HILLSVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — Until he can put weight back on his leg, Ronnie Dalton is on crutches.

He was bow hunting for deer Saturday afternoon, and a deer he was watching was spooked by something below his stand.

“When I looked around, here comes a cub bear feeding,” Dalton said. “I thought ‘Oh, this ain’t good.'”

Dalton has lived in the same home for nearly 40 years. He’s seen black bears around his property, but never this close to his home.

According to Dalton, after looking around the stand, he didn’t see the mother and thought he could climb down and make his way back home, which was only 100 yards away.

“As soon as I got to the bottom of the tree stand, I looked down the hill and there the sow was,” Dalton said. “As soon as I saw her and she saw me, here she comes.”

Photo of Dalton posing with a black bear he killed two years ago

“The best thing you can do is to assume that a sow may be in the area and to treat that situation as if a bear is nearby,” said Nelson Lafon, a certified wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

Experts like Lafon also said the best thing to do is to stand your ground and not run.

Dalton says he waved his arms and screamed as loud as he could, but the mother bear kept coming.

“I was right at the stand anyway, so I thought ‘I’ve got to get back up the stand. Maybe I’ll have a chance,'” Dalton recalled.

“That’s the worst thing you can do for a bear or a carnivore because it does elicit a response from them,” Lafon said, in regards to people who choose to run from a charging bear.

Dalton only got but a few steps up the ladder when he attempted to climb back up to the stand. The bear then bit down on Dalton’s calf and threw him, what he says, about 10 feet across the ground, knocking him out cold.

Folks who’ve spoken with Dalton say it was knocking him out that saved his life.

“If I had of moved or if I had maybe fought the bear, you know, once she jerked me out, then she would’ve tore me up, probably,” said Dalton.

Lafon says Dalton’s case is a rare situation.

“The recommendation is to fight back, if you have to, rather than play dead or try and get away,” he said.

Dalton says he’s healing nicely, and even though he experienced a traumatic incident, it’s not going to stop him from trying to get back into his tree stand before deer season is over.

“I’ll definitely go back,” Dalton said confidently. “I mean, I’ve hunted my whole life. I’m not going to let this deter me, but I’ll be better prepared next time, I hope.”

Lafon urges those who encounter a black bear — whether while hunting, hiking, or sitting at home — to not feed them. Bears begin to associate humans with a food source, and Lafon is urging people to keep bears wild.

Latest Stories