Who Needs a Gun?

ChasingBearI don’t know about you, but I’d certainly feel safer with my S&W 629 on my hip, loaded with .44 Magnum soft points. I’d hate to experience this kind encounter with nothing better than frantically searching for a rock, or hoping if I couldn’t outrun the bear, I could at least outrun my jogging partner.

Sadly, a .44 revolver is not an option for Canadians. Spray would have probably been enough to dissuade this bear, in the absence of a firearm, though, and I don’t think even Canada restricts bear spray. Don’t go out into the woods unprepared.

19 thoughts on “Who Needs a Gun?”

  1. Seems like a bear that was habituated to humans. Was probably fed by humans and now associates humans with food handouts. It is a shame when you see a black bear that has lost it fear of humans. That bear will more than likely be destroyed, if it can not be trapped and taught to fear humans again.

    Story about a bear attack north of Ft. McMurray at a Suncor facility in the Athabasca oil sands. http://youtu.be/lNpVOWTW5N8

    These bears that are being killed in the oil sands work camps are getting used to raiding dumpster that are not secured. If they did not have easy access to human produced food waste they would not come into the work camps.

    1. It looks to me like a youngun, maybe its first year away from momma, curious about this possible new food source or competitor. It’s also possible these people had been eating and had traces of food smell on them.

  2. I have over the years spent a lot of time camping, hiking, fishing and taking photos in black bear, grizzly bear and Alaska brown bear territory.

    I normally have my Ruger Alaskan with the Garrett Cartridge Hammerheads (http://www.garrettcartridges.com/44hammerhead.html).

    I have never had a bear charge me, be it black, grizzly or brown.

    I did have a black bear in Yellowstone huff at me when I was in the middle of the Firehole River fly fishing as it was walking up the bank looking for a place to cross, but it moved upstream of me hopped in and swam across the river.

    I have been salmon fishing in Alaska with brown bear within 50 yards of me and a few other fishermen.

    So I am no stranger of the rules of bear country. The best thing you can do if you plan on being around bears is educate yourself about what to do in bear country and live by those rules.

    Just keep your distance and make enough noise to let the bear know you are there and you will be fine 99.9% of the time and in grizzly and brown bear country do not travel alone. Also do not bring a dog with you, and if you do keep it on a leash. You do not want your dog running ahead, encountering a bear and then running back to you with a bear in tow.

    Unless you either: 1) surprise a bear; 2) get between a sow and cub or 3) stumble on a carcass of an animal the bear is defending you should be fine.

    If camping in grizzly or brown bear territory in the back county, cook and keep your food at least 100 yards away from where your are sleeping. Hang everything (food, pack, toothpaste, etc.) in the are where you cooked not where you will be sleeping and keep a change of clothes in a plastic bag and put them on before you go to bed. Never sleep in the clothes you wore while you were cooking. In organized campgrounds keep your food locked in your trunk or in the steel bear boxes in the campground.

    I am planning on retiring to NW Wyoming and getting at least one Karelian Bear dog to train to do bear harassment when I do move there. In the mean time I will still spend as much of my vacation time as possible in place were bears are native and will treat them with the respect they deserve.

    Here is a photo of a grizzly bear that I too in central Alaska, yes I was pretty close when I took this one. https://flic.kr/p/avJuwN

  3. Sadly, a .44 revolver is not an option for Canadians. Spray would have probably been enough to dissuade this bear, in the absence of a firearm, though, and I don’t think even Canada restricts bear spray. Don’t go out into the woods unprepared.

    Canadians actually can own a .44 revolver legally. They just have to pass two written exams, pay high fees, complete other paperwork, and wait a few months to get the authorization from their government to own a handgun. Plus, a .44 revolver and all other handguns in Canada must have a barrel length of at least 105mm (a bit over four inches) to be legal. Aside from the barrel length part, this seems just like what New Jersey people have to go through to legally own a handgun.

    Canadians don’t have to go through much trouble to get bear spray, however. There are actually prohibitions on self-defense pepper sprays in Canada though, which in turn causes many Canadians to simply acquire bear spray for the purposes of defending themselves from the bad guys, rather than the bad bears.

    1. Thanks for correcting the error! It’s primarily semi-auto and short-barreled handguns that are prohibited outright Up North.

      Also, on the subject of Bear Spray — yes, Canadians can buy and possess it, but an individual can’t import it.

    2. NJ is not quite as bad as that. To get a Firearms ID card you pay $75.00 for fingerprinting. If I remember correctly the card cost $15.00 and a purchase permit costs $2.00each( you can get 4 at a time) with a $18.00 payment to the State Police for background check. Unlike Canada there’s no exams. The process is frustrating enough without having to study for it.

  4. Bear spray is actually a better option that handguns in many cases for bear defense.

    Often, if a bear charges it is a bluff charge intended to intimidate. If you wound a bear with a handgun then you may have turned a bluff charge into a “OMG RAGE FEST BLINDED BY PAIN” charge which is not desirable. Bear spray often takes the wind right out of a bear’s sails and it finds somewhere better to be.

    A 44 might work ok on a black bear but I feel a lot iffier about the round against a brown bear. There are gun shops in Anchorage with mushroomed 44 rounds that allegedly bounced off of brown bear skulls. They are tough critters. Most brown bear guides carry a 338 win mag rifle for good reason. A handgun round may kill a big bear but is unlikely to stop it rapidly.

    FWS did a study and found that people who defend themselves with spray are wounded MUCH less often (http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/grizzly/bear%20spray.pdf).

    There may be confounding variables there (maybe people with spray tend to be more “bear aware” and avoid putting themselves in the most hazardous situations as described by Ed above), but I think it is fair to say that spray is an acceptable bear defense option for many people. I personally prefer my odds with bear spray over a hand gun around big bears, although I often carry both (or a long gun) when in bear country, AND I use good habits like Ed described.

    The bigger issue are food habituated black bears that begin to view humans as food providers (or food!). There are few options with such animals other than killing them once they’re food habituated, and bears often teach their cubs to exploit human food sources once they’ve learned so you get a multi-generational problem bear. Someone else may have created the problem bear and you just get unlucky enough to have to deal with it…

    1. From all that I have read, bear spray is more effective than any handgun. When I went to Yellowstone recently, my wife and I both carried bear spray; had we gone much off the beaten path, I would have had the S&W 629 as well.

      1. Clayton, if you go back to Yellowstone you may want to chat with Jeff Brown the Executive Director of the Yellowstone Association (http://www.yellowstoneassocation.org).

        Jeff survived being mauled by a grizzly bear in Glacier National Park in 1986. http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1986/Park-Rangers-Hunt-Grizzly-That-Mauled-Hikers/id-8f5097b8188ba46f96313c84e7582b52

        In the past I donated to the Yellowstone Assocation. That changes once lawful possession was allowed in the park. The YA decided that no one utilizing their facilities and/or participating in their programs could do so with a firearm.

        Their loss, since I am not planning on having any kids and they were the benefactor of my will, up until that point.

    2. Right about the questionable effectiveness of handguns; this is made worse, not better, by the use of hollow point ammo.

  5. I have to wonder from the video…the bear won’t “respect” your having a rock in your hand…don’t you need to THROW it?

  6. This was a determined bear. Very dangerous. Most bears avoid humans, this one kept coming.
    Stick, stones , spray or bullets are all a choice. I would have fired a warning shot to scare him off at 20 feet if I had gun. I would have shot the bear as close as he came

    1. Reminds me of the time I was that close to a bear with only a 380acp on me, the thought did run thru my head of if he comes any closer should I shoot him or me to make it quicker……

  7. Remember, you should always take a hiking partner with you. That way you don’t have to worry about outrunning the bear. You just have to be able to outrun your hiking partner :)

    1. That is my modus operandi too.

      It always amazes me when I see tourist in places like Yellowstone approaching a large mammal for a better photo. Even better is when they are coaching their kids to get closer for a vacation photo. I usually watch and hope for the best. I have not yet had the opportunity to get a photo of that sort of carnage, but I did see a guy get gored by a bison near the Canyon Village in Yellowstone back in the last 1990s.

      Any way I normally keep a safe distance from the bears, carry a gun and get my photos with this tool (https://scontent-b-iad.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/t1.0-9/1917843_1226078224151_7578177_n.jpg) without having to use me feet to get the shot I want. ;-)

  8. Black bears and cougars: get big, get loud, get aggressive. basically “go chimp” and howl and lift your jacket above your head and throw things. Brown bears, not so much.

  9. Wow lols xD Its just a Black bear calm the fuck down, Hell its not showing signs of agression, maybe it just wants you to pet it and be its friend!

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