Carl Moore knew his Chihuahua was in trouble when he spotted a black bear. The 300-pound beast was trying to climb the deck to Moore’s California home in a bid to eat the little dog for breakfast.
There was no time to waste. In recent weeks, the drought had brought wild animals down to Moore’s three acres in the foothills of Placer County, and he’d already lost dozens of chickens. He sure as hell wasn’t going to lose his beloved dogs, too.
So Moore did what any 73-year-old with fists of steel would do: He punched the bear in the face.
“I’m not going to let anybody hurt my puppies—man or beast,” Moore told The Daily Beast. “They’re my family. They’re my babies.”
It may sound like a tall tale—a senior citizen staring into a growling abyss of claws and fur and coming out alive. But employees at Moore’s construction firm bore witness to the fuzzy menace that elicited bloodcurdling barks from Moore’s canine babies: Lacy, the 12-year-old Chihuahua, and Bailey, a 15-year-old yellow lab.
“I heard the dogs going off,” Moore recalled. “The Chihuahua was screaming. It sounded like a really scared human—she was just terrified.”
The display of derring-do came on April 20, when Moore and two workers met in the morning to discuss a job and instead made a grizzly discovery.
Moore’s two-story home has a wraparound “party deck” with surround sound, flat-screen TV and grill. The six-pound Chihuahua was yelping and cowering underneath the barbecue station. Only eight feet separated the door and the hungry bear.
Seconds after hearing the pooch’s cries, the mustachioed ex-boxer and his two workers ran outside. They raised their arms and roared. The bear, outnumbered, backed off and barreled up a ramp to Moore’s driveway. Moore decided to tempt fate and chase the brute. When the bear reached the top, he stood on his hind legs, and Moore clocked him.
“I hit him with an overhand right—and hard,” Moore said. “His head snapped around, and he stumbled. I’m a 192-pound, 6-foot-2½ man, and the bear outweighed me, but I was taller.”
The septuagenarian slugger said his fist landed “right in the jaw, right below his eye and part of his snout.”
“He grunted, stumbled a bit, got down on all fours and started getting out of Dodge,” Moore added.
The hero, a native Oklahoman, also provided a spirited play-by-play for a local TV station, telling a reporter, “The man or beast that I run from ain’t been born, and his momma’s already dead.”
“I ain’t run from nothing; I never have in my whole life and I ain’t going to start now,” he told CBS Sacramento. “And you’re not going to sacrifice my babies for some damn bear.” One of Moore’s employees, Tyler Silva, acknowledged his boss’s large mitts and steel grip but never expected to see him sucker-punch a wild animal.
“I know I’ll never see that one again,” Silva told the Auburn Journal. “He definitely connected. The bear took a breath out like it had been struck in the stomach and then it took off down the road.” Moore never imagined he’d duel a bear either. But his history is like something out of the Wild West. “I used to be a bouncer at country-western nightclubs,” he said. “They get pretty rowdy, so I’ve punched a lot of big men in self-defense, but never a bear.”
He compared himself to Clint Eastwood's itinerant character in Every Which Way But Loose. “When I was young, I used to go around to different towns and fight for money,” Moore said, conceding the bouts were “not always sanctioned.”
At age 73, Moore still works out and takes pride in his iron handshake, which he strengthens with grippers.
The bear lost the fight, but Moore believes the omnivore may have been responsible for the disappearance of his free-range chickens, whose population mysteriously dwindled from 40 to six.
“I put the chickens in real secure quarters,” Moore said. “I guess the bear figured his personal Colonel Sanders [restaurant] was closed so he was going to go after my puppies.”
The brawler called the California Department of Fish and Wildlife following the harrowing encounter. An officer there tried to give Moore a permit to eradicate the jumbo pest for killing livestock.
“I told them I don’t want to shoot no bear,” Moore said. “I don’t mind punching one … I’m three-quarters Indian. The bears are my brothers, too. You can get into a fight with your brother but you don’t kill him.”