Hunter mauled by grizzly bear - Warning graphic images

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A grizzly bear has mauled a bow hunter in the US state of Montana, slashing a 41-centimetre cut in his head that required 90 stitches.

"I could hear bones crunching, just like you read about," Tom Sommer said as he recovered in hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

The 57-year-old said he and a hunting partner were looking for an elk they had been calling on Monday morning. 

His partner spotted a grizzly bear feeding on an elk carcass in the southern end of the Gravelly Range, just north of the Idaho border.

"The bear just flat-out charged us," Mr Sommer said, saying it closed the nine-metre distance between them in three or four seconds.

His hunting partner fired his bear spray, which slowed the bear's charge.

Mr Sommer said he grabbed his own canister so quickly that he couldn't release the safety and he couldn't afford to look down as the bear closed in.

He ran around a tree twice and dropped his bear spray in the process.

Mr Sommer then grabbed his pistol and turned to confront the bear.

He still had his pistol in his hand and was going to shoot the bear in the neck when it swatted his arm down, Mr Sommer said.

"Just like that it stopped," he said. "He stopped biting me, he got up and started to run away."

His hunting partner had been able to fire the rest of his bear spray, ending the attack, which lasted about 25 seconds.

"It could have been a lot worse," Mr Sommer said.

Mr Sommer's hunting partner had some blood coagulation powder and they made a turban, stopping the bleeding after about 15 minutes.

They walked 1.6 kilometres back to their camp and rode mules another 6.4km out to their base camp, followed by a two-hour ride in a ute to get to the hospital in Ennis.

"Through it all I was very conscious, very level-headed and low key about it," Mr Sommer said.

"Besides some scars, it doesn't appear that I will have any problems.

"I've been a hunter my whole life. I have no grievance against the bear. He was just doing what bears do.

"But I would have shot him just the same."

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