Barry Olson holds no animosity toward the grizzly bear that attacked and mauled him almost one month ago, he told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.
“I was in his space,” Olson said. “I think it was a coincidence we crossed paths. I saw him and then he saw me.”
Olson was attacked by the grizzly bear on Francs Peak in Park County at the end of June. Officials said that the time that Olson, 68, had been “severely” mauled.
“Shook Him Like A Rag Doll”
The Buffalo, New York, resident said the attack lasted, at most, 60 seconds, but he noted the bear charged and hit him around five times.
“It all happened so fast, I didn’t have time to get my bear spray,” Olson said. “So I dropped down to the fetal position, with my back to the bear, and he ran at me. I think he ran into me.”
The bear repeatedly picked Olson up and shook him like a rag doll. During this time, Olson played dead, so the apex predator would lose interest, which it quickly did.
Olson said once the bear left, he grabbed his bear spray and prepared it in case the grizzly came back and then he got his personal location beacon out to call for help.
Recovering In Greybull
After officials arrived and assessed Olson’s injuries, they transported the Greybull native to a hospital in Billings, Montana, where he spent about four days.
He said his mother, who lives in Greybull, likely had some sleepless nights and he “scared the hell” out of his daughter when she heard of the attack.
Since then, Olson has spent the last few weeks recovering in the Park County area. He will likely have to have a skin graft on one of his thighs, he said, and is keeping an eye on one of the wounds to avoid infection.
“I’ve had very little pain ever since it happened,” Olson said. “Even when I was in the hospital, they’d ask me to rank my pain level on a scale of one to 10 and it would be somewhere around three or four.”
He is walking around the neighborhood he’s staying in with a cane, but around the house, he does not need any walking aids.
Olson said he believes that with enough recovery time, no one will ever know that he was attacked by a grizzly bear, although he will likely have some scars on his legs from the mauling.
Despite this being a frightening and potentially life-threatening encounter, Olson said the attack would not keep him from recreating outdoors, either alone or with others.
“If my legs got back underneath me, hell, I’d go again [to Francs Peak],” he said.
Olson, who was hiking alone, was rescued because he was carrying a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). He activated the distress signal after the attack and the signal was picked up by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center which notified the Park County Search and Rescue team.
A PLB is a beacon characteristically seen in maritime applications and not typically carried by hikers in recent years. Most outdoor enthusiasts carry a device which communicates with satellites to triangulate a position to within a few feet.
However, a PLB transmits on a radio frequency which is typically associated with downed aircraft Emergency Location Transmitter.
Olson said he has carried a PLB with him for the last 15 years.
“They’re supposed to take the search out of search and rescue, and they work,” he said.