Hunter sur­vives run-in with bi­son

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE -

WHITE­HORSE • A hunter has a har­row­ing tale of sur­vival af­ter nearly be­com­ing the quarry dur­ing his first bi­son hunt in Yukon.

“All I seen was horns,” Todd Pil­grim said, de­scrib­ing the mo­ment on Nov. 7 when an in­jured and en­raged bi­son charged at him as he tracked it through bush in Car­ma­cks, north of White­horse.

Pil­grim said he shot and wounded the an­i­mal just a few min­utes ear­lier, but it es­caped into a nearby grove of trees.

He fol­lowed the bi­son’s blood trail and found a spot where it looked like the wounded an­i­mal had rested. Pil­grim thought the an­i­mal was se­ri­ously wounded. But he said he had lit­tle warn­ing be­fore he was at­tacked.

“I turned to my left and big horns to the head just took me out,” Pil­grim said.

“If he had hit me squareon, a 1,400 pound an­i­mal, I would be dead.”

Pil­grim, a nat­u­ral re­source of­fi­cer with the Yukon

I TURNED TO MY LEFT AND BIG HORNS TO THE HEAD JUST TOOK ME OUT.

gov­ern­ment, said the blow briefly knocked him out and he awoke to find him­self in more trou­ble.

“I’m smoth­er­ing in his chest fur, bi­son fur,” Pil­grim said.

“It came to me, ‘Oh my God, I’ve been at­tacked by the big­gest land mam­mal in North Amer­ica.’ ”

The bi­son was try­ing to grind him into the ground, he said. A wound over his left eye was drip­ping blood. He was on his back and the bi­son was stand­ing over him. His ri­fle was un­der him.

“I said, ‘Holy cow!’ I’m scream­ing, I’m scream­ing. I said ‘God help me, I’m go­ing to die.’ ”

Pil­grim said he kept re­peat­ing “You’re not go­ing to kill me,” and some­how wrig­gled free and stood up. He darted be­hind a tree. The bi­son fol­lowed. Then the bi­son stopped. Pil­grim took out his gun and fired the fa­tal shot.

He re­turned to his hunting com­pan­ion and called the Car­ma­cks Health Cen­tre. A para­medic was dis­patched to help.

De­spite a con­cus­sion and gash on his fore­head Pil­grim was not se­ri­ously hurt. A doc­tor or­dered a week’s rest.

He was calmer just a few days later, say­ing it’s not ev­ery day you get head-butted by a bi­son.

“It was sur­real,” he said. “I think it was a strong will to live, for my kids and my mother,” he told the CBC. “I knew my mother — who I’m very close to — wouldn’t take my death well.”

TODD PIL­GRIM / HANDOUT / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Todd Pil­grim was in a life-and-death fight with a bi­son, the largest land mam­mal in North Amer­ica, in the bush north of White­horse last week. Pil­grim fi­nally got some space be­tween him­self and the wounded bi­son, and shot it dead.

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