Elk NetworkMontana Hunter Faces Long Recovery from Grizzly Attack

General | September 15, 2023

A hunter from southwest Montana faces a long recovery after a grizzly attacked him as he helped track a deer. Medical teams will totally rebuild Rudy Noorlander’s jaw as the grizzly tore off the bottom part of it. He also suffered wounds to the arms, chest and head.

“He said it was a 10-foot grizzly,” Kary Lyman, Noorlander’s sister told KBZK-TV. “He said he had one second, he fired, and the bear grabbed him by the head and shook him around and he actually bit his lower jaw and picked him up… He started screaming and they (the two other men) hurried and rushed over, and they wanted to shoot at the bear but they were afraid of hitting him. So, they just threw big rocks and started yelling and screaming and finally the bear dropped him and went away.”

Lyman said Noorlander shot at the bear, but his gun misfired. He had bear spray but not enough time to deploy it.

The attack happened on Sept. 8, in the Yellow Mule area of the Madison Range. During the encounter, one of the victim’s companions fired a pistol at the bear before the bear left. A search and rescue team flew Noorlander to a Bozeman hospital.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ bear specialists flew over the area south of Big Sky to look for a bear that may have been wounded. No bears were found during the aerial search, and no collared bears were nearby.

The Custer Gallatin National Forest implemented an emergency area closure for public safety following the incident and ensured that recreationists there could leave safely.

FWP grizzly bear specialists and game wardens, as well deputies from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, revisited the attack site to search the area from the ground and with an infrared drone and did not locate a dead or wounded bear. However, they found signs of high bear activity, including the remains of a cached animal carcass, whitebark pine middens and bear scat. This evidence indicates the bear attacked defensively in a surprise, close encounter with the victim.

No further management action is planned.

A Noorlander family member set up a GoFundMe to help pay for hospital bills.

(Photo source: Gallatin County Sheriff Search & Rescue)