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Bear Attack Stopped by Man with Knife, Tarzan Style, 2006

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 Tom Tilley and Sam, after Ontario Bear Attack

On July 20, 2006, Tom Tilley of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada was on a canoeing trip with his dog, Sam. A predatory black bear stalked them during a portage.

Sam, a American Stratfordshire, warned Tom of the bears presence. As the bear closed in, Tom’s dog Sam interposed himself between the bear and Tom. When the bear attacked Sam, Tom leaped on the bear’s back, Tarzan style, and killed the bear, using a  hunting knife with a six inch blade.

Wawa is a township not far from Lake Superior, about 400 miles north and west of Waterloo. It is about a 600 mile trip by car.

Buck Knife 119 (there are several variations of the 119, mostly in handle material)

Kanawa is the screen name Tom uses on the conservative discussion website, freerepublic. His fight with the bear is discussed and detailed there.

The night before the fight with the bear, in his trip journal, Tom wrote:

“Finding it quite easy to wear knife on belt”

The Buck 119 has a siix inch blade.

Tom considered a longer blade, but wanted it to be easy to carry.

It was on the fourth day of a planned 12 day trip when the attack occurred near Abby Lake.

Tom and his dog, Sam, were on their third trip across the portage when the bear stalked them.

A portage is a trail used by canoeists to move from one body of water to another.

The bear appeared and Tom waved his arms and shouted. The bear moved off the trail, into the woods. Then it suddenly reappeared, blocking Tom’s route back.  Tom had already drawn his Buck knife, as a precaution.

Sam moved from behind Tom to between Tom and the bear.

The bear approached the pair, then pounced on Sam, grabbing him by the back.

Tilley ran behind the bear, jumped on its back, and started stabbing it with his Buck knife. He said the first stab sank the blade to the hilt in the bear’s neck. After the first few stabs, the bear weakened considerably. Tom Tilley continued to stab the bear until he was sure it was dead.

During the investigation of the incident, the 200 lb bear was found to be ten years old and underweight.

Tom found reason to carry a fixed blade when he read the story of Jacqueline Perry, who was killed by a bear while her husband attempted to defend her with a Swiss Army Knife. From The Record, recorded on

Perry’s husband attempted to fend off the animal with a Swiss Army Knife — the only weapon he had.

“When I read the report about her death, it really hit home to me that these things are possible,” Tilley said.

“I owe her husband a real debt of gratitude because if I hadn’t
heard her story and got that knife, I wouldn’t be telling this story.”

The July, 2006 canoe trip was the first time Tom had carried the Buck knife into the wilderness.

Tom’s dog, Sam, eventually recovered from the bear bite.  Tom said because Sam was a little on the chubby side, the layer of fat under the skin kept the bear from breaking Sam’s back.

Nine years later, in 2015, Tom celebrated Sam’s 14th birthday with a box of biscuits and a new bowl.

Sam died in July of 2017, as he could no longer walk and had no appetite. (post 1008 of freepublic thread).

In Canada, it is very difficult to obtain a permit to carry a pistol in the wilderness.  Long guns are easier to obtain, but are more cumbersome to carry.

There are plenty of black bears in North America. The population has to be managed, to keep bears from inflicting significant damage on human crops, livestock, and, occasionally, humans.

The few bears which are killed as they present direct threats to humans are a tiny fraction of the overall black bear population.  They are a small fraction of the number of bears which must be harvested by hunting.

The numbers are so small, if all of them are killed, the numbers will have no measurable effect on bear population numbers.

©2022 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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