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Found this on Alaska Outdoor Forum and thought it might of interest to folks here because it is from a brown bear guide with 35 years experience.

People spend 99% of their time worrying about bears and 1% of their time seeing them... that said, those that have seen them up close and popping their jaws dont much hold with pepper spray, they want a gun. I carry a .44 mag, and its not enough when the time is at hand. Believe me it feels really small in your hand, but a .44 on your hip is lots better then a shotgun left in the tent. So whats good? I bought my .44's when they were the largest thing available, now I would go larger. If you really think you need it to protect your life, then the largest thing you can shoot well is still too small. I have faced a lot of bears and if I have my druthers its with my .375 H&H in my hand, but from time to time the .44 has had to do the trick. I dont recommend it however, and dont do so by choice, but experience makes it possible. (I have been a brown bear guide for 35 years) So, if its pure protection you want, and never hope to reach out and touch someone with it beyond 10 or 15 yds, a 12 guage with 00 buck does fine. I truly love my Rem 1100 when its up close, but I still usually go for the .375 just in case I need to follow up on a wounded bear at 50 or 200 yds. Bears rarely charge, thats the good part. They swing their heads, stomp their feet, turn sideways to show how big they are, and pop their jaws a lot. Move carefully to the side faceing the critter until you get up wind and he smells you, usually he will run. IF he swings his head and avoids your eyes, you are probably OK. If he comes in swinging his head and looking you square in the eyes, he means business. You will know if he is looking you in the eyes... no doubt about it, and its trouble.

Shoot a bear at close range with a .44 and you will wish you had not, unless you brain him. No, it does not bounce off the skull, but if you only wound him, he will probably try to even the score, so dont shoot just because you are scared. Its a tough call even with experience and no one can make the call except you when the time comes.

When a man meets a bear and he does not have a gun, or only a small one, he wonders what the heck he is going to do. If he has an adquate weapon he wonders what the bear is going to do. The second situation is far the more comfortable one to be in.

Picking the weapon really depends on your purpose and experience. If you choose bear spray, use it as a preventative like OFF mosquito dope, before you head to the woods. Cover yourself real good... that should keep you out of the field and out of trouble.

Yes, Ive used 00 Buck on bear a number of times, always with very impressive results. At shorter ranges its similar in result to hitting the critter with numerous .30 cal bullets. Most of them exit the other side, so clearly penetration IS NOT a problem. At 100 yds I expect it would be, but out to 50 yds they sure go through. Over 100 yds a slug is prefered, but then its not a bear stopping situation, its hunting. A slug is fine at short range as well, but its still just one hole. 00 Buck spreads out and exits in a fairly wide pattern, making some broad distruction on the way.

So, is one big hole better? Some pattern width is nice when things get real exciting, and when you need a shotgun for stopping reasons, its always exciting. I like the coverage of many .30 cal passages going through a variety of organs, personally. Many a client has bragged that they put three or four rifle bullets into the "boiler room" of a bear, moose, sheep (take your choice) in a group that they could cover with their hand. I ask "Why?" Once the heart is blown up, its blown up, go mess up something else witht he 2nd, 3rd and 4th shot. Buck shot does that by its very nature.

Teddy Rosevelt hunted a lot of game in Africa with 12 guage, opening the shell and pouring melted parafin around the 00 shot and closing it up again. It then was one solid slug as it made the trip, but became numerous channels upon impact. Never tried it myself but the Rosevelt books on my shelf claim it worked well.

Will a slug do as well? It does fine, but if you miss with a slug you miss all the way and I never once scared a bear to death. My wife killed a grizzly that was going into the tent with my daughter with 00, I dumped two brown bears in the alders, both previously wounded, and one grizzly that decided the grounds of my hunting lodge were his, with 00. Only used a slug once. I keep three rounds in the Rem 1100. First two are 00 and the third is a slug, because if I need it on the third shot pattern will not be an issue.

One more point. Not once did the 00 or slug drop a bear in its tracks. I prefer a .375 for dangerous work, because it always does. I prefer the 12 guage at night because of the fast follow up shots, which I dont get with the bolt gun....but when its show time you would be amazed how that bolt seems to work itself! I find myself smiling as I write this because those are some of the most remembered moments of my career, the ones that made bear hunting truly enjoyable and kept the adrenalin glands free of rust.

and one more thing..rupertbear.. you are right, Peter was a great writer. I knew him personally. He was a fine story teller and pretty darn good drinker as well. He told a lot of good stories that never would have been told if he had not told them..even though not all were his in the origional experience. :) Good stories are just that, good stories and a line of truth runs through them...sometimes that line gets pretty thin, but heck, its all for the story. They are not documentaries for gosh sakes, they are for enjoyment. And yes, cats are faster, more nervous, thinner skinned and much less muscle mass. They die easier then bears too, but what they lack in mass they make up in speed. I've never shot a bear in the air, thus the real advantage of a shotgun for leopard, its simply a matter of function.
 

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That was good reading! I hope to never be in the position to decide whether to pull the trigger or just stand there in a puddle! :eek: :eek: Where I am building a house there is a fairly high number of brown bears, as many as 15 have been reported in the little town about 5 miles away. Most hanging around the landfill, but it is common to see bear scat right on main street too. Last summer we had a cow and twin calf moose going through the yard almost every day until a brownie set up shop in the neighborhood, one dead calf later and the moose moved on! Heard numerous reports from the neighbor of bears getting into peoples garbage and whatnot so kept my food and trash locked up and the 45/70 loaded with Buffalo Bore the whole summer, and if I went walking around I carried my 45LC revolver loaded with 335gr flat nosed cast. It was at least some comfort!
 

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For a different persective: i'll take a .357 loaded with buffaloe bore 180 hardcasts over a .44 magnum with 300 hardcast cause i shoot the latter, faster, and more accuratley. a 348 250 grain carbine over a .375 H&H bolt , for the same reason. A remingtom 870 12 gauge pump, rifle sights, 18" barreled, 2 shot magazine extension, loaded alternatively, with you're choice of 2 3/4" double 00 buck and slugs, might be the ultimate, at least, for me.
 

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Any writer who makes reference to Capstick is inherently my hero.
 

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As someone who has experienced that paw-pouncing, tooth-snapping, up close encounter, I love a whole lot of what this man has said!

I especially like this line, "If you really think you need it to protect your life, then the largest thing you can shoot well is still too small. "

And this commentary, "Picking the weapon really depends on your purpose and experience. If you choose bear spray, use it as a preventative like OFF mosquito dope, before you head to the woods. Cover yourself real good... that should keep you out of the field and out of trouble."

;D


More people in this country live outside grizzly country than it, let alone truly big brown bear country and it is fun to speculate on such matters I reckon, but big bear defense is a serious thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
What surprised me the most was his report that the 30 cal oo buck balls went clean through the big bears he shot.
 

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I too enjoyed the Capstick reference. I'm in the middle of "Death in Silent Places" at the moment.
I find it hard to believe 00 buck at 50 yards penetrates well though. Of course we are assuming this guy is what he claims. As the man said, "Good stories are just that." He does sound credible though.
 

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Interesting reading. Especially for someone (me) who's never really ventured into grizz country, armed or otherwise. It's hard to know what one will do in a panic situation, cause that's when instincts and experience takes over. Kinda like a martial artist that gets jumped by thugs. the points isn't always to win the fight, but to survivie it, THAT I know from experience.

On the shotgun and 00 buck issue, I cannot contest his findings and was suprised when he had used it. I remember reading about a leopord hunt when a guide used 00 on a WOUNDED leopord, in an ultra close situation. The leopord didn't die instantly, luckily for the PH, it also didn't attack but rather it ran.

The PH thought he was a dead man, and felt he would have been if the cat had charged. When the cat was later recovered, it had three holes in it's chest where the 00 had hit. No comment was made about a pass through, but he swore off the shotgunfor close encounters with the cat, and went back to his big bore double rifle.

The fact that the cat didn't expire right away, kinda parallels the OP's comments as well. As for the pass through's, it's not real suprising, to me, cause shot is hardened lead, especially in the 00 class. Most likely in the 20+ range of brinnell.
 

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.........and there are still those who hunt Brown Bears with a bow.
 

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Jayhawkhuntclub said:
I too enjoyed the Capstick reference. I'm in the middle of "Death in Silent Places" at the moment.
I find it hard to believe 00 buck at 50 yards penetrates well though. Of course we are assuming this guy is what he claims. As the man said, "Good stories are just that." He does sound credible though.
I just finished the original 'Death in the Tall Grass'. That man can tell a story! Man eating lions and leopards. Charging elephants. Snakes in the outhouse! Fantastic. I read 'Africa: The Last Great Adventure' first. Now I'm going back through the classics.

Capstick was a fan of shotguns for going in after wounded leopard. I don't recall if he really provided justification for his choice. He was quite the leopard PH (and he says it is his favorite African game).
 

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Good read with good information to store. ;D
 

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I watched an outdoors show once where the hunter shot a bear at fairly close range. The hunter, guide and camera man were behind some blow downs. When the bear was hit it turned towards the men and in what seemed like a split second the bear charged and was within 10 feet or so. The guide picked up his shotgun and fired. The bear dropped on the spot within spitting range of the men. The guide told the hunter...sorry, but I had to do it! The hunter didn't say a word while he was feeling his soiled britches and swallowing his heart that was coming out of his mouth! The guide never did mention what load he was using. Now full penetration at 50 yards? That does seem hard to believe!
 

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I thought it was an interesting read. Never been confronted with a big critter, complete with teeth and claws, a disagreeable attitude, and a big apetite. I am not in a position to refute anything this outfitter commented on.

That being said, pretend I am from Missouri, and you'll have to show me. I don't think that 00 Bucky Balls are ballistically efficient enough to retain sufficient velocity (read: energy) to reliably penetrate hair, hide, tissue, and possibly bone for a pass through at 50 yards. But like I said, who the heck am I to say for sure?

Would make for some interesting testing though. Tough part would be duplicating actual conditions with some good testing media -- short of putting oneself in harms way intentionally. I'll leave that up to someone else. ;)
 

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Here is a link where penetration tests on many calibers of rifles and pistols were tested in a 50% fine silt, 50% fine sawdust mixture. Some of the 45/70 ammo was standard trapdoor 405 at 1200-1300 fps and penetrated 24", even out penetrating the 458 Win mag at 2000+fps The test was all to find out the best gun for bear defense for fed employees working in the field and was at 15yds. The 2-3/4" 12 gage was also tested, and with 00 buckshot it only penetrated 3" at 15 yds. When tested at 15 feet the penetration went up to 9". They said that buckshot's ability to be lethal on bears beyond 5 yds was doubtful.. This was a test that is in Eli's stickies and is nice for comparison purposes although it is dated back to 1981 and only for factory loaded ammo, thus the 45/70 and 45 Colt didn't rank that high.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/25558934/Safety-in-bear-country
 

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eaglesnest said:
Here is a link where penetration tests on many calibers of rifles and pistols were tested in a 50% fine silt, 50% fine sawdust mixture. Some of the 45/70 ammo was standard trapdoor 405 at 1200-1300 fps and penetrated 24", even out penetrating the 458 Win mag at 2000+fps The test was all to find out the best gun for bear defense for fed employees working in the field and was at 15yds. The 2-3/4" 12 gage was also tested, and with 00 buckshot it only penetrated 3" at 15 yds. When tested at 15 feet the penetration went up to 9". They said that buckshot's ability to be lethal on bears beyond 5 yds was doubtful.. This was a test that is in Eli's stickies and is nice for comparison purposes although it is dated back to 1981 and only for factory loaded ammo, thus the 45/70 and 45 Colt didn't rank that high.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/25558934/Safety-in-bear-country
I think these guys kind of missed the boat in their evaluation! They overrated velocity and expansion, and underrated penetration. You have to get to the vitals to stop em! I am NOT saying the 458, 460, and 375 shouldn't have been at the top - just saying that I believe their formula was skewed towards velocity/energy/expansion ............ interesting that for 100 years solids have been the bullet for dangerous game.
 

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00 buck to stop a big bear?? ??? Surprised, wouldn't be my first choice.

How's this for a big bear. Found these pictures on another site, apparently this grizzly was taken somewhere in NW Alberta last fall. Took 5 hits from a 338 RUM to put it down. :eek:





 

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Always bring extra changes of underwear along on a grizzly hunt. ;D ;D ;D
 
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