April 19, 2013 was a beautiful sunny day. I got out of bed and cooked eggs and ham for breakfast. I packed my hunting gear, two bottles of water, some rope, nuts, and some dried fruit, and put it all into my backpack. I put on my new knee brace, and some thick pants and grabbed my hiking boots. I quickly put on my camo coat and my backpack. As I grabbed my .22 rifle, my mom said I should  “Take the 10 mm handgun just in case.” 

I told her I wouldn’t need it. I said, “I’ll take my k-bar (a combat knife) instead.” I hugged my mom and left on my bike up to the water tower. 

I walked up to the base of the mountain and listened for blue grouse to hoot. I located the path to the closest hoot and headed up further. The trail was rough and steep with rosehips, devil’s club and a lot of loose rocks. I stopped every so often and listened for the grouse’s hoot. At around 1,000 feet of elevation, I started walking towards the closest one. 

I stopped to take pictures of the view, and then started up after the nearest grouse. I found the tree that it was in and was just about to shoot it when I heard something off to my left. I stopped what I was doing. I spotted a big brown animal and thought surely it was a moose. It started walking away from me when suddenly, the wind switched. The big brown animal stopped and turned around. It was looking right at me. A big, thick brown bear. Eight feet long, or bigger. 

As calmly as possible, I called my dad on the phone and told him I needed some help. As I was talking to him, the bear started to charge. He told me to shoot. I said, “All I have is a .22.” He told me to yell, so I did. The bear stopped its advance, but just for a second. I hung up on my dad. The bear was now 20 feet away and running at me. I loaded the .22 and pulled my k-bar out. The bear was four feet from me. I was on the edge of a cliff with the bear getting closer. I shot the bear in his ear. He grabbed at his left ear and then he took a swing at me. I moved as he swung at me and he missed me by a few inches. 

Out of options, I jumped over the 20-foot cliff. When I landed I got up and started leaping and bounding down the mountain. I stopped to look at where the bear was; he was still coming after me. I kept jumping down the mountain. After about 200 yards the bear stopped. I looked one more time but did not stop; I kept on running. My dad called me as I was running and told me he was at the base of the mountain. My dad tried to scare the bear away by shooting his gun. It didn’t matter; the bear was gone. 

I made it safely back down the mountain, got into my dad’s truck and went home.

Alex Hotch is sixteen and lives in Alaska. He loves to hunt and he lived to tell this tale