View Full Version : Rabbits and bears

Keith Rogan
September 7, 2001, 11:30 AM
Hi all! I haven't hung around this forum much because, well, I haven't done much with a shotgun for many years.
However, I just bought a Baikal Bounty Hunter and need some advice.
The primary reason I bought this is for rabbit hunting. Rabbits here (Kodiak Island) are usually in thick brush and moving fast when you see them and are generally within 10 yards or so. I figured a short and handy open-choked gun like this would be ideal, but now I'm wondering what shot to use since the gun in question has such a wide dispersal pattern. I'm thinking the finer the shot, the more hits but at what point do you lose the penetration necessary to kill rabbits?
What do you think? 7 1/2 shot or something even finer?

Now for a related question - rabbits are usually found along river and creekside thickets which of course is the same place you frequently find brown bears... And this is the other primary reason I chose a double gun - so I can keep the left barrel loaded with something appropriate.
I would prefer to use buckshot rather than slugs and the same question arises - what is the smallest shot size that you think would reliably penetrate a large bears head at under ten yards? The temptation is to just go with something massive like 000 Buck but then you can double or triple the amount of pellets by going with something just a tad smaller.

Any advice appreciated, particularly if someone knows of actual penetration tests with various sized shot.


September 7, 2001, 11:49 AM
Keith....are you sure your patterns are all that wide at ten yards ?

My best luck on wabbitts in close sage has been bangin from the hip or low ready. With a little practice you get deadly and fast. If you gonna eat em, the bigger shot the better cause less of it and easier to find in the meat.

No experience with big brownies but would guess either slug or heavier buck.


Dave McC
September 7, 2001, 01:55 PM
Good to see ya, Keith! Long time, no see.Been quitte a while since the old *P days.

Considering your personal history, I understand your interest in bear repellent.

First, 10 yard spread isn't all that much, regardless of choke or lack of same. Here in Md, cottontails succumb best to 6s. A cheap field load should give you a bit of spread.

For carnivores the size of grand pianos, I'd go with 00. Be advised that inside 5 yards or so, those 6s would imitate a giant .73 caliber Glaser Safety Slug.

Try a few 5 packs of buck. 000 and 00 are the penetration champs,TTBOMK, but see if one brand shows tighter patterns than the rest.


Long Path
September 7, 2001, 02:13 PM
Heck Keith, it was at YOUR website that I learned that the RCMP's discovered that a .38 spl could effectively penetrate the skull of a bear!

I tend to think of high-brass 7 1/2's as being far more effective than .38 spl at close range.

I've always been partial to #1 buck, myself.

Johnny Guest
September 7, 2001, 03:31 PM
Considering where you live, and your personal history, and the fact that you run a Bear Maulings web site, if someone else posted the same question, I'd refer them to YOU!

But, seriously--

Don't you have a serious side arm to pack along? I'd believe that a proper .44 mag or .45 Colt with some of the Garret loads, or a .454, would be superior to just about anything you could stuff into the other barrel of a two-row shotgun. Not to mention that with the resolver, you'd have quick follow-up shots, rather than putting all your berries in one basket.

Another way to go: The large diameter of heavy buckshot, having to bull its way through a certain amount of fur, might actually LIMIT penetration. Have you considered that #4 or #2 goose shot--NOT bucksot--had tremendous penetration? A magnum #4 would yield a dense pattern of shot. I bellieve it was on your site that I read about bear anatomy--Brain sets lower than one would think, AND, the sloping forehead tends to deflect many bullets fired from straight-on.

Even if your shot was not perfect, the #4 shot would certainly blind the bear, making evasive action at least more likely. And you'd have a pretty fair chance that a couple of pellets would funnel through the orbs and nasal passages and enter the brain.

Please understand: This is all very conjectural with me. Just throwing out some considerations for a man with much more close encounter experience with bears than I have, and certainly more than I WANT!

Best regards,

September 7, 2001, 10:01 PM
Get a custom Drilling made, chambered in 12g, 16g and .577 Tyrannasaurus. You'll be good to go versus anything that hops, flies or mauls. ;)


PS Track down a good bone doc PRIOR to your first hunting expedition, too. :D

Keith Rogan
September 8, 2001, 10:04 AM
Well, good points all! And kind of a dumb question on my part since I haven't patterned the shotgun yet to see what it does at 10 or 12 yards. I may be "assuming" to much when I'm concerned about patterns at those ranges.
So, stand by until I can get out and see what this thing does. I've got some 00 and 000 buck and I'll see if I can't find some lighter buck as well as some good old number 6's and we'll see what this thing does.

Shotguns for bear defense is all theoretical to me. I know they'll work but with this little coach gun we'll just have to see how far out those patterns stand up.

As for carrying a sidearm, well... I can't see throwing down a shotgun to jerk a pistol! A bears brain is about the size of my fist and I figure my odds of turning it into mince jelly are better with a long gun.

Keith Rogan
September 9, 2001, 07:22 PM
I went out and shot up some paper today and here's what I found out:
At 15 yards, # 6 and 7 1/2 pattern just fine for rabbits. I was able to put anywhere from 12 to 20 holes in a rabbit sized area. No problem, so I guess I'll stick with # 6's or even 4's and save myself some chomping on birdshot.

The surprise came when I shot some 2 3/4 inch 00 and 000 buck, also at 15 yards. I shot the 00 Buck first and got a pattern about 10" in size but at least 6" over my point of aim. The pattern was a rough oval shaped sort of like this () with my point of aim below the bottom - perhaps 5" wide and 10" high.
The 000 buck was a much tighter pattern (a 6" circle) but again some distance over the point of aim.
I attribute this to recoil driving the little coach gun up as the buck shot left the barrel. The light field loads shot right to point of aim.
I shot a dozen each of the 00 and 000 buck and they all shot this way, so... if I ever have to use buckshot in a pinch, I hope I have the presence of mind to hold low as I shoot!
And for the record, I do NOT want to repeat this experiment! My shoulder HURTS!

Oh, I also took a half dozen Winchester Foster-type slugs along and shot those for grins. I didn't expect much from this little gun but actually at fifteen yards was able to put them all within an inch or two of the bullseye with either barrel. Figure that one out - why does it throw the buckshot high but the slugs more or less to point of aim?

September 9, 2001, 07:34 PM
Well...in my experience, many SG's that are on with buckshot shoot low with slugs. High with buckshot= on with slugs. Makes sense.

Have you reconsidered just carrying a slug in the other bl?

September 9, 2001, 11:21 PM
For rabbits, I prefer anything between #4 and #6 shot. For bears, I would shy away from Buck and go with Slugs. If possible, I would go with Jacketed Magnum Slugs.

Keith Rogan
September 10, 2001, 11:17 AM
Yeah, I think I will go with the slugs. The gun is chambered for 2 3/4" so I'll just stick with some traditional foster slugs.

Dave McC
September 10, 2001, 02:01 PM
You may want to check out the Rottweil Brenneke for your "Serious" ammo, Keith. It's the one Capstick said he used on that Cape Buff. I'vr found it accurate as heck in my HD 870, tho not quite as tight as the KO Brenneke, a 1 oz slug and thus less penetrative. Wound channels are awesome.

However, my guess is any of the Forster style will work for you here. Find which one comes closest to POA for less fudge factor, and carry lots of it.

If you have some periods of time where bunnies are not being hunted, but bear encounters may happen, one bbl with buck, t'other a slug, is a good combo for up close and sudden.....

Keith Rogan
September 11, 2001, 10:21 AM

Tell me more about these Rotweil Brenneke's - are they the ones with the little fins at the back? And are they 2 3/4" shells? This coach gun only has 2 3/4" chambers.

When I'm not hunting bunnies - fishing say - I always have my Marlin Guide Gun along with some pepper spray. That's actually pretty safe though, because bears during salmon runs are pretty fat and happy. It's after those runs towards fall and early winter when they get grumpy and unpredictable - around the time you want to hunt rabbits...

What are you hearing there in Maryland about these attacks? Not to change the subject, but I'm finding all the news this morning rather stunning.

Dave McC
September 11, 2001, 02:36 PM
Dynamit Nobel makes the Rottweils, they do have "Fins" on them. They come in both 2 3/4 and 3".

As for the news, Wife works at the Pentagon. She was sick this AM and didn't go to work. Her office was on the other side of the Pentagon, but one never knows....

Her co workers, including some close friends, are accounted for. All safe.

Agreed on the bears. Russell Annabel mentioned something similiar way back, that a hungry bear was much more dangerous than one with food in it. He continued, thinking that bears, due to their drive to accumulate fat before winter,was usually hungry.

September 11, 2001, 10:24 PM
Keith: I was going to ask you if anyone used slugs much up there for bear protection. One of my friends went on an Alaska cruise for his honeymoon and he said when they did the little side trips up rivers there were always a few people armed with SG's for the bears.

Keith Rogan
September 12, 2001, 01:00 AM

Great bit of luck there for you and your wife! Glad to hear your wife is sick!


Yeah, shotguns are real popular. My concerns were more with this coach gun and how it would shoot than with shotguns in general.
I guess if you think about it, using a shotgun is ideal in a lot of ways since SG's are better for instinctive pointing than a rifle.

Dave McC
September 12, 2001, 03:24 AM
Thanks, Keith, I find it very upsetting that maniacs somewhere wanted to kill my wife....

Shotguns are excellent at CQ stuff because of the massive amounts of energy they can dump into a target, combined with a large frontal area. Kinda like a soft lead wadcutter of 73 caliber at 1000 FPS+.

Always figured that if I got to go fishing in Alaska, an 870 mix loaded with Brennekes and slugs
would be a great takealong....

October 2, 2001, 09:24 PM

December 31, 2001, 03:45 AM
(jumpin' in a bit late - surfin' for some slug info ... )

Perhaps even an initial load of #4 buck for the rabbits - less shot to pick out & (no idea what a 2-3/4 load would do) but a Fed Premium 3" #4 buck mag will do 41 .22/.23 cal pellets! - not too terribly shabby. I'd figure an ~1/5-1/4 reduction at 2-3/4 ... & ought to do a rabbit at your stated 10-15 yards, or so. ;)

& really couldn't hurt one bit for a serious "frangible" at 10 yards, for a bear-size critter. Just a thought. Better pattern to be sure.

May be that ~30 (or so) #4 bucks, w/a 50% pattern on a r'bit at 15 yards may be a bit much .... do let us know :p

December 31, 2001, 08:58 AM
Whatever load you gonner carry, pattern it if you havent already done so. Funny how a modest load change will change the pattern in a given gun. Even same stuff but different brand will often pattern differently.

Make sure your pattern testing is done with the gun that the load is going to be used in.


Bam Bam
December 31, 2001, 10:06 PM
Keith, Peter Capstick, African big game hunter had the same question as you. How to defend against the charge of a big animal at close range? He got some 00 buck and 000 buck and patterned them. His thinking also included the number of pellets and the surface area of the pellets. He concluded the 000 buck was preferable because more pellets delivered more punch against a greater surface area on the charging animal. I have forgotten the name of the book which has the collected articles.

Death in a Lonely Land, Death in a Dark Continent, Lost Worlds seem most likely. Perhaps someone here at TFL has a collection and can look it up?

January 1, 2002, 05:34 PM
Just load it with slugs and use it as a poor mans Double rifle.

For the rabbits try #4 shot, you really want the pellets to go all the way through.

January 5, 2002, 06:39 PM
I agree with 6's for rabbits! But I think I'd want a buddy with a .460 Weatherby beside me for them bears!!! LOL

January 5, 2002, 08:15 PM
Any shot from #6 (& less) on up will do rabbits quite well (within range - bre'r 'bit is a wimp), but why would anyone want to pick out all that "fine" shot when they could do very well with just a few (#4 buck) or so?

& #4 buck, I'd think, would do a bear at (very) close range.

Although I only shoot bre'r rabbit with a .22LR & headshots any more, still, & if presented with a "maybe a bear" scenario, I'd go for at least some form of "buck."

Less to pick from the rabbit & a plus for a larger critter.

If "too close," it won't matter to either bear or rabbit as it'll be so much a solid mass not to matter & if further, you'll get the dispersion that a buckshot load will not "dust" a rabbit.