The black bear bites the “Cowboy Camper” in the head

Dean Doomer Rancher New Mexico estimates he has had more than 100 quiet black bear sightings last year on his property near Glorieta Trail in the Santa Fe National Forest.

He credits that to a recent wildfire in the area, the largest in the state’s history, which burned more than 340,000 acres and displaced swarms of wildlife 40 miles east of his property. These conditions, combined with the pond feeders and hummingbirds located right near his home, make Doomer’s 50-acre plot a kind of black bear paradise.

So when acquaintance Paul Gorgolis drove to Doomer’s house at 3:30 a.m. on August 11 with a bloody wound to his head, Domer thought he was dreaming. Gorgolis was screaming amid the falling chaos that he had been bitten by a bear while at a “cowboy camp” on the farm.

Gorgolis, 24, ended up sleeping in Dömer’s house after plans to drive from Santa Fe to Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas failed. He had visited Domer’s house a year ago and called to ask if he could spend the night again. Doomer welcomed him, warning that it’s bear season, too. He found a spot far from the property’s “bear lanes” for Gorgolis to put his sleeping bag on. But after they chatted late into the night, Gorgolis ended up sleeping in a different place.

“I didn’t see where he camped until after the attack, but it turns out he ended up accidentally camping on the bear trail,” Domer says.

Gorgolis was not quite unwilling to sleep outside. He used to work as a rural consultant at Philmont Scout Ranch, the largest Boy Scout adventure camp in America located in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in northeastern New Mexico. He sleeps a lot outside, but this was the first time a night of outdoor camping ended in disaster.

“I could hear him sniffing like a dog,” Gorgolis said, “so I kind of froze and did nothing for a split second, then he put his teeth around my head and started biting.” outdoor life. “All I could think of was ‘Okay, I have two options now: keep letting her do what she’s doing or yelling as loudly as possible. “So she tried to scream and left me. He did that terrifying turn away that bears do when they are afraid.”

As soon as the Bear cleared the scene, Gorgolis made the break for Domer’s house.

“He showed up at my door and he was clearly in a daze and was bleeding profusely from his head,” Domer says.

It was like something out of the movie StopGorgolis chuckle. “I was putting on my underwear, bleeding like a stuck pig, screaming and running into this log cabin in the middle of nowhere.”

Doomer immediately goes to retrieve Gorgolis’ belongings from the crime scene only to discover that the bear has dragged the sleeping bag away.

“But we had a bigger fish to fry at the time, in terms of assessing the severity of the wound and deciding if he needed to go to the emergency room,” Domer says. “We came to the conclusion that because it was a wild animal bite, it needed cleaning. So we rushed to the emergency room and he got in pretty quickly.”

The CT scan results were miraculously negative. One good clean and 16 staples later, Gorgolis was ready to be released. They returned to Glorietta, where Gorgolis waited for his mother’s arrival from Dallas. Meanwhile, Doomer has returned to the impromptu camp to track down his sleeping bag.

Wound before (left) and after 16 pins. Gorgolis says he thought the bear was mostly interested in his shampoo. Courtesy of Paul Gorgolis

“The bear carried the empty sleeping bag down the hill and went down to a small area where he could investigate a little deeper into the scents she was smelling,” Domer says. “I found the sleeping bag probably 30 yards from the accident site.”

Giorgolis says the New Mexico Department of Fish and Game contacted him about the attack and that he was willing to provide information for statistical purposes, but other than that, he and Domer avoided access to wildlife agents. Neither of them felt that the bear was acting in an overtly aggressive manner.

their theory? I smelled Georgoulis’ shampoo spurting out from under the gaiters and decided that the big nugget on the floor was worth investigating. Gorgolis notes that the bear immediately ran when he opened his mouth. Doomer feels at peace with the bears that frequent his property.

“I’ve always welcomed wildlife,” Domer says. “For me, they were here first.”

Cheryl Gorgolis remembers getting the call that no mother wanted to receive.

“It was that scary phone call in the middle of the night,” she sighs. “It’s credit to Paul that he started it off with ‘Mom, I’m fine.’ But then followed it up with ‘I’ve been bitten in the head by a bear.’ It’s like hearing he was struck by lightning.”

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The pins have since been removed from Gorgolis’ scalp. Now the outside man must figure out how to get back into the woods without fear of encountering bears on his way.

“If someone asked me to go on a camping trip tomorrow, I would definitely say ‘yes.’ But I didn’t actually see how to behave in that environment,” says Gorgolis. I was afraid to sleep on Thursday night. If I had a dog wake me up by sniffing in my ear, I had no idea how I would react to it, since I was terrified to sleep in a hotel room in the inner city of Santa Fe.”

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