Bear Safety in the Rockies

crossone

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2018
Messages
28
Lots of folks around Yellowstone carry both a handgun and pepper spray for defense against bears, The grizzlies cause way more problems than black bears. Way more, like 99+% of the problems are grizzlies. When I’m not in grizzly country, I ignore bears completely. They are awesome at avoiding me and I’m accustomed to counting on them to do so. Grizzlies, no way and that’s how most folks I know feel about them. The best thing you can do in grizzly country is have a buddy with you who is armed with both spray and a firearm. Often it seems the bear will charge and put 1 person down but the other can get the bear off of him/her. Nobody ever knows who the bear will go after so both need to be prepared. This scenario played out twice just last week in SW Montana.
 

wind gypsy

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2014
Messages
2,601

The stats on this are skewed. VERY few examples of individuals spraying a charging Grizzly. Out of 50 examined instances only 9 were deemed aggressive. Most sprayed bears for the 98% number were just curious/feeding/not expecting to be sprayed. This non-combative behavior makes a significant difference.

Furthermore firearms employed that do not result in injury to the hunter are not reported, leading to the erroneous belief that firearms do not work. A 12 gauge shotgun has a 78% chance to stop a bear in one shot when using slugs. That number is from a massive Alaska fish and game study on most effective firearms used in bear encounters. You can google it if you like, it will turn up. They sort over 250 bear shootings by weapon and ammunition type.

Meateater Podcast was discussing a Wyoming guide in 2018 that was killed. They found the spray bottle by him and it had been discharged. You could argue it may have stopped the attack, but I'm going to argue he's still dead so it wasn't that effective. His sidearm was knocked away before he could deploy it effectively.
Good Article.
 

Mike7

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2012
Messages
1,076
Location
Northern Idaho
Yes, great article, thanks...one that actually thoughtfully looks at available data, limitations and all, and applies some common sense rather than regurgitating the "bear spray good, guns bad" mantra. Looks like chasing, rubber bullets, and maybe air horns might be better than bear spray for hazing, while the right guns/ammo in the right hands might a lot be better for aggressive/charging bears? Imagine that, it kind of echoes the thoughts of many with actual experience in the field.

As far as hazing, bear spray or an air horn would have to be options for me, since I am not carrying a gun for rubber slugs, and don't have the balls likely to chase a brown bear off?

Something maybe hinted at but not mentioned in this article is the number of firearms uses never reported as a DLP even. I would not be surprised if the number of grizzly/brown bear incidents with firearms that have occurred and are never reported, is higher than all of the other numbers? And the same goes for wolves in the lower 48. People are much less apt to report an incident where they have used a firearm and didn't get injured themselves, if it is an incident which might get them in trouble if they were to report it.
 

kid44

Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2019
Messages
69
I am new here, but in my opinion a solo hunt for anything in bear country really isn't a good idea. A solo hunt anywhere is never a good idea, too many things can happen.
 

Dos Perros

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2015
Messages
1,254
Location
Overland Park, KS
I think the ratio with grizzlies is more like 60/40 than 99/1. The 40 being the percentage that don’t give a shit about you, are curious of you, or are aggressive towards you.
 

Deplorable77

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
282
9mm ???? Can’t hardly kill a human with one ?

You’re much braver than me. .45 or 10mm for me. Even my .40 I have doubts. Bear bone is wayyyyy heavy.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I personally carry a 10mm. My teenage son carries a 9mm with 20rd mag staggered with Underwood hardcast & extreme penetrators.
Last year i was able to test 9mm ammo on a steer that died of natural causes. The penetrator and hardcast both punched completely through the skull, neck shots went through also. Not exactly scientific, but this combined with Underwoods ballistic tests, I'm satisfied.
 

Short Track

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
286
Location
Too far east
Bear spray only works if the wind is not blowing in your face :p

Bear are curious creatures for sure. I was hunting over bait, and a bear came into the bait. I was 60 yards away in a box stand. No way this bear saw me. He smelt something different in the environment, stood up on his back legs, and whiffed, sniffed for a good 20 seconds before I blasted him through the chest.
 
Top