June 18, 2024

A Navy veteran squared up with a massive grizzly bear in Montana and lived to tell the tale — using a whiteboard from his hospital bed, according to his family.

Rudy Noorlander was flown to a hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he’s been recovering from severe injuries since the Friday, Sept. 8 attack, his daughter KateLynn Davis said in a Sept. 10 post on Facebook.

Davis described the attack in an online fundraiser she set up because her dad’s veteran’s health insurance won’t cover all of “his extensive medical bills” — which will include several surgeries to reconstruct his lower jaw and an extended hospital stay after that, she said.

Noorlander owns Alpine Adventures, a side-by-side rental business in Big Sky, and was helping a hunting group track a deer they’d shot in southwest Montana, the Associated Press reported.

He had tracked a deer that was not the one the hunters had shot and spotted a smaller bear, KUTV reported.

He instinctively pulled out his gun to scare it off, but a split second later a much larger bear came out of nowhere and attacked him, the station reported.

“He had one second from the time he saw the grizzly charging him to fire,” his sister Kary Noorlander-Lyman told the station. “It misfired, and so then the bear was on top of him.”

“My father is the bravest and strongest man I know,” Davis wrote on the GoFundMe page. “As the bear lunged the only thing Rudy could do was punch the bear in hopes of slowing it down. …The grizzly left a large scratch down his right chest, bit his arms, legs, and to top it all off, gave him what Rudy describes as the most disgusting french kiss of his life before biting down and tearing off his lower jaw.”

The hunting group called for help, and the Custer Gallatin National Forest shut down the Buck Ridge Yellow Mule Area to look for the bear, McClatchy News previously reported.

Noorlander and his family have been trying to stay positive as he went into his first reconstruction surgery Tuesday morning, Davis told McClatchy News in a Facebook message.

“We are hopeful for the best,” she said.

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