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Man punches bear in nose to survive attack

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Posted: Nov 9, 2018 3:18 PM

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    Haywood County, NC (WLOS) -- A Haywood County man says he battled a bear outside his home and he has the scrapes and bruises to prove it.

Sonny Pumphrey was in his driveway in the White Oak community Tuesday afternoon when he says a mother bear and her two cubs showed up. He says the cubs ran off but the mother bear reared up and attacked him.

“She made a charging dead run at me. That sucker was eyeball to eyeball to me,” he said.

Pumphrey says he punched the bear in the nose, but then she dropped down and bit his hip.

“She kind of shook me a little bit, and I'm still ... I'm hitting her steady on the top of the head just as hard as I could swing, man, for dear life,” he said. “I just continue pounding and pounding and pounding and she’s continuing trying to bite me. And like I said ... she got a hold of me and then shook me a little bit, then she let go and she took a swat at me. And when she took a swat at me she knocked me about 8 feet over on the concrete.”

Sonny's wife Betty heard the screams and rushed to his aid along with their little Yorkie, stunned at the sight of a large black bear in their driveway.

“I saw her stand up and rear her paw back and all I seen (sic) was a mouthful of teeth,” she said. “And I just knew he was going to be gone.”

The commotion scared the bear off and Betty called 9-1-1.

Pumphrey is OK but must endure a series of rabies shots after the attack.

It was an unexpected and unusual attack. The Pumphreys know it could have been worse.

“We have a lot to be thankful for because we were both very, very lucky,” Betty said.

“I could have been dead. I could have been really cut up bad,” Sonny added.

Wildlife officers tracked the bear but were unable to locate it. They say without too much food up high, bears are coming down to lower elevations.

The Pumphreys advise folks to be aware when they're outside.

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