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Outdoors blog

Tue., Oct. 11, 2011, 4:26 p.m.

Gutsy wrangler and horse that took on grizzly taping Letterman Show

GREAT STORIES -- If you like heroes, horses, blonde horse wranglers and grizzly bears, tune in to the Late Show with David Letterman tonight.

My Outdoors feature story last month, "Gutsy wrangler, huge horse, save boy from charging grizzly" struck a chord with Spokesman-Review readers –and then spread to readers across the continent like jet-propelled stallions.

The news didn't escape Letterman, who owns a Montana ranch near Choteau. Letterman's handlers shipped both the wrangler and the horse from Whitefish to New York. Tonk was chauffeured on a five-day expedition in a comfort-controlled van with breaks every three hours or so.

The 25-year-old wrangler and her horse are scheduled to be taping two segments today for the show that airs tonight. Bolster and her huge Percheron mix horse will be sharing the show with actor Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller's Day Off).   

The story of Erin Bolster and Tonk riding herd on a grizzly bear near Glacier National Park went viral on the Internet, capturing the hearts of a country with an appetite for heroes, horses and potential tragedies with happy endings – for both the people and the bear.

The family of the 8-year-old California boy Erin rescued from the bear posted high praise for the Virginia-born wrangler on the Swan Mountain Outfitters Facebook page:

My name is Greg (Turner). My son Ian is the unnamed 8 year old. Erin was just awesome. I can't say enough good things about her. Even aside from her chasing down Ian and Scout, you could not do better by having Erin as your guide. Although, could someone tell Scout not to be chasing bears? :-). Thank you again Erin, you are awesome. Someone was watching out for us all that day.

Nearly 100,000 people a day were viewing the story on The Spokesman-Review site alone in the few days after it was published after Google added the link to its News Spotlight list. Now the story has all over North America and readership is in the millions.

Click here for the follow up story after her appearance with Letterman.

Notes from previous blog posts:

"It’s been crazy," said Bolster from her home in Whitefish, Mont., noting that she’s been interviewed by numerous publications, TV and radio since the S-R story went wild.

She’s also received marriage proposals, job offers and made a lot of new Facebook friends.

She’s set up an account for the many people who’ve offered to chip in for Tonk’s winter boarding, since there’s no bigger hero in this story than the burly white Percheron mix. I've attached it to my Sunday story.

At first, she said she was going out and giving Tonk a carrot every time something new and good came back as more people read the story.

But at the rate it's been going, Tonk was goingto get fat and the pasture was going to be full of orange muffins if she didn't scale back.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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