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Thread: What is the typical bear mauling scenario?

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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    Default What is the typical bear mauling scenario?

    I know everybody loves these threads, but it's a sincere question.

    I have watched numerous charges, been around bears, read many accounts of mauling etc... so tell me if I have this wrong but it seems to me that most bear attacks occur with little or no warning (2 seconds or less) and in many if not most cases the person is on the ground before they can make sense of what is happening.

    I keep reading articles on the subject making the claim that rifles are preferable so long as they are at hand, but I have to question the logic if a large enough percentage of attacks happen without sufficient warning to prevent contact.

    If I'm on the ground being worked over I am going to have great difficulty effectively keeping hold of a rifle let alone successfully using it (and that's assuming it's a shorter carbine like the Marlin Guide Gun).

    So are my assumptions wrong? What does the typical (although extraordinarily rare) encounter look like? What's your guess at the split between encounters with more or less time than sufficient to field a firearm before contact?
    Science has a rich history of proving itself wrong.

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    I don't think the premise of your question is correct...there are probably a number of different scenarios, but I don't think anybody can say one of them is particularly most common. If anything, a surprise encounter would be a general category that might account for the largest sets of scenarios.

    Because they are surprise encounters, they are also usually discipline encounters..."you freaked me out and made me scared don't do that again, whap whap." Then the bear runs off. This is obviously a fast event. Anybody that has a long gun on their back, or in anything other than a ready-carry position will not make use of it during this encounter. This is one reason why bear spray is really a preferred and in many ways optimal deterrent for surprise, quick moving events. Fumbling with it, using it poorly, likely it will work anyway, and likely everybody leaves with nobody injured. If you are set on having a firearm for every situation rather than using pepper spray, a quality handgun has the feature that it can be carried in such a manner that it is always available. The persistent problem with handguns is that people overestimate their ability and don't practice enough to improve on their poor skills.

    In slower-developing deliberate approaches, these issues do not apply and long guns have better power and users have generally better skills. The non-lethal deterrent of choice in this instance is a toss-up between the pepper spray and handheld marine flares. Bears don't like fire held in their face any better than we do.

    No idea on the split, the reality is that so few bear encounters end with any human contact that it is hard to evaluate and possibly not needed. If you are going to be in a wooded area, carry the pepper spray. If you are going to be out in open tundra, consider handheld flares. Not good for quick deployment, but less affected by wind than the spray.
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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    Flares, well that's certainly a new one for me.
    Science has a rich history of proving itself wrong.

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    If it happens really quickly, and the BEAR is "on top of you", you will probably just sound like Timmy Treadwell......aaaahhhhhhh...aaaaahhhhhh. Growl, crunch, snap, etc. That is the "typical" bear mauling scenario. Maybe you get to live, maybe not.
    "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind."

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunbugs View Post
    If it happens really quickly, and the BEAR is "on top of you", you will probably just sound like Timmy Treadwell......aaaahhhhhhh...aaaaahhhhhh. Growl, crunch, snap, etc. That is the "typical" bear mauling scenario. Maybe you get to live, maybe not.
    Yeah, not so sure it matters what you're packing when Mr. Griz is on top of you. You probably will not get to use it.

    I've had a couple of deliberate encounters, I felt way better with the rifle one than the handgun one. Nothing ended up dead, but I was ready to make him that way if he came any closer.

    I totally agree with Troy- most folks completely overestimate their ability with a handgun, especially under pressure.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    I know something like a dozen people who have shot their way out of charges, only two that have felt fang and claw. I've talked in detail to all of them.

    If there's any common denominator, it's speed. It happens so fast, if your gun isn't in your hand when it starts, it's probably not going to be there by the time you get hit unless the charge starts from a long ways away. For the two that got hit, the charges started inside 10 yards.

    In my own first-hand experience in 5 charges over 40 years, if they start far away they're likely false charges. Or at least all mine were. The bears started at 30-40 yards, and stopped at 10-20 yards. I was looking over my sights at the time, but my finger was getting pretty heavy.

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    Gun or spray, it astounds me how often they are carried on or in a backpack.


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    I was charged by a wounded black bear many years ago. I had a .44 mag in my hand. He came from behind. I had time to turn and put one in his head at point blank. If the 44 had been holstered, it would have gone badly for me. Been charged by a sow with a cub. I was unarmed. (logging job) Thankfully she pulled up short. Had lots of other encounters with teeth popping and such. Any time I feel like I am getting into a 'situation' I have the gun in my hand. Sometimes it's just that creepy feeling you get that makes you feel like you're being watched or stalked. I go on high alert. Trust your gut.
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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunbugs View Post
    If it happens really quickly, and the BEAR is "on top of you", you will probably just sound like Timmy Treadwell......aaaahhhhhhh...aaaaahhhhhh. Growl, crunch, snap, etc. That is the "typical" bear mauling scenario. Maybe you get to live, maybe not.
    So people should just not prepare to live in such a case? Honestly from these responses my synopsis is "carry a gun (or road flare) in hand always or don't bother trying to live." That would be the logical conclusion from the comments so far. (however illogical that may be)

    And yet how often do you heed your own advice? And how often would you have been or would you be content dying without fighting back rather than condescend to consider an alternative to your glorious vision of reality? And how many of you (BrownBear) have and do carry a handgun for protection against bears under many and varied circumstances? Why given the above?

    I am perfectly willing to accept that the vast majority of testy bear encounters happen with enough warning that a rifle slung over your shoulder is preferable to a sidearm strapped to your waist (assuming proficiency with both) if the facts warrant such a conclusion (and I'm certainly not saying that they don't). But road flares and/or defeatism are certainly not helpful constructs. Prove to me their wonderful bear stopping track record and I'll be a convert, but...

    In the long thread here from 2006 as well as Larry Kanuit's works, numerous instances of "rifle wasn't effective," "handgun was effective" came up (for varying reasons like the bear already being on top of or too close to them or malfunctions which may admittedly happen with rifle or pistol, or thick brush). I also am very skeptical of the "I always have my rifle within reach while butchering moose" crowd unless "within reach" means "often on the other side of an animal I cannot fully straddle (let alone back in camp as I ferry meat back and forth)."

    So again I ask what the split looks like. In what percentage of dicey bear encounters is the rifle fully at hand and reliable (or would be if properly and reasonably carried)? What percentage happen while fishing or in thick brush or berry picking or hiking carrying anything that would make a rifle less than ideal (meat, a kid, a canoe, wood, a chain saw, etc...), and how many happen whilst engaged in activities like hunting where a rifle is perfectly ready and capable of being properly utilized?

    And how many handguns do you suspect are sold/utilized for bear protection compared to long arms utilized/sold for the same? Do you think those sales reflect ignorance or reality? Should we really all leave our sidearms at home and carry road flares, bear spray, and 338 lapuas? I mean who doesn't want to pack a 338 Lapua with 300 grain Accubonds @2650fps fishing? And why the heck not dynamite? I mean that's the logical extension of this isn't it?
    Science has a rich history of proving itself wrong.

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Seems entirely the bear's discretion ... including non-encounters.
    Having options might be better than not. Maybe no amount of hardware will replace situational awareness or keeping one's head.
    And then there's bad luck, and/or bad judgement.
    Good luck!

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    Hungry bear and a runner with ear buds. lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by RainGull View Post
    And how many of you (BrownBear) have and do carry a handgun for protection against bears under many and varied circumstances? Why given the above?
    Climb down from way up there on that high horse Raingull. You're putting your words in people's mouths (mine included) just so you can snort and moan and paw the ground. Your words don't fit my mouth for carp, and for us standing down on the ground, all we can see of you way up there is your axx. Jeezopete. I can see it's time to leave this conversation behind. Enjoy the view up there. You're all by your lonesome.

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    There was an attack on a moose hunter in Cooper Landing along Quartz creek 20+ years ago, as I recall, he was carrying a .30-06' and wore a .44 mag at his hip. A brown bear attacks him knocking his 06' out of his grip, as the bear is mauling him he manages to pull his sidearm and fire a round (or two?) into the bears gut. The bear retreats leaving the victim to crawl to the Sterling HWY and is rescued.

    Bear spray would NEVER be my choice over a firearm, FWIW.

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    The reason I was somewhat flippant is that there is no good, solid answer to your question. Too many variables are involved. You ask "what percentage" ad infinitum. Again, no one knows. If there was a "best" solution, type of weapon, type of carry, then everyone would do only that. However, no such solution or information exists. It is based on individual decisions and the encounter at hand. Good luck, you may need it. Far from being "defeatist", I try to be a "realist", I have had MANY more encounters with iffy Moose than I have had with any BEAR. In my reality, BEAR are not the big threat most folks make them out to be. I try to be aware of my surroundings when in the sticks. It appears most "maulings" happen when folks have their heads up their rears.
    "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind."

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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    Climb down from way up there on that high horse Raingull. You're putting your words in people's mouths (mine included) just so you can snort and moan and paw the ground. Your words don't fit my mouth for carp, and for us standing down on the ground, all we can see of you way up there is your axx. Jeezopete. I can see it's time to leave this conversation behind. Enjoy the view up there. You're all by your lonesome.
    Wouldn't know about eating carp though I've eaten a minute quantity of crow and know how it tastes. I didn't put words into anyones mouth. As for horses perhaps ironically the only time I ever see eye to eye with a horse is with my feet firmly planted on the ground.

    I agree that moose and deer and moreso two-leggeds are the more serious threat than bears that according to the Anchorage parks study go to extraordinary lengths to avoid confrontation as do sharks (but mistakes do happen on both sides of things). And certainly we should be far far more prepared for emergencies in our automobiles.

    I could post example after example and try to make a case (one way or the other, I could probably do both pretty well) and certainly enough statistics do actually exist to draw basic conclusions. But I really am not biased having taken many approaches to many things myself. But honestly the responses here have me checking the calendar. Are we really into the dark of winter already? I am at a loss honestly. I guess that's why I seldom post anymore.
    Science has a rich history of proving itself wrong.

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    Member gunbugs's Avatar
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    If you are already well informed with "example after example", and are aware that the statistics exist to answer your question, then draw your own conclusion from the copious information you have at hand.
    "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind."

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    Quote Originally Posted by RainGull View Post
    And how many handguns do you suspect are sold/utilized for bear protection compared to long arms utilized/sold for the same? Do you think those sales reflect ignorance or reality?
    Asking how many handguns are sold to guys for bear protection, is akin to asking how many johnny caps are sold to guys hoping to get lucky; it's more a reflection of imagination and marketing than of realized need.
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    Other than a few line of duty situations when I cornered a bear, I have only been false charged several times over the last half century. I think they can tell what you are thinking. So I think '"You go your way and I will go my way. If not I will kill your big furry butt. " So they turn and go their way.
    Folks who run along trails or wander around wearing head-pones are just asking for it.
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    I understand that there's a wide range of opinions on bears and protection from. Thought I might spice things up with some facts.

    http://www.polarbearsinternational.o..._23_07_utc.pdf

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    Thought I should add something more than just the link.

    Final paragraph:

    Firearm type received very little support, suggesting that
    efficacy of the firearm was unrelated to whether people used a
    handgun or long gun. Considering the high intensity, rapidly
    unfolding, close-quartered, and chaotic nature of bear
    attacks, these results are not surprising. Hence, we cannot
    recommend one class of weapon over the other. We did not
    have data regarding the level of expertise associated with
    those who carried firearms. Regardless, a person’s skill level
    plays an influential role in determining the outcome in bear–
    firearm incidents.


    The take home: If you're going to carry, pick a firearm you are comfortable and proficient with.

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