A grizzly bear attacked an elk hunter who surprised the sow and her cub north of Yellowstone National Park, with the bear sinking her teeth into his arm and clawing his eye before another hunter drove her off, the victim recounted Monday.

The mauling of Bob Legasa, 57, in the Gallatin National Forest on Saturday was at least the seventh bear attack on a human since May in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Legasa, awaiting his second surgery on Monday, told The Associated Press in a phone interview from his hospital room in Bozeman, Montana, that he and his hunting partner were moving toward some elk when he heard a growl.

It was a 2-year-old cub and its mother about 12 yards (11 meters) away from the tree that he had just stepped away from. After the cub growled and moved aside, its mother charged, Legasa said.

"I was hoping it was going to be a bluff charge, and halfway through I realized it was going to be the real deal," he said.

The bow hunter from Hayden, Idaho, didn't have time to reach for his bear spray; he barely had time to raise his arms in front of his face.

The grizzly bit his hand, leaving puncture wounds and breaking a bone in his forearm. The sow clawed at his eye, leaving a bloody gash across the bridge of his nose.

His partner and hunting guide, Greg Gibson, discharged bear spray and the grizzly let go. Legasa pulled out his own spray, but inadvertently sprayed himself with the Mace-like mist.