NC man tangles with mama bear: 'I hit her dead-point on the nose'

Posted November 9, 2018 4:56 p.m. EST
Updated November 9, 2018 7:18 p.m. EST

— A mama bear looking for food for herself and her two cubs got more than she bargained for this week while foraging for food outside a Waynesville home.

Sonny Pumphrey was in his driveway Wednesday when he encountered the bears.

"All of sudden, out of nowhere, [she] just started charging me," Pumphrey said.

But the 78-year-old isn't one to back down from a fight. He rode out Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., last month by using a belt to strap himself into a bathtub in a fifth-floor beachfront condo and covering himself with pillows.

"That sucker was eye-to-eye with me," he said of the mama bear, so he threw the first punch.

"I hit her right dead-point on the nose the first shot," he said. "She continued to try and bite me. She got hold of me and shook me a little bit and finally took her paw and slammed me, and I ended 8 feet away on the concrete."

Betty Pumphrey saw the tail end of the fight between her husband and the bear.

"I seen her stand up and rear her paw back, and I saw a mouth full of teeth," she said. "I knew he was going to be gone."

"I could have been dead. I could have been cut up bad," Sonny Pumphrey said.

But someone tough enough to punch a bear in the first place proved to be tough enough to survive the rest of the fight.

The bear family took off back into the woods, and Sonny Pumphrey went to a nearby hospital for treatment of his injuries and to start a series of rabies shots.

"We were both really lucky," Betty Pumphrey said.