61-year-old Sudbury man gets into a fist fight with a black bear

Black bear

A 61-year-old Sudbury man got into a fist fight with a bear on Sunday, and walked away with only a few scratches. 

Rick Nelson encountered the 300-pound black bear while walking his dog through the Lake Panache area on Sunday afternoon. He had just taken a seat on a log when a bear cub suddenly poked its head out of a nearby shrub and let out a frightened yelp.

“I knew right away I was in trouble,” Nelson told CBC News. “It [was] calling for mommy.”

He figured he only had seconds to spare, and he was right. As soon as the cub cried out, its mother began charging in their direction at full speed.

“All you could hear was the bush crashing,” Nelson said. The next thing he knew, the sow was standing in front of him on her hind legs.

Photo by Rick Nelson

That’s when the former bear hunter and amateur boxer put his skills to good use. His first swing hit the bear in the teeth and prompted her to swipe back, scratching Nelson across the chest and face.

“I knew it would swing first with its left but it would really come with its right, because most bears are right-handed,” he said.

Photo by Rick Nelson

Nelson took another shot—an undercut—and hit the bear right in the snout. The blow caused the cub to let out a squeal and move away from the brawl.

The mother bear, who was now snorting blood, took another look at Nelson. This is what he describes as “the moment of truth”—would the bear go after him or follow her cub?

Lucky for Nelson, the sow chose to turn the other way and follow her cub.

Despite his terrifying run-in, Nelson told CBC that he doesn’t want his story giving people the wrong impression about bears.

“Black bears really aren’t dangerous unless you have a cub involved,” he said. “Sometimes black bears get a really bad rap. Probably they’re more afraid of you and [me], than we are of them.”

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry agrees. They say that black bear attacks are rare, and according to a spokesperson, the ministry hasn’t received any reports of bear attacks this year.