In 2017, Jeremy Evans went into the Canadian woods to capture a sheep, considered one of the most ordinary animals. However, instead of encountering a mundane creature, he had a near-death experience with one of the most frightening animals in the wilderness.
The snap of a broken branch was the initial indication to Jeremy that he had company in the woods of Alberta.
As he pivoted towards the source of the sound, it was already too tardy. The mother grizzly bear had noticed Jeremy's presence near her offspring and was just four feet away, extending her paw toward him.
With only Jeremy and the bear present, the creature perceived him solely as a danger, and that's when his struggle for survival commenced.
Encountering grizzly bears in the woods wasn't new to Jeremy, who was a regular hunter. He had become accustomed to avoiding these animals to the best of his ability.
For the past 17 years, the maintenance supervisor has been attempting to capture a ram with horns that form four-fifths of a full circle on both sides of its head. This characteristic qualifies the ram for legal hunting in Canada.
On August 24, 2017, he cycled up to the hunting location and was observing some sheep over the handlebars when he noticed a small brown creature darting in front of him.
"I knew instantly what it was," Jeremy said. "I had that feeling like, 'I'm screwed'."
The creature turned out to be a bear cub, which typically does not wander too far from its mother.
At the moment he glimpsed the mature bear, Jeremy couldn't retrieve his bear spray to repel it. Instead, he seized the bike in front of him and thrust it toward the creature, causing its head to become caught in the frame.
While Jeremy persisted in attempting to intimidate the bear by striking it, the animal inflicted "significant injuries" to his hand. Luckily, it eventually began to retreat, reaching a distance of around 30 feet as Jeremy cautiously stepped back to safety. However, the bear's aggression was not yet over.
"She just spun right around and came charging back in a second time," Jeremy recalled.
"The second time I just chucked my pack at her and I ran up the hillside as fast as I could to try to climb into a tree... I got about six feet up [but] my right leg was hanging low."
"She came running at the tree, stood up on her hind end [and] with her two paws, grabbed my right leg and pulled it down... As I'm watching, looking down, she clamped on my leg. I'm thinking, 'this is gonna hurt'."
The bear attacked Jeremy's knee, causing it to make a crunching sound, and pulled him down from the tree. It then bit down on him and hurled him into the air, landing on top of him and biting his face.
Feigning death led to the bear biting and mauling him further, prompting Jeremy to resume fighting back. He struck the bear in the face, pushed his fingers into its eyes, and even seized its tongue as it prepared to attack him again.
The most effective tactic Jeremy employed was grasping a soft patch of skin beneath the bear's belly and twisting it, causing the animal to emit a noise and flee into the forest.
After the attack, Jeremy stood up and retrieved his bag. He then took a selfie of his injured face.
As a result of the attack, Jeremy's facial and ocular tissue was ripped away, causing him to bleed and become unidentifiable.
Upon examining the image, Jeremy pondered: "Well, it's not so bad."
Believe me when I say that the situation was truly dire. Unfortunately, matters were only going to deteriorate further.
As Jeremy was reloading his firearm, he heard a noise resembling the cracking of ice. This was because the bear had taken hold of his skull with its jaws and begun pulling him backward.
"I just remember feeling her dragging my butt across the ground, probably 10, 15 feet or so. [I was] sitting on my butt, couldn't move," Jeremy said.
"Her claw caught me on the side of the face and then peeled everything back, my ear and everything. [She was] just gnawing on the back of my skull, like a dog on a bone just crunching away."
"She was ripping things off on my neck and collarbone. She chewed on all that."
Once more, Jeremy attempted to clutch the tender area on the bear's flesh. He desperately clung to it as the animal grew agitated and began to flee. Ultimately, Jeremy had no choice but to release his grip, causing his battered form to collapse on the forest floor. With his eyesight impaired due to the injuries he had sustained, he crawled his way back through the woods and retrieved his bag and firearm.
As Jeremy was fumbling around on the ground for a clip to reload his gun, he stumbled upon some disconcerting items. These included his mustache and goatee, a sizable portion of his facial tissue, as well as his ear which had been completely torn off by the bear.
Convinced that he wouldn't survive, Jeremy took out his phone and typed some messages to his wife. Even though he didn't have any cell reception, he wanted to make sure that he had said his final goodbyes.
"What do you do when you're all messed up like that?," Jeremy asked.
The messages Jeremy wrote to his wife showed him expressing his love for her and their daughter.
"Whoever finds this please let my wife know I tried to make it," one reads. "But there is [no] chance, that bear really [f***ed] me up."
In another text, Jeremy said: "I am pretty sure this is the end. I am very tired and I feel like I am going to pass out. If I do I won't wake up."
After sending the messages, Jeremy decided to turn the gun on himself and end his own life.
The gun failed to fire.
"That was kind of strange," Jeremy remembers. "So I moved it away and pulled the trigger again. And it actually went off... Then I decided at that point, I'm at least going to try to get out."
With little hope of making it back to civilization, the father attempted to reach a more visible trail where he had a better chance of being found.
He estimates that he stumbled and fell about a hundred times as he walked, feeling like a zombie. However, he eventually lost his footing and tumbled about 200 feet down into a drainage basin.
At the bottom of the drainage basin, Jeremy landed on boulders that left him severely injured and in a mangled state.
"That hurt a lot," he said. "I could hardly move."
Jeremy, feeling exhausted and in agony, decided to give up and just fall asleep. He took out his phone and started playing some music.
Jeremy pulled out his phone to play some music but unfortunately for him, the song that came on was "Baby Shark".
However, surprisingly, the song "Baby Shark" turned out to be a lifeline for Jeremy. It was the same song he had played the night before, the one he and his wife used to calm their daughter when she was having a difficult time.
"I don't know if it was the song playing on repeat, or just thinking about [my wife and child], but I started to crawl up the drainage on the other side. I managed to crawl up and get back onto the trail," Jeremy said.
During his journey, Jeremy set himself small goals, trying to reach the next tree or rock. Along the way, he stumbled upon a campsite that was always occupied during his previous visits to the woods. Desperately seeking help, he unzipped the two tents, but found no one inside.
A note was hastily scribbled by Jeremy, including his name and a brief explanation of the bear attack, found with the paper and pen he discovered at the campsite.
"Sorry about the mess," he wrote, as he knew he was bleeding profusely.
After hours of walking, Jeremy finally came across a landmark he recognized: two rocks on the trail that indicated he was about a mile away from his truck.
Despite his impaired vision, Jeremy managed to get into his car and drive for 20km until he reached a lodge where he could get help. Throughout the journey, he focused on the light spot in the middle of the darker spruce trees, as that was the only thing he could make out with his blurred vision.
Jeremy made his way to the lodge and as he approached, he heard a child's voice say: "Grandma, someone's trying to play a prank!"
Jeremy's zombie-like appearance shocked the child, who initially doubted its reality, but the adults were able to confirm the situation. Worried that his rescuers might panic, Jeremy tried to calm them down and insisted that he was okay, urging them to stay composed and call an ambulance.
Jeremy was aware that his injuries were severe, considering he had been mauled by a bear. However, it wasn't until he reached the hospital and saw the staff's reaction that he started to panic. He requested that doctors cover his face before his wife came to see him because his face was nearly all bone with no skin left on it.
Jeremy's battle with mental health issues continued long after he had physically recovered from the bear attack. He struggled with sleep deprivation and PTSD, with even small triggers like emptying an ice tray causing him to experience vivid flashbacks of the traumatic incident in the woods.
Jeremy experienced a breakthrough in his treatment just over a year ago when he underwent a session of Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). This therapy involves the patient visualizing a traumatic scene in their mind and examining it in a different way.
Jeremy experienced a restful sleep without any nightmares for the first time since his return from the attack, after undergoing a session of Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) a little over a year ago.
Following his participation in a session of ART slightly over a year ago, Jeremy slept soundly without any disturbing nightmares for the first time since his return from the attack.
"When you set mini goals, you can achieve incredible things," he began.
"Family comes first. [And] asking for psychiatric help is not a sign of weakness. It's a strength. I mean, guys are always supposed to be all tough and look after the family. But when you're not mentally fit, you can't do that. So ask for help."
Upon returning to the woods one year after the accident, Jeremy understandably felt quite nervous. However, he gradually began to feel more positive about the experience, reflecting on the fact that he had survived and made it out alive. Eventually, he had a good feeling about being back in the woods.
The book titled "Mauled: Lessons Learned from a Grizzly Bear Attack" authored by Jeremy is now available for purchase, in which he has provided a more comprehensive account of his experiences.