DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A violent encounter with a bear wasn’t enough to scare off Walt Hickox, who captured the tense encounter on camera just outside his Daytona Beach doorstep Wednesday.
Hickox said he was letting his three dachshunds, named Pickles, Pepper and Piper, out of the house to scare off some “cats.” when came face to face with a bear.
“Apparently, it wasn’t a cat that they were after because they went, ‘alright, that side is clear.’ That’s when the bear came out,” Hickox said.
The bear leaned over a small gate to snag Pickles when Hickox swore and leaped into action.
“I just wanted to deflect the tension off the dog long enough for him to realize, ‘hey, there’s a human in here too,'” Hickox said.
Fight, not flight was Hickox’s split-second decision.
He plunged straight into a fight to get the bear’s attention on him instead of Pickles. Hickox said, “I clapped, and I was screaming,” adding, “there was a fraction of time where the bear sat up and kicked his head to the side like, ‘what are you screaming about.'”
The bear backed off but Hickox never did.
“When I had time to just sit and stare, it all hit me. And I started bawling,” Hickox said. “I couldn’t believe how close to death I was. And I did it for my dog.”
He said he did it because he loves Pickles, Pepper and Piper. Because of Hickox, they’ll be around for a while longer to love him back.
“I don’t have any kids and my wife’s kids are gone. We got together in 2006. We got them shortly after. And that was our… that was our family,” Hickox said.
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation responded to the home and has since set a bear trap in the neighborhood. Since the bear attacked a person, a spokesman said, if captured, the bear will be euthanized.
Hickox told WESH 2 News he doesn’t want anything bad to happen to the bear, but he also doesn’t want anyone to be in danger.
FWC said if a black bear attacks, people should fight back aggressively as Hickox did.