11-Year-Old Alaska Boy Saves Family from Bear Attack

Eliot Clark and his family. (Photo: Juneau Empire)

Eliot Clark and his family had seen the brown bear a few days earlier, so they decided to carry firearms for protection when they went fishing several miles south of Hoonah, Alaska.

That decision—combined with Clark’s bravery and quick shooting—likely saved their lives.

The Juneau Empire reported last week that Clark had joined his uncle, his uncle’s father, and a cousin on a June 18 fishing trip when the incident occurred.

The party was walking single-file through the woods, led by Clark’s uncle who had a rifle slung over his shoulder. Clark, who was third in line, was also armed with a pump-action shotgun, though he had yet to install a sling and was carrying it in his hands.

When the bear charged, Clark’s uncle was unable to shoulder his rifle in time to fire a shot. The bear knocked the two adults to the ground and continued charging at 11-year-old Clark and his unarmed cousin.

“There was four of them in a line … my son was third,” Lucas Clark, Eliot Clark’s father, told the Empire. “The bear came down the trail at them, fella in the front, who was his uncle, the bear was on him so quickly that he didn’t have time to take his rifle off his shoulder.”

Clark’s father was not present at the incident, but his story coincides with the report from the Alaska State Troopers, according to the Empire.

Eliot Clark shouldered his shotgun and fired a round of birdshot into the bear’s shoulder.

“That first shot hit him in the shoulder and did absolutely nothing,” Lucas Clark said.

But the gun was loaded with slugs after the first round of birdshot, and the next two shots had a greater effect.

“The next shot hit him in the nose and traveled down through the neck,” Lucas Clark said.

The third shot went into the bear’s shoulder and down its back, dropping it to the ground at Eliot Clark’s feet. The fourth shot finally killed it.

Eliot Clark’s father attributed his son’s heroic actions to lots of shooting practice and the lack of a sling.

“He was carrying [the shotgun] in his hands rather than on his shoulder. That was the problem with the other ones, when the bear came at his uncle, he had his rifle on his shoulder and the bear was very close, so he couldn’t get it off in time,” Lucas Clark said.

But the boy’s father also told the Empire that no amount of gun handling and preparedness can guarantee a good outcome.

“It’s not just a matter of skill or preparedness. It can happen to anybody and it can go wrongly, especially a kid,” Lucas Clark said. “We pray for our kids every day and in my mind that’s the biggest factor right there.”

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Earl Ingalls June 2, 2020, 9:37 am

    Great job it seems you have the ability to convert fear into energy, few people have this naturally. Could mean a lot of special opportunities later. Stay in school and keep hunting!

  • Andrew N. July 8, 2017, 1:53 am

    Good job kid! Did anyone see the story on Yahoo about the professional marathon runner that “outran” two black bears in Maine? Yahoo is teaching people they can outrun bears, despite the 10-20 MPH speed advantage. That’s actually a good thing, the Libtard anti gunners will believe it and all be bear scat in no time, saving our precious oxygen for people with brains.

    • pete July 8, 2017, 2:37 pm


      • Frank July 13, 2017, 11:50 am

        Typical libtard… unable to compose a logical statement so just resorts to an insult. Thanks for making it clear.

  • Mike Watkins July 7, 2017, 3:46 pm

    Great job, Eliot! Keeping your head and putting those slugs where they needed to be!

  • John Murray July 7, 2017, 1:40 pm

    In Alaska, if you shoot a bear in self defense, you must skin the bear and the state will get the hide to auction off unless it is in bear season and you have a bear tag. The field where the picture was taken in is below the trail and the bear was probably taken down to the open field to skin the hide from the bear. On that trail there can easily be more then one bear that will be traveling or eating berries or fish near or on it.

    • Tenbones July 7, 2017, 5:03 pm

      Okay, I didn’t know that! Explains the flat looking bear in the picture. 🙂

  • donn July 7, 2017, 11:23 am

    We were fishing at Admiralty Island a few years back, big brown bears everywhere at the river mouths where the salmon start their run from the ocean. We (3 kids and I) were walking up trails along these rivers, usually only a 1/4 to 1/2 mi. in from the mouth. The bear trails were wide but the plant leaves were huge and foliage dense. A big brown could be sitting within the thick and you wouldn’t know until it moved.

    I had my 44 mag drawn in those areas as we walked. The only real threat we encountered was (a forever in out memory) big one, who let us know it was his (or her) river. She appeared in plain view, didn’t touch the snickers bars or PBJ sandwiches inside the pack we left behind, but made sure we vacated her spot. We watched her eat our fresh caught salmon, then she sauntered down near us at the mouth to let us know to stay away. Most beautiful animal I’ve ever seen. Claws longer than my fingers too.

  • Frank Romo July 7, 2017, 11:11 am

    Wow! That kid more in his boots than courage, to be able to continue firing after the first round, knowing he had the full attention of the bear, and kept his focus to stop the attack….he definitely gets the “Cool Hand Luke” award.

  • Tenbones July 7, 2017, 10:57 am

    From the picture, it looks like they are all standing around a bear skin rug….the bear looks awful flat to me.

    And yes, that is some pretty open country to not have seen that bear much sooner than they claim.

    • Greg July 8, 2017, 11:05 am

      The bear has been skinned, that’s what you are seeing. Likely they took it out into the open for a better photo.

  • Pat Garrett July 7, 2017, 8:49 am

    How did they not see a huge bear coming in that wide open space. From the story I thought it was in the woods or something. I think I would have notice a bear coming there.

    • Carlos July 7, 2017, 10:50 am

      The article stated that they were walking through the woods, so I am assuming they moved the bear for the photo.

  • Jerry Jones July 7, 2017, 7:22 am

    The 3 Military Academies, local Law Enforce Agencies, the FBI, and the Forestry Service should be in contact with this cool headed, decisive young man for a position in their organizations when he graduates from High School.

    • GBloch July 7, 2017, 10:27 am

      There are 5 US SERVICE Academies, USMA (West Point), USNA, USAFA, US Coast Guard Academy and US Merchant Marine Academy.

      • Jerry Jones July 7, 2017, 10:55 am

        The Air Force Academy is bad enough…..but Merchant Marine and Coast Guard…..what a waste of this kid’s natural gift

      • Greg July 8, 2017, 11:06 am

        He said military academies, not US SERVICE.

  • Car guy July 7, 2017, 6:47 am

    Wow! What a story! Wonderful combination of skill, luck and preparedness. Skill training on how to handle that shotgun. Luck that he had slugs in the magazine. Being prepared by having the shotgun in the carry position, ready to go. You never know when those skill sets are going to be needed. Way to go!

    • Alan July 7, 2017, 10:01 am

      Not really luck, many in Alaska carry a first round of birdshot to try and scare off the bear, as opposed to killing it outright.
      Killing out of season can be very difficult, as the Alaskan State troopers are required to do a full on investigation, to discourage poaching. They won’t just take the word of the shooter.
      Their cases are rife with poachers claiming self defense.

  • Joe July 7, 2017, 4:46 am

    Most kids would have panicked and got run down by the charging bear. The kid deserves a “Cool hand Luke” award.

    • Carroll July 7, 2017, 7:13 am

      No sh!t… I hope, when he gets old enough, that kid gets the itch to serve–military or law enforcement–because we need cool heads under pressure in those roles, and that kid definitely has one..

      Good job, kid!!!

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