Looking forward to a day full of fishing and fun with family members, 11-year-old Elliot Clark is being heralded as a fast-acting hero after he and his family were faced by a charging brown bear.
Heading to a nearby fishing hole with his uncle, Craig Stoltzfus, Stoltzfus’ father, a cousin and three dogs, the party was suddenly faced by a large bear charging down the trail at them. Walking in single file, the bear quickly moved through the party and left Elliot as the last man standing.
Luckily for the others in the party, the young man was armed with his trusted pump-action shotgun.
“There was four of them in a line … my son was third,” Lucas Clark, Elliot’s father, told the Juneau Empire. “The bear came down the trail at them, fella in the front, who was his uncle, the bear was on him so quickly that he didn’t have time to take his rifle off his shoulder.”
Shouldering his shotgun as the young outdoorsman had done many times before, Elliot began to fire at the bear in hopes of getting the animal to retreat.
“His first shot was a light load of birdshot,” Lucas Clark said. “That first shot hit him in the shoulder and did absolutely nothing. The next shot hit him in the nose and traveled down through the neck.”
According to reports, it was the following shot that would finally bring the bruin to the ground, one that was landed in the bear’s shoulder and back.
“The bear was so close when Elliot hit it with his third shot, there were powder burns on the bear’s mouth,” the Juneau Empire said, citing a report from the Alaska State Troopers and Lucas Clark.
“As the bear slid past him and came to a stop, [Elliot] put a kill shot it him,” Lucas Clark said.
The incident marks the first Defense of Life or Property killing in the Hoonah, Alaska area in 2017. In addition to another fatal attack during a mountain race outside Anchorage, there have been three additional reported maulings by bears in the state.