North west riders weigh in; Firearm for bear country travel (Montana)

Discussion in 'Americas' started by 5 speed, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. Schmokel

    Schmokel Key to Happiness: Low Expectations

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    When I get home, I'll search to see if I can find a video or something of a bear head shot. 50cal is no joke.
    #81
  2. Wreckchecker

    Wreckchecker Ungeneer to broked stuff. Supporter

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    I've shot one and still have a scar from the hammer the first time - my bad. It'll kill a bear without doubt.
    But as a defensive weapon for work or just being in bear country? Not the tool I'd take.
    #82
  3. Schmokel

    Schmokel Key to Happiness: Low Expectations

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    Meh. Its not really the bears that concern me anyways.

    Its something like this strolling into my campsite that concerns me:
    [​IMG]
    #83
  4. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    :lol3

    Yeah, and they will probably have a stolen .38 under their seat.


    That is actually a fair point. It seems there are two types of people; those that shake, freeze, or panic when faced with death, or those who's predator instinct takes over. I see stories all the time where an armed person trying to defend themselves sprays bullets all over without hitting anything while shitting their pants. Not making fun of anyone here...just a fact of biology. The only way you know which one you are is if you've been in a situation like that. Honestly, if you are the panic type, even bear spray won't be that effective. Probably best to just spray yourself so you taste like shit.

    I've been in a number of near death situations, and have found that adrenaline has a calming effect on me. I tend to get a lot done in 1-2 seconds, yet it feels like a minute. Therefore, my preference remains a big ass revolver with a short barrel to save weight.

    Like others have said, a .44 Mag may or may not penetrate a bear's skull. .454 Casull seems like the sweet spot, since it has serious power, yet is available in a small package (I know calling the Ruger Alaskan a small package is stretching things a bit). Although it might be a good choice for hunting, the thought of hiking with that long barreled 500 S&W isn't very appealing.

    For defense, I agree that the best option is avoidance. I don't have a bear tag, and don't care to have to explain why I'm shooting one. I'm also not keen on testing my 70% chance of survival in a bear attack or whatever it may be. I'll just happily keep my distance while carrying a big iron on my hip.
    #84
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  5. jimmex

    jimmex Guero con moto Supporter

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    Best option is bear spray and common sense.
    #85
  6. martinkh

    martinkh ex Utah dirt biker and amateur canyon carver

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    I would say the important part when it is too late to prevent the encounter, with a bear or a scumbag, is to have the gun in your hand be one that you have great muscle memory with. One reason why I tend to stick with the 1911, since I learned to shoot with it 30 years ago and have had one continuously for over 25. They are nice and flat, pack well, and arguably among the best for scumbag shooting (your most likely scenario after snakes), even in states with hi-cap mag laws. I would get a .44 if I were living in big bear country, but then I would want to make sure to shoot a few hundred rounds in it the first year, and at least a box a year thereafter. With shot placement, not fumbling, and not shooting yourself or someone else a key factor according to experts looking into self defense scenarios, I would rather have less power that I can use appropriately. Which may well be shooting a couple of rounds into the dirt while trying to look scary in the face of a 500# meat eater (hope he runs from the noise before he smells the pee)... I wonder if a .45 to a bear knee would allow my fat butt to clear the area without a credible chase attempt...
    #86
  7. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Probably. In the stories I have read about bear encounters with firearms, the most successful seem to be those with 12 gauge slugs that aim for shoulders. They still might not kill the bear (at least not immediately), but they greatly reduce the bear's ability to run. Once they can't run, I suppose the humane thing to do would be to go back and put the animal down as quickly as possible. Having not had to do that, I don't know if I if fear of a thrashing grizzly would allow me to go back, but theoretically I would.
    #87
  8. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way...

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    The video scene above is the most real example I've EVER seen of a Grizzly attack. It is textbook! Right down to the standing on the victims head. I was absolutely shocked when I first saw this movie as to the reality of the details of this attack - based on the first person stories I've read over a lifetime. They only thing missing from this attack was the scalping. Often the Grizzly will try to crush the head with it's jaws. But a human head is just a little too big for them to get leverage on, so the result is their teeth sliding off the skull usually scalping the individual or sometimes tearing the face off. Oh, the stories I've read of men slapping their scalp or half their face back in place and tying it up with a bandana or a sweater and hiking a day or two back out to civilization!

    Random thoughts on this thread ...

    I grew up in Idaho hunting and fishing and had a fascination with all things Bear related. I bought every book in print that had bear stories in it. In addition, my dad, uncle, cousin and I all have had close dangerous encounters with black bears in the wild. My uncle had a useless left arm from an encounter with a rock crusher so he could barely hold up the fore-end of a rifle, and had to cock the lever action by putting the barrel on the toe of his boot and cocking one handed. When the first bear charged, he killed it with one shot from his 30-30 Winchester. He dropped the rifle and then killed the next two with his Ruger .22 mag pistol. My dad ran over the hill towards all the commotion and saw poor uncle Arlee standing in the middle of 3 dead bears, white as a sheet, cussing his head off and click click clicking that empty pistol at them over and over.

    35 years later, my cousin suffered a similar event. I think he had a 7mm Mag bolt action with him. He surprised one bear, it charged and he dropped it. A moment later a 2nd bear charged and he dropped that one too. I don't recall the whole story but at some point a 3rd one charged and he dropped that one too.
    Sadly for him, he did the right thing and went straight to fish and game and took them back to the site and showed them what happened. He told me even a child could see from the scene that it was clearly self defense. They punished the hell out of him. Cost him close to $50,000 and years of legal battles and loss of hunting rights. He still prefers to have had his rifle when he truly needed it.

    For the record these are a couple hard core mountain men, born and raised in back country Idaho. One was a sawyer and heavy logging equipment operator, the other raised in a teeny weeny mountain town of about 100 ppl and spent more nights in a sleeping bag then he ever did in a bed.

    - It is IMPORTANT to note there is a world of difference between shooing off a curious black bear with pepper spray vs. trying to survive a pissed off vengeance filled attack. They are two completely different 'animals'. All this talk about spray or bullets being ineffective might pertain to the pissed off / attacking black bear. Both however are proven to be quite effective on less determined animals.

    It's my opinion (from reading countless grizzly attack stories) that if a Grizzly wants you, he will get you. And there is almost nothing that will dissuade him from doing so. You can fill him full of large caliber holes and or spray the shit out of him but he will almost certainly accomplish his goal of harming you. But he probably won't kill you. Most people survive Grizzly attacks.

    Note - Black bears and grizzly's are as different as dogs and cats and should be treated so.

    You will never out run a bear. You will almost never be able to climb a tree to escape. If you do, the Black will climb right up behind you, grab a foot or leg and then let go of the tree. Down you both go.

    I drove around a corner many years ago pulling a trailer with river rafting gear on it going about 35 mph. Mid corner I surprised a big sow Grizzly that was eating something right beside the road. She launched into a dead run and in 2 steps was running beside me at 35ish mph. Feeling safe inside my Ford Explorer I floored it. She pulled away from me in just a few steps and crossed the road in front and quartered away up a steep tall embankment.
    I always knew it, but finally got to actually see a Grizzly go Zero to 40 plus in a couple steps.

    And by the way ..... GUNS are not for killing. They are for shooting, and millions of Americans go out to their range or into the field every week to go shooting. It is a wonderful activity and as American as apple pie, and I highly recommend it. The staggeringly vast majority of guns in this country never kill anything. I find the fascination and fear of guns as intrinsically evil machines to be quite tedious. Almost as tedious as the people who continually tell me that motorcycles are dangerous and kill riders every day.

    It's also tedious to hear over and over that common sense is the best defense. Really? Gee I figured the OP just wanted to pack some heat around so that he could throw common sense out the window and rely on a pistol instead.
    - ok, maybe I went too far with that. But I'm on a roll.

    To the OP's original question; yes. Buy a gun. Take it out and shoot the sh*t out of it. Have fun. Make new shooting friends. Buy some targets that look like a charging bear and shoot if full of holes then take it home and show your buddies.
    You might even find some old Osama Binladen targets and shoot them up too. Tip-O-the-Day : buy ammo by the case. It's way cheaper that way and helps you feel better about blasting away for Funs sake.
    Guns are fun and are as safe as the person holding it. Kind of like motorcycles. Then sit around with your new friends and talk about that awesome shot you made, and how you totally screwed up by not loc-tighting your sights and kept missing because they came loose, and how you learned to improve your grip and trigger press, and ... and ...
    Just like you do talking about riding motorcycles with your buddies.

    I presume you have a brain, and would thus do some research on the very simple basic rules of firearm safety. It's not complicated at all. My kids learned the simple rules at age 7 so I figure anyone who can legally buy one probably has as much sense as a 7 year old. Maybe I should add here something about common sense . . . naw, I wouldn't want to insult your intelligence.

    Somewhere around here I posted a story that involved a Ducati, a half gallon of Triple IPA consumed by a campfire at high altitude, a sleeping bag, one .40 cal Glock model 22 and 2 bear cubs wrestling about 2.5 feet from my drunken head.
    Now THAT . . . was a really good night. :imaposer

    Bonus - on the off chance that someday you desperately need a firearm, you just might have one available and be confident in it's use.
    I say 'off chance' tongue in cheek really. There are two examples early in my post where guns were desperately needed and used properly. I have had occasions to desperately need a gun to stop violence and was able to do so. So it does happen. And bless the souls that haven't had a problem or the need.
    #88
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  9. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way...

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    It's good to know how you react under the influence of adrenaline.
    My father (bless him) is fairly worthless under crisis and freezes up.
    I on the other hand get crystal clear and take action.
    Knowing who you are should be the basis of what your action plan is in an emergency.
    #89
  10. statsman

    statsman Long timer

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    The best defence against a bear attack is getting your butt up the nearest tree.
    But is seems some people still revert to the pioneer instinct of protecting the hearth and home using a firearm.
    Even though you are only protecting your motorcycle.
    I am on record previously of trying to dissuade you from trying to shoot a bear.
    Some disagree.
    You paid your money so you can make your choice.
    #90
  11. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way...

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    My intent is not to be argumentative, so please, no disrespect intended. But if you've ever watched a black bear run up a tree . . . . you might change your mind on that. See my comments above.
    Just because I've shot bear (hunting) and have acquaintances that did so out of self defense, doesn't mean I disagree. Of course, ones best defense is to escape rather than confront, whether it be bears, sharks, or gangsters and I'm pretty sure just about everyone knows that. I could have easily popped the 2 bears that were jostling around a couple feet from my head with the .40 cal. But they didn't seem to pose a threat. I felt much better knowing I was not defenseless though should the situation change. Pretty sure everyone with a gun these days know that to use it comes with consequences.

    By the way,, Grizzly's cannot retract their claws. So they get dull unlike black bears. That's why grizzlies can't climb trees unless they use their paws to climb limbs. A black bear will just go up a tree like a cat using it's sharp claws.

    Based on personal bear encounters, I gave up the notion of climbing a tree long long ago. If he's charging, you're never going to have time to even pick out a tree, much less climb it.

    To keep some perspective on this topic though, I often camp and hike without a firearm. The risk of trouble is pretty darn low overall and usually not worth worrying about when you have a little common sense.
    #91
  12. martinkh

    martinkh ex Utah dirt biker and amateur canyon carver

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    Yeah, I thought about that last part, would hate to cripple an animal and leave them to a horrible death. But then having my children's daddy get eaten by a bear would be worse.
    #92
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  13. Schmokel

    Schmokel Key to Happiness: Low Expectations

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    I'm curious how I'd react. If I'm in danger, flight. Wife/Child in danger, whatever it takes to get them out.

    Funny story though on Dad's reaction. He was at a friend's camp one night and was cleaning up some of the tools he had been using that day. Friend thought it'd be funny to jump out of the woods to spook him in the pitch dark. Dad took the shovel and started beating him with it. :lol2
    #93
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  14. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Especially in California. Our bears are scared to death of humans, though they will fuck up an ice chest like nobody's business. :lol3
    #94
  15. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way...

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    On my alcohol fueled encounter mentioned above it should be noted that the 2 cubs and sow had been visiting the campground almost nightly for quite some time (per the fish and game officer that stopped by my sight for the details of the encounter). The California bear family had no fear of humans and that was the problem. The night before, they had broke into a car that left a coleman cooler full of ribs in the back seat. Totaled the car from inside, ate all the ribs out of the cooler and then went back out the broken windows. Sure wish I had a film of that sideshow.
    After these two cubs left my tent and me, momma joined them and they went and tore the door off a storage compartment on a motorhome nearby. They stole a deer head/cape that hunters had locked in there and took it off into the woods for a late night snack.

    Blackbears everywhere tend to be scared to death of humans. I'm not worried about them in general, even when they get too darn close like on a river bank or in a campsite. It's that rare pissed off one that becomes problematic.

    The game warden I spoke with was called the bear man locally. It was his job to come to a problem site and shoot the bears with paint balls (ouch) to encourage them to not come back. He told me this family didn't get it and he was going to have to use lead bullets next time.

    For what it's worth, my father once shot a young black bear that wouldn't leave his camp with a dozen or so paintballs. That bear didn't seem to even feel the hits. No reaction to it. It made me wonder if the warden wasn't using a much higher PSI than we mortals use in paintball games.
    #95
  16. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way...

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    [​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  17. Wreckchecker

    Wreckchecker Ungeneer to broked stuff. Supporter

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    LOL

    [​IMG]
    #97
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  18. TreasureState

    TreasureState A murse posing as a freelance dirt rider

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    I always love threads like this! No matter what website or forum, they always end up in the same place.

    5 speed,

    Great conversation starter here, I hope that you find the wheat to chaff ratio high enough to make sense of it, and then from that decide what you want to do. Just a few thoughts to add in here as well. Having lived in Montana for awhile, I can say that the bear threat is a real one, although remote. All that needs to be said about bear etiquette in the camp ground has already been mentioned, so let me point out just one other thing that I did not find said in this exchange.

    Are you traveling alone? Montana is some of the prettiest country God created (and I hope that you get to enjoy it), but nature is a cruel teacher to those who are unprepared. The whole bear spray vs. gun topic sort of comes unhinged at the premise that it is you ALONE vs. a bear, particularly worse if it were a grizzly. They have their surly reputations for a reason. So if any serious discussion is to be had about what YOU might do between you and a bear, think about how much better it would be if someone were with you and could help ward off an attack. The fact is that you may not have the chance to get a shot off (pepper or lead), so .44 Mag vs. spray is rather moot. But your buddy may be the ONLY person who can save your life, so for ~$90 you can have two cans of bear spray between you and be able to aid in mutual defense for your whole party. I would much rather have a buddy spray pepper spray at me and the bear instead of trying to place a well aimed shot at some vulnerable location on the bear.

    Not just that, but there are plenty of places to get stuck in MT from either injury or mishap (e.g. a clutch cable breaks) and now you are without sufficient water to endure before you can get to help, or help can get to you. Best to have someone with you, and if you do, your chances of survival just went way up.

    One last free tidbit, some bears have been actually trained to come towards gun shots because they associate that sound with a downed game animal. Don't get me wrong, I love me a S&W .44 Mag, but if I had to chose between a satellite comms system or buying a revolver and then only packing one of those, I would rather be able to text my wife from the woods.

    Chance favors the prepared man.

    If you are coming down the continental divide and are near Helena in need of tools or a beer, send me a PM.

    And now for some comic relief:

    #98
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  19. jacoba331

    jacoba331 Been here awhile

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    Yea. It's called shoot as many bullets at a bear sized target as quickly as possible. Get more accurate with follow up shots.
    #99
  20. jacoba331

    jacoba331 Been here awhile

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    Training has everything to do with it. The right ammo with the right number of accurate shots will bring down any living thing on the planet.

    Bear aren't made out of titanium.... Soft body tissue like everything else. Headshots are stupid to aim for anyway- center of mass is always the target.

    Agree to disagree I guess. I just believe bears are mortal and guns are lethal with proper training.