Grizzly Mauls and Kills Backcountry Guide Near Yellowstone

Highway 191 runs through some prime fishing Montana fishing country, passing Gallatin Gateway, Big Sky, and through a narrow canyon before opening into wide country just west of Yellowstone. The Gallatin river courses through there, as do some feeder streams, all holding wild trout. There are bears there too of course.

Last week, Charles W. Mock IV, 40, an experienced backcountry guide was killed by a grizzly bear, likely protecting a cached moose carcass, not far from 191, near Baker’s Hole campground. Mock lived in West Yellowstone, knew the area well, and was carrying bear spray. He survived the attack initially, called 911 on a cell phone, and was transported to a hospital where he eventually died of his injuries. Park authorities headed to the scene of the mauling to determine if the bear was a threat. Once there, they were charged by the bear, and shot and killed it. They then discovered the moose, likely what the bear was defending

Your author has fished that zone many times, alone, always with hackles raised. 6-foot stands of brush line the Gallatin in many places, it would be very easy to spook a bear there. It’s so close to a popular highway, it feels relatively safe, but your author will not be doing that ever again.

The mayor of West Yellowstone, Jerry Johnson, who owned the guide service Mock was employed by, said Mock was a very experienced outdoorsman. He “would get off work in the summer, and all of a sudden he’d send a post of himself 11 miles in a trail on top of a mountain.”

This was the first fatal mauling by a grizzly in the contiguous U.S. since 2018, and the 44th injury sustained from a grizzly encounter near Yellowstone since 1979.

Photo: Elizabeth Myers/Unsplash

– Justin Housman

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