Pinedale, WY (ABC4) — A hunter is recovering at the University of Utah Hospital after shooting himself while fending off a grizzly bear attack in Wyoming.

The responding sheriff’s office encourages other outdoor enthusiasts to use the SOS feature on their smartphones (or other devices) during similar emergencies.  

A spokesperson for the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office tells ABC4 this happened Friday just before 6 p.m.

“When you’re hunting, try to go out in groups, and don’t be by yourself, and always be ready for the bears, if they’re around,” added Sgt. Travis Bingham.

According to Bingham, 65-year-old Lee Francis, who lives in Evanston, and his son were hunting near the Rock Creek area along Sawtooth mountains near Pinedale, WY, when they were attacked by a grizzly bear.  

Francis shot at the bear with his handgun, and the bear fled. However, one of the bullets hit the shooter’s leg. His son jumped to action.

“He stepped in quickly and was able to get him some first aid and pack the wound,” Bingham emphasized.  

The man’s son also used an emergency SOS device to call 911.

Bingham explained, “His device specifically, and some of the newer ones also, have texting capabilities. So, they were able to go back and forth a little bit and get a plan together. They were able to talk immediately. It was more of an issue being in the backcountry.” 

Thanks to the SOS call, the two were able to make plans with Tip Top Search and Rescue. Francis and his son made their way on horseback to Water Dog Lake where they met up with Search And Rescue. Responders took Francis on ATV to Flying A Ranch where he was then life-flighted to the University of Utah Hospital.   

“They did the right things to help themselves to get help quickly on the way,” Bingham stated.

He encourages other outdoor enthusiasts to consider having their emergency SOS device with them and ready to use. He emphasized that by adding, “Because you never know when something is going to go crossways on you and you need help right away, and this is the best way to get help quickly.” 

Utah wildlife officials say there are no grizzly bears in Utah, but there are black bears. However, they usually begin hibernating in late October, so the chances of running into one right now are low.   

Wyoming Fish and Game encourages people to learn about the differences between grizzly and black bears. They also encourage people to learn more about bear behavior. You can learn more by visiting their website.