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MINOT, N.D. (AP) — An Alaskan hiker said he’s lucky to be alive after a bison gored his thigh in North Dakota.

Michael Turk said that if the giant animal had hit his femoral artery, the largest artery in the body, he would have died.

“I know I was lucky to be alive,” Turk told the Minot Daily News ( ).

The 51-year-old former Army combat medic was camping June 30 in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

“I planned to be there a week and go to the South Unit before coming here,” said Turk.

He said he passed the bison on Buckhorn Trail when he went to photograph the sunset. He encountered the same bison on his return, but didn’t keep the recommended 25-yard (23-meter) distance as he walked by.

“I was too close, it was my fault. It was getting dark,” Turk said.

Turk said the bison rammed him and that he regained consciousness in the bushes.

“I remember, I think I took one last picture of it as I was coming back. He looked at me and put his head down and started running at me,” Turk said. “I don’t remember him hitting me but I remember I woke up in the bushes.”

Turk said he stopped the bleeding before nearby campers, including airmen from Minot Air Force Base, rescued him.

“They were awesome,” he said. “I give them my utmost appreciation.”

Turk said he plans to return to the park to visit the South Unit and the Pacific Crest Trail as originally planned, but he said if there are any bison present he plans to give them plenty of space.

“Definitely keep your distance, limit your photos to maybe one or two pictures and move on – no sense in lingering,” he said.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune,