A 39-year-old hunter killed by a wounded grizzly bear yelled out to draw the 400-pound male bear toward him in an effort to keep it from attacking his young hunting partner, the man's family said.
"They both shot it and it kept coming," Steve Stevenson's mom, Janet Price, said on Saturday. "Steve yelled at it to try and distract it, and it swung around and took him down. It's what my son would have done automatically, for anybody."
The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office in Montana said Stevenson, of Winnemucca, Nev., died Friday after 20-year-old Ty Bell wounded what he thought was a black bear and the two men tracked it into thick cover along the Idaho-Montana border where it attacked at about 10 a.m. Friday.
The two were members of a four-member hunting party from Winnemucca that had been going after black bears in the mountainous, heavily forested region near the Canadian border when the attack occurred. It's unclear if the attack happened in Idaho or Montana. The sheriff's office said GPS coordinates put the attack directly on the state line.
Authorities said Bell used his cell phone to call for help after the attack, but Stevenson died from his injuries. Stevenson's family said he was an active outdoorsman who had made previous hunting trips to the area. He worked as a gold and silver miner for a company called Hycroft, said his stepfather, Christopher Price. Stevenson was married and had two daughters, ages 14 and 10.
"He was a great friend to everyone, great fun," said Janet Price. "A wonderful man."
John Fraley, spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said four agency workers were flown to the remote area by helicopter on Friday. Stevenson's body was taken out by helicopter and turned over to the Lincoln County authorities in Montana. The sheriff's office said the body was being taken to the Montana State Crime Lab for an autopsy.
Lincoln County authorities did not return a call from on Saturday afternoon.
Fraley said the grizzly was one of about 45 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates live in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem Area in northwest Montana and northern Idaho.