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View Full Version : How many guns do you need for bear defense?



CCH
07-28-2009, 07:27 AM
Nope, not really asking and trying to get another discussion going. Just thought this was interesting. I'm going to hazard a guess that the shotgun loads were birdshot of some sort. One tenacious little bear. In my house we only have to go for one item, if we have to "go" anywhere at all. ;)

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_12927288

bamboobow
07-28-2009, 07:50 AM
If I read it right, the already wounded bear took two shots to the head from a .45 and the officer needed to get the .223.... 9 shots to kill the 120 lb animal...

I have no bear experience living in the midwest so what can I say.

I sure will be on edge during my first hunt to a state with bears this fall. I imagine I won't sleep well and will hear every noise.
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NH Hunter
07-28-2009, 08:10 AM
Bamboobow,

You'll be surprised how well you'll sleep when you're exhausted. Keep a clean camp and use common sense and you'll really enjoy being where the bears are.

Have a good hunt.

Mike.

CCH
07-28-2009, 08:20 AM
I wouldn't worry about it. I don't know where you're going but our per capita incidence of bears that are obviously on meth breaking into homes is fairly low. ;) And all the bear incidentsI've been seeing this year (here in Colorado) are in people's homes, not out in the back country. So I guess the point is you're better off getting out in the woods to get away from the bears than staying home.

disillusionedpatriot
07-28-2009, 08:44 AM
I sure will be on edge during my first hunt to a state with bears this fall. I imagine I won't sleep well and will hear every noise.

Just be sure to have a bright light and purchase a tag, problem solved.

kutenay
07-28-2009, 09:02 AM
I have three purpose-built or modded Grizzly guns and almost all of my 28 big game rifles are capable in this respect, given where I live, hunt and used to work.

HOWEVER, it is my firm conviction that you should have ONE "bear buster" that you are as familiar with as you are with putting on your pants and USE ONLY that one gun when dealing with potential or actual bear problems.

I have sold one of my customized .45-70s and will sell the best one as I am most comfortable with a chopped P-64 Mod. 70 in .375H&H, using 300 NPs over 76.5-H-4350 in WW brass. I CAN and HAVE gone 2 grs. more with no problems, but, this gives me what I need and is low pressure, hence, less chance of typical "ouch and ouch" case separations at a most inconvenient time.

I do not carry spray and cannot be bothered to keep up the bullschit Canadian paperwork to carry my Redhawk .44M. I also know from experience, that you WILL be agitated when a bear comes close to you and being totally familiar with ONE adequate gun is the best, IMHO.

Next, I am buying one of those 4 lb. "Electroguard" fences to put around my 8-man and Hille. Saivo base camp and "maybe" a 2.5 lb. one for bivy camping.

CCH
07-28-2009, 09:07 AM
I have to say that I don't keep a bear gun handy in my house. I guess if I quickly loaded some slugs in the 870 that is normally stoked with buckshot, I'd be alright when those bears come busting down my door but otherwise I'm a bit undergunned for bruins at home. ;)

kutenay
07-28-2009, 09:13 AM
Well, I spent much of my life living where bears were almost a daily visitor, but, no humanoid scumbags existed, so, I did keep a bear buster handy, but, not a "home defence" gun.

Now, while Black Bears do come into mid-town Vancouver, where I live and scumbags are numerous, I do not keep any of my guns out of the two safes I have....Rottweilers.......chain link fence and good outside lights.

Rotts seem to "deter" scumbags.......he, he

rambler_wannabe
07-28-2009, 09:21 AM
Just be sure to ... purchase a tag, problem solved.

LOL, Ain't that the truth.

Timberline
07-28-2009, 10:02 AM
Sounds like poor shooting and inadequate cartridges and/or bullet are the culprits in Boulder. Still, stopping and killing a bear inside a home must be tricky. With the right gun/cartridge/bullet to instantly kill the bear, I’d think you’d also have to worry about potentially piercing things beyond the beast, like walls, possessions and possible people. Tricky deal indeed.

In all the years I’ve spent in the backcountry in BLACK bear country in the western U.S. and in Canada, I’ve never had a single uncomfortable incident with a black bear. Not one. To be honest, I feel quite comfortable with black bears in the back country, and so I rarely (if ever) carry a “black-bear defense gun” when hiking, camping or bowhunting in black bear country. In fact, I love to see backcountry black bears. YMMV.

In contrast, most reported tricky situations with black bears seem to occur around homes, cabins, campgrounds, in parks or by bait sites where bears have become too accustom to people, our food, the food of our pets or to garbage. Those are unnatural situations and must be treated very carefully.

Grizzly and Brown bears…now that’s a whole different kettle of fish! I much prefer to go well-armed in their country. For some odd reason, I seem to almost attract the darn things while hunting other stuff (elk, sheep, caribou, moose, etc) in grizzly/brown-bear country, and have had a couple of semi-dicey situations pop up. The ability to simply get out of their way and a firearm with a big hole in the end of the barrel seemed about the only things that brought some SMALL measure of reassurance in those situations. For the most part, when I talk or write about "Guns for Bear Defense" I mean grizzly and brown bears, not black bears as I am not overly concerned (other than basic respect) with natural black bears. Again, YMMV.

rambler_wannabe
07-28-2009, 06:03 PM
I am guessing that a bear inside a home would present head on. I would expect a lot of rounds would bounce off their forehead.

Steelworker
07-28-2009, 08:14 PM
I wouldn't worry about it. I don't know where you're going but our per capita incidence of bears that are obviously on meth breaking into homes is fairly low. ;) And all the bear incidentsI've been seeing this year (here in Colorado) are in people's homes, not out in the back country. So I guess the point is you're better off getting out in the woods to get away from the bears than staying home.

LOL

I knew of a guy many years ago who at that time had killed three black bears in Michigan, all with a 45acp and all with only one shot; and FMJ at that!

scothill
07-28-2009, 09:09 PM
I am guessing that a bear inside a home would present head on. I would expect a lot of rounds would bounce off their forehead.

What kind of rounds? I didn't read the article but given the area I am guessing it was black bear. If that is the case I would not expect my 9mm to bounce off of its skull anymore then I would a human. Stuff happens, but the black bear skull isn't really anything special. It doesn't have the dish like a griz.

jack
07-28-2009, 09:41 PM
> I knew of a guy many years ago who at that time had killed three black bears in Michigan, all with a
> 45acp and all with only one shot; and FMJ at that!

We had bears inside the city limits of Jackson (MS) when I was a kid. Not a Chamber
of Commerce feature, but I had a stare-down with one on the grounds of the Elementary
School my Mother taught at - At not real close quarters, I hasten to add. He lost interest.

I might've had more silhouette than the bear, although I'm sure he out-weighed me. My fall
back position was the car I'd just gotten out of - At 30-40 mph I figure I'd win, so the bear's
ability to get to me before I got up a head of steam is the question.

I'm pretty sure I would'nt have had to deal with a deputized wildlife conservation expert
asking me for a tag, if push came to shove...

Jack

rambler_wannabe
07-29-2009, 08:30 AM
What kind of rounds? I didn't read the article but given the area I am guessing it was black bear. If that is the case I would not expect my 9mm to bounce off of its skull anymore then I would a human. Stuff happens, but the black bear skull isn't really anything special. It doesn't have the dish like a griz.

As I said, I was guessing...

But I was thinking it would be the angle of attack, so the rounds would glance off like skipping a rock off the water.

CCH
07-29-2009, 08:35 AM
In this case, it was a 120 pound black bear. I've since heard that the shotgun rounds, as I guessed, were birdshot.

kutenay
07-29-2009, 09:20 AM
9mm Para. bullets will NOT bounce off a Grizzlie's skull and bear skulls, in the anterior aspect of the cranial vault are NOT that thick. The bones of the jaws are pretty massive as one would expect, however, a Grizzlie's skeletal structure is nowhere near as heavy as a Moose's or an Elk's.

No bear that walks today, will survive a close range 160-180HC .357M. shot into the foreskull and while we have just had two Black Bears come into people's homes, one grabbed a little girl, here in Greater Vancouver, I would not hesitate to shoot one in the foreskull with a .22 LR, at close range.

I shot a Black yearling once with a No4 Remington RB-.25 Stevens in the base of the ear and it was DRT instantly. So, ANY reasonable handgun slug will decerebrate "Brer Bruin" at close ranges.

Bushcraft
07-29-2009, 11:10 AM
Agreed.

I think the problem most people encounter when attempting to dispatch game with a headshot is not understanding where the brain actually is located. On a bear, it is a lot further back than most people realize. The ol' "Shoot them between the eyes!" thing ain't gonna work out so well.

Two bisected skulls, one of the brown bear (above) and the other of the extinct cave bear (below). Comparison shows how powerful the cave bear was, how impressive his olfactory equipment and how acute his sense of smell. We can be thankful that we don’t have to worry about cave bears!


http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d11/ARE001/bearskulls.jpg


Modern bear illustration…


http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d11/ARE001/xsectskullbear.gif

Uncle Jake
07-31-2009, 08:55 PM
That's why you shoot 'em in the nose.

bobmn
08-04-2009, 02:35 PM
Kutenay: I shot a large (407 lbs. weighed on a feed mill scale after field dressing) black bear in Northern Minnesota with three rounds from a .356 Winchester. 2 rounds were in the heart/lung area and 1 round was too far back to be effective. I tracked the bear into cedar swamp and shot him in the head to apply what I thought to be the most expedient finishing shot. The shot was ineffective so he got another round to the heart. Upon skinning him, the bullet to the head hit the skull, did not penetrate to the interior but traveled along the skull under the skin. The only damage to the skull was a faint hairline crack. The bullet was a 250 grain Hawk chronongraphed at 2152 fps.
I would be hesitent to say that a 9mm pistol bullet from what is essentially a 38 Special will not bounce off the scull of a bear.

kutenay
08-04-2009, 03:15 PM
I do not doubt that your Hawk bullet performed just as you relate to us and, IMO, this was largely due to the soft construction and angle of impact of that bullet at that velocity. In my 63 years in BC and Canada's western and northern regions, I have seen in excess of 100 Black Bears killed and with a variety of firearms plus a couple with "stick and string" and I have seen some variation in post-impact behaviour.

Now, I have seen several Blacks killed, instantly, with pistol shots to the foreskull and with 9mm Luger, .38Spec., .357M. and .44M. handguns; NONE of these failed to penetrate the skulls concerned. The people doing this, were R.C.M.P., BCFS, B.C. F&W and municipal police officers, some of them my colleagues. The difference and perhaps I was not clear on this, sorry, was that these bears were shot at close range and with HARD bullets, this is, I suspect, the difference.

My friends used to shoot their steers in the forehead with an ancient Colt auto-pistol loaded with .22LR Canuck ammo and the animals were DRT. The bear I shot HAD been shot, with a SOFT 150gr. spitzer from a 7mm RM and while it was horribly wounded in one shoulder, it was still bawling and scrappy when I walked up and put the .25 Stevens bullet into it's ear canal.

Conservation Officers and RCMP and Federal Fisheries Officers here in BC deal daily with a Black Bear population of some 200,000 animals and about 20,000 Grizzlies. They OFTEN kill "problem bears" with a single pistol shot to the head and this is so commonplace that nobody really makes much of it. I would not hesitate to shoot any bear that way with my warmish 9mm Canadian Sten Gun surplus ammo and we used to shoot THROUGH Buick hoods and winshields with this stuff, in the wrecker's yard, just for fun...it penetrates better than the .45ACP ball we had.

Note: I am NOT saying that one should carry a 9mm or .38Spec. or similar gun for bear protection and I am not overly keen on handguns in that situation anyway; I AM simply relating what I have seen HARD bullets do and what the COs here do weekly.

Your experience is akin to others I have seen and it is why I will hunt with Nosler Pts. of similar bullets, even for deer. Actually, in much of BC, with the recent spike in Grizzly and Black Bear attacks on hunters and other humans, many guys I know with considerable bush experience will only carry .338s, 358s and such rifles, loaded with NPs, SAFs, TSXs and so on....better "too much" than not quite enough.

Have you shot other bears with that rifle and different bullets and, if so, what were your results?

bobmn
08-04-2009, 05:42 PM
Kutenay: Hawk bullets are marketed as premium bonded bullets. I have not shot them into a penetration box to confirm the manufacturer's claims.
In every bear defence weapon discussion, inevitably someone brings up the .22 rimfire in the barnyard slaughtering cattle/hogs example. You have experienced enough bear charges, as have I, to know that they have no resemblence to slaughtering cattle in a cattle chute. You have admitted that the 9mm should not be considered adequate for bear defence which is the point I am making. Your example of the Canadian government officials dispatching problem black bears is also not relevent for 2 reasons. The first is understanding the draconian gun laws of your country. Those officers were using the tool which was issued to them. I am certain the RCMP does not allow officers to carry their personal weapon. In Alaska, rangers and field personal are required to qualify with 44 Mag sidearms while working in bear country. I have never seen one request a 9mm instead. If any of British Columbia"s Officers with previous bear experience were offerred a 44 mag before their next bear encounter (and given free ammo to qulify with it), how many do you think would elect to take their 9mm or 40 Short&Weak instead?
The second point is that the circumstances that allow the precicion placement required to effectively penetrate the skull in your examples does not exsist in a bear charge, as you are well aware of from your bear experience. Everytime I have been charged, the bear has swung his head from side to side, making the brain a very difficult target.

kutenay
08-04-2009, 06:35 PM
You seem to have misunderstood what I have written as I have been approached by quite a few bears, both Grizzlies and Blacks, but, I have never been "charged" or ever had to kill a bear in self defence....and hope I never will.

The comments concerning what I said was/was not adequate are also a bit confusing as I have NEVER stated that I thought a 9mm ANYTHING was appropriate, merely that the bullets WILL penetrate a bear's skull in the situation a previous poster mentioned, as I have actually witnessed.

The R.C.M.P., for whom I used to work, as did my father, my mother ( a rather senior civil servant in the Force) and one of my uncles, are much different than most foreigners think they are. The use of personal firearms IS and HAS BEEN a regular aspect of service in remote and rural regions since the inception of the original N.W.M.P. in 1873. I have worked with members and ex-members all of my life and frequently shoot with the current "coach" of the R.C.M.P. "E" Division Sniper Team and those serving members who DO actually own guns, can and do use them on duty in circumstances such as those under discussion.

I mentioned certain other government agencies and, again, I am a former employee of the B.C.F.S., Alberta Forest Service and B.C. Fish & Wildife Branch and personal firerarms were and are used by serving members of said organizations as well as "issue" models. Dispatching problem bears is done with whatever comes to hand at the time the situation arises, BUT, some DO carry their own .44M. revolvers in some circumstances while others use their issue guns.

I am not certain what Canadian firearms laws have to do with the efficacy of a given bullet and or chambering in this situation. Relatively few Canadian police officers and Forest Service personnel are "gun nuts" and thus the choices you allude to would not usually be made, in any case.

The simple fact of pure copper jacketed, lead cored, bonded bullets is that they are "soft" as compared with equal weight and diameter bullets made from gilding metal and hardened lead alloy as I have seen in shooting Norma Oryx, Swift A-frame and original Barnes bullets as well as Nosler Pts. from a variety of guns. Some of them have the reputation of being better penetrators than others, the Alaska Bullet Works "Kodiak" 400 gr. FNs I have for my .45-70s seem much superior in this respect than my Norma Oryxs in my 9.3x62 and 9.3x74R rifles, for example.

Again, my comments were simply directed to what WILL penetrate a bear's skull and were not intended to address what anyone wishes to use as a bear defence gun. The penetration of bone in a heavy animal, such as a steer, IS highly relevant in that bone is bone and, as it happens, a bovine skull is MUCH heavier than an ursine skull, hence, what works for a steer will penetrate and kill a bear, again, as I have seen done several times.

I have heard stories of bullets not penetrating bear skulls since before I started shooting over 50 years ago and, while I have never seen this happen, I have a pretty sound idea of what COULD occur. This would entail a soft, malleable bullet impacting a slippery surface such as the bone of the skull at an angle which would allow it to "skid" and not allow the energy impact to sufficiently damage the bone so as to produce shock to the CN system which would drop the bear. I imagine that something like this must have happened in your case and I would expect that a harder bullet might well have broken that skull, ruptured the brain tissue and killed your bear right there.

Do I "know" this for certain, hell, no, there are so many variables involved with shooting and killing living,large and robust animals that NOBODY can perfectly predict all potential outcomes. So, like you, I don't suggest a 9mm for bear defence and while I HAVE carried one, 40 years ago, to kill Porcupines that destroyed our L/O buildings, I kept it for that purpose alone and my .30-06 for bear problems...which I have avoided by careful and clean camping behaviour and hope to continue doing so.

ryanusmc
08-05-2009, 04:56 AM
I have very little experiance with bears but enough with firearms to state that bullets do weird things. I once saw a man shot through the chest with a 50bmg at around 900yards. That same man was alive and walking around the next day with a .50 entrance and exit wound. I have also seen a man drop dead, like a rock, when a single 556 blew through his heart at over 700 yards.

I have seen a few men killed with both 45 and 9mm ball. For the most part the 45 worked better but there were a few occasions the 9mm worked like the hammer of Thor. It seems if a man is shot through the head, heart, or spine(usually) will drop dead. But then again my buddy Mitch was shot in the head, 762/39, and besides a nifty scar is A OK. Only hits count, but then again some hits count less than others for some strange reasons, ie karma, the alignment of the planets, solar flares, etc

I don't know how relevant this is to a discussion on bears so please feel free to delete.

Ralph
08-05-2009, 05:24 AM
My buddy's uncle was a WWII vet. His helmet showed were the Mauser bullet penetrated the steel pot, ran around the liner, and exited the other side, blowing a 3" section outward. Aside from ringing ears, his uncle was unharmed but the liner was a total loss. Bullets do indeed do odd things.

CCH
08-05-2009, 08:59 AM
I don't know how relevant this is to a discussion on bears so please feel free to delete.

The thread was really sort of tongue in cheek to begin what with all the bear defense discussion going on elsewhere and the love for life that this little bear exhibited. I think pretty much anything goes here. :D

snakey2
08-05-2009, 09:35 AM
To address the original question my number is 15. They are all guns I do not currently own but I'm working on it!