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Photo Gallery | Bear encounter at Chattahoochee National Forest

HELEN, Ga. -- (submitted by Duffie Dixon) What was supposed to be a relaxing weekend of camping and a little wild hog hunting for Brian Sleeth and Kristin Workman in the Chattahoochee National forest turned out to be just the opposite.

"I've never thought much about death, but I sure was thinking about it at 3 a.m. Saturday," Workman said.

Right after Sleeth and Workman had fallen asleep in their tent, they woke up to sounds of scratching, metal being pried and glass breaking.

A black bear managed to pry open the back window of Workman's Nissan four-door car and was inside the vehicle presumably looking for food.

"The only thing in the car was a pack of uncooked hot dogs in the cooler and an open bag of marshmallows in the trunk," said Sleeth.

The problem was that while that one bear was ripping apart the car, Sleeth and Workman could hear two others circling outside their tent and sniffing around.

"We waited 10 minutes, then a couple more, and they weren't leaving," Sleeth said. "I decided we needed a plan.  We couldn't just sit in the tent and wait until they got us." 

Sleeth had put their two guns in the tent with them. He said he told Workman to grab the flashlight and once they were outside to shine it on the car.  The plan was to fire his 50 caliber muzzle loader, follow up with her rifle and then make a run for it.

"I saw the bear in the front seats," Sleeth said. "I shot once then fired again and again with her gun as we ran."

It would be an hour before they could get cell service. Once officers with the Department of Natural Resources arrived, they discovered they'd covered more than 8 miles in their attempt to get away from the bears.

Back at the campsite, DNR found bear hair and blood from the animal but it got away.

Workman's car has numerous bullet holes in it along with ripped up seats and a bent rear window frame.

According to DNR, bears are common in that section of the Chattahoochee National Forest near Helen, especially this time of year when food sources are scarce. 

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