SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) — One man’s close encounter with a black bear has given him a survival story of a lifetime. He jump-kicked the bear in the chest, as it stood on its hind legs in his Fallen Leaf Lake cabin.
“I faced death,” Johnny Bolton said. “And that’s a strange feeling when you do, and then you walk away with a big scratch.”
The bear broke through the front door of the cabin.
“Who knows what happens in these moments,” Bolton said. “I did a jump-kick—this is martial arts training from age 8,” Bolton said. “And I kicked him right in the chest.”
Bolton showed us the scratches on his legs from the bear’s claws. Bolton is no black belt, but against this black bear, his instinct kicked in.
“I didn’t make a decision, I just kicked,” Bolton said. “There was no cognitive process there. It was just instantaneous. ‘I have to move this threat away from me,’ and it was fight or flight, with no opportunity for flight.”
Bolton says the jump-kick didn’t move the bear much but left the animal stunned and maybe even scared.
“When I kicked the bear, the bear urinated,” Bolton said. “When the whole thing was over I kind of checked, ‘Did I? I think I might have.’ And I didn’t. So only one of us wet himself but it was the bear.”
Bolton’s friends were upstairs asleep during the confrontation.
Gerry Orton came downstairs just as the bear was leaving.
“I had no idea the bear was inside the house,” Orton said.
Beating the odds in a face-to-face confrontation with a bear with a karate move he hadn’t practiced since he was a kid.
“There was no wax-on wax-off,” Bolton said. “It was a lucky shot. Hit the bear just right, startled him enough.”
The local Bear League installed an electrified mat on his porch in case the bear comes back.
This isn’t the first time we’ve brought you the story of a local man confronting a bear. In 2015, it was the story of Carl, the man who defended his dog from a bear with a punch, that captured the imagination of the Internet.
“The man or beast I run from ain’t been born, and it’s mama’s already dead.”