Gerre Ninnemann says he's lucky to be alive. He had to fight off a black bear Monday afternoon at his cabin in Silver Cliff in Marinette County.
So how did it all start?
Her name's Maddy
"We came out this patio door,” said Ninnemann.
Ninnemann – a retired financial planner who splits his time between his home in Green Bay and cabin in Silver Cliff – was getting ready to go for a walk with his pal Maddy – his eight-year-old yellow lab.
"And the bear was right here,” said Ninnemann pointing to the side of the cabin. “(Maddy) let out a ferocious bark and growl and started chasing after it."
But the young male black bear was soon chasing after Maddy.
"I came running out into the yard here, shouting, waving my arms at the bear, thinking that would scare him away,” said Ninnemann, who has dealt with bears on his property for the past 20 or so years. “But it didn't. All it did was leave the dog and come right for me."
"Here's where he jumped me from behind," said Ninnemann pointing to the gravel drive, rocks cleared to the side showing the dirt below.
"What was going through your mind?" I asked Ninnemann.
"Anger,” he responded. “I was very mad at myself for getting myself into this situation, especially without a gun."
But Ninnemann's wife Marie was working on that. Marie grabbed Gerre’s 20-gauge shotgun he uses for grouse hunting and some shells. However, she didn't know how to load it or shoot it.
"I was able to crawl to the bottom of the steps,” gestured Ninnemann, pointing to the front of the house. “Marie had a good angle from the top of the steps and clubbed the bear over the head."
That gave the two enough time to get in the cabin. But it wasn't over.
"Now the bear is right at the front door and at the windows," said Gerre Ninnemann.
Ninnemann says it took the Marinette County sheriff's deputy about 40 to 45 minutes to get to the cabin, let alone find it. And by the time he got here, the bear was ready and waiting for him.
"The bear walked up to the front of the squad car and the deputy was about 10 feet away and dropped him with one shot," said Ninnemann.
Behavior out of the ordinary
"Generally, bears avoid encounters," explained John Huff, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources.
"We're not really sure why the bear made the decision it did. It was a bad decision."
Lesson learned and lessons to learn
"I owe her my life," said Ninnemann of his wife Marie.
Meanwhile, Ninnemann says he will now teach his wife how to load and fire a gun, as well as keep them at the ready in case something like this happens again.
Ninnemann needed staples for his head and neck - and stitches for his ear. Otherwise, he says he's okay; as is Maddy.
The bear has been sent to Madison to determine if it had rabies. Huff says the juvenile male bear was probably out on its own for the first time.