Facing down a grizzly bear, Colin Dowler decided to negotiate.
“I know this is your territory, I’m just passing through—we don’t have to do this,” the Canadian recalls saying, per the BBC. It didn’t help. Within moments, “I could feel the hot blood.”
Dowler, on a mountain bike, had been exploring Mount Doogie Dowler—a mountain some 200 miles north of Vancouver that the Vancouver Sun reports was named after his grandfather—when he stumbled upon the male bear on July 29.
For a moment, he thought the bear would simply walk past him. But then it turned, getting behind the bike Dowler was using as a shield. “Heavy swats” came first, per the BBC. Then the bear bit Dowler below the ribs and lifted him into the air.
“It was so much pain and weirdness,” says Dowler, who turned 45 a day after the attack. “I’m being rag-dolled, suspended by my flank by a bear carrying me.”
The bear soon let go, but began gnawing on Dowler’s legs, scraping bone, as Dowler tried to gouge its eyes out. That’s when the father of two grabbed his only remaining weapon: a pocket knife his father had given him two weeks earlier, per the CBC.
He somehow managed to get the knife out of his pants pocket and thrust the two-inch blade into the bear’s neck. The animal released him.
Dowler cut off a shirt sleeve to use as a tourniquet on his leg—still watched by the bear, who was later euthanized—then rode his bike 5 miles to a logging camp, where workers administered first aid and called an air ambulance.
He received a blood transfusion en route to the hospital, where he had surgery for the damage he suffered to his femoral artery. (Read about another recent bear attack.)