By Nigel Maxwell
The road to recovery has been very long for Jeff Haydukewich of White Fox, Sask., 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 Haydukewich was out bow-hunting in the forest fringe between Weirdale and Foxford.
He said it still feels like just yesterday that 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 said he tried to scramble back up to the tree stand, but was quickly dragged back down again.
Haydukewich got away again, and said he used the opportunity to climb an additional 10-15 feet up the tree, putting himself just out of reach out of the angry bear.
As the bear grew tired and climbed down, Haydukewich said he 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 said he 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 kilometre to his truck before driving to his brother’s house to get help.
Haydukewich, a father of seven, still can’t work due to his injuries and said he’s not sure when or if he’ll be able to get back on the job. He admitted to feeling a bit stir-crazy sitting around the house, but said he is also grateful to be able to play with his young daughter.
A fundraiser will be held Feb. 24, at the Recreation Centre in Smeaton, Sask. to help Haydukewich deal with the financial pressure he faces in the wake of the attack.
Haydukewich said he was overcome with gratitude when he heard 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.