View Full Version : Black bear hunting- tips and guns?

August 4, 2001, 10:42 PM
Hello. I am going black bear hunting this September in Northern California. I am planning on going to the trinity alps. I am uncertain what the terrian will be, but am going several days earlier for scouting. I have never gone black bear hunting before and am looking for some advice. I am not going to be using a tree stand or any bait. I will be stalking them by foot. What range should I except to make my kill in?.. I'm mostly concerned with firearms. I have a mossberg 500 12 gauge and a mosin-nagant 7.62x54r rifle. I am thinking of getting a rifled slug barrel for my mossy and a simmons scope. In all this is going to cost me around $300. Is it worth it? or should I just buy a different gun? The guy at the gun store said I should get a 30-06 insted. He said my nagant wasnt dependable enough for bear hunting, I only paid $40 for it. Will the mosin-nagant have enough of a punch to take down a black bear? On the ammo package there is a picture of a bear so I assume it will. The bullets I have for it are 200 grains w/ lead tips, i dont know the velocity. The only problem I have with it, is the bolt gets stuck a lot when i try to chamber a live round, takes a few tries. I am leaning towards spending the $300 and turning my mossy into a nice slug gun. The slugs that I would want to use are the Winchester partion gold, 385 grain sabot slug with a velocity of 1,900 fps. Where are the vital areas on a bear, just upper chest? Any tips of any sort relating to hunting black bear would be very helpful. Thanks in advance.

August 5, 2001, 12:12 AM
7.62x54r will certainly kill black bears, but I would not ignore the advice of your gun store owner if he believes your rifle is not sufficiently reliable. Your own observations confirm that. Furthermore, never rely on the pictures on the ammo cartons. They can be purely marketing.

If you are allowed to hunt bear with a 30-06 in your area, I would definitely consider buying one if you can afford it. It obviously has dramatically increased range over a shotgun and will add a lot of versatility to your gun collection. For black bear, get some cartridges with really sturdy bullets like Trophy Bonded Bearclaw, Nosler Partition, etc.

When you go hunting, go with an experienced hunter after taking a hunter safety course.

Study bear anatomy carefully. A hunter has a moral obligation to make a clean kill on any game he or she takes.

August 5, 2001, 10:23 AM
The 7.62x54 will kill a black bear easily, but as previously stated since your firearm is deemed unreliable by both your observations and the gun store owners then you should look for another rifle.

If you look for another rifle then you should ask yourself what else will you be hunting, how far a shot does the terrain provide, if hunting more than one species what is a good all around caliber?

Your Mossberge 500 will work fine given anything under 75-80 yards with the regular smoothbore barrel and rifled slugs. If you are going to buy a rifled barrel for the Moss. 500 then I would suggest buying a new rifle all together. Take the $300 you would invest in the scope and barrel and put it in a new rifle all together.

A good all around caliber is 30-06 or .308. For $300 (or just a little over) you can get a good bolt action rifle such as a remington, ruger, or savage. Some people prefer larger calibers, so if you are in the bigger is better crowd the take a look at the Marlin Guide Gun in 45/70.

Jamie Young
August 5, 2001, 12:53 PM
I unfortunately went hunting Black Bear by myself last year because one of my Friends couldn't come up at the last minute. I carried a 30/06 with my own personal 150gr reloads. Some say 150gr is too light but I have faith in it. If there is even a question about gun relibility for hunting Bear GET ANOTHER GUN!!!!!!!!! I wouldn't suggest hunting with a shotgun just in case you get the opportunity to take a 200yd or greater shot. If I would have came across a black bear last November I wouldn't have had the need to shoot further than 200yds but I could have. You can get a decent bolt action or lever action rifle for $300. Are you going hunting alone????

Paul B.
August 5, 2001, 01:14 PM
ILoveGuns. Me too. :) Back in the dark ages (35 some odd years ago) when I lived and hunted in California, I used the plain old Winchester 94 in 30-30 for black bears and never worried overmuch. The bears died, I was happy, the Fish and Game Department was happy, (At that time, you could get two bear tags for $2.00 when you bought your deer tags. In Humbolt County, if you filled your two bear tags out, they gave you two more, free. The bears were considered pest because they bothered the loggers. A far cry from the crap the bunny-huggers do today do today.):( I've also used the 30-06 as well. Works great.
If it were me, I'd dump that Moisin-Nagant in Frisco Bay ASAP and get a good rifle in .308 Win. or 30-06, put about a 2.5 to 3X scope on it and never look back. If you prefer a variable, get something on the order of a 1.5x6X and leave it set at 1.5. If a longer shot should present itself, you should have ample time to increase the power. Just remember to set it back to 1,5, or 1.75, or whatever the lowest power is after you shoot.
I only hunted the trinity Alps once almost 40 years ago, and if memory serves, it was a pretty rugged area. I think something on the order of a Remington Mod. 7 would be about perfect, size wise. If you can find a clean used Remington 600, 600 Mohawk or 660 in .308, you'd have a good short rifle with the punch to put a bear down. I think Winchester makes a short rifle in .308 as well. Use a good 165 to 180 gr. bullet and you're good to go. Try to break the shoulder bone if possible, while angling the bullet into the heart lung area. This way, the bear will be slowed down some, should he decide to charge. (None of mine ever did, even with the 30-30, as they died too quickly, but it's best to be prepared for the worst.)
A serious question here. You said you have 200 gr. lead bullets? That's not a standard weight, AFAIK. Not for the Nagant anyway. Is the bullet all lead, with no jacket? Or is it a jacketed bullet? Sounds to me like you might have someone's reloads that are a bit too long, or short, to feed properly. It could be a problem if they are all lead cast bullets, as they may not even be loaded to full power.
If you want, you can E-mail me and I'll try to figure this out. AFAIK, the Nagant took a bullet in the 150 to 170 gr. range, but I never messed with one, so I'm not positive. Looking in my handloading manuals, the cartridge should not be longer than 3.037 inches in length. You might want to check that out.
Paul B.

Keith Rogan
August 5, 2001, 02:13 PM
If you don't know what the terrain is then it's impossible to say what gun you should use.
Personally I don't think either of your guns is a good choice. The MN rifle has all the power and range required but if it doesn't work reliably it's useless. Also, if it still has the old military sights it's probably a bad choice even if it is reliable.
The shotgun just doesn't have the range you need. Even if you're hunting in thick stuff, you're likely to see that really big bear across a clear-cut some place and be unable to reach out and touch him.

You can probably find a suitable rifle in a pawn shop for about what you would pay for a slug barrel for your shotgun. Used guns are a great bargain.

August 5, 2001, 06:24 PM
Hey there ILOVEGUNS, I've been in on the shooting of quite a few bear both here in the lower 48 and AK. A black bear is pretty much a light skined light boned critter, however, I've seen em top 450 lbs and when they aren't shot good on the first one they get real tenacious about not going to the light (not dying). So for what it's worth, First shot should always break bone if possible (shoulders) and be pretty free with the bullets after that. As far as rifle type some thing in the '06 class is real good. 30-30's work well also. The last black bear I shot was was with a 30'06 at about two hundred yards cross canyon ,so I like some thing with a little bit of reach. An old bear hunter once told me if you shoot a bear and he runs off into the brush sit down have a smoke then have another smoke and give him about 45 minutes before you go and get him. Let em stiffen up and hopefully die before you go into the thick stuff after em. For what it's worth ,H&H,hunter.

August 6, 2001, 11:10 AM
Hello, Thanks for all the help. It's very helpful for me. I've decided to buy a used 30-06. I understand the remington 700 is probably the best, but i've found a Ruger KM77 stainless in execellent condition for $300. With the nagant I can group shots in about 2-3" at 100 yards with iron sights, but i'd rather have the realibility of a Ruger. And yes, I will be hunting alone. I may bring my dad, but he is no help hunting wise. He's never shot a gun and doesn't know anything about hunting. He would only help me pack out the meat. Now I can have a pretty good idea of what I need to do. Thanks :)

August 6, 2001, 04:56 PM
Good choice on a hunting rifle, the Ruger should serve you well. Hope you get to have the opportunity to get a bear this season.

Jay Baker
August 7, 2001, 12:53 AM
I agree with the others: .30-06/.308, and the selection you made, Ruger 77 in .30-06 will give you not only a good bear rifle, but a versatile rifle for virtually any other game this side of Kodiak Island.

I have hunted the Trinity Alps for deer, so can say that you could easily end up with a close... or long shot. Just depends. There is some really rugged country up there.

I killed a 250 pound black bear in Shasta County, just north of the Eel River, a number of years ago, with my .280 Remington, 160 gr. Nosler Partition handload. One shot. About 100/110 yards.

Read all you can about stalking bear. Without dogs or baits, it ain't nearly so easy... unless you get lucky. Hope you have a partner with you.

Best of luck, and good hunting. J.B.

Keith Rogan
August 11, 2001, 12:22 PM
I think you're making a good choice there in the Ruger rifle. I would like to add one more comment though about scoping that rifle (I hope I'm not too late...). It's my personal view that most people "over-scope" a hunting rifle because a 4x10 or even a 3x9 leaves you blind at close range.
This is particularly important with bear hunting where you may find yourself crawling into some thicket after a wounded animal. You'll find that a 1x5 scope will give you all the magnification you need at long ranges, while not leaving you without sights when dialed down for close ranges.

Just my opinion, but I've shot enough targets and enough game animals to validate this in my own mind.

Molon Labe!
August 11, 2001, 01:13 PM
I would go with a Mauser 98, or a yugoslavian M48, the 8mm will drop any game animal in north america. Powerful cartridge, you can probably find a unissued M48 for around $150-$200 range. The Iron sights are good, and some people have gotten better groups at 100 yards than people have gotten with target .22's.