If you hunt any type of game in bear country, and especially if you are hunting bear, you should realize the dangers and risks you face by walking around their backyard. Regardless of whether the risk is low or elevated, the fact is you are still at risk of an encounter with a bear. It should go without saying that bears are unpredictable and can charge without any provocation.
Although I have never been a “more is better” type of person, I throw that line of thinking out the window when bear hunting. Why? Two close encounters with angry territorial bears and an unforgettable tracking expedition for a dangerously hostile, wounded bear; that’s why.
What type of firearm would you carry if there is a good chance of coming in close proximity with one or more of these unpredictable carnivores? The words hunting and defense come into play because you may experience both. Here are three great loaded for bear firearm options.
If you are rifle hunting for bear, you will want a dependable, accurate, high-powered rifle capable of taking down a bear. Although the black bear is smaller than the brown bear, both have thick, fatty tissue, tough hides and strong bones. You will want a rifle capable of penetrating the thick hide, shattering through bones and penetrating through inches of fat to reach vital organs. If you prefer a bolt-action, the Ruger .357 Magnum with synthetic stock weighs less than six pounds and has the hard-hitting punch you will need. It has a proven track record to make it a preferred choice by many seasoned bear hunters.
When the expedition turns to defense and you need a gun perfect for short-range shots on a fast-moving angry target it is hard to beat a semiautomatic shotgun. Reliable, quick and devastating describe the Remington 870 12 gauge. This shotgun makes a great defense and back up option for the guide in bear country.
You would be hard pressed to find a seasoned bear guide who does not carry a side arm. Carrying a handgun may very well be the best option—especially when you are in thick cover or in other situations where a long gun may simply be too bulky. However, is the handgun’s caliber big enough to stop a charging bear? Is the handgun too big and bulky to comfortably carry and accurately shoot in a heated situation? These are just a few questions to think about when choosing a handgun for bear county. Because it is sized just right to carry and shoot comfortably and can handle heavy recoil the Glock 20 semiautomatic 10mm is a great choice for bear hunting.
Before you head out into bear country practice close range shots as well as long-distance shooting. Practice quick response shooting as well as precision shooting. Regardless of your selection of firearm it is important to note, it is hard to stop a bear if you cannot hit. So, be sure you are comfortable with your firearm selection. If you can not accurately shoot and control your firearm under normal circumstances, chances are during an adrenaline filled moment you will not be able to either. And finally, do not skimp on the ammunition for your guns. Bear country is not the time for bargain basement, discount ammo. Instead, opt for premium, predictable ammunition.
What tips do you have for hunting bear or being prepared in case of a bear attack? Share them with us in the comment section.
Lisa Metheny is a published award-winning outdoor writer, photographer, speaker and outdoor skills instructor. Lisa holds several instructor certifications and conducts a number of women-focused outdoor seminars on topics such as archery and hunting throughout the year. She regularly teaches hunters education and archery classes and has become an advocate for promoting traditional outdoor recreation to families across the United States. Lisa is also an avid and accomplished hunter with many big game species to her credit. She is a member of POMA and former Board of Directors member as well as a member of the NRA, RMEF, MDF and DU.
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