It may be some time before Aaron Wilkins and Matt Walker hunt in thick timber after their harrowing face-off with a grizzly bear.
The Powell guys were hunting wolves on opening day in the Reef Creek area between Russell and Camp creeks. They had seen no wolf sign, but they did see bit of old bear scat and tracks higher up the drainage.
It was about 10:30 or 11 a.m., and they were hiking out, about 500 yards from their ATVs parked next to the road.
Wilkins said he was in the lead coming down the old logging trail.
“‘Aaron, Aaron!’” Walker said. “‘What’s that?’”
“‘That’s a grizzly,’” Wilkins replied, and they started walking toward their ATVs.
The grizzly was within 50 yards and walking parallel to them. Wilkins said he thinks it was an adult sow grizzly, judging by its narrower and smaller head.
“Its head came up,” Wilkins said. “It came up looking right at me.”
The bear’s ears where pinned back, and it was crouched low to the ground, “locked on me,” Wilkins said.
“I remember the jaws popping and the mouth twisting. It came like a missile,” Walker said.
“My heart went into my shoes when that happened,” Wilkins said. “I thought, ‘Now I’m going to find out what it’s like to be mauled by a grizzly.’”