East Tennessee man shares experience of bear attack

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 3:07 AM EDT
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SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Matt Marvin spent his Fourth of July like many others — camping with family and enjoying South Holston Lake.

Early Sunday morning, though, toward the end of his three-day camping trip on an island across 421 Access Area, Marvin woke up to a stinging feeling on his foot. After opening his eyes, he discovered what appeared to be 150-pound black bear at the heel of his foot.

Marvin told News Channel 11′s Bianca Marais that his first response was to keep his five children, who remained asleep in a tent only feet away, safe.

“When I got up, after he put his teeth in me, I kicked him in the middle — right between the eyes, and he let go,” Marvin said. “I got up and I shot, and I hit him. He screamed pretty loud, and I went over there shortly after — 5 to 10 minutes after — and there was a good blood trail, and it stormed later on that evening, so it doesn’t surprise me [TWRA] didn’t find anything.”

According to Marvin, the campers had hitched their bagged food 15 feet up in a tree before falling asleep the previous evening.

After the incident, Marvin noticed the bear had gained access to the bag, leaving food scattered across the campsite.

Marvin notified the TWRA of the bear encounter the following day.

Following the bear bite, Marvin received his rabies shot.