HELENA, Mont. — A grizzly bear attacked an elk hunter who surprised the sow and her cub north of Yellowstone National Park, with the bear sinking her teeth into his arm and clawing his eye before another hunter drove her off, the victim recounted Monday.

The mauling of Bob Legasa, 57, in the Gallatin National Forest on Saturday was at least the seventh bear attack on a human since May in the northern Rocky Mountains.

Legasa, awaiting his second surgery on Monday, told The Associated Press in a phone interview from his hospital room in Bozeman, Montana, that he and his hunting partner were moving toward some elk when he heard a growl.

It was a 2-year-old cub and its mother about 12 yards away from the tree that he had just stepped away from.

After the cub growled, it moved aside, and its mother charged, Legasa said.

The sow was on him in three seconds, Legasa estimated.

The bow hunter from Hayden, Idaho, didn’t have time to reach for his bear spray; he barely had time to raise his arms in front of his face.

The grizzly bit his hand, leaving puncture wounds and breaking a bone in his forearm. The sow clawed at his eye, leaving a bloody gash across the bridge of his nose.

His hunting guide, Greg Gibson, discharged bear spray and the grizzly let go.

Legasa pulled out his own spray, but inadvertently sprayed himself with the Mace-like mist.

Gibson discharged his spray canister again, and the wind blew the mist back into his eyes as the bears ran off.

Less than three weeks earlier, the two men made a bear spray safety video for Gibson’s Montana Guide Service, Legasa said. Now, both were on the ground, blinded by bear spray.

“I had blood in my eyes and bear spray in my eyes and I couldn’t see a damn thing,” Legasa said. “We were putting snow and water in our eyes, trying to get relief.”

The men were eventually able to get back to their truck about 500 yards away.

They determined Legasa’s wounds were serious, and drove to a hospital.

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