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CBN.com - Kodiak Island is a sportsman’s paradise. People come here from all over the world to hunt and fish. But if you are going to come here looking for that trophy salmon, you’re going to have some competition – the Kodiak brown bear. It’s the largest carnivore in the world, so you’d better be prepared. The bears on Kodiak Island get large because of the abundant supply of salmon. They are capable of hunting for other food, but they will happily steal yours if they can.
Gene Moe is an avid outdoorsman who has been hunting the Alaskan backcountry for more than 50 years. He knows better than anyone that if a bear wants your lunch, it’s best to just let him have it. Gene took me back to the site of his most recent bear encounter…which he hopes will be his last.
Gene showed me a tree that had been gouged in several places down one side. Gene told me that that is the bear's way of marking his territory, so you better get out quick.
It was November 1, 1999. Gene was hunting deer in the wilderness near Kodiak, Alaska. He’d been out all day, and it was almost dark when he finally got lucky. But what he didn’t know was that there was another hunter stalking the woods nearby, and Gene was its prey.
"You don’t see far in these woods here, and I was bent over, skinning this deer out, taking the hide off when all at once I heard 'Raaahhh!'."
All Gene had to defend himself was a knife.
"The bear was on me, and he got me in the arm," says
Gene. "Then he knocked me down. He came on top of me, but
I had these big, heavy boots on. I knocked him off, and I fell
here. But you know what? I got up before the bear got up. Then
I really took that knife and I cut in his throat. He got my leg
with a bite, but after I got that neck in there, he kind of released,
and I took that knife and hit him in the vertebrae. The neck turned
up, and he just sprayed me with blood. Then he went kind of away
from our arena and he circled around."
Gene knew that if he went another round with the bear, he didn’t have a chance. But he did have a prayer.
"I said, 'Lord, please help me, Lord. I need help,' " Gene prayed.
The confidence that that prayer gave him was just what he needed.
"I looked at that bear, and I said, 'Come on, bear, the Lord’s on my side.' He made a jump at me when I swung with this [left] fist . I hit that bear so hard I caught him someplace up in the nose. He fell down, he bounced one time, and his head went into the moss," Gene notes. "I said, 'Is he dead?' So I hobbled back to get the gun. I said, 'I had better shoot that bear, too.' That was a big job in that this hand [Gene's left hand] was completely white from hitting that bear, so there was no feeling in this [left] arm, and this one [the right arm] was all hanging down. Then I asked the Lord, 'Please help me. If it’s our way, I got to go to the beach. I don’t think I can do it, Lord, but let’s try.' "
I wondered if Gene had thoughts that he was going to die on that mountain that day so I asked him.
Gene told me, "It’s tough to say. I laid down to die, I know, three separate times. I asked the Lord, 'Will you take me home? Without that, Lord, give me strength so I can go.' I started down, and it was tough. It was hard. My hardest thing I think in life was coming down off that mountain. I was going downhill, I didn’t know exactly where the boat was, I was kind of mixed up a little bit, and all at once, it was a dark, dreary day, just about snow, and the sky had just opened up. Right across there I could see Afognak, and I knew that mountain there. I said, 'I’m right on line.' "
Miraculously, Gene made it to the beach. There he found his longtime hunting buddy, Tom Frahlich.
Tom remembers Gene making a dire request.
"He says, 'Just shoot me,' " Tom remembers. "I told him, 'No, we’re not going to do that. You tell me that tomorrow and maybe we will.' Let’s put him back together and get him back in the boat and get to some civilization so that we can get some help."
When Gene was injured, the only available phone within a 50-mile radius was a radio phone at a certain cabin. The people who lived there were nice enough to take Gene in, bandage him up, and call the Coast Guard, who were here within moments with a helicopter to take him to the hospital.
A month of rehab, two skin grafts, and 500 stitches later, Gene made a full recovery.
"Tom is the one that put this arm together," explains Gene. "This doctor said two days later, 'What medic did this?' It was just another lowly cement finisher."
I asked Gene if it was hard to stretch his arm now. Gene replied, "No, but I wouldn’t tell you if it hurt anyway." Not one to mope around, the 74-year-old is now enjoying golf again.
The bear, however, didn’t fare so well. In fact, Gene has that same bear skin hanging on his wall. But there’s one thing that Gene believes with all his heart: he was saved for a reason.
"Our Lord had something for me to do, or I would have never made it or been here," says Gene. "Since I was 14, the Lord has been my hunting guide and my fishing guide. I’ve been so blessed for all those years of having Christ on my side."
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