Muskoka man, 80, fights off bear that broke into cottage with his fists, wins bravery award
‘He meant business. He roared — oh boy,’ Norman Ruff says
Norman Ruff had seen signs of bears before around his cottage near Port Carling in Muskoka. Garbage cans knocked over. Bird feeders knocked off. But he had never actually spotted one.
That is, until the morning of July 31, 2019, when a male black bear came through the kitchen window at 1:30 a.m. and couldn’t get back out. The commotion from the trapped bear woke up the 80-year-old man and his wife, Lois.
“As soon as he seen me, well that was it,” says Ruff.
“He meant business. He roared — oh boy!”
The two duked it out for about 20 minutes. Ruff said he punched the bear several times on the nose. “That was the only place I could reach.”
When the bear stood on his hind legs, his head nearly touched the living room ceiling, Ruff said.
The bear also got a few jabs in. “He gave me a couple of good slaps. He was flinging his arms around.”
Ruff also suffered nerve damage to his thumb, when the bear grabbed his hand in his mouth and yanked.
Ruff had managed to open the front door during the altercation and the bear eventually found his way out.
The Ontario Provincial Police this week presented Ruff with a Citation for Bravery.
“When we phoned 911 and said a bear was in the house, they came right away.”
He was taken to the hospital in Bracebridge where he was a celebrity among the staff for fighting a bear with his fists. Ruff has undergone surgery for his thumb, and rabies shots.
“They were a tough thing,” he says of the rabies shots. “They make you feel weird. But I guess if you have an encounter with a wild animal, they want to be careful about rabies.”
Did the bear leave a mess? “Oh, there was lots of blood,” says Ruff.
It was his own.