A 61-YEAR-OLD ex-boxer from Ontario, Canada, no stranger to punching people in the face, added an idiosyncratic addition to his tally of haymaker recipients, after crossing swords with a bad-tempered mother bear.
Rick Nelson was walking his wife’s favourite dog, a five-year-old mongrel by the name of Maggie, in the wilderness near the city of Sudbury on Sunday, July 3, and had just reached the top of a ravine when a black bear cub poked its head out of some shrubs little more than a metre away.
“It was so close I could touch it. It let out a yelp, because I scared the heck out of it,” he said.
His dog began to “go berserk” as the little bear continued to yowl, and Nelson knew exactly what was coming next.
“I knew right away I was in trouble. It’s calling for mommy.”
His collywobbles proved justified, as the mother bear came crashing through the bushes to protect her progeny, raising itself onto its hind legs as it approached the helpless Nelson.
With no potential weapons around to defend himself with, Nelson, who boxed featherweight as a young man and still trains using a heavy bag, decided to put his dukes up, stepping in front of his petrified dog.
As the bear unleashed its first left-paw swing, he responded with a right-hand jab, striking the animal’s lips and teeth, and removing the skin from his knuckles in the process, but managing to put the hairy aggressor on its backside.
The bear stood up and countered, swinging again with its right paw and slashing Nelson’s chest and back as he tried to roll away, although it failed to take him by surprise: “I knew it would swing first with its left but it would really come with its right, because most bears are right-handed.
“That’s what gave me a second shot. This time I used my hand in an uppercut and hit it right in the snout. And it just sat down on its butt.”
The cub apparently yelped again, and Nelson says the mother turned to look at him with “blood coming out of its mouth” before ambling into the woods behind her offspring.
Although he suffered some minor scrapes and one deeper cut during the dust-up, he doesn’t blame the bear, saying that she was just behaving naturally, and that black bears aren’t really dangerous unless protecting a cub.