Thread: Close Call
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Old September 21, 2000, 12:38 PM   #12
Keith Rogan
Senior Member
Join Date: March 11, 1999
Location: Kodiak, Alaska
Posts: 1,014
Sorry Bad,

I was out of line on that one. You're right that carrying a handgun as a backup makes sense as long as you have a long gun of appropriate caliber as a primary.

I probably get tiresome on the subject. I run into people all the time here who are new to Alaska and the first thing they do is run down and buy a .44 as "bear protection". I did the same thing myself a dozen years ago when I first arrived in Kodiak. I had not yet seen a bear up close and didn't REALLY know what was up.
An ex-guide neighbor told me not to waste my money and to get a "real gun" (meaning a rifle), but I ignored this and bought a Dan Wesson .445 SuperMag (a .44 mag on steroids) and carried it around fishing and what-not. Well, it wasn't long till I had my first serious bear encounter, jumping a big male out of his bed early in deer season.
He popped up at under ten yards and began beating the ground with his paws (and I could actually FEEL the vibrations as they hit) "woofed" and did all those terrifying things bears do.
I couldn't freaking believe the size of that animal - and still don't - a mature male is just so unbelievably big that it's hard to grasp. A stuffed one doesn't relay the story, you have to see a live one and realize that those forelegs three feet in circumference are filled with rippling muscles, shoulders five feet across swinging those legs with 7" claws. It's like taking a time trip back to the pleistocene era.
Anyway, I tend to think of brown bears when somebody says "bears". I sold that .445 not long afterwards.
The only use I can see for a pistol is if a bear has already swatted your rifle aside and got you down. If you can get a pistol out and shoot him off you (doubtful considering the violence of these attacks), good. Other than that it's just extra weight on your belt.
You make a good point about how much lead an adrenalized browny can soak up. If you catch one unawares they're no more difficult to kill than any animal that size. You wound one and get him filled with adrenaline and you have to break him down like a Cape Buffalo to stop him. Any guide can tell you stories of wounded bears soaking up a dozen or more .338's and .375's before going down. An attacking bear is in the same state, all pumped on adrenaline and god knows what chemicals nature dumps in their system. You had better have something damned big if you want to walk away.

Sorry to carry on.

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