Last Dance

Sitka Fine Arts Camp elementary age campers dance with instructor Brendan Jones in their final day of camp today at the Sheldon Jackson College Campus. Middle School Camp, for grades seven thru nine, begins Monday. Registration is still open at 907-747-3085. (Sentinel Photo by Klas Stolpe)

Simply Three Return to Perform at Harrigan
14 Jun 2024 14:46

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    The Simply Three trio promises an evening of original [ ... ]

Two Sitka Projects on Fed Funding List
14 Jun 2024 14:17

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    The Assembly received a piece of good news Tuesday wi [ ... ]

Peltola Bill Gives Coast Guard Boost
14 Jun 2024 13:58

By Sentinel Staff
    The U.S. House of Representatives gave unanimous approval today to a bill sp [ ... ]

Local Trails Repaired By Citizen Volunteers
14 Jun 2024 13:04

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer
    Volunteers turned out in force June 1 to repair damage [ ... ]

No Sign Yet Of Missing Woman
14 Jun 2024 13:03

By Sentinel Staff
    The search for a woman reported missing near Ketchikan is focused on Ward La [ ... ]

High School Sues For Lower Sports Division
14 Jun 2024 13:01

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    This March, the Monroe Catholic Rams were among the four best lar [ ... ]

Dunleavy Names New Fishery Panel Member
14 Jun 2024 12:59

By NATHANIEL HERZ
Northern Journal
    In May, the Alaska Legislature narrowly rejected a conservat [ ... ]

2 Accused of Smuggling Snowmachines to Russia
14 Jun 2024 12:55

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    Federal officials have indicted two men for allegedly attempting  [ ... ]

June 14, 2024, Police Blotter
14 Jun 2024 12:48

Police Blotter
Sitka police received the following calls by 8 a.m. today:
June 13
At 1:33 a.m. a woman  [ ... ]

June 14, 2024, Community Happenings
14 Jun 2024 12:47

Climate Connection: Electric Panels
Electrifying our lives prompts questions about whether our home e [ ... ]

No On-Site Attorney Poses City Problems
13 Jun 2024 15:09

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    After extensive recruiting efforts and no prospects i [ ... ]

Oil Spill Traced to Forgotten Boat Sinking
13 Jun 2024 15:08

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer
    An oil slick that appeared on the surface of the water [ ... ]

Arts Camp Veteran to Play Concert
13 Jun 2024 15:07

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    Thirteen years ago Raph Shapiro spent the summer in S [ ... ]

Royalty-Free Leases Fail to Entice Bidders
13 Jun 2024 14:41

By YERETH ROSEN
Alaska Beacon
    A state oil and gas auction that offered royalty-free leases in t [ ... ]

June 13, 2024, Police Blotter
13 Jun 2024 14:39

Sitka police received the following calls by 8 a.m. today:
June 12
An incident of drunkenness was repo [ ... ]

June 13, 2024, Community Happenings
13 Jun 2024 14:37

Soil Core May
Offer Portal to
Sitka’s Past

A soil core sample will be taken from Swan Lake Saturday [ ... ]

Assembly Postpones Visit Sitka Funding
12 Jun 2024 15:32

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    Assembly members discussed possible future paths for  [ ... ]

Sitka Breaks Decades-Old High Temp Record
12 Jun 2024 15:26

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer
    A decades-old record for Sitka’s highest temperature [ ... ]

Woman Missing In Ketchikan
12 Jun 2024 15:25

By Sentinel Staff
    A search was under way today for a 48-year-old Ketchikan woman reported miss [ ... ]

State Supreme Court Posts a Job Opening
12 Jun 2024 15:24

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    A wave of retirements on the Alaska Supreme Court is nearing its  [ ... ]

Ranked Choice Repeal Measure Wins Ruling
12 Jun 2024 15:21

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of a propose [ ... ]

Fairbanks Woman Accused Of Theft from Bingo Parlor
12 Jun 2024 15:16

By JAMES BROOKS
Alaska Beacon
    Federal prosecutors have accused a Fairbanks woman of stealing fr [ ... ]

June 12, 2024, Community Happenings
12 Jun 2024 15:14

Elder Coffee Time
On Summer Break
Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s community elders coffee time is on summer  [ ... ]

June 12, 2024, Police Blotter
12 Jun 2024 11:40

Police Blotter
Sitka police received the following calls by 8 a.m. today:
June 11
At 3:25 a.m. a driver [ ... ]

Other Articles

Daily Sitka Sentinel

Big Pistol Drops Bear Too Close for Comfort

By BRIELLE SCHAEFFER

Sentinel Staff Writer

It was like any other hike when Don Kluting and Denise Turley set out to trek up into the alpine by Lisa Creek on Nakwasina Sound on Aug. 7.

They talked loudly, peppering their conversation with the obligatory “Hey Bear” shouts. Kluting had a gun – a .44 magnum revolver – but he wasn’t expecting to use it on that sunny Sunday. 

 

A brown bear sow lies dead after charging hikers. (Photo by Don Kluting)

About a mile in, when they stepped out of the thick brush and down a bank to cross the creek, they startled a bear sow that was about 20 yards away. Her two cubs, which were farther upstream, scattered.

“We immediately found ourselves in a confrontation,” Kluting said. “She ended up turning around and for a split second we thought she would leave – but then she turned back and came at us full charge.”

Kluting fired off a warning shot into the creek. At that point the sow was 15 yards away.

“She ran through that without even flinching,” he said.

So Kluting aimed in the middle of the brown blur, now about 3 yards away.

“I barely had time to get the hammer back for another shot before she reached me,” he said.

She collapsed in the river about 5 feet – two steps – away from them.

The bear was twitching, and Kluting shot her two more times in the shoulder to make sure she was down. He wasn’t exactly sure where his first shot had landed.

“I got lucky and ended up hitting her in the head,” he said. “The whole situation unfolded and happened so fast we didn’t have time to think.”

When he did get the chance to process it, shortly after he and Turley determined the bear was dead, he said he shook for 45 minutes. 

“It was scary,” he said. “If she hadn’t gone down at that next shot she would have landed on me.”

But, they’re alive, he said. And they didn’t get any injuries. 

“It could have so easily been the other way,” he said. 

On Thursday afternoon, two guides from the Wilderness Explorer cruise ship encountered a sow and her cub while leading a group of passengers on a hike on Chichagof Island and were attacked. Both the guides, a man and a woman, sustained injuries and severe lacerations from the mauling. (See story, this page.)

Alaska Wildlife Trooper Kyle Ferguson said Kluting acted legally and appropriately.

“This is a good example of what can happen here and what does happen here and people need to be prepared for that reality,” he said.

This wasn’t the first time Kluting, an outdoorsman, was charged by a bear, but in the past he’s avoided confrontations with a warning shot, he said.

“That was the thing that was so unbelievable about this,” he said. “The bear charged right on through.”

And he’s not certain bear spray would have worked in the situation, as the wind was blowing toward him and Turley.

“We felt really bad about the whole situation with the cubs but what do you do?” Kluting said.

Once they calmed down, they worked on skinning the bear – all they had were a Swiss Army knife and a Leatherman tool – before packing it out and calling troopers. State law requires people who shoot bears or other animals in defense of life or property to report it and surrender the skull and hide to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The bear was really skinny, Kluting  said, which also surprised them.

Ferguson said the bear’s behavior could have been due to its malnourished state.

“It’s possible a bear could be more aggressive if it’s nutritionally stressed, especially as the season advances,” he said.

As for the cubs, Ferguson said they should be OK. Kluting said they appeared to be two-year-olds, so it’s possible they can make it without their mom.

 

“They’re weaned and have learned some feeding strategies by now,” Ferguson said. “The biggest danger for them is being eaten by another bear.”

The incident made Kluting think again about bear preparedness.

“We do a lot of hiking around here and people get complacent,” he said.

Turley was unarmed, he said, which won’t happen again.

 

 

“If I hadn’t had the gun who knows where I’d be right now?” he said. “It could have got both of us. Growing up here, hiking around here, you hear stories like this but you get pretty secure in the environment. It’s a good reminder to always be ready.”

You have no rights to post comments

Login Form

 

20 YEARS AGO

June 2004 

Advertisement: Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Caring Employee of the month! Franklin Thomas Hospital Nutrition Services.

50 YEARS AGO

June 1974

Edna Revard is enjoying a much-deserved vacation: she and youngest son Joe are in Italy visiting her older son, Jack, his wife and child. Jack is with the military, stationed in Italy. Edna will be gone a month, the crew at Revard’s Restaurant says.

Calendar

Local Events

Instagram

Daily Sitka Sentinel on Instagram!

Facebook

Daily Sitka Sentinel on Facebook!