A 61-year-old Montana man is recovering after being attacked by a grizzly bear last week in southwest Montana. Rudy Noorlander owns and operates Alpine Adventures, a snowmobile and ATV rental company in Big Sky, Montana.
In and interview with Outdoor Life, Noorlander’s daughter, KateLynn Davis, said that Noorlander was headed back into the backcountry to help several of his clients recover a wounded deer when the incident occured.
“He went up his regular trail that he takes all the time. He knows it like the back of his hand,” Davis says. “My dad is always super prepared. He had bear spray and his gun.”
Unfortunately, while attempting to help the hunters track their deer, Noorlander discovered another deer. A deer that had also been discovered by two grizzly bears.
“My dad saw a smaller adult grizzly bear from farther away. He started to pull his gun out, just to be safe,” Davis says. “He was behind a tree, and from the time that he looked over at the smaller adult grizzly, a different one that he describes as a 10-foot mega-grizzly bear was on him in a second. He didn’t have time to do anything. He tried to shoot the bear, but his gun misfired. He didn’t have time to play dead. So he punched the bear in the nose.”
Unfortunately, the bear was not deterred by the punch to the nose. The attack that ensued left Noorlander grasping for life after a gruesome attack on the mountain.
“The bear locked onto his jaw, mouth to mouth, and ripped off his whole lower jaw, and got part of his trachea, too,” Davis says. “That’s the biggest and worst injury. The bear also scratched his chest open, it bit his right leg multiple times and bit his left bicep. He’s a fighter through and through and stayed awake through all of it, and was trying to fight the bear off the whole time.”
Hearing Noorlander’s screams, the other hunters rushed to the scene to help. Unable to take a shot without harming Noorlander, the hunters threw rocks at the bear to end the attack before calling for emergency services.
The Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks law enforcement, U.S. Forest Service law enforcement, Life Flight, and Gallatin County Sheriff’s deputies all responded to the scene shortly before 2:00pm.
Several hours after the attack, a helicopter was finally able to land and remove Noorlander from the attack scene and transported to Bozeman to receive treatment.
“He’s doing a lot better now,” says Davis. “He’s off the ventilator now, and his first of many major reconstructive surgeries is tomorrow. It’s going to be a long road to recovery. They’ll put a plate in tomorrow, but it will take four months for full reconstruction. They’ll take a whole fibula from one of his legs and reconstruct his jaw with his leg bone. It’s wild.”
Last week’s attack marks the fourth grizzly attack outdoorsmen have faced in the area over the last month.