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

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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 had come 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're coming after you," he said.

Francis was on the ground bleeding when 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.

I've been around these big bears, but it's a whole different deal when they're coming after you.

–Lee Francis

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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Ashley Moser
Ashley Moser joined KSL in January 2016. She co-anchors KSL 5 Live at 5 with Mike Headrick and reports for the KSL 5 News at 10.


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