View Full Version : Black Bear

February 21, 2008, 10:06 PM
Planning a trip to Maine this fall for a bear hunt. Thought this a good time to buy another toy ,so i got me a Ruger M77 .300WSM in stainless. I am getting ready to sight it in but i was wondering if anyone has shot one of these and if so which bullets shoot best. Also any info on black bears or Maine would help as i have never been there or done that. Thanks for your time.

February 21, 2008, 10:30 PM
I don't have one but I know most of the guys using one are going with 165 grain bullets like the Partition, Accubond, TSX, A-Frame, and other premium bullets for all big game. I think 180 grain bullet would be a fine choice as well, but again I think you will need a premium bullet. If you are hunting bears from a stand over bait you will want a bullet that doesn't blow up at close ranges and leave a shallow wound.

In my limited experience black bears are not hard to kill, but I still wouldn't want to track a wounded one. Make sure and post a report when you get back. Good luck on your hunt!

February 21, 2008, 10:45 PM
winchester silver tips have proven very successful from 0-500 yds for me out of my .300 WINMAG .

Here is the link for the .300WSM 180gr silver tips. (http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=330755&t=11082005)

February 22, 2008, 12:48 AM
I don't have any experience with the 300 WSM, but I have a 300 win mag in a Browning A-Bolt and the 180 gr. bullets have worked great. I've been shooting the Federal 180 gr. Nosler Partitioners and had great success with them. I reload for most of my guns, but I took this gun to Africa with me last summer and they told me it wasn't a good idea to bring reloads, so I picked up a box of the 180 gr. Federal ammo and it shot great. In Africa, I took a Kudu, Impala, Blesbok, Zebra, Gemsbok and several warthogs. A friend of mine used it on the same trip for the same animals. All were one shot kills. They either dropped on the spot, or ran less than 100 yds. Most of the shots were complete pass throughs. I haven't hunted Black Bears yet, but I wouldn't hesitate to use the same set up for them as well. I doubt they would be any harder to take down than some of the animals that I took in Africa. FYI, I brother-in-law used a Kimber 300 win mag for the same trip. The 180 gr. Partitioners in the Federal did not shoot worth a darn in his gun. He used the 180 gr. Winchester Accubonds and took pretty much the same animals as I did with the same results. They worked great as well.

February 24, 2008, 02:39 PM
I used my A-Bolt 300WSM last Fall on my 1st bear hunt. My round was a handloaded 180 grn Partition. I had a real good spot with the help of a relative & bagged a modest bear 2:00 the 1st afternoon. Sorry I had some stuff going on & didn't have a week to watch the pile.

I would look to a Quality 180 grn Bullet. Yes a 165 would be fine & a 300WSM is on the high side of what's needed as long as you have proper shot placement. In Maine any shots should be close. I used a 2-7 Monarch. A quality scope will help since you should be prepared to hunt until the final minute of legal time. A high powered scope is not needed. The last 20 min of shooting light is the prime time. Keep your scent & any breeze in mind. Try to be set up so your scent isn't drifting where you expect the bear to come from. With a guide most of that is out of your hands.

You need to really think about good shot placement. I'm no expert & my bear went about 40-50 yrds but with 10 min to dark you don't want your bear to run off 100 yrds+ in the tag alder swamp. That's where a gun on the large side with a good bullet can help. I sighted in for 50 & my shot was 25yrds.

February 24, 2008, 03:03 PM
You need to really think about good shot placement. I'm no expert & my bear went about 40-50 yrds but with 10 min to dark you don't want your bear to run off 100 yrds+ in the tag alder swamp. That's where a gun on the large side with a good bullet can help. I sighted in for 50 & my shot was 25yrds.
I totally agree with you, I shot my bear at 200 yards and it was DRT. I thought about shot placement a lot before I did this hunt and talked with a lot of people who had hunted for bears. The recommendation I got was to take out the front shoulders. I broke both the front shoulders on my bear, it spun about 180 degrees on impact and was down. No tracking needed as the rain forests of SE Alaska can be pretty dense and like I said I didn't want to track a wounded bear.

Tom Matiska
March 3, 2008, 03:57 PM
I’ve done Maine bait hunts last two years and I’m going again this Sept.


I’m not a bear expert, just a smarter amateur than I was in ‘06. Never posted much about my recent hunts so excuse me if I get long winded now.

Lesson #1 was bait hunting isn’t “shooting fish in a barrel”. Good camo, scent control, bug repellent(not bear repellent), and standing like a statue are required, or your choice of ammo won’t matter.

Add a good scope to the list of things more important than ammo. First year changed my mind about my iron sights. Things get busy near sunset. On an overcast day in dense growth the last 20 minutes or so of legal daylight you may wish you could better see thedark shape in the trees. Compare the scopes in your inventory this evening near sunset and put the brightest one on your bear rifle..

Tom Matiska
March 3, 2008, 03:58 PM
Neck shots

My guide has gone from recommending neck shots to insisting. Dead bear at your post equals a happy guide. If he has to follow drops of blood with a flashlight after dark in heavy brush he won’t be happy.

Instant kills with a chest shot aren’t easy. A 250 lb bear has a smaller heart than a 100 lb deer, and more muscle and bone in the way of a clean heart shot. Black bear are not the ‘thick skinned” monsters I thought they were, but the several inches of fall fat under their skin does make them “self sealing.”

One other hunter did a pass thru double lung with a 12 ga and there was one drop of blood at the spot, then none for a 65 yards until the bear started coughing it up from the lung, and another 60 yards or so before they found it. Amazing that a 12 ga wound bled so little. Penetration theories about the value of exit wounds that may apply to deer hunting don’t apply well to fall bear. ... again... neck shots are better than a “short” walk after sunset....

If you’re sold on the neck shot school of thought your gun/ammo choices are wide open. Anything that can ruin a few pounds of neck will do the job.

Tom Matiska
March 3, 2008, 04:00 PM
The bear

I expected the average Maine bear to be bigger than here in Pennsylvania, but if anything they are smaller(longer hibernation???) . If you’re of the mind to pass on an early chance at a modest 200 pounder and hold out for bigger, that may be the story of your hunt. Of the dozen or so hunters in my camp, one took a 326 lb boar in ‘06, and none bigger than 250 lb in ‘07. A bear well over 400 was taken in ‘07 the week after I left, and it was the biggest the guide can claim in years. The ones that old and big didn’t get that way by walking up to bait piles in the daylight. .

This is not the bear’s first hunt. They have the free food thing figured out. The bear you see may have spent 10 or 20 minutes circling upwind and down wind before you knew he was there. Give him time to settle down . Give cubs a chance to show up so you don’t accidentally take a momma. A bear that gets comfortable quickly isn’t worried about the neighborhood, and may be the biggest you’re going to see. If it stays wary that may signal the real king of the foodpile is near. Some of the hunters who waited got to see bear #2 convince bear #1 that he wasn’t really that hungry... .. no ringside seat in Vegas that can top that ...... be patient on the stand. ..

Tom Matiska
March 3, 2008, 04:02 PM
My Results

Got skunked in ‘06. I played goalie on the insects dart board team. All that itching and twiching was a show stopper. Got smarter on bug control, Changed my mind about my iron sighted 35 Whelen pump.

‘07 I took my scoped 307 caliber ‘94 Winchester. Took a modest 193 pounder first day of ‘07. I thought it was well over 200 when I took it, but then ground shrinkage happened. I predetermined to take the first modest bear I saw. I wasn’t going to take a 100 pounder just to take one, nor hold out for a trophy and risk getting skunked two years in a row. Only regret is my season was over in 20 minutes.

My new toy for this year is a stainless Ruger M77 in 358 Win. Plan is to enjoy more time on the stand, and am more willing to risk not getting one.

pics of my 07 hunt: www.myspace.com/xptom and click on view my “pics”

March 3, 2008, 04:42 PM
Glad you bear folks are here. We don't have those things in my part of the country, and I generally try to stay in places where I'm a little closer to the top of the food chain. I've read lots of posts and articles about where and how to hunt them, and what to shoot 'em with, and even how to avoid turning into bear poop. But would somebody tell the rest of us exactly what you do with a bear once you get it sufficiently dead? I know folks keep the pelts, heads, and paws... but what about the other 900lbs? Are they better fried, b-b-q'd, roasted, grilled, pickled, or what?

Tom Matiska
March 3, 2008, 05:34 PM
Good news on Maine bear is they are very edible. No complaints from anybody I've shared it with. The place I hunt is 70 miles of dirt road away from civilization. Bear eat a healthy natural diet... mostly berrys and beech nut. The season is well after the rut so even the boys are good eatin'.

You'll hear more negative reviews about bear meat here in PA.... our bear here tend to scavange road kill along the turnpike and do a lot more dumpster diving.... and well....they are what they eat.

More winter fat and less meat than I expected. Skinning a fall black bear is like giving a poodle a haircut...... you wonder where did that little puppy dog come from?

Mine is at the taxi for a head mount. If I get a larger one I may break the bank and do a rug or full mount.

March 3, 2008, 09:02 PM
we have some of the mexican bears in the huachuca mountains here and on occasion they wander into town and then back into the mountains. I have seen the paw prints in the snow of some rather large ones (paws were approx 6-10 inches wide) and some of the folks have seen some big bears come up to their camps to check out what they were cooking, but no bear attacks yet.

I always carry at least a 10mm now when hiking in the mountains.

interesting bear hunt lessons learned.