Grizzly Attack: Thank God & Kung Fu

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

June 1, 2005

Black Belt Beats Brown Bear

A Canadian man attending a Bible retreat in Alberta says he is thanking both God and his martial arts training after he kicked a charging grizzly bear in the nose and survived. Also this week, you’ll read about the sad fate of the new, world record blue catfish, the notorious Michigan Whitetail Gang, and more.

Grizzly Attack: Thank God & Kung Fu

On Saturday, 32-year-old Lyle Simpson was among a group of hikers enjoying a remote wilderness retreat west of Calgary when he did exactly what you’re not supposed to do when approached by a grizzly bear — he began running.

J.R. Absher

Later, while recalling the incident, all Simpson says he can remember is that as the hikers scattered, the bear was chasing him.

“I think I was thinking perhaps that I should play dead or climb a tree, but all I could do is run,” he told Canadian Television News.

And run he did — that is, until he tripped and fell to the ground.

“I put my arm up as the bear was coming on down towards me. The bear tried to bite my arm.”

That’s when Simpson’s years of martial arts’ training instincts took over and he swiftly kicked the bear squarely in the nose. Though his quick action was not enough to injure the sow grizzly, it was enough to turn her away while he escaped with only a few scratches.

The fortunate Simpson received six stitches to his arm and hip, but thanks to his quick thinking, his injuries were minimal.

“I managed to stay alive and in one piece I think more so by the graciousness of the bear,” he told Canada AM. “And my shorts look like they’ve been cut with scissors.”

Blue Cat DOA

An unfortunate chapter has been added to the story about the 124-pound Mississippi River blue catfish caught last week by Tim Pruitt and reported here in The Outdoor News Hound. The apparent new world record for the species did not survive its move to a display aquarium located at an outdoor mega store in Kansas City, dying while en route last week.

Fred Cronin, a fisheries biologist for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said precautions had been taken to ensure safe transport of the fish in a specially equipped tanker truck.

“But we’re talking about a fish that was very old, very heavy,” Cronin said. “The stress of being transported like that could have been too much.”

Biologists also speculated that the human handling of the fish could have injured some of its internal organs, proving fatal to the enormous bottom feeder.

“It’s just one of those things,” the 33-year-old Pruitt told his hometown newspaper, The Alton (Illinois) Telegraph. “Maybe it was just the stress of being taken out of the river, put in the truck and all that.”

The fish measured 58 inches in length, 44 inches in girth and was described by some wire service reports as “about the size of a sixth-grader.” Biologists estimated the fish to be about as old as the fortunate angler who reeled it in.

Catfisher Hit Big Time

In the matter of about 10 days, factory laborer and avid catfish angler Tim Pruitt has become a celebrity among whiskerfish aficionados worldwide. He has appeared on ESPN, The Today Show and Fox News television programs. His photo appeared in newspapers on every continent, and Internet forums remain abuzz over his big catch.

Indeed, life will probably never be the same for Mr. Pruitt.

In less than a week after his historic catch, a new Website,, was launched. The site announces the offering of a DVD video featuring footage of the fish after it was caught — and the events leading up to its untimely demise.

In keeping with an opportunistic entrepreneurism that makes America what it is, we fully expect to see other videos, publications and products spawned from Pruitt’s May 22 life-changing experience. Can signature bait, tackle, caps and t-shirts be far behind?

In the meantime, Pruitt said he’s completing all the paperwork necessary to confirm his catch as an Illinois state record, a North American record, and a world record.

“It’s just a matter of getting that done,” he said. “I don’t see anything that will keep it from being a record.”

BOTL (Be On The Lookout)

Small town police blotter reports have long proven as excellent fodder for humorous stories and homespun, tongue-in-cheek news items. Such was the case with an article appearing in the Niles (Michigan) Daily Star last Friday.

According to reports, the Niles Township Police and Fire Departments responded to the report of a house break-in after an eye witness reported she had seen the suspect jump through the front window of the residence and believed “it” was still inside. The “suspect” was described as having four legs, a white tail, small antlers and was believed to be a member of the Michigan White Tail Deer gang.

“Officers and the homeowner, who just arrived home, entered the home cautiously and observed the suspect in the back family room of the residence. The suspect was unwilling to cooperate and attempts by the officers to calm the suspect were unsuccessful.

“Prior to any attempts to apprehend, the suspect jumped through a window, nearly colliding with the homeowner and a Niles Township fireman. The suspect was last seen jumping over a nearly 6-foot-tall fence, hurtling shrubbery and fleeing on hoof northbound on Westfield Drive.

“Witnesses report that the suspect fled into the woods where it is believed the gang has a hideout. Damage to the home is estimated at $2,000-5,000.”

Quote Of The Week

“A flashlight represents some sort of ancient magic, a rekindling of our fascination with fire. I wouldn’t say we actually worship the flashlight — but we secretly come pretty close. And, as we all know, each flashlight seems to exhibit some kind of reasoning power. There is the flashlight that cannot be abruptly snapped on; the switch must be eased into the ‘on’ position as if taking the whole machine by surprise. Others must be smartly whacked against a tree or door edge before they relinquish one yellow, fading gleam.”

-Gene Hill


Sports Afield, 1974

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. Visit his Web sites, The Outdoor Pressroom ( and The Outdoor Weblog ) to find the latest outdoor news of interest. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at

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