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MailTribune.com
  • 'We thought it was dead'

    Medford hunter recounts confrontation with black bar that fought back after being shot
  • Alex Machado was about 10 feet away from a black bear he thought was dead when it came to its feet and ran at him, swiping and biting.
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  • Alex Machado was about 10 feet away from a black bear he thought was dead when it came to its feet and ran at him, swiping and biting.
    "(The) thing popped up and just came right at me," the 22-year-old recalled Friday afternoon at his Medford home.
    The attack occurred late Thursday afternoon while he and 24-year-old Nathan Shinn of Phoenix were hunting deer off Elk Creek Road near Trail. The men, who had been at it since 7 a.m., split up temporarily as they climbed uphill when Shinn, who was carrying a bear-hunting tag, saw the bear.
    "He thought he saw me," Machado said. "Then he realized it was a bear. He took a shot. He said he thought he hit it broadside."
    The men tracked the blood trail and found the bear lying on a steep hillside, Machado said.
    "We thought it was dead," he said.
    As Machado approached with his skinning knives in hand, the bear rose and charged, knocking the knives out of his hands, its mouth snapping and biting.
    Shinn fired a warning shot, but it had no effect.
    Machado retrieved his knives and ducked behind a tree, swiping at the bear with his blades.
    The bear knocked the weapons aside and bit down on Machado's arm, then his hand.
    "It just latched on. I just started screaming," Machado said.
    When he yanked his hand back and started to slide down a slope, the bear bit him on the inside of his upper leg and both tumbled downhill together.
    Machado reached the bottom first, landing on his back, 40 to 50 feet below where they started. The bear hit next, its back against Machado's chest. Machado wrapped his arms around the bear's throat and squeezed as tightly as he could, screaming for Shinn to shoot the bear.
    "I was just squeezing as hard as I could," Machado said. "I was just thinking, 'I can't die like this. This isn't how it's supposed to be.' "
    But Shinn's gun jammed. So he ran back up the hill a few yards to retrieve Machado's rifle, then returned and fired. The bear went limp. Machado said he heard its final breath.
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