True Crime Thursday – Armed and Dangerous


Debbie Burke


Photo credit – Pixabay

Montanans are no strangers to bear encounters. Most times, it’s hard to tell who’s running away faster—the bear or the human. But when bears are hungry, not much stands in their way. They push through fences to eat calves, bust into chicken coops, knock down bird feeders, and pillage unattended campgrounds.

If bears become aggressive, pepper spray is recommended. However, if that’s not handy, you might have to improvise.

In 2010, near Huson in Missoula County, a woman let her three dogs out around midnight, not realizing a bear was a short distance away, snacking in an apple orchard. Two dogs started out into the yard. A third dog, a 12-year-old collie, remained with the owner in the patio. The two dogs sensed the bear and ran back into the house.

Before the owner could react, the 200-pound bear was at the door, mauling the collie. The woman screamed and kicked the bear but it persisted, scratching her leg through her jeans.

When she tried to close the door, the bear shoved in, blocking the door open with its head and paw.

Fortunately, the woman had a ready weapon. While holding back the bear with the door, she grabbed a fourteen-inch-long zucchini she’d harvested earlier that day from her garden. She threw it at the bear, bouncing it off its head.

Wikimediaimages – Pixabay

The bear turned tail and fled.

The collie recovered from injuries and the brave woman only needed a tetanus shot.

The bear escaped and is still at large.


TKZers: Have you heard stories about someone who used an unusual weapon to ward off an attack?




Debbie Burke’s new thriller, Dead Man’s Bluff, is now available for pre-order at this link. If you order now, the special price is $.99. Dead Man’s Bluff will be delivered to your device on June 23.

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About Debbie Burke

Debbie writes the Tawny Lindholm series, Montana thrillers infused with psychological suspense. Her books have won the Kindle Scout contest, the Zebulon Award, and were finalists for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and Her articles received journalism awards in international publications. She is a founding member of Authors of the Flathead and helps to plan the annual Flathead River Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana. Her greatest joy is mentoring young writers.

29 thoughts on “True Crime Thursday – Armed and Dangerous

  1. Great story, Debbie. To answer your question: I have dozens. Here is but one.

    I advise people to carry a can of hornet spray in their car as an aggression deterrent. I am talking about spray, the type that shoots a 25-30 foot stream, as opposed to a fog. One lady who followed my advice was harassed in traffic by a guy who thought that she was being overly cautious in making a left turn. When she turned, he followed and then cut her off. He jumped out of his car. She was ready for him and sprayed him in the eyes with the hornet spray as he approached. She drove off leaving him writhing on the ground, screaming about the “female” who blinded him. Nothing deters an aggressor so quickly as suddenly discovering that their running lights are inoperative, however temporarily.

  2. Can’t possibly top the zucchini-to-bear story.

    But I did read about a grandma who pulled a squirt gun out of her grandchild’s backpack and trained it on a ne’er-do-well in the park in Somewhere, USA. Said ne’er-do-well ran like the dickens, grandson applauded, and they went home and had chocolate chip cookies, as I recall the newspaper story went.

    I honestly can’t remember the source, but I was living in the LA area at the time with my three small children. I promptly went out and bought four squirt guns…(no, not really, but I thought about it!)

  3. Maybe cats aren’t weird for being afraid of cucumbers. In small towns in the South, most people only lock their houses and car doors in the summer to keep neighbors from leaving their ridiculous largess of zuchs, cukes, and yellow squash inside. The fear of cucurbits is real, folks!

    Black bears aren’t prevalent like deer in the NC Piedmont, but they wander down from the mountains and are spotted in the suburbs during droughts and poor growing seasons. The local TV news stations have bear reports usually involving some scared just-left-momma bear hiding in a tree in some neighborhood or the other.

    Okay, unusual weapons. Years ago, I was stuck with entertaining a Swedish college student at a big dinner. I shut up her rant about Americans, guns, and violence by picking up my fork and explaining how to kill someone with it. Anything can be a weapon if you are desperate enough to need it.

    • The fork can be a formidable weapon, Marilynn. I know someone who used a fork in the back of the hand of an overly-aggressive, obnoxious waiter who kept trying to take away his dinner plate before he finished eating. Didn’t break the skin but made his point. Next time he went back to that restaurant, said waiter had been fired.

      • My mom’s late, Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate used to “hover” both knife and fork over unfinished food – without looking up at said wait-staff (he was very “gender neutral” when it came to protecting his chow), but never had to draw blood as far as I know…

  4. This weapon was not so much unusual as it was decorative:

    I used to live down the street from a couple who had a large collection of Asian art. One night, the husband scared away an intruder in his entryway by grabbing a ceremonial sword off the living room wall.

    • I used to work for a K-12 School District. Word was a 3rd grader was going to bring “grandma’s sword” to school to take care of someone. Police stopped him on his way to school. Grandma’s very real 3′ Oriental sword was in his backpack.

  5. So glad to hear the collie recovered, Debbie. Thanks for an entertaining read!

    Every night I slide all the birdseed, peanuts, and kibble into the kitchen, so black bears won’t slice the screens off the sunroom windows and climb inside. Can’t even imagine that horror.

    • Glad you take precautions, Sue.

      A few years ago, a woman around here deliberately left food (bacon) out b/c she wanted to take photos of a bear. Felony stupid.

  6. We have bird feeders hanging on our deck. Seed and, in season, hummingbird nectar. We bring them in every night. (The hummingbirds are buzzing at 5:30 am waiting for them to be rehung.) We also have a tree in the front yard, and he will leave the feeder overnight during hibernation season. Usually, it’s a broken feeder that tells him the bears are awake again.
    One of the little ones made a great cover model for me.

      • The hummers up here are more likely to tap on the glass because they didn’t see it (or see their reflection–they’re aggressive little buggers). I’ve had the occasional squirrel hang on the screen, but since we don’t (intentionally) feed them, I think they’re just checking out what’s on the other side.

    • Great example, Garry! Reminds me of the Alfred Hitchcock episode when the elderly lady clobbered the victim with a frozen leg of lamb, then cooked it and served it to the detective investigating the case.

      Can you imagine the havoc wreaked by someone armed with frozen pork chops, zucchini, and a carving fork?

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