Ned Rasmussen, 11-01-99

Anchorage Daily News
Saturday, November 06, 1999

By Karen Aho, Daily News Reporter

Ned Rasmussen, an Anchorage hunter found dead after a bear attack near Kodiak this week, died nof his wounds minutes after he was mauled, the state medical examiner said Friday.Rasmussen died "a relatively rapid death, but not an instantaneous death," Dr. Michael Propst said. He did not sustain fatal injuries to the head or neck, but his other wounds hemorrhaged, Propst said.

Alaska State Troopers initially said it was unclear whether Rasmussen died from his wounds or from exposure to the cold after the attack. His body was found in thick brush Wednesday on Uganik Island, two days after members of his deer hunting party last saw him. Hunting companion Phil Brna said he saw Rasmussen on a ridge top about 1 p.m. Monday and heard a shot about 1:30 p.m. Sometime between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Brna said, he saw a brown bear some 200 to 300 yards from where Rasmussen had been. Brna didn't see cubs.

"I tried to signal to him and wave to him," Brna said. "I went back in the woods and I hunted back toward the cabin."About 4:30 p.m., he and the others heard another shot from the ridge.

"We couldn't see Ned. . . . or a bear," Brna said. "We figured he probably shot a deer and he'll be back late."

When Rasmussen hadn't returned by nightfall, Brna and the other hunters, Lenny Corin and John Kotula, walked into the forest with lanterns and called for him."There was never any response," Brna said. "So what do you do? You kind of sit around and wonder, 'Where the hell is Ned?' We didn't sleep very well."

When they saw no obvious signals Tuesday morning, they set off an electronic beacon to
alert the U.S. Coast Guard that they needed help. A search dog found Rasmussen's body in the thick brush.

On Wednesday, searchers also spotted a wounded bear. Brna, who saw it from a Coast Guard helicopter, said it had a gunshot wound and that its shoulder was bleeding.Searchers found Rasmussen's rifle on the ridge top. Bear hairs were stuck to the electrical tape on the end. About 50 yards away lay Rasmussen's hat and some blood. His body was found about a half mile away, at the bottom of a steep, grassy slope.

They never found his pack, Brna said."So whether he had the deer in his pack or not, it's speculation," he said.Brna said the group has been hunting in the area for 19 years and has never had a bear problem. He said Rasmussen's .270-caliber rifle was not powerful enough to be relied upon for bear protection.