The road to recovery has been very long for Jeff Haydukewich, who can still vividly recall the day nearly five months ago when he was attacked by a mother black bear.
“I’m having some flashbacks and bad dreams when I sleep… [I] don't have complete use of my right hand, my left ankle don't work as it should, hopefully it will get better in time,” he said.
The bear attack happened Sept. 4 when the Whitefox area man was out hunting in the forest fringe, between Weirdale and Foxford. While admitting he is feeling a bit stir-crazy sitting around the house, Haydukewich said he is also grateful to be able to play with his young daughter. For him it feels like just yesterday he was sitting up in his tree stand monitoring his elk bait, when three young bear cubs approached him. Not far behind was the mother black, who quickly picked up Haydukewich's scent.
"I yelled at her and told her to go away and she came running up the tree and grabbed me by the arm," he said.
Haydukewich said he tried to do his best to defend himself, wrestling with the bear on the ground, even ramming his thumb into the bear’s eye. When the bear let go, Haydukewich tried to scramble back up to the tree stand, but was quickly dragged back down again. Haydukewich would be allowed a third attempt to escape and this time, he climbed an additional 10-15 feet, just out of reach out of the angry bear. As the bear grew tired and climbed down, Haydukewich reached for his arrows and stabbed the bear in the throat. The bear retreated to the ground and pulled the arrow out with its paws.
“It seemed the more I yelled and screamed at her, the more agitated she got and she came after me again," he said.
This time Haydukewich shoved an arrow into the bear's mouth, enough to make it retreat for good. When the coast was clear, Haydukewich climbed down and walked just over a kilometer to his truck and then drove to his brother's house to get help.
On Feb. 24, a fundraiser will be held at the Smeaton Recreation Center for Haydukewich, who is facing many financial pressures, not the least of which is supporting his seven children. Haydukewich, who is still unsure when or if he will be able to go back to work, said he was overcome with gratitide when he heard the news about the fundraiser.
"When I got the news I was like wow... fantastic... that's pretty neat," he said.
The fundraiser will start at 6p.m and will include both a silent auction and dance.
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell
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