Armed only with a small knife and a loyal dog, man beats bear in Siberian forest

Sergei Rumyantsev, 55, stabbed the animal in heart after he was attacked

Alec Luhn
Thursday 10 October 2013 21:15
Sergei Rumyantsev, 55, at hospital in Borogontsy
Sergei Rumyantsev, 55, at hospital in Borogontsy

A Yakut horse breeder who was attacked by a bear in the Siberian forests managed to kill it with a small knife and to escape with minor wounds to his face and scalp.

Sergei Rumyantsev, 55, was attacked by a bear on Saturday near a paddock located some 35 miles from his village in the Sakha Republic in eastern Siberia.“The bear attacked suddenly, unexpectedly,” Mr Rumyantsev told the local news site News.Ykt.Ru. “I had a rifle in my saddle, but I didn’t have time to get it out. I only had a knife at hand.”

Mr Rumyantsev was able stab the bear several times, killing it. The horse breeder’s Laika hunting dog helped save him by biting the bear and holding it back, his nephew Leonid Rumyantsev told The Independent from the regional capital of Yakutsk. The dog also survived.

“The bear was distracted by a bite from the dog, and at that moment he was able to take out his knife and strike the bear in the heart,” said the nephew, who spoke to his uncle by phone after the incident.

Asked if he was scared during the attack, Mr Rumyantsev said, “Of course. You try meeting a bear, and we’ll see how you do.

“I was attacked by a large bear, aggressive. I would say he was about 10 years old,” he added.

Oddly enough, the name of the village where Mr Rumyantsev lives, Eselyakh, means “place where bears live” in the Yakut language, according to Leonid.

The Yakuts are the largest ethnic group in the Sakha Republic, which contains the coldest inhabited place on earth, the village of Oymakon.

Mr Rumyantsev is recuperating in hospital in the small city of Borogontsy, where doctors stitched up cuts on hisface and head, his nephew said. “Thank God it didn’t touch his vital organs,” he added.

An avid outdoorsman and target shooter, Mr Rumyantsev was perhaps better prepared than most people to take on one of Yakutia’s brown bears, which can grow to 600kg (1,300lbs) or more in size.

He previously served as a paratrooper in the Russian military, and he has killed bears on hunting expeditions, his nephew said. He described his uncle as a “calm” and “sombre” man who doesn’t say much.

News of bear attacks in the Sakha Republic is hardly rare. In August, residents of a village there shot a bear which had broken a window during a young boy’s birthday party.

Last summer, a bear also broke into a village house and killed an old woman, Leonid said. One man recently defended himself from a bear with a burning branch, he added, although he hadn’t heard of anyone killing a bear with a knife.

It’s unclear why the bear attacked Mr Rumyantsev, although the man was given a shot against rabies in case the animal was infected, Leonid said.

Mr Rumyantsev had apparently last gone bear hunting four years ago, speculating that the bear may have attacked him out of revenge.

One of the many Yakut legends connected with bears is that “the masters of the taiga [forests] never forget an insult”.

Leonid admitted there was such a legend, but said neither he nor his uncle believed in such superstitions. His uncle would continue to breed horses, he said.

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