Bear chases hunter up tree |

Bear chases hunter up tree

Allen Best

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Todd Leishman, a 37-year-old electrician from Rexburg, Idaho, has a good, scary story for the campfire, but it almost cost him a heart attack. He was hunting for elk antlers in Jackson Hole at mid-afternoon when he noticed crows above him, followed by a roar that “sounded like a rocket ship.” About 20 yards away, staring at him, was a 300-pound to 400-pound bear.The bear didn’t run, but Leishman did. First one branch snapped, then another, before he finally hied himself up the tree trunk, the bear lunging close behind. The bear then stalked around the base of the tree for several minutes before leaving. Or so it seemed.While in the tree, Leishman’s brother called on a cell phone. Leishman had a global positioning system device, and he relayed his coordinates to this brother, who called for help. After an hour, Leishman thought it was safe to descend. Bad choice.Just before he jumped to the ground, the bear bounded toward him, and this time began clawing up the tree. They climbed 10 feet, 20 feet, 30 feet until finally, more than 40 feet above the ground, there was no place left to climb. The treetop was bowing under the combined weight of man and bear, hunter and hunter-hunter. “I just remember, I was at the top of the tree, that it was bending,” Leishman recalled later. “Boy, that time I just thought, ‘This is it. … I don’t have no gun, no anything.’ And I was at top of the tree.”The bear was so close that Leishman could see the white hair on his face. He even considered jumping to another tree, like a squirrel, but then after staring at the man for a while, the bear descended and then left. This time, Leishman stayed in the tree until researchers arrived just before nightfall, five hours after all this had begun. Having made his point, the bear was nowhere in sight.

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