An Alaskan fishing guide from the Becharof National Wildlife Refuge has led expeditions for 33 years, and experienced several bear encounters. But until last week, he’d never taken one down to protect a client.
On a recent outing, Phil Shoemaker was suddenly aware of a bear charging his husband-and-wife clients, and he knew the importance of shot placement—hitting a vital area of an enraged animal—is challenging. To make matters worse, all he had on hand was a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol—not considered good “grizzly medicine” by most gun and cartridge experts.
Fortunately for his clients, Shoemaker and the 9 mm were up to the task. As the bear charged within feet of the couple, he fired. “My first shot was at its neck … I wanted to hit the head but the bear was moving so fast I simply began shooting each time I could hit a vital area. I hit it six times,” Shoemaker said. “It dropped within six feet of the last shot.”