Rudy Noorlander was trying to help a hunting group find a deer when he was attacked
A Navy veteran is recovering after being attacked by a grizzly bear while assisting a hunting party in Montana.
A member of the hunting party called 911 just after 1:45 p.m. local time Friday and told Madison County Dispatch that "an individual had been attacked by a grizzly bear while tracking a deer" on the Yellow Mule Trail, per the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team's news release.
The group had contracted Rudy Noorlander's company, Alpine Adventures in Big Sky, "to rent out some of his ATVs," his daughter KateLynn Noorlander said in the description of a GoFundMe campaign, which has raised nearly $40,000 to support her father's recovery.
"After hearing that the hunters killed but were unable to find a deer, Rudy being the Good Samaritan that he is decided to help them search for it," his daughter wrote. "He had tracked a deer but it turns out it was not the deer the hunters had shot."
At one point, Rudy came face-to-face with a 10-foot-tall grizzly bear after attempting to scare away another adult bear his daughter shared. The second bear, which was “far more aggressive” than the first, “lunged” at Rudy after the man’s gun misfired.
Rudy tried to punch the bear “in hopes of slowing it down,” but was unfortunately unsuccessful, KateLynn said. The bear was “on top of Rudy” after the veteran threw a punch at the animal.
Rudy sustained various injuries in the attack, including “a large scratch down his right chest,” and bites to his arms and legs. He also had his lower jaw torn off following what he described as “the most disgusting french kiss of his life.”
"The whole bottom part of his mouth is gone, teeth, jaw," said Kary Noorlander Lyman, Noorlander's sister, according to FOX affiliate KSTU. The bear also “broke part of his throat” during the attack, she added.
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Luckily, KateLynn said that "the hunters were there to scare the bear away" before calling for help. Her father lay on the ground for two hours "while still fully conscious" until help arrived, per the GoFundMe.
The victim was transported to Bozeman Health Deaconess Regional Medical Center via Life Flight Helicopter, GCSSAR said.
The Yellow Mule Trails, including all access to Buck Ridge Trail, were temporarily closed following the incident, the agency said.
Rudy underwent “an initial surgery” before he was later flown to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, where he is now in stable condition, according to the GoFundMe page.
But Rudy is still finding ways to make others smile, even while he’s recovering from gruesome injuries, according to KSTU.
"One of the nurses, when he first came in, said, 'We understand you're kissing bears,' and he wrote on [a board], 'Bear french kiss me,' and she said, 'Oh, bad breath?' and he said yes," Lyman told the outlet.
Katelynn is also blown away by her dad's resilience, saying in the fundraiser that he's "bravest and strongest man I know."
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