Hunter captures bear attack on smartphone

This screen grab shows a black bear sow peering at a Bonner County hunter moments before lunging at him. (Photo courtesy DOUG HARLICKER)

SANDPOINT — There are hunting stories and then there are hunting stories with video.

A Bonner County bow hunter has a story in the latter category, which requires no grain — or shaker — of salt that stories in the former category tend to require.

Doug Harlicker was attacked Sunday by a black bear sow, which was with two cubs when she picked up Harlicker’s scent and began closing in on his tree stand.

“As soon as she hit my scent, she came right in at me,” said Harlicker, owner of Wrenco Arms in Sandpoint.

Harlicker, who was deer hunting, was in a tree stand that stood about 7 feet from the forest floor. He caught sight of the animals through the brush and trees to his left and began recording video with his iPhone.

As the bears draw closer, the sow suddenly stops and appears to catch a whiff of Harlicker. The bear begins gnashing its teeth and snorting as it continues to purposefully amble down the game trail, stopping at places where Harlicker brushed up against bushes en route back to the stand.

Once at the base of the tree containing Harlicker’s stand, the bear, estimated to be about 350 pounds, peers up at him, folds its ears back and plants its left paw on the tree trunk.

The sow suddenly lunges upward, hitting the tree stand and Harlicker on her ascent. Despite holding a smartphone in one hand and a bow in the other, Harlicker managed to elbow the bear in the side of head with his right arm.

“She hits the ground and falls over. Then her and I have a standoff for about a half a minute,” said Harlicker.

The bear and her cubs eventually depart the area, as does Harlicker.

A condensed version of the video can be viewed at

Harlicker had a handgun in his pack, which was hanging in the tree stand. But Harlicker said the attack was quite swift.

“I wouldn’t have had time (to shoot) even if I had the gun in my hand — it was that fast,” said Harlicker.

It’s also illegal in Idaho to take a female black bear when it’s accompanied by cubs, Harlicker added, referring to a fundamental state Fish & Game rule.

Had he not captured the encounter on video, Harlicker doubts he would have told to the story to people outside of his immediate family.

“I wouldn’t have said anything,” he said.

“It’s like somebody tells you a story — ‘yeah whatever.’ ”

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