Ready, Aim, Fire!

When an unarmed Montana man was confronted by a large black bear trying to claw its way into his camper vent last week, he had to think fast. Grabbing a can of aerosol bug spray and a lighter, he created an improvised—but quite effective—flame-thrower, blasting the bruin in the face and causing it to flee.

Bruce Hemphill and his wife, Pat, were camping just north of Butte, Montana when their camper began shaking violently about 3 a.m. Sunday morning.Black_bear_adult

“It felt like an earthquake or something, everything was shaking,” Hemphill told the Helena Independent-Record.

Hemphill later surmised the big bruin had climbed up the hood of his truck onto the camper top. There, he could see the bear’s face peering through the camper’s vent, which he’d left open before retiring.

When he tried to close the vent, the bear bent open the cover and jabbed its paw through the screen.

“It was probably the most scared I’ve ever been in my life,” Hemphill said.

That’s when the quick-thinking camper decided fight fire with, uh, fire. Remembering a prank most of us tried a time or two in our youth, Hemphill used the old aerosol-spray-and-lighter trick to get the bear’s attention.

And it worked like a champ.

Hemphill and his wife spent the remainder of the night inside the cab of his truck. He said he’s learned his lesson and won’t resort to a flame-thrower if he’s ever in another battle with a bear.

“It was the first time I ever went camping without my gun,” he said. “I’ll never do that again.”