Armed hiker uses gun to fend off moose attack

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

The vast majority of defensive gun uses that we cover here at Bearing Arms involve gun owners protecting themselves from two-legged threats, but every now and then we run across a tale of an armed citizen who was able to defend their life from critters on the attack. Such was the case for Robert Standerwick, who was just out for a leisurely hike with his dogs in Boulder County, Colorado this week when he encountered a momma moose and her calf while rounding a hairpin turn on the trail.

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The startled moose charged Standerwick, knocking him down and stepping on him before he was able to draw his gun in self-defense.

“The moose are definitely the most deadliest animals up here for sure,” Collin Howe, who helped Standerwick after he was trampled, said.

Standerwick shot a gun he was carrying into the ground twice to scare off the cow and calf, which then both left without injury.

“He wasn’t trying to injure it. He made that clear to me. He was just trying to scare it off,” Howe said.

Howe, who also lives in the area, said he had just gotten out of the shower when he heard a gunshot and then heard someone in distress about a quarter of a mile away.

“I heard a gunshot. I thought someone was scaring the bear we are dealing with in the neighborhood,” Howe said. “Then I listened and heard our neighbor in distress and realized it was serious.”

Howe said he went outside and found Standerwick’s two dogs.

“I didn’t get off my property, his dogs were looking for help,” Howe said.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the two dogs were off-leash at the time of the attack and neither were harmed when Standerwick was trampled.

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I’m not a huge fan of walking dogs off-leash, but in this case the escaping pooches may have helped Standerwick’s neighbor figure out who was in trouble and where he was. The fact that he had his pistol with him on the hiking trail, however, was arguably the most important factor in Standerwick being alive and well today.

“Where he was at, no one goes down there. He could have laid down there for days,” Howe said. “Honestly, it was good he had the gun he wouldn’t have alerted us or been able to scare it away.”

Howe said moose just started showing up in the area in the past few years and they make it known they are there.

According to Howe, his neighbor suffered injuries to his hand, head, and chest, but thankfully has already been released from the local hospital.

Wildlife officials, meanwhile, are encouraging hikers to keep their dogs leashed, noting that in “late spring and early summer, cow moose can be aggressive while their calves are young, and they can view dogs as predators or threats.” This is prime birthing season for the state’s moose population, which means there are a lot of protective moms out there at the moment.

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Keeping your dogs on a leash while hiking is a good idea, but it was Standerwick’s decision to have a gun on his person that was the real life-saver. I don’t expect the folks in charge of Colorado Parks and Wildlife to actually encourage armed hikers given the leftward tilt of the state government, but it’s still wise to have some form of self-defense when heading out for a hike in the woods, and I hope that other hikers in the area will be following Standerwick’s lead.

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