KALISPELL, Mont. - A hunt for huckleberries turned into a close bear encounter for 17-year-old Hunter Dana.
Dana was picking huckleberries at his favorite spot in Hungry Horse when a mother grizzly bear and her three cubs emerged.
He told us he retreated down a hill, and 15 minutes later he was met by officers at the bottom of the hill after running for his life.
Dana said he had no time to think.
"The first thing I could do is pull out the spray and hit her as quick as I could. I never believed in bear spray until this year, because I used it yesterday a lot -- went through the whole entire can," he said.
Once he laid eyes on the bear, Hunter called his father, who was able to dial 911 and get a hold of emergency crews.
A scare like this while picking huckleberries draws the attention of local huckleberry businesses.
"It is a big concern – it’s a big portion of the bear's food source," Huckleberry Patch manager Laurie Berry said.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Lee Anderson said an incident like this can alert berry pickers.
"You're really going right into bear habitat and where they want to be. In northwest Montana our bears eat berries," said Anderson.
While berry picking gets you close to bears, Anderson says there are ways to be safe.
"Have the tools, think about it, be safe and go enjoy it," he said.
Anderson shared these tips for those going out in the woods:
· Carry bear spray and know how to use it
· Pick in groups
· Make noise periodically
· Keep pets on a leash