Wes Werbowy can still see the polar bear’s head pressed up against his tent’s mosquito netting.
“I wish I could find an artist to capture this image in my mind,” says Werbowy, who survived a recent up-close-and-personal encounter with a polar bear.
Werbowy was camping outside of Whale Cove, Nunavut, on July 16.
A light sleeper, Werbowy says he was awakened shortly after 3 a.m. by a sound he didn’t want to hear.
“I can hear a bear inhaling with a snuffling sound,” he says. “They do that when they’re on the trail of a quarry — and it’s right outside my tent.”
He’d left his shotgun at the front of the tent. Werbowy started to unzip his sleeping bag.
The bear heard that zipper. And that, to him, was the sound of food being unwrapped.
“There’s no describing the beginning of the apparition,” said Werbowy.
That’s when he remembered some words of wisdom an Inuit elder had once shared. The most sensitive part of a polar bear is his nose and if all else fails, take a swing at it. That’s what Werbowy did.
“I punched him as hard as I could right on the nose. It was like hitting a bag of thawed hamburger. It was just this tremendous resounding splat.
“Instantaneously, he just changed ends and vanished.”