WEST GLACIER, Mont. - People all over the country call a young Flathead outfitter a hero after she warded off a 700-pound grizzly bear from a trail ride she was leading. The story is hitting media outlets nationwide. NBC Montana met with Bolster to hear the story firsthand.
When 25-year-old Erin Bolster was hired as an outfitter at the beginning of the summer, she says she was riding a borrowed horse. Now, she has her own, and the story of how she chose him is making headlines everywhere.
"It was a gorgeous day, it was in the morning, and it was going to be a one hour ride," recalls Bolster, describing the day of the bear encounter.
Bolster says only ten minutes had passed on a trail ride she was leading, with a horse named Tonk, when something strange happened.
"A deer burst out of these bushes we were near and actually ran right into us."
Bolster says the deer looked frightened, and collided with the horse behind her for it continued to run.
"About that time, I saw why the deer was running. Just a few feet behind the deer was the bear, and he was a very large grizzly bear."
Bolster says the bear was charging strait at the horse behind her, with an 8-year-old boy in its saddle. Instead of running away to safety, Bolster says she directed Tonk to intercept the bear, and the horse obeyed.
"I didn't really have a choice; I put myself in between the bear and [the boy], and just faced off with the bear."
After several prolonged standoffs, Bolster says the bear gave up, and headed back into the woods. Bolster says Tonk's bravery and obedience made her decision on what horse to buy an easy on. She says she was definitely scared by the bear, but couldn't have done anything else.
"I think any of my co-wranglers would have done the same thing. I had no choice."