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Old August 21, 2012, 10:22 AM   #1
Glenn E. Meyer
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Guns and Bears

An often asked question on the Internet, but if you want a scientific view of the issue, look at:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...g.342/abstract

Efficacy of firearms for bear deterrence in Alaska†

Interesting read, not much difference between long arms and handguns but also check out the caveats by the author.

NO, they did not study whether the bear took the gun and stuck it --- before someone makes that joke again.
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Old August 21, 2012, 10:57 AM   #2
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Our findings suggest that only those proficient in firearms use should rely on them for protection in bear country.
I find this refreshing because you wouldn't believe how many people I encounter in the woods (on public land) who haven't got a clue how to use a gun but carry one anyway.

In fact one of my neighbors was having a problem with coons getting under his house so I offered to send my dog after the coons. I asked if he had any guns and he said no so I loaned him my Single Six in with the .22WMR cylinder in it and loaded with CCI Maxi Mags. I asked if he knew how to use it and he said yes since he'd hunted most his life and had only given up his guns because his lifestyle changed and he decided he no longer needed them. I told him to stand by one of the holes the coons were using and that when they stick their head out pop them in the head (about a 7 yard shot).

My dog did the job he was supposed to do and pushed the coon out from under the crawl space. My neighbor failed to fire - instead I came around to find him staring down the barrel of the loaded revolver with his finger on the trigger. Luckily for him the gun wasn't cocked and being a Single Six, its a SA so it wouldn't fire. I asked him why he didn't shoot and he said he tried but the gun wouldn't fire - since he never cocked it. Apparently he knows how to use a shotgun but had no clue about what to do with a revolver.
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Old August 21, 2012, 12:33 PM   #3
jmortimer
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Pepper spray 90% effective
Long Gun 76% effective
Handgun 84% effective

I think this well beaten horse means we should carry pepper spray and an appropriate handgun within easy deployment.
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Old August 23, 2012, 12:58 PM   #4
doofus47
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JMortimer:
Quote:
I think this well beaten horse means we should carry pepper spray and an appropriate handgun within easy deploymen
I think that either/or is probably a better choice, b/c the list of issues that prevented any meaningful firearms use could easily apply to the bear spray:

From the report:
Quote:
Firearms failed to protect people for a variety of reasons including lack of time to respond to the bear (27%), did not use the firearm (21%), mechanical issues (i.e., jamming; 14%), the proximity to bear was too close for deployment (9%), the shooter missed the bear (9%), the gun was emptied and could not be reloaded (8%), the safety mechanism was engaged and the person was unable to unlock it in time to use the gun (8%)
Having both would seem (to my mind) to double the odds that your brain will betray you and you won't be able to use spray nor firearm effectively. A full quarter of the firearm failures were on account of "losing the draw."

At the risk of being "that guy," I'm liking this report b/c I only have black bears to worry about....

from the report:
Quote:
When the animal involved in the incident was a black bear, odds of firearm success were more than 38 times greater than when the bear was a brown, polar, or unknown bear
Interesting read. Thanks for posting it.
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Old August 24, 2012, 09:51 AM   #5
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Having had a few bear encounters, one sticks out as important for carrying both a handgun and a can of pepper spray along with your rifle.

My two friends and I had just killed an elk across a deep wash and two of us crossed the wash to begin field dressing. The third friend, a nice young lady, decided she was going to stay put and observe (she didn't want to scramble down the wash). Well we had no sooner started with the chores and looked back to see a big grizz coming out of the timber 30 yards between the gal who had stayed on the otherside of the wash. We began yelling to her that a bear was comming to her because she and the bear didn't know the other was there. As she turned, she raised her rifle as the bear stood on it's hind legs at 20 yards! I kept waiting for a shot, but none came.

I knew something had gon wrong when I saw her drop her rifle and start for her pepper spray. She proceded to fumble with the safety catch on the spray and then began yelling. Realizing that this was getting bad, fast, and the two of us were 150 yards across a wash and no help, I fired my hunting rifle into the air.

The bear, for some reason decided to stop his advance at 5 yards, turned and ran back into the treeline. This all took about 20 seconds. We immediatly left the elk, scrambled back across the wash and covered the 150 yards to her in about 30 seconds.

When we got to her, it was evident that she had cycled the bolt on her .270 4 times without pulling the trigger. Four loaded cartridges lay at her feat. As we examined the pepper spray, nothing seemed wrong. The safety was easily removed and it discharged just fine. She was addimate that just a minute earlier the safety had been stuck tight and she couldn't get it off.

Well, about that time, the bear returned! My friend deployed the now "repaired" pepper spray and as the bear approached 30 yards, snapping his jaws, he again stood. The spray was launched but because of the wind, did not reach the bear. The bear dropped to all fours and began advancing. This is when I drew my 629, and fired, not at the bear, but very close! That did the trick, the bruin left for good and we finished out chores, brought up the horses and left the area with our elk!

Thank goodness the bear decided to leave. No one, Including the bear, was harmed and I think we all learned a great lesson that day. Under stress, you don't know what will happen if you have not trained for the situation. I also learned that havng the most options available for protection while in bear country is a good idea.
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Old August 24, 2012, 09:55 AM   #6
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Easy to say, but a cool head and having handgun and/or pepper spray close at hand seems most logical.
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Old August 24, 2012, 11:12 AM   #7
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Redman is correct. You should keep a few options open if you can. Keeping your cool is the MOST important thing.
I also live in Wyoming and hunt in country that can be over populated with Grizzlies. I have been WAY TOO CLOSE to them a number of times, but as yet I have not had to fire a shot.
The more close encounters you have the more likely you are to arm yourself I think.
I have hunted dangerous game in the past and had a few "pee-bringers" myself. In all my years and from every experience I have had, and from all the men and women I have talked to that have had such experiences I have come to what I would call “rule #1!”

RULE #! --- KEEP YOU COOL!
Do NOT panic!

Think and act, in that order.

Moving fast and ineffectively is not as good as slowing down just a bit and being deliberate.
As in gun fighting, you should move as fast as you can but as slow as you must to make a good shot. That goes for pepper spray, guns, cars, or any course of action.

Thought must precede action. Sometimes it’s so fast as to be blended with action, but that also comes from training and experience.

Though MUST come first. Training is the application of thought into learning before the action occurs, but it’s still thought in action.

Keep you cool!
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Old August 24, 2012, 01:15 PM   #8
anothernewb
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huh, learn something new every day. never once did I even think about pepper spray on a bear. Seems kinda obvious now.

PS. Don't tell my wife - I've got a BWCA trip coming soon, and I've been eyeing a Ruger alaskan...
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Old August 24, 2012, 02:08 PM   #9
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if it wasn't for pesky gun-laws here I for sure would carry a sidearm when hunting.

bears most often leave the area when we hunt moose but tracks, droppings and marks are very evident when you enter the area, and we are not supposed to load our rifles before we are in our stands, crazy.

and when hunting/tracking wounded bears it would be very good to be more agile and getting close in tight brush, or god forbid if you get beneath a bear. a dude who lives nearby got mauled last year and he hit the bear with a chainsaw and it nearly killed him anyway

and ours are tiny compared to yours
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Old August 24, 2012, 02:30 PM   #10
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As you will see in the next few months, grizzlies will again dominate the headlines as hunters take to the hills. Most will hunt alone either with a bow or rifle, and very few will carry spray. Those that do carry spray will always opt for the weapon first as that's what they are cradling and have easy access to. Some will win and some will lose, that's just the way it is.

I did notice quite a few more hikers carrying spray on my journey through Glacier a few weeks back than in years past. The bears there are relatively benign as opposed to the GYE as the rangers haze them pretty good.

Many bears have come to learn that the sound of a gun is a meal. Usually waiting for them is a gut pile or a carcass to be taken over. Once they are delisted in the next few years, many feel that it will instill a fear in them that is not present now. I say bull. Boars and Sows without cubs are fearless of guns if they are surprised or if they want to take over your kill. Their alpha psyche and huge adrenal dump just over rules any fear a gun will bring.

Some advice. If you are unlucky enough to get charged and can't get into the fetal position, fight off your back with your legs. Bears always go for your head as that's the anatomy they instinctively try to neutralize first. Your legs are your strongest limb and may allow you the time to get to your weapon. In the past year a young man in AK used his legs to get a griz off of him, and this year a woman kicked a bear to ward off any damage to her head or torso.
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Old August 24, 2012, 03:30 PM   #11
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I have noticed that most people who chose the pepper spray option have never, ever actually shot a can of pepper spary. Mostly, I think, because it is so expensive! I am now a firm believer that if you are going to rely on pepper spary as a bear atack deterant, you must purchase at least one can to sacrafice for training yourself how to use it!

How far will it spray? The can says 50 yards, but is that reality? How do you remove the safety? Does it spray a stream or a cloud? Does the can have enough propellent to launch the pepper into a brisk wind (most bears are surprised from down wind, you know)?

Something as simple as removing the saftey can be confusing and almost impossible durring a bear atack, if you have never done it before.

I am almost positive that most people who are hunting have taught themslves how to use a firearm, but not their bear spray!
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Old August 24, 2012, 04:02 PM   #12
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Oh, it doesn't take a genius to operate bear spray. Best time to buy is the spring and early summer when prices are lower and supplies are large. You can buy the 8.1 oz Counter Assault at the Army/Navy in either Kalispell or Whitefish for $34 no tax. Right now the supplies are limited and just the large spray is offered for $44. You cannot take it with you while traveling with the airlines, so I usually sell it for $20 or give it away when leaving the area.

It fires an orange colored mist 30 feet. Realistically, you are gonna need to bomb the sucker from 10-15 feet right in the puss as it lasts only 7 seconds. High winds are a problem in both Wyoming and Montana, so if that's all you are carrying then you will need to use it up close. Most people will give it a quick 2 second spray, but you need to use bursts of 3 seconds minimum. If that doesn't work, hopefully you have a weapon.
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Old August 24, 2012, 04:28 PM   #13
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Strange.

This is right up Alaska444's alley, and he has tried to pick apart the methodology in this study in the past; but he's nowhere to be found....


I'm glad they included bear spray. Firearm efficacy without something to compare it to, wouldn't be as informative.
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Old August 24, 2012, 04:34 PM   #14
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I agree with training with it. The little one has a can of the stuff for her PD. and nightstand item. I think we went through the better part of a case before she was confident that she could handle it easily.
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Old August 25, 2012, 06:44 PM   #15
dorc-1
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grizzly gets hiker in Denali

Just read where a hiker was eaten up in Denali. Have to wait to see all the details as they slowly roll in on whether he had a weapon or spray. If he was ambushed it probably made no difference.
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Old August 26, 2012, 02:52 AM   #16
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Here is a link to the incident (dorc-1) just mentioned:

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/articl...d-denali-hiker.

Personally, I would have stuck with the park rules (they are there for a reason) and detoured the bear. Can you carry a 44 Mag, concealed or not, in Denali?
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Old August 26, 2012, 03:45 AM   #17
dorc-1
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Yes, you can carry in all the National Parks but must follow the rules of that State on Open and CCW.

Sad to hear something like this as it was avoidable. He even attended mandatory orientation on bears prior to starting out, but ignored the rules and apparently had no spray or weapon, and paid the price for a photo of a lifetime.

The official report will be available in a month or two that will go into more detail. He may not have been attacked by the grazing bear he was photographing. This attack was predatory in nature and more info will come out as to what condition the bear was in. This is not normal behavior for a grizzly. They usually attack till they feel the threat is neutralized, then leave. He may have been in a fight recently or could be an old timer that was in poor shape and was having trouble finding the necessary food sources. Wrong place at the wrong time.

Last edited by dorc-1; August 26, 2012 at 03:54 AM.
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Old August 26, 2012, 04:56 PM   #18
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Quote:
The official report will be available in a month or two that will go into more detail. He may not have been attacked by the grazing bear he was photographing. This attack was predatory in nature and more info will come out as to what condition the bear was in. This is not normal behavior for a grizzly. They usually attack till they feel the threat is neutralized, then leave. He may have been in a fight recently or could be an old timer that was in poor shape and was having trouble finding the necessary food sources. Wrong place at the wrong time.
Several updated articles on the story are citing officials saying that the stomach and intestinal contents of the bear that was feeding on him are consistent with that bear being the one that attacked. In addition, they have determined that the bear the man was photographing (when he ignored park rules) is the bear that was feeding on him. So, all current evidence points to him being killed by the bear he failed to leave alone.

It wasn't the wrong place at the wrong time. It was the wrong place because he didn't follow the rules he agreed to when he obtained his permit, and leave the area.
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Old August 26, 2012, 06:12 PM   #19
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Several updated articles on the story are citing officials saying that the stomach and intestinal contents of the bear that was feeding on him are consistent with that bear being the one that attacked. In addition, they have determined that the bear the man was photographing (when he ignored park rules) is the bear that was feeding on him. So, all current evidence points to him being killed by the bear he failed to leave alone.
Stomach contents should be no problem since the bear was feeding on the man. Identifying that bear as the one that was grazing in his photographs I think would take a bit more time for a definitive conclusion, and as yet I haven't seen that in print. There was another bear near the site that ran off on the initial fly over, and certainly that bear cannot be discounted as a possible suspect in the attack. Forensically they would need to match the wound that killed him (if that's still possible) with the teeth or claws of the bear that was shot. Certainly circumstantially the info I've seen so far point to this bear, but I think more time is needed before they finalize a judgement.

Yes, he broke the rules but this was a predation kill of a human. This is not the usual grizzly attack where the threat is neutralized and then the bear leaves. He was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong bear.

Last edited by dorc-1; August 26, 2012 at 06:29 PM.
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