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No lesson, just an interesting read, mostly because of the characters involved. I can say I like these fellas without ever having met them. Check the age on the initial victim, wow.

OROVILLE -- An 83-year-old Palermo man, who was mauled by a bear last month in Sierra County, said his hunting buddies saved his life ... and they are going bear hunting again on Wednesday.

Orval Sanders was mauled by a wounded bear when he and three friends were hunting near Camptonville on Oct. 12.

Sanders and one hunting buddy, Ron Boyd, recounted the story Monday, because they wanted to set the record straight.

"There are so many stories going around that just aren't true," Sanders said. "One person even went to church and said the bear attacked me because we had shot two bear cubs."

Other rumors included that Sanders was sitting under the tree the bears were in, and that his friends dropped him off at the ranger's station and went back hunting.

But this might be one story that continues to change as people repeat it, and it becomes a tale that grows into a myth about hunting in bear country.

Sanders and three friends had been following a bear their dogs had been trailing for about 45 minutes in the Tahoe National Forest near Camptonville.

This was the 19th bear they had treed this hunting season. They had let the other bears go, as they usually do, but one friend wanted to take a bear for the fur and meat.

Sanders said he was standing about 50 feet from a tree where the dogs had treed three bears, when the hunter fired a shot that struck the bear in the chest.

The wounded bear fell out of the tree.

"When it hit the ground, it saw me and there it came," Sanders said. "It scared me when I say that big bear reared up and looked me in the eyes."

Boyd shot the bear two times but it kept coming. Standing on its hind legs, the bear bit down on Sanders' rifle and hand, clamping down on his left arm.

Sanders stuck his thumb in the bear's ear and tried twisting it.

The bear was shaking Sanders around by the arm, when another friend, Charlie Brown, began kicking the bear.

"He was shaking him around like a rag doll, and we knew the bear would kill him if we didn't do something," Boyd said.

The bear turned on Brown and grabbed him by the leg, letting Sanders go.

Sanders threw his .30-30 rifle to Brown, and Brown picked it up and shot the bear in the neck.

"The bear had four holes in it and it still wasn't dead," Boyd said.

But it was mortally wounded.

Boyd tied a handkerchief around his friend's left arm to slow the bleeding.

The bone was exposed in Sanders' arm, and the bear had severed arteries so blood was pumping out.

They put Sanders in Boyd's pickup, and he drove him down the hill to Camptonville.

"I was going 40, 50 and 60 miles an hour in places where you should be doing 20 miles an hour," Boyd said.

Boyd said blood was pumping out of Sanders' arm and shooting all over his truck.

At Camptonville, California Department of Fish and Game rangers called for medical help. However, Sanders said it wasn't true his friends went back hunting, as was reported.

Sanders was flown to Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

"I fell over in the truck in Camptonville, and I woke up in the hospital in Roseville," Sanders said.

Three hours later, his friend Boyd, made it to the hospital to check on his friend.

Sanders had lost four pints of blood, and the doctor told him he would have been dead in another hour from blood loss.

It took them two hours just to clean the wound. The exposed bone in his arm was broken in four places, and he had a bite on his other arm.

"I was lucky that the bear didn't kill me," Sanders said.

Sanders had to start rabies vaccinations, although it turned out the bear didn't have rabies.

Sanders said it was a brown-colored bear that weighed about 170 to 200 pounds.

Sanders gave the doctor a bear skin from a bear he had shot the previous year, because the doctor wanted it to make a bear skin cap, but that wasn't for the doctor's fees.

At 83, Sanders stands over six foot and is a husky, muscular man for his age.

His physical health might be in part because he has been hunting bear since he was 12 years old.

"Sometimes the dogs trail a bear for two or three hours," Sanders said.

Sanders said he enjoys hearing the dogs when they are trailing, but the hunters only shoot a bear when someone wants the meat, which isn't often.

He said it's a good sport, and the dogs and the hunters get plenty of exercise.

"But we never shoot a bear and leave it," Sanders said. "We always use the meat to make jerky or hamburger."

Sanders said they went out with the dogs last week, and they are going again this Wednesday, but they won't be shooting bears.

Sander's arm is still bandaged, and he says his left thumb will be permanently stiff, but he can still enjoy the sport.

"I can't carry a gun or anything right now, but I can hear the dogs running," Sanders said.

Sanders has received hundreds of calls and e-mails about the attack from friends, people and media sources everywhere, he said.
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