did a high angle rescue, hazardous materials tech and all different wild land fire.

During this time of my career in the fire service, my good friend was killed on Rescue Five, the FDNY. I ended up going out to the World Trade Center and spent three and a half weeks working with his brother, who’s also an FDNY guy and their crew, looking for Andre Fletcher. We never found him, but I can tell you that event really changed my life. It sent me into a change of mindset of what I could give back. I’ve always tried to be a protector, making people safe, trying to be there for people when they’re in their worst moments. My dad was already working in NCIS and was in force protection and anti-terrorism and he began to talk to me about some opportunities I might want to think about.

Just to the kind of person I am, I was feeling like all I was there was to respond and I hadn’t done anything on my part. I feel like every American has the responsibility to do their part to whether it’s see something, say something or enter into a career to protect this nation. It felt like I had let my nation down in a lot of ways. I came back. I started a terrorism response operations division within the fire service, for suicide bombers and chemical and biological attacks, as well as securing the command post from secondary attacks from terrorists. I re-tooled and re-schooled and went back.

I went to every course that President Bush was laying out there for the new DHS and Homeland Security and became certified within anti-terrorism, counter-terrorism. At that point, I was lucky enough to be hired as one of the Homeland Security managers for the City of San Diego. From there, I went to work for the admiral for Navy Region Southwest, protecting the whole naval footprint in the southwest portion of the United States. A lot of my hunting was hunting around for different things to do to keep terrorists from attacking the metropolitan city of San Diego and the parking lot of ships, carriers, subs, aircraft and stuff for our Navy on the southwest coast. It was just something I decided to do. In between all that, I used my GI Bill. I became a pilot. I have both fixed wing and helicopter and then I ended up going with a contract organization to fly a search and rescue in a helicopter up in the North Cascades.

I had a buddy that ran one of the biggest bail enforcement companies in Washington. I became a fugitive recovery agent. After the attack, I realized that some of the things that I was pursuing weren’t always for the right reasons. They did good things for people in the times that they were hurting or needed to be rescued or needed to be made safe. I had a lot of brokenness growing up and a lot of the stuff I was doing to prove myself to my dad and the world that I met the mark as a man. Not all healthy stuff, but I think the things that I did were helpful to people.

WTR Greg | Wild Awakening


How long have you been a hunter?

I grew up hunting with my dad. He used to pick me up when I was in kindergarten. We used to live up in an area called Big Bear, California. We used to drop down the backside of that and hunt dove and quail and hunt for gold and all that stuff. It transitioned there once he got moved to San Diego. It’s not the biggest hunting ground in the world, but there are dove and quail and there are hogs. That’s why I started hunting Columbian black-tailed deer with my dad. My grandmother and my grandfather lived out in the Mojave Desert, so we shot a lot of varmints and coyotes. We did a lot of rabbit hunting and it was always a dream with my brothers and I, as my dad escalated the types of guns that he gave us for Christmas to one day go in and do a real-world big game hunt.

Our choice was Alaska. We did have the opportunity to do that. A lot of things went good, but things went sideways on that. All my life I’ve been hunting. I’m on a 3,100-acre lease here in Texas, hunting whitetail. I’ve only been on it for a couple of years. Hunting hogs is my favorite. I like to hunt hogs at night. That’s one of my favorite things to do pretty much all my life. Definitely, I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I love just being outdoors. I love the challenge. It’s not always about the kill for me. It’s everything else. It’s the preparation, the equipment, the choosing and selection of the spot. It’s the scent control and all of those things. Especially those boars that come in singles, they are very smart, very cunning and a lot of times not always in the best mood.

Let’s transition to Alaska hunt with your brother, Matt, I believe. Is that correct?

That is correct.

Let’s talk about how long it took you to get Alaska. I know, after reading your book and talking to me, it just didn’t happen overnight. I want my audience to understand the extent of preparation it takes to travel and then go into the Alaska back country, basically you get twenty miles out of Anchorage in the wilderness. I’d like to talk about the preparation for what you did.

As your audience I’m sure can tell just by what I’ve shared with them, I’m a little bit of an overachiever, so I over-prepare. My boss in San Diego was a Marine. He taught me the Marine Corps planning process. Frankly, Marines don’t give options to fail. That’s the way that I approached this hunt with my brother. The reason I could hunt without a guide up there is that my brother is a resident. He’s been up there for several years. He’s hunted caribou, bear and moose. I felt comfortable going with him. Recognizing that there’s a lot of preparation when you’re going to be so remote that obviously you can’t just run to a store to go and get what you want. Originally, we had planned to spend a year planning once we came up with the idea. I’m sure most of you folks understand how expensive it is. My brother being up there reduced the cost probably in half, but I still didn’t have all the equipment and gear that I needed to prepare for the elements, to prepare for that type of hunt to be able to get the game out.

Greg was attacked by a grizzly bear, but the gruesome, nearly fatal conflict offered an unexpected encounter with God. Click To Tweet

As far as setting up a spy camp, an equipment tent and all that stuff, we split up the duties based on our skill sets. I had the, the responsibility for obviously the medical piece. We were looking at how we were going to purify water if we needed to. You look at the basic elements of what it takes just to survive out there. You’ve got to protect yourself from the elements. You’ve got to protect yourself because you are definitely on the food chain out there. You’ve got potential predator issues. You’ve got to figure out your food, listing out all your food.

I will tell you that Alaska fish and game has a booklet that they can provide people that we use as a basis for preparing and going through all. It’s a literal checklist that you can use on any hunt, any six, eight, ten-day hunt. It’s a good baseline for being able to know that one, people know where you’re going to be, that they had been given the same maps and the locations that they’re going to be, including the GPS grid coordinates. If something goes wrong and your communications plan for communication to them at the end of the day saying you made it back to camp and all that. If they don’t get those notifications, they can start making other notifications to determine whether or not something has gone wrong. That was just one piece. You have a communications plan, you have a food plan, obviously weapons of choice. I reloaded even though I was bow hunting, I had a black bear tag that I was going to try and do with a rifle.

I reloaded all my own ammunition too. Obviously the maps and use of GPS, but we also learned about using a compass because we built redundancy into everything that we did, no matter what we’re preparing for. Electronics was good and electronics was primary, but we always had redundancy, old school, going back to using a pencil and a piece of paper or printing out stuff that we laminated. Our maps were laminated, so if they got wet that they wouldn’t be destroyed. We just marched down every single one of those things that goes into preparation, including weight, including testing tents, sleeping bags and going onto YouTube.

I’m sure your audience know it’s a very cool tool for looking at anything and people out there are testing stuff so that you can know what the limits are of that equipment. We spent the first year going over everything with that. We both decided to shoot .300 Win mag and I had loaded 200 grain Nosler partitions in those belted cartridges. The reason we did that is so that if there was an issue that came up that we needed ammunition, we wouldn’t have to figure out where to get or whether somebody ran out of ammo. We were both shooting the same ammunition. To think about that, you can see the level of not only redundancy or that layered planning of just ensuring that there wasn’t room for failure yet we had failure out there.

We did make some mistakes. We canceled after the first year because I had a move to make. I became the anti-terrorism officer for the Southwest division of the US Army Corps of Engineers which I do now. I protect all the dams, the hydropower generation plants in the waterway locks from terrorist attacks. I am very methodical. We need to be right 100% of the time. The terrorists need to be right once. My redundancy moved into my planning aspect for everything. My wife teased me. It’s like, “If he’s planning to have a shower out there, guarantee he’s going to have a solar shower set up with something surrounding it for some privacy. He’s going to be keeping the towel out of the dirt. He’s going to figure out a way to hang the stuff in there. If that doesn’t work, then he’s going to figure out how to have a wash cloth and heat water and be able to do that. Use bio wipes and all the other stuff.” Everything we did had redundancy to it. That’s what I would recommend to all of your hunters and outdoorsmen going out into remote areas.

When you flew up there from Texas, how many bags and gun cases did you have? There are limitations. You just don’t drive to Alaska. You can but for most of us, we’re going to fly it. Talk to me about weight limits and a number of duffel bags or gun cases.

Up in Alaska, having done the research and being part of in the Puget Sound, it’s really wet. I had a lot of dry bags already. It was a give and took as far as what equipment was going to be taken. I literally brought into my office a scale. Every time that I brought something that I wanted to add to my kit, I would weigh myself first and then I would hold it in my hand or I would hold a series of things in my hand and I would look at the weight and begin to write it down. I ordered a single case. It wasn’t a Pelican case, but something of that nature. It was a single case that had all of the foam complete in there. It wasn’t cut out. It was two-sided, one side was for my archery and the other side was for the rifle. I also included my electronics in there. I love a KA-BAR knife. It’s not great for skinning stuff, but it’s a great tool and it’s been proven obviously through military members. I have a real-world Ka-Bar knife with that quality of steel that goes with me everywhere. I have a Cutco knife that I wouldn’t go anywhere without that. That is something that, as far as skinning, I haven’t found a better knife than that. I’ve never had to sharpen it.

What I did was that one case had all this stuff that I absolutely needed to get there and I cut out the foam to shape it, knowing that in the future I was probably going to be doing future big game hunts, requiring the same rifle, bow, broadheads and all of that stuff. I had a place for all the arrows. I had a place for everything in there. The stuff that as far as clothing and everything, based on layers and based on elements, I shipped all that ahead of time in boxes. I don’t think you’re supposed to do it, but I ended up, because I had enough time, book a bulk rate really cuts the cost down on shipping that stuff. I shipped it to my brother and had it available. When I got on the plane, all of my bags were under 50 pounds, otherwise you spend a lot of money. I had two dry bags, one duffle, one was like a sea bag, the big ones. That one had a lot of my stuff in it. I had a duffle bag that was a dry bag and then I had my weapons case that held my bow and my rifle.

You didn’t have to pay anything extra? The weapon case, was that extra or not?

No, I kept it under. I balanced the weight out. I knew what everything weighed before I went in there and shipping that stuff ahead of time up there. I know that your folks probably might not have that option because my brother lives up there, but I do think some of those guide services will hold boxes for you. Remember, a lot of the boxes are exposed to the elements once they’re in transit. I would make sure that everything is in case. One of my favorite tools is one gallon Ziploc bags and then the construction, the heavy-duty construction 50-gallon black bags. You can use those for so much. You can cut a hole and cut sleeves in and put it on over different gear. You can wear it in those Ziplocs just help to keep everything. You can put a piece of tape on. You can put inventory lists in there that you can see through the bags. I’m a bit extreme when it comes to preparedness.

For most of us, we don’t have a brother but I know if you go to FedEx, UPS or whatever and you plan, they can send it to a FedEx or UPS location. They can send it right there and ship it right to that location and then they’ll hold it. You might have to pay something for the storage, but it does save a lot. I know when I used to fish, leaving from Colorado, I used to ship out my rods and everything beforehand right to the docks. That was cheaper than taking them on the airplane because they wanted me to pay a lot of money. Once or twice, it gets easy. My tip is just to echo and summarize what Greg said, figure out logistically, get all your stuff packed and say, “What can I ship up?” If it gets lost or something, I’ve still got everything I need when I travel. All my medicines and all my electronics, my glass, my weapons and everything, I’ve got all that with me, so I’m going to reduce that. The bulk type of thing, that’s really smart. With your brother up there, you didn’t have to worry about getting a tent because he had a tent, correct?

Actually, that tent was part of my responsibility. It was a Kelty expeditionary tent. I want to tell your readers, I have so much to learn about hunting. I definitely wouldn’t call myself an expert. I’m pursuing the passion that I love, that my dad implanted into me. I’ve never had a lot of money to be able to do these types of big hunts and all that. I can tell you about the equipment, the gear and all that stuff, it probably cost me $10,000 or $11,000. I know if I was to go with a guide up there, you’re sometimes talking $18,000 to $20,000. The tent was my responsibility and I ended up getting the tent. What I would recommend is having something that has a big vestibule for pulling off all your wet stuff and being able to have it right there in front until you get dry and inside and changed. You can work on basically putting that stuff in and around your tent or inside your tent to have it get dry and everything.

I like the newspaper for shoving into boots. I know it absorbs a lot of the moisture and stuff. We didn’t have boot dryers. We had to make choices on what we could bring out there. My brother did have a 26-foot Alumaweld jet boat. We had to weigh it all correctly. Plus we brought, I think it was close to 90 gallons of extra fuel and containers. It is weight and balance. I’m not a boatman, my brother is. I’m more of a pilot and so we had to think about different things. It was a trade off in the things that we could take and what we couldn’t take. As much as we would like to have all of our stuff out there, we had to make decisions on what to bring.

Checklist, scale and figure it out, but it can be done. The thing in this part, this segment, preparation is key but you can actually do it. I’ve been fortunate to go and hunt caribou up in Alaska and flying fish up in Alaska. Sometimes I had a guide and sometimes I didn’t. That’s the way it worked out. I know I rafted a couple of times and it was just my buddy and me. They dropped you off and said goodbye and ten days later they picked you up.

Some of the things we’re pursuing isn’t always for the right reasons. Click To Tweet

I plan on going on some more of those trips, God-willing, someday. I’ve learned a lot. I pored over growing up field and stream and outdoor life and sports field. That was our go-to. My brother and I used to ravage the library, bring in all the books home and a lot of times we lived our hunts through those magazines. It was not for me about the kill. It’s out there in God’s country, challenging your skills against Mother Nature, setting things up and having things come together. I was in charge of the kitchen and I designed a tarp with a single point with where it would shed the water away from the tent. Using a small sapling, I was cutting off the branches on that to make hooks for holding all the pots and pans. It’s really fun. I love that stuff.

You fly up to Alaska, you get everything loaded in the boat, you go launch a boat and you went down the Kenai Peninsula?

It was the Kenai. We had fished there for kings and they’ve got some huge rainbows. I’m telling you right now, if you want to go fish for some giant rainbows, fish at Kenai. It was the widest confluence, I think, of the Kenai. It’s called Skilak Lake. There’s a current, but it widens out there and it’s got a big reds run there. It’s a beautiful country right there.

You launch the boat and then you had to find a place to camp. Had you pre-used Google Earth or Maps and figured out, “This would be a good point or this is a good bay to pull the boat in?” Talk to me about how you selected your campsite.

We did a lot of Google Earth. I don’t pay, I’m a cheapskate. There’s an app that I use called ScoutLook. It puts you where you’re at based on as long as you have service, which after a while we didn’t have service. There’s another thing I want to talk about. It will put you where you’re at and then you can scan in, you can use the map. We picked out a place called Caribou Island, which was about halfway down. I think it was twelve to fourteen miles along Skilak Lake. We were at the extreme end from where we launched. We looked at this, we looked at it, it had good access. It was far enough away that with a big lake river. Sounds carry along with ways we want to be far enough away to set up our spike camp. We looked at where the access was, where the areas that we were going to be hunting and we picked that out.

One of the things that we’ve learned is for animals, and I’m talking predators, that they use the shorelines of the river and/or the lake. Make sure that your camps are far enough back away from those areas that it’s not going to be a transit route right through your camp. We knew that right off, not that we’ve had any experience at that point of having something walk through the camp of being too close to the river’s edge or the lake shore. Two years is a lot of time to plan and read and learn from people’s mistakes.

Caribou Island was the choice of ours and we set up the main sleeping tent or sleeping cabin, I’d call it. My recommendation is to get a tent tall enough that you’re not slumped over, that you can stand up in. I don’t think it adds that much weight, but it certainly is nice to be able to get dressed with not bumping your head on the tent. Everybody knows, as soon as you touch the tent, you’re probably going to get a leak if it’s raining. Set up a cabin tent, set up an equipment tent and then we set up the kitchen, which I loved. I had a folding table. I love hurricane lamps. You definitely need hurricane lamps because of the oil. It’s not the white gas that you have a fire issue or explosion issue in confined areas, especially in your tents and stuff. Those kerosene lamps I think are a mainstay for providing, not a whole lot of light, but once your eyes adjust, it’s plenty of light for lighting the areas. We dug a pit latrine that we cut out a seat on one of the logs and then on the back end we cut out a pit latrine that was far enough away that didn’t smell or anything like that. The opposite direction, we cleared out an area and put our makeshift barrel on around it for storage of our food. We didn’t want the food inside the camp. These are all just things we read about and learned from. We’d never had issues with to say experience told us this. We were smart enough that we didn’t want to relive other people’s nightmares or bad situations.

On your barrel arm, how did that come together?

I do live in the security world and I figured, whether it’s Al Qaeda, a bear or a wolf, it’s all about layers and something alerting you that there is a danger. What we did wasn’t anything that we read about. I started doing some duck hunting here in Texas, which to all you duck hunters, it seems like a lot of work for a lot of being wet and cold constantly. Anyway, if you’re a duck hunter, I know you love it because I’ve got friends that do this. It’s just not my first love. They had their decoys strung with this 400-pound fishing line. We came up with the idea that once we got to my brother Matt’s house, that he had collected about twenty Coors beer cans that he stuck in a bag that we had the room to be able to take it out there. I brought two of those tubes of BB’s. What we did is we took that 400 -pound test. We went around the camp and then around the food area. As we’re stringing it, we would slide these cans through the tab and I’d dump about ten or twelve BB’s into those cans and basically make sure there was enough movement on it that we would get alerted if something came through. It was high enough that something at night was bound to hit it. We did have an alarm that first night. We don’t know what it was. I can tell you that I woke up, my brother was slapping my cot, which that’s another thing. If you can bring cots, it makes all the difference in the world than sleeping on the ground. I heard the rattle the second time and he said, “Something’s out there.” I think that the alarm making the noise, the thing ran off. We sat there for a half an hour with eyes as big as saucers. I had the twelve-gauge and he had his pistol and we weren’t sure what it was, but it definitely worked.

Obviously, you got a good camp set up. How many days had you planned to be there?

It was a ten-day scheduled hunt and we had a couple of different ice chest that starts out frozen. Obviously, it didn’t stay frozen. We did get some dry ice, which actually helped to keep stuff a little bit colder. We had ice in the mornings. The attack happened on the 22nd, so it was transitioning into fall, but we had ice on the boat deck in the mornings. It was still cold, so that helped to keep things cool. I can’t afford to get Yeti coolers or anything like that, neither can my brother. We just used the Igloo, the white Marine Coolers, to keep stuff cold. Plus we had dry bulk stuff that we brought in bins. My recommendation, if you’re going to use the bins, one, make sure and use those 55-gallon trash bags inside the bins. Make sure it’s the bins that have the things that rotate over. Have inventory lists in those bins so you’re not constantly digging through there trying to figure out what’s in those bins. The inventory list definitely helps.

You’re in there for ten days, so let’s jump into the hunt. The bear attack happened on what date?

Four days into a ten-day hunt.

You had four days. Are we in the first couple of days scouting and looking for a sign or looking for animals? Run me through the first couple of days.

Being outdoors is a challenge. It's not always about the kill. Click To Tweet

The first couple of days were exactly that. After obviously the boat is unloaded, it’s floating a lot higher. One thing I want to share about the boat to make sure that people understand if you’re going to do the DIY, the Do-It-Yourself hunts. We ran into an issue with weight and we changed it, but the nose was a little bit heavy and it dropped the nose down to where if white caps came up on your way out there, it could have very easily swamped or torpedoed the front of that boat down. Make sure and look at your weight, even though that’s your biggest storage area, a lot of times at least on some of those jet boats, don’t stack. We had fuel and everything up there. Don’t stack that fuel and all that stuff too much in the front because you can definitely run to problems. My brother identified it right away, but that’s something stuck with me that I wouldn’t have known having not been a real boat guy.

Two days into it, we basically skirted the entire shore lines all the way around of where the areas that we were going to be hunting. It’s hard to explain the vastness of what you’re looking at. It’s a bit overwhelming when you’re anchored on the shoreline and you’re sitting in those captain’s seats and you’re looking for hours on end through binoculars. I was using Swarovski’s and they have really good eye relief, meaning that it has big open lenses in the back so you can be comfortable sitting there. That’s important. If you’re squinting to look through those small holes with not much eye relief, it definitely wears on you mentally and all that. I’m not an expert. These are things that I’ve figured out planning two years and the limited hunting that I’ve done. The other thing is a shooting stick with that Y. It allows the binoculars to sit on that shooting stick and that way you don’t have to hold it up. You can just hold the shooting stick with the binoculars and you get it set to that right distance with uncoupling it and sliding it down. It makes it easy to be able to glass. I was using that in the boat.

You’re looking at huge, vast areas, huge valleys, looking for any movement. Actually, it was frustrating in the first two days. I thought we would see more, but then I started thinking about the vastness of what we were looking at. A lot of time with moose, they are so stealthy because they’re so slow. You’ve got to be staring at an area that to pick up a flicker of an ear or a flick of a tail or something like that. I’d have you to look in that one area. One of the things I learned as a pilot and I kept reading is when you’re glassing and you’re scanning, do it in ten-degree increments so your eyes have opportunity to focus on those particular areas. Otherwise, you’re scanning so quick that you’re not able to pick up those subtle movements and stuff.

We spent the two days basically scanning and glassing the ridge lines and up the valleys and we saw a lot of ospreys diving for fish. When we got bored, we’d cast the line, do some trolling and caught some fish for dinner to break it up. I was a little frustrated in the first two days. I just thought, “I’m here in Alaska. I spent all this money. There should be animals all over the place, but I didn’t see it at that point. Until getting to the shore area, which would be the Northeast end of Skilak Lake where we ended up sliding the boat up on the shoreline there. The first thing we saw was two big piles of bear scat on the shoreline saturated with egg roe. It was bright orange and you knew right away what that was.

You begin to look down the shoreline and you can see the salmon that had their guts basically eaten. They were after the roe because obviously that’s a lot of energy in the fat with that roe. When I first saw that, it wasn’t fear. In fact, I don’t know why it didn’t come to me right away that could be a grizzly. I was thinking a black bear because I had a tag for a black bear. I got excited about it. Finally, I saw really some good sign and then ended up going and scouting up the same valley where I was attacked at. We saw it.

You found an area, it looked promising. It was some bear evidence, but that’s the first animal evidence you’ve seen. Let’s go on and tell the story.

It was on the second day. We got there a little bit later. We both got out of the boat, saw the bear scat, gave the thumbs up to each other and it was basically a huge valley and there were two mountain ridges on both sides. As you looked into it, you could see in the distance there was a beaver dam that they had blocked a section of it. It turned into a beaver pond. Looking at it, it had some of the grasses and stuff that I had envisioned through all my reading with some moose’s head buried in and seeing those big white panels of it pulling those soft roots and everything out from that. It looked perfect. We got really excited. I was going to be bowhunting. That was what I wanted to do. I wanted to level the playing field, use limited skills as a hunter and also the skills that I had, refined reading. I read everything. To a point where I had to get that moose into a point 50 yards is what I was hoping for. This day, I actually left my bow. We both had rifles. We had packed with water, some beef jerky, granola bars and stuff and we were going to see what we would find further in.

Immediately we started finding very well-used game trails. I also noticed that we were walking on a water bed or a sponge. It was that muskeg moss and there were big frost heaves. Some of them just a foot deep, but some of them a couple of deep. Some of them you could break a leg if you fell into it. I know that probably people are wondering what types of boots you’re wearing. I chose the LaCrosse knee-high rubber boots because so many times, the boots that I was using, the Danner boots that I was using, I would sink down into something in the water, would come in over the top and then I would be in wet boots for the rest of the day, which is terrible. I ended up using the LaCrosse rubber boots and that was what I was in that day. It definitely helped. I don’t think you have enough stability that you would for like a Danner boot that’s a three-quarter boot on your ankle and stuff. I don’t like being cold. I’m a sissy when it comes to being cold. I don’t like being wet or cold so I opted for those boots.

We started walking up. We decided to, based on where the relevant wind was coming from, it was coming left to right as you’re looking up the valley. We opted to move along the tree line on the right side right at the base of the ridgeline and move slowly up and see what we could find. We were glassing. We’d probably walked about 20 or 30 yards and stopped for maybe 15, 20, 30 minutes and glassed, taking in everything and living in the moment. I want to talk to hunters out there, don’t get so caught up with getting to your spot and getting your bow drawn back or getting something in your crosshairs. Just live every moment because there are smells, there are visuals, there are so many things going on along the way. I was enjoying it.

We moved up probably about a half mile into this valley and then I saw something that I had never ever seen before, but I had seen pictures of it. It was something I was looking for, but about probably about three or four feet up this pine tree, I think it was a Douglas fir or something like that. I saw the two-foot white meat completely stripped on the trunk of this tree. I knew what it was exactly when I saw it. It was a fresh rub. It was almost reflective. In fact, I thought it was a panel of a moose from a distance, but then I quickly realized it was the trunk of the tree and I pointed out to my brother and we got really excited. We cut across the valley and ended up getting to that rub. There was bloody felt at the bottom of the tree. They had done a number of different working times, I’m thinking, to get all of that bark off that tree. The bark mixed with the fir and we were excited. We were high fiving each other because we knew that there was a bull moose that had been there recently.

It was starting to get dark at that point. The sun was setting. It’s going across the top of the ridge lines. It stays the same distance as it seems like because you’re getting away from the long summers and it’s getting shorter days. We’re just glassing at that point knowing that we’re going to probably move forward on that the next day. As my brother is glassing the ridge line that would have been to the east, he saw a movement. You could tell it was transitioned to color. It was a blueberry field. You could see it. He caught movement and I saw his interest and I was like, “What are you seeing?” He saw it. Although it was cinnamon, it was a black bear that was feeding in that. It looked to be about maybe 350, 400 pounds from a distance. We were miles from it, but he ended up finding it. We both spent some time and I was excited. I was looking at him like, “Can we do this?” He looked at me and said, “No, there’s no way.”

He says, “First of all, even if we got there before it got dark and took the shot, we’d be cleaning that thing in the dark and taking it out in the dark. That is definitely not something you want to do.” I can say I knew better, but I was really excited because I’d never been bear hunting before. I had a bear tag and I had a moose tag. One thing is don’t get excited and don’t get yourself into a situation that you end up killing something. I know sometime it can’t be helped because a lot of our kills are done at that. We buy that optic that gives us that extra five minutes when the sun’s going down to be able to see to take a shot. Those are dangerous times when you’re in areas where you are on the food chain, like in Alaska with wolves. We heard wolves the night before. We opted not to make that run, but we did opt to come back and if that bear was still in that area, that we were going to go after that bear versus going up the valley any further. We felt like we might have disrupted it going directly out into the middle of that valley to look at that rub. We wanted to give it maybe a day to rest if for instance that moose had been spooked or something like that.

Coming back the next day, we were excited. We stepped off onto the shoreline. The two things of scat were still there, but there was an additional pile of scat, meaning that from the time that we left just before sunset to the time that we got back, there was a bear that had come down in that same area. I was excited. Being the bow hunter that I am, obviously we like to dress light. I knew I wasn’t going to be staying the night out there, but I do have certain things. I have that 55-gallon, 50-gallon trash bag. One of those, they use them for going over a sleeping bag, but I use it as a bag where I could use the 50-gallon trash bag over me to keep me dry and then getting into something if I ended up having to stay the night out there. Everything was very methodical in my pack. It was a redhead pack and I think I got it from Outdoor World. I had everything set up in it and I was going to carry my bow and the bare minimum, my knife, I had a sidearm, I had a .357 Magnum, which looking back, I probably should have gone with a .44 magnum. That was something that I would do something different.

As I grabbed my bow and started heading out, I saw that third pile of scat and I thought, “I’m a bow hunter. We travel light. I’m going to be back before it gets dark. I don’t want to hump any more weight. I’ve got water on me.” I have to say it was probably the Lord that just said, “You may want to grab that rifle.” I turned back to go and say, “I don’t need it.” I saw that third pile and I thought, “I’m going to grab that rifle.” I grabbed the rifle. My brother had his rifle because he wasn’t bowhunting. He was going to be doing the calling. He had tags also, but he wanted his big brother to get the first opportunity. We did the same thing that we did the day before. We got a little bit in and started glassing the ridgeline. That bear was nowhere to be found. I was disheartened because that was the first animal that we had really seen that we had tags for. He looked at me and he said, “It’s not there and it’s no telling where it’s going to be once we get up there. If we look at the prevailing wind, the upslope wind, our scent going up there is going to be blowing right into it. Do you want to go after it knowing that we saw it yesterday or do we want to go where we saw the rub and the potential that that bull moose is holding?”

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We read a bull moose will hide and it was perfect terrain. It was the most inhospitable terrain there was as far as walking in. There was enough water, enough of the elms or whatever it is they like to eat. There was a lot of saplings there that we knew that they liked to chew on. There was water and we had the rub. I said, “I want a moose.” We opted to take it in. We got about three-quarters of a mile in and then we started angling. We saw a knoll that was just a rise in the middle of that valley. We decided to walk at an angle there, which took us probably another half mile, except this time we’re in the valley, away from the tree line edge. We got there. During that time, we saw a fresh print. We saw two main trails. Right at the front or the confluence of this knoll at the front, there were two main trails that swept in front of me that would have given me a 25-yard broadside shot both to my left and in my front. I said, “This is it. I had a feeling that this is exactly the spot that we wanted.”

For your readers and this is not from experience in moose hunting. This is my first moose hunt with a bow. Moose tend to hang up in tree lines. Even the most effective moose calls, whether it’s a cow and estrus calls or wounded calf calls, they tend to hang up. When they hang up, you either shoot it with a rifle or you end up having to move into an area to get a better shot. My brother, having more of the experience, he was going to move 50-yards behind me at the back edge of the knoll and begin the series or patterns of calls. We set up when it would start based on synchronizing our watches and how long those calls would go for and then how long that they would stop and then when they would continue. We had that all mapped out. That gave me time to get into position to use some covers, some tree limbs, some different stuff to give me a little hide, as well as to spraying. Although the wind was light, it was still coming left to right, but it was circling in the valley.

I ended up going up the trail a little bit and spraying some of the bull. I’m not sure if it was bull, but I think it was cow urine. I tracked down someplace up in Canada that actually had a resident herd of moose. I don’t know how they’d do it, but they ended up getting some stuff that was a cow and estrus urine. I went up the trail and I sprayed it on some of the branches up there. Not only did we have active trails, we had scat, we had a rub, but I was making sure that if there was a bull in the rut that this thing was going to smell this stuff. I felt that we had done everything. For the first two hours sitting there and glassing, I saw literally nothing. I was starting to get frustrated, a little bit over anxious.

I had to turn around sometimes. Those moose calls that he was doing sounded so real and it seemed like everything was coming into place that all of our planning preparation was about ready to come to the point of I was going to look over, a bull moose was going to come into view. I was going to have to take that deep breath and relax. My thought is from the movie The Patriot, aim small, miss small. I’m going to aim a hair on that moose instead of trying to hit a paper plate size target right behind that shoulder. I’m thinking I was going to have to slow my heart rate and all that stuff. On the third roundabout in the third hour of calls, I was sitting there and I caught some movement out of my periphery.

I felt my heart, instant dump of adrenaline, dopamine. My heart was racing. I could feel my respirations increasing. Of course, this is a guy that’s never shot a moose. I’m excited about that, but I also think I’m not going to look at it in case I catch it in the eyes. I don’t want that thing to know I am there. I hook up my release, I go to drawback, I swing over and I know that all the blood drained out of my face. I could feel it like I was going to almost pass out. My heart was racing because I thought I was going to be looking at a moose. There over the tops of these six-foot little trees that were in front of me was an eight-and-a-half-foot grizzly. I saw at its feet, two sub-adults, probably 300 pounds, I don’t know, yearlings or whatever. There was a total of three grizzlies and this sow’s head, the nose was elevated and it was swinging left to right smelling the air. Immediately I’d never seen anything like that. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out when something is hunting you. I don’t know if you want to transition into the hunt right now. Are there questions about moving into position or anything that you think that your readers might want to talk about, Bruce?

I think, “It’s not a moose. It’s a grizzly. Now, what do we do?”

One is staying composed and I can’t say that I stayed. I was scared to death.

How far away was she?

At this point, she was about 35 to 40 yards at the confluence of these two trails. The one trail as I told you, will sweep in front of me at about a 25-yard broadside shot. The other one, if I swung to the left, would give me a broadside shot, but that was probably maybe 30-yards to the left. That trail swept right down to where my brother was. There was going to be a decision point for the grizzly and immediately what I thought, it was definitely not the right thought. I wanted to run. That was what I wanted to do. I wanted to throw everything down. I wanted to grab my rifle and I wanted to run. That is the first and foremost thing that you shouldn’t do. I was a firefighter for 21 years. I have had to compose myself for a lot of different dangerous situations.

When I saw that thing’s head swing and I knew it was hunting me, I knew that there wasn’t a chance of even running. There was a big dead fall in front of me that had a dug-out area of it. I thought about hiding from it. That was my next thought. I started thinking if this thing has got the olfactory, the ability to smell and it’s tracked me from upwind, it’s tracked me to this point and it’s circling in on me, I would die in a hiding spot. That thing would just yank me out of that. On top of that, my thought was if it turned to the right and headed down that trail that paralleled the knoll that we were on or the uprising, then it would find my brother. My brother wouldn’t even have a chance of even seeing it before it was on top of him. What I did was I thought about the .357. That was going to be something that was going to be upset. I actually had that for wolves. I never thought I was going to come face-to-face with a grizzly. That was a second mistake.

The fact is I put the bow down, being very slow and I was covered in camouflage. I had a camouflage net that I could see through. There was no visibility to say that I was a human. I slowly put it down and I grabbed my rifle. I got down on all fours and I began to almost military crawl around to the right and I was going to come up around the tree that was behind me. Once I came around the tree, I brought the rifle up and she was still standing there, sweeping her head back and forth. I had remembered because I wasn’t going to use the rifle for the hunting, I had a Nikon. It was a 4-16 top of the line scope. What I had done to it is I had wound it all the way up to sixteen because I was glassing using the scope on the ridge lines.

My hands were shaking so bad. My inability to think at this point, I didn’t have the wherewithal to wind it back down to four power. All I had was hair in the scope. What I did is I stepped further to the left. I lowered it, I clicked off the safety, stood on my tip toes and I just said, “Whoa, bear.” At that point, the bear’s head swung, immediately locked on me. It let out a wolf or a grout. Both of those huge yearlings went crashing through the brush behind her, thank God. Her eyes were locked on me and never took her eyes off me. That’s when it started to go into slow motion because she basically came around until she was in full view looking at me on all fours. Her head started slowly dropping.

I saw the ears fold back and her head started slowly dropping until her chin was probably eight inches, maybe ten inches off the deck or off the ground. I could see that big black lip curl back almost over her nose. This huge muscle came out of the top of her head. All the hair stood up on her back and she started charging me. I’m thinking, “I cannot believe this is happening for one.” I can feel my finger on the trigger wanting to fire but knowing it would do no good. I’m hoping that this is going to be what they call a false charge. It’s going to come up, it’s going to make her presence of dominance, display of dominance, slide to a stop, growl, wolf or whatever it is that she’s going to do, and then she’s going to take off back to her cubs. At 25 yards, she was not slowing down. It’s going into slow motion. I saw that muskeg moss being thrown behind her as she was digging in to get closer to me. I could see the muscles flexing. I could see the hair, the ears were back and the thing looks like a pickup truck. Basically, the thing weighed about 600 pounds.

It was crashing through stuff. It gets to within about fifteen yards and I’m thinking, “It’s got to stop right here.” It was still not stopping. It gets to ten yards. It gets to I want to say about five yards, so about ten to fifteen feet. I fired the .300 Winchester right in the bear’s face and it does nothing. I’ve got to tell you, I was scared to death. This is going to happen. There is going to be a confrontation. The only thing I have in my hands is that rifle. I shove it out there after I fire. It’s lunging at me with its mouth open and I shove the rifle out almost like a bayonet. The rifle, I didn’t have even time to rack another round. The rifle barrel goes into the mouth, hits something solid, it kicks the rifle back, it squares me in the head. As soon as the rifle hits me in the head, the bear lowers its head and drives it right into my chest, knocking me down, knocks the wind out of me. My rifle goes flying.

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I was sitting there trying to get my breath, wondering where this thing was and all of a sudden I felt I think they estimated between ten and twelve-inch paws while I was on my back, came to rest right on my shoulders. The first bite was basically right to my face. My face exploded with blood. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it ripped a hole in my throat. That hole was the size of a tennis ball in my throat. The teeth went through my cheek, through my gums, through my jaw and when it bit down the first time, it bit all the way through and split my face. I felt the rush of blood on my chest.

At that point, it bit through, it bit down. I don’t know if it was repositioning. I couldn’t see at this point. My face exploded in blood, but my immediate thought was I needed to stop the bleeding at my neck. I was screaming. My brother said I was making noises that were inhuman. Let that settle in to you folks reading this because my brother, all he heard was me screaming and says it doesn’t sound human. He was in lightweight waders coming through difficult terrain trying to get to me. He said it felt like slow motion for him. He said it felt like it took forever to get there. I was screaming. I twisted my head to the left and put pressure on my neck, exposing the back of my head. When I exposed the back of my head that is the choice spot for what grizzlies do to their victims. It took the whole back of my head to where its canines were right over my temple and began to bite down on my head. It felt like a vice, like my head was being twisted in a vice and somebody was screwing it down.

Obviously, I was letting out, even more, screams in. The only thing that I could do to think of was take my right arm and if you can picture this thing having my head in its mouth, all I could do was punch the snout of this thing over and over. About the fourth punch, it grabbed my arm. Right there, that’s the bite radius on my arm. Those are the marks of where the teeth went through. That’s when it lifted me up in a violent head shake, stood up and basically going back and forth with my arm in its mouth. It threw me and I landed. I spun around, not knowing where I was or where this thing was. I couldn’t see. I heard it moving around me and all I could do was scoot around on my butt, spinning around trying to keep it in front of me. If I thought if it came forward, at least I could kick it away or something like that.

All of a sudden it went silent and I couldn’t hear it moving anymore. All of a sudden, I heard the growl again right behind my ear. I felt the breath as it came in and grabbed my head again and started biting down on my head again. I was screaming again and thinking, “Where is my brother?” He was trying to get through different stuff in waders. It bites me in the head, I was screaming, and then all of a sudden it lets go of my head and I spin around. The only thing I can think of is this point after biting my face and neck, after basically its fangs went right through my arm, about to rip my arm out of its socket, swinging me around on it and bite my head twice. All I can think is I’ve got to roll over on my stomach to get my vitals covered by the ground. All I was going to do is interlace my fingers on my C-spine, spread my elbows, and then spread my legs so it doesn’t roll me back over. I was pretty much done. This thing is a monster. I call it a land great white. This thing is more powerful than I could ever imagine.

The size is unbelievable and there’s nothing at this point that I can do except hope and pray that I can stay on my belly and it doesn’t flip me back over. It’s just going to go from my face or my throat again or it’s going to try and bite my stomach out or something like that. I’m on my stomach in that position that I’m describing to you. It comes up on my right side and reaches over. This is what I’m feeling. I can’t see anything. It reaches over its paw across my rib cage and attempts to roll me over. It lifts me about halfway up and I’ve had to battle back down to stay on my belly and it’s starting to get irritated. It comes up over the top of me, sinks its teeth down through my scent lock jacket and sinks its teeth down into my lap and picks me up completely off the ground and then drops me, trying to flip me back over. I rolled back over onto my belly and interlaced my fingers and spread my legs again.

It just became really irritated and it came up over the top of my head. I can only describe it because I didn’t see it, but I would imagine this thing over the top of me with one paw straddling my back. It came up and came down to the side of my head and sunk its main claw. The surgeon did good, but it started right at the top of my ear and came all the way down. I could hear it, like fingernails on a chalkboard. It basically scraped all the way down with that one swipe and it took my scalp and laid my scalp completely over off of my skull, exposing my skull and my spine. At that point, I spun back on my butt. That hurt a lot. I didn’t know what was going on. I was going into shock and at that point it was moving around me again. I heard it to my left and the only strength I had left was in my legs because it hadn’t bit my legs yet.

It was coming around, I could hear it. I started desperately kicking to the left. I hit it the first time and I scooted it forward to try and kick it again. About the third kick, it caught my leg in its mouth below my knee and started biting down and I started screaming again. This time in between my screams, I heard my brother yelling at the bear and his voice would come in and out. You’ve got to understand I’m in shock and this bear has got my leg in his mouth and biting down on my leg and it really hurts. It was biting down. My brother was running up and I can feel my leg being twisted each time my brother runs up. It’s because the bear is turning with my leg in its mouth. My brother describes it that the bear’s head was completely covered in my blood and has my leg in his mouth. As he was running up, he couldn’t shoot it. The bear was in between him and me and if he shoots it at that trajectory and at that distance with those 200 grain Noslers and the .300 Win Mag bullet, there’s a potential it will shatter a bone, but it has potential it will go through that bear and into me. My brother decides that he is going to run up and back and forth until that bear decides that he’s a bigger threat than I was and drops my leg and comes after him.

Finally, after turning two or three times as he was running up, he ends up getting close enough. It turns to a greater threat. He’s got his rifle pointed right at it and the bear drops my leg and starts turning towards him. He fires and hits it. Once I’m not in line with the shot, he fires and hits it in the chest. It stands up, leaning over, trying to bite him in the face and he sinks another 200 grain Nosler right into its neck. At that point, it’s got one in the face, one in the chest and one in the neck and it drops down to all fours looking at him and doing that gruff. It was looking at him and looking back at me, looking at him. That took some of the fights after the bear because it turned and ran into the adjacent tree line right there. It’s a small standard tree, probably 35 or 40 yards away.

He fired on the run and missed, he said and he stayed there making sure it wasn’t coming back. At that point, I couldn’t breathe with all the blood and mucus running down into my lungs, into my neck. I was on all fours with my head in between my shoulders with a pool of blood basically leaving my body underneath me. He finally made it over to me. He said, “That bear is still alive. It’s not dead. I don’t know if it’s coming back, but we need to get out of here.” I don’t know what else to say except for the fact the only words that I could get out was, “I think I’m dying.”

How long did the whole attack take?

My brother estimates that I was under the attack specifically where it was trying to rip me apart for about over two minutes. With that, my brother kept apologizing. He felt like it took forever. I can tell you, on emergency scenes, when things go into high-stress modes, it seems like it takes a while. To me, it seemed like two years that thing was attacking me. I think a good, truthful, rough estimate is that thing had its way with me for about two minutes. Maybe a little bit longer, but not much longer than that.

How far away from the boat were you? Obviously you made it out. How far did you have to go back to that terrain to get through?

It was rough getting out there obviously. We went a little bit longer ways because we went along the tree line. We were out about a mile and a half back to the boat and that’s a direct line as the crow flies. It was probably a little bit longer because of the fact that we had to skirt those gray snags that fall and they get covered with moss and you’ve got to go over them or go around them and frost heaves and that muskeg moss and swampy areas. That’s where moose liked to hide. Going back to that boat was unbelievably difficult. I gave up twice. I fell to the ground and gave up twice trying to make it back out.

You’ve shared this with me before. You had all the EMT training, you did some triage right on the site and then you knew, either get out or you’re going to die.

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I’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands of people who I’ve treated with I’m sure the same thousand-yard stare that I had. It’s called hypovolemic shock. You have psychogenic shock, which is from being scared, which sets in quickly. Hypovolemic shock is what kills you and that’s where you lose blood to a point where you’re not profusing the brain or the lungs anymore. It was simply a miracle that I was able to because all I wanted to do is roll over and go to sleep. I knew that wasn’t the right thing to do. I prayed right there and the Lord, basically said to me, “You’re not done yet, Greg. I’m not done with you. I need you to fight.” I have to believe it was an absolute miracle that he allowed my brain to continue to profuse to draw on some of the things, the skills that I had learned as a firefighter.

After I said, “I think I’m dying,” my brother said, “No, you’re not. Tell me what to do, Greg.” It was like he was yelling into a tin can, yelling at me underwater but I wasn’t processing it. The Lord gave me clarity of the mind. I had treated lots and lots of patients. I just never had to treat myself and this is what I was going to have to do. I took a deep breath. I’m still on all fours and I told my brother, “Get in front of me. I’m going to raise up and I need you to describe the injuries to me of what you’re seeing.” I paused and I said to him, “I first need you to tell me if my face is still there.”

I was having all kinds of things flashed through my head, like having to return to my wife and my family as some type of monster with half a face. Not only was my body breaking, but my heart was breaking too because I knew the injuries I sustained were significant and serious. My brother had gotten in front of me. I prayed and I raised up and I said, “Is my face still there?” He says, “Your face is still there.” He said, “Oh my God.” I said, “What?” He says, “You have a huge hole in your throat and it’s bleeding really bad.” I said, “That’s probably the first place we should start.”

We were both wearing Special Forces shemaghs. They’re just head wraps that those guys wear out in the field. I said, “Do you have your shemagh?” He says, “Yeah.” I said, “Hand it to me.” He laid it in my hands and I twisted it into a bandage and I said, “Give me your hand.” I laid it in his hand. I said, “I’m going to lift my neck up and you put pressure on where the bleeding is coming from the most and I’ll tell you how much pressure. You can’t put pressure on both sides or I’ll pass out because that’s cutting all the blood supply off to the brain.” He said, “It’s on the left side.” I said, “Put pressure on it.”

I grabbed his hand and I put the pressure with his hand on there and I started telling him, “Hold that pressure, don’t let it loose, you can’t let it loose. Keep looking at my body. Where is there more injuries?” He moved around to the back of my head. If you go up on an accident, the worst thing you can say to a patient is, “Oh my God,” because that brings out the worst. My brother said that same thing again as he looked at the back of my head. He said, “Oh my God.” I was like, “What?” He said, “Your whole scalp is laid over. I can see your skull and I can see your spine.” I said, “Is it still attached?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “Take your hand and flop it back over. Don’t try and get the seams to match. Just flop it back over.” He did it. He said, “What do I do now?”

I said, “Is that my shemagh?” I had that shemagh wrapped. I said, “That thing, it tore it off of me somewhere.” I said, “Do you see it?” He said, “Yes, but I can’t reach it.” I said, “Okay.” I took overpressure on my neck. He went and grabbed it, he took back overpressure. I spun that into a bandage and I laid it in my hand. I said, “Put that where it’s bleeding the most on the back of my head.” He took my hand. I was holding pressure on my head. He was holding pressure on my neck. We can hear the grizzly is still alive. We didn’t know if it was dying, but it was thrashing around and it was not happy in the woods there. We took about ten minutes to get the bleeding stopped and then I told my brother how to tie a square knot and how to get those things into, where they’re still holding some pressure. We get those things secured, the bandages, the shemaghs in place and we started talking about a plan to get out of there.

His thought is I’m going to lean on his shoulder, continuing to hold pressure on my neck and my head and he’s going to walk me out. I told him, “No, that thing is still alive.” I said, “What we need to do is strip all the ammunition out of my rifle.” We were both shooting .300 Win Mag, which that piece definitely played off because now he had a pocket full of ammo, as well as the stuff in his magazine, in his rifle, he was shooting a Ruger 7700, I think is what it was. He had the ammo and the idea was or the plan was, I was going to cut across and stay on the game trail, which hopefully was going to be easier. I didn’t realize there was going to be still a bunch of snags and frost heaves and everything trying to get out of there. What he ended up doing is he was walking backwards behind me looking back up the trail with his rifle, basically guarding my six and I’m holding pressure on my neck and I’m holding pressure on my head.

WTR Greg | Wild Awakening


At this point, the whole front of my body, all my scent lock stuff is completely soaked in blood. Before I started walking, he took some water and was able to wipe my eyes. Once he got that pressure in the bleeding slowed down from my head, it was basically running into my hair. I was able to see again, thank goodness, and it was a miracle from God that the bear didn’t bite my eyes because that’s what I was concerned with. He was able to wipe my eyes from all the blood and the bleeding had stopped or had slowed down enough that it wasn’t running into my eyes anymore and I could see for the walk out. I stumbled, walked and crawled the mile and a half back to the boat. It was hell. It was literally hell trying to walk out.

I have to tell you, I can’t tell this story without telling your readers that had it not been for God stepping in at so many different points and performing miracles, including two points where one, I fell over a snag trying to get over it. I fell to the ground crying because I didn’t think I was going to live and I was still trying to hold pressure on my neck. I was having a vision of my family calling out to me that I need to fight, knowing I didn’t have anything left in me. My brother stopped looking back up the trail with his hand on my back, lifting his hand up to the Lord, praying over me. It was a very difficult time.

We know because we’re talking that you got here. I thought we could get it all in two parts. You get back to the boat, flag down a passing fishing boat. They got in touch with air rescue. You get to the hospital and you’re alive. That’s where we’re going to break this off at this point in time. What we’ll have to do, Greg, we’ll do the second half. There will be a part two. Obviously, you’ve heard a great story. What was the date of this attack?

It was the 22nd of September 2015.

It was several years ago and Greg came and Wild Awakening came to be because everybody kept asking for the story to be told and you’ve heard the first part of the story. Tell people how they can get your book, Greg.

I can tell you that it’s available at all bookstores that are selling books right now. We see an incredible response on this. It’s on Amazon, it’s on Google and it’s on Barnes & Noble. You can find it anywhere. What I will tell you, and I’m sorry to leave you hanging, there’s so much stuff to unpack with this, but what’s more exciting I will tell you is how God stepped in. We didn’t even get to the exciting part. This is just laying out what we had to overcome, but it’s absolutely unbelievable and it’s not me doing it. It’s God doing it.

It’s produced by Simon and Schuster. You can google it and it will come up on Amazon. It’s the number one new seller on Amazon right now. Greg J. Matthews, author of Wild Awakening, a survivor of a hellacious bear attack in Alaska. This is part one. Greg and I will get together and do a part two at a later time and hopefully soon so we can put them both together. With that, Greg, thank you. Thank you for sharing this unbelievable adventure and testimony to your faith. I’m happy that you’re my friend.

Thank you very much, Bruce. It was a pleasure to be on. I look forward to part two and sorry to leave your audience hanging on pins and needles there.

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About Greg Matthews

WTR Greg | Wild AwakeningGreg Matthews has lead an epic life and most of that in defending and safeguarding our nation and the American public; After serving his country in the US Air Force during Desert Storm/Desert Shield, Greg spent the next 27 years mastering skills that would save lives.

Driven by a passion to help those who could not help themselves, he applied himself to the rigors of becoming a Fire Fighter, Hazardous Materials Technician, EMT, Special Operations Rescue Technician, Rescue Helicopter Pilot, Fugitive Recovery Agent, Terrorism Response Manager, Homeland Security Manager, Naval Anti-terrorism & Physical Security Officer, Emergency Manager, international consultant, and currently serves as the US Army Corps of Engineers Southwestern Division Antiterrorism Officer protecting the nation’s dams, hydro-power generation plants, and navigation locks.