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Thread: A gun for sons first black bear

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    Member Rising_Creek's Avatar
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    Default A gun for sons first black bear

    My son is 11 and has taken hunter's ed. We may go for a black bear this spring. I am considering .30-06 or maybe .243 for him to shoot. Anyone have kids close to this age with a similar experience? What worked for you?

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    Member IglooBoy88's Avatar
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    i was 11 when my father gave me a 30-06 for christmas..12 when i shot my first moose with it. go for the 30-06

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    Member outaMT's Avatar
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    RS –
    I bought my 11 year old daughter her first rifle last year. I went back and forth between a 243, 270 and 308. I went with the 308 only because it popped as a great deal at the right time. 30-06 would be a great gun for your son to grow into and use for years to come.
    If you have the opportunity for your son to shoot some different rifles and see which he’s most comfortable with, would be ideal. Have fun with this!

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Default A gun for sons first black bear

    7-08 is the sweet spot in my opinion. My 8 and 10yo boy both enjoy shooting the savage youth model.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    I would go with the 30-06 and use reduced recoil loads to start with. With the 30-06 he can grow with the rifle and keep it for a lifetime and pass it down to his child. I have a safe full and anymore find that I like my 06 better than the rest most times. Ammo for one can be found about anywhere.
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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    yep... what everyone else said. I started with a 30/06 shooting reduced recoil loads (thanks Dad!) and it's served me well for many years thereafter.
    There's a reason it's not too hard to find a 30/06 - or ammo for it!
    308 would be my second-choice recommendation.
    I love my 7mm-08 a lot as well, but I feel you've got a better overall "one gun and it's done" for AK with the 30 cal.
    Good luck, be safe, have fun!
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    Rich
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    Member AKteach's Avatar
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    Imo, the fit of the rifle is as important if not more important than the caliber. Three of my children have collectively harvested 3 black bears a moose and a caribou with the same rugger ranch rifle in 7mm-08 it fits a small person but its heavy enough that recoil is not an issue. My 14 year old took a bou with his new tikka ultra-lite in 30-06 this year and he commented more than once about the increase in recoil. also the LOP on this new rifle would not have worked for him three years ago.

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    My son started with my Savage 99e .308, he shot it very well at age 9. He wanted a new gun (like his dad) and we went with the 30-06 and he absolutely loves it. Can't go wrong with either!

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    Member Smokey's Avatar
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    I am with AKteach, fit is the top concern to begin with. The size of your sons frame - length of arms, face size etc all come into play. If he has short arms working a long action gun may be a challenge - heck it can be for a adult that is small in stature....
    The reduced 30-06 would be a good way to go, plenty for a black bear - comparable to 308 or 7mm08. Both of those deliver close to same velocity as a full 3006 load but with considerably less recoil....
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Default A gun for sons first black bear

    Fit is first up. I see no reason to beat a kid up with recoil and I don't care for playing around with reduced recoil loads. A 7-08 tossing quality 130-140grn pills at full velocity are pleasant to shoot and are plenty for black bears and caribou. Heck my sons 7-08 only weighs about 7lbs ready to hunt and despite the short LOP I can shoot it ok even at 6'5" tall. I could see dragging it up the sheep mountains and it would be a pleasure to bust alders with as it isn't much longer than my pack.

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    Member Redlander's Avatar
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    I started my nephew with my Model 7 .260 Rem for his first deer at about age 11. As a family, we got him a .270 Remington 700 Mountain Rifle for his 16th birthday. Like several others, I'd recomment a 7mm-08 with a smaller sized stock that you can upsize in 5-6 years. And if you reload, 130 gr bullets (Barnes TX) would be just the ticket. Still, even full pwer 140 gr. loads would be too much. I think the two cartridges mentioned are on the opposite ends of what I'd like a kid to start with, one probably has too much recoil and the other is probably underpowered.

    For kids and hunting, you don't want them cold or recoil shy. If you start him out right, his first gun won't be his last. That Model 7 mentioned above, it was my first big game rifle at age 14; it started as a 6mm, it has been rebarreled, rebedded, new 1/2 recoil pad after the other got really hard and slick, and it had a succession of scopes. However, 30 years later, I took two white-tailed does with it this past year and would now hesitate to count the number of deer that have fallen to it - despite the long list of other rifles that have passed through, or still in the grasp of, my hands over the years.

    BTW, for optics, I'd stick a 2-7 Leupold VX-II on whatever you buy and forget about it for the next 20 years.

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    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
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    .243 will kill a black bear, deer, or moose every time if shot properly, but a 30-06 will be plenty for every animal in the woods. You might take a look at a Tikka... full size without the weight and they make a bunch of calibers.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    For those that don't know reduced recoil ammo is available in factory ammo, several companies load it. Also I would stay away from light rifles, the Tikka is known as having a harsh recoil. Starting a new shooter out with a bolt 22LR is also a great way to teach mechanics and form. I did this with my wife and she used my 22-250 to practice with and before long was firing a ragged hole at 100 yards. I then switched her over to a 270WSM and she did as well with it.

    http://www.chuckhawks.com/federal_low_recoil.htm

    Always fun to share in the enthusiasm a new shooter has.

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  14. #14

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    I'll be taking my 11 year old daughter on her first black bear hunt this spring with the .243. So far she's dropped a moose and caribou with it, so I have no doubt it will be sufficient for black bears.

    She's tall and skinny, and the kick does not bother her. Watch them closely at the range and see if they are flinching at the shot. My daughter did this on her second or third shot and I worked on that with her right away. Developing those habits are hard to break because eventually they become second nature. It's fun to watch my daughter in the field being so calm and collective when the moment of truth comes.

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Rising Creek,
    (....a few half-thoughts....)

    Black bears, properly shot through the lung/heart area, always die easy regardless of the projectile. Big bullets, small bullets, broadheads on an arrow or bolt, patched round lead balls all seem to result in a black bear "good death" when the bears circulatory system sufficiently leaks and the black bear experiences a low-blood-pressure condition.

    So any of the rifle calibers mentioned can easily make black bears equally dead. My buddy takes out each of his grandkids black bear hunting for their eleventh birthday. And each of those half-dozen grandkids have killed black bears between the six and seven foot squared size and caribou (and a few moose and a couple of rams) with the same .243.
    And while those kids has all killed these critters with these small bullets, I personally prefer something a little larger like a .308 or 30/06, especially when you take them caribou or moose hunting. I would recommend something like a fine and light little Kimber rifle in .308.

    I would also like to compliment and commend you for getting your son engaged in hunting activities at the age of eleven. Topics like hunting and gun safety, animal anatomy, subsistence hunting and sport hunting, moose conservation (by taking a black bear, a moose calf predator) are just a few of the great discussions the two of your will have while engaged in hunting and camping activities together. Make sure he starts to learn how to cook on a camp stove and participates in all the associated activities and skills (for your future outdoor enjoyment)!
    (Of course I'm aware that he is too young to actually be cooking on a camp stove at only elevin years of age. But I think it's still good to get him thinking about taking care of himself so he can help you more around camp as he matures. Time goes by fast.)

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    I think that ANY 11 year old needs to learn to shoot a center fire rifle using reduced loads. Yeah, even in the 243. Shooting targets is different than shooting game. The adrenalin is different (way) the noise generated by the rifle is "different" and recoil certainly "feels" different. Start with reduced loads and try to find a full (or almost full) power load that shoots to the same point of aim. Actually the reduced load can hit much lower than the full power load; what I think would work is the reduced being "on" at 25 or 50 yards and the full power load being on at 100. Prior to hunting, ONLY let the kid shoot the reduced loads (you handle the full power stuff). When he gets a shot on game, he won't even realize that there's a difference in recoil. Also on the full power loads, try to find the lightest bullet you can, that you have confidence will do the job.

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Default A gun for sons first black bear

    My son shot his first bear with a 7mm-08 mountain rifle just before his tenth birthday , regular 150 grain bullet iirc, dropped in its tracks.
    He has no problem with the recoil
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    Member OKElkHunter's Avatar
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    30/06 has a pretty stiff recoil for a small person. I personnaly believe that Remington hit it out of the park with the development of the 7mm08. It has moderate to low recoil, is very flat shooting and has enough oomph to kill a moose. It is probably the best youth caliber available for big game hunting and can easily be a caliber that a kid grows up with and uses for everything except big browns or African game, but it would be up to that task in the right hands with a good back-up. I am a 30/06 shooter myself, but for a kid, I wouldn't want to make him or her recoil shy before they become good hunters.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rising_Creek View Post
    My son is 11 and has taken hunter's ed. We may go for a black bear this spring. I am considering .30-06 or maybe .243 for him to shoot. Anyone have kids close to this age with a similar experience? What worked for you?
    “Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong." ~Calvin Coolidge~

  19. #19

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    My Father gave my son a 30-06 for his 9th birthday. So my son and I worked up some reduced loads with h4895 and 130 gr TTSX, until he said uncle. He ended up shooting a 5' black bear that spring and this year, at 10, he shot a caribou with the same setup. Needless to say he loves it, and allowing him to work up the loads himself kept the fear of the 30-06 at bay and his confidence high...


    Attachment 67545

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I cannot say enough good things about the 7mm-08. My nephew started shooting one at 10 years old, and my small-framed wife loves hers as well. It has such mild recoil that it feels almost like shooting a 22lr, and with a few youth models available, it would be hard to go wrong. Like LuJon, I'm awfully tempted to take one with me into the sheep mountains, as it is certainly a more than capable cartridge.

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