It has been five years since Jeremy Evans came within an inch of his life during a brutal grizzly bear attack.
Surviving with an incredible story to tell, he now brings that story to the public with the publication of his book, “Mauled: Lessons Learned from a Grizzly Bear Attack.”
The first lesson was to always make sure that your bear spray is easily accessible. The seasoned outdoorsman was hunting bighorn sheep in the backcountry southwest of Sundre without heeding that lesson.
He was scoping out the landscape when a grizzly bear cub toddled past him. There was a fraction of a second perhaps before the grizzly mama charged at full speed, mouth open and eyes glaring white.
Evans’ written account of the brutal attack, his incredible escape and his efforts to recover physically and mentally make this an important read for hikers and hunters alike.
For the author – who was assisted in the process by journalist Crosbie Cotton – getting it all down on paper was part of the healing journey.
“It definitely did help with the therapy part… just being able to write it down,” Evans said. “To think about it now, it's like a story versus (an) actual life event.”
The attack was merciless, leaving him with massive injuries to his limbs and especially his head.
The vivid description of those few minutes is astounding to the imagination, especially when he tells about how he stumbled and crawled several kilometres back to his vehicle to get himself to help.
With the massive blood loss and injuries too visceral to describe in a community newspaper, his tale of survival is a testament to his will to live and return to the love of his family. Thankfully, he kept a journal of his thoughts and memories while he was at the hospital for a series of surgeries.
The fact that he was able to survive the attack and find the will to bring himself to safety is one thing entirely; the fact that he is able to share his experiences is something else altogether.
Having Cotton, the former editor-in-chief of the Calgary Herald, come on board helped to flesh out the narrative and bring forward the essence of “Mauled”: the life lessons that Evans developed in those days and weeks in his hospital bed.
“What [Crosbie] saw was the motivational side; he pulled out lots of the life lessons that I learned along the way,” Evans said.
“Once he figured that out, he said, ‘You should share this with people. This would really help a lot of outdoorsmen who find themselves in this situation, not necessarily getting mauled by a bear but getting injured or tragic things happening out in the outdoors. Some of the things that you did, it might help them out in finding ways to cope with those issues.’”
Evans described the book as a good accomplishment, especially because it has helped people to deal with their own traumas.
“A lot of people are approaching me who have had bad things happen in their life, and they get nightmares and flashbacks. It's really good just to be able to see how many people I’ve actually helped,” he said, recalling his own battles and one of the most important life lessons that he shares in his book.
“I was having quite a lot of nightmares and flashbacks during that period of time, working with several therapists on trying to overcome these issues.
“Asking for psychiatric help is not a weakness. I consider it a strength now. Don't give up on your passions. Just because something tragic happened doesn't mean you have to totally ditch it and never try it again.”
The author has taken his own advice. He said that he has returned to hunt at the same area of the attack a few times already.
He’s also out on the road doing book signings at a variety of locations around the province.
Buy the book online at Rocky Mountain Book’s website.
Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh