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Thread: much learned but still looking for advice

  1. #1
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    Default much learned but still looking for advice

    I didn't get into hunting seriously until I was in my mid 20s. My dad didn't hunt and we lived in Florida. My mother's side of the family has a long history here in Alaska. She was born in Chignik and was adopted by a couple who homesteaded Wasilla in 1949. As far back as I can remember, while growing up in Florida and knowing I was from Alaska, I wanted to live here. I visited my grandmother a few summers and eventually moved up after high school for college.

    I got my first taste of hunting while in college up here. My future father in law drew a caribou tag for the Kenai Peninsula. He was recovering from heart surgery and needed a partner to make sure he was safe. I didn't learn much from him. We didn't see any caribou but did attempt a stalk on a black bear. He got too exhausted and we abandoned the stalk.

    I ended up having to move down south due to changes in my goals for education. Unfortunately I didn't get to move back here until 2014. We were gone over 10 years. One of the places I lived while outside was Idaho. We lived there 7 years. It was there that my love for hunting was born. Friends from church invited me to go mule deer and elk hunting. They ended up becoming the best friends I have ever had. I didn't have much expectations for harvesting anything my first year. My reasoning for going hunting was I enjoyed the mountains and hiking. It sounded like a good excuse to enjoy both with good friends.

    My first year I didn't have much expectations. We put scores of miles of boot leather down hiking up and down hills and mountains. We didn't see any elk and I only got one chance at a fork and horn mule deer. He was standing with a group of does. It took me a bit to find him in my scope. When I finally settled, got steady, and pulled the trigger nothing happened. The safety was still on. By the time I got it off the group of deer kangaroo hopped out of site.

    That first year I didn't harvest anything but got hooked on hunting. I marveled at how well my friends spotted animals and how quickly they could locate them in their rifle scopes. I began practicing the skills all the time and eventually got to where I could on occasion spot animals before my friends. I ended up becoming a successful hunter in Idaho. I harvested deer every year, several elk, and my once in a lifetime Idaho moose.

    My work situation changed and the opportunity to move back to Alaska presented itself. Last year I was not an Alaska resident because I had not lived here for a year yet so I flew back to Idaho to hunt with my friends. That means this year is my first year as a resident hunting Alaska.

    Alaska took me back to school. I put in for the dc590 caribou hunt thinking its close proximity to where I live would make hunting it more convenient. I quickly learned that access by foot was near impossible. I tried several access points and found them near impossible to pack an animal out in a reasonable time. I switched gears and took my family floating down a river to hunt moose over 4 days. I didn't see any moose but learned several lessons on increasing my chances float hunting and making it more comfortable for the family. There is a lot that goes into taking your wife and four children ages 1+ to 12 years.

    All the time I allotted off work for hunting was consumed in those two endeavors. I ended up glassing the mountains locally for moose during the rest of the season after work and on weekends. I ended up spotting a legal bull. He was a forky. I tried to stalk him the first time I saw him but was thwarted having to cross a river. I spotted him for a few days after and even learned how and where to cross the river. I put in a pretty good stalk but it ended up getting too dark to seal the deal. My wedding anniversary trip was scheduled for the last weekend of moose hunting season so I had to give up on harvesting that bull moose. I felt the moose season was successful. I learned much and even spotted a legal bull.

    My anniversary trip was two nights stay in a forest service cabin with just my wife. Her grandmother watched the children. We planned on hunting during our trip and had a great hike to the cabin. The first morning my wife spotted the largest brown bear we had ever seen. It was well above the alders on a mountain about a mile away eating berries. We decided to try to harvest him. After breakfast, we glassed the area of the mountain he was moving towards and didn't see any sign of a bear. We gave up pursuing him and decided to do some fishing. After some success fishing we were making our way back to the cabin when my wife said "there he is". I looked up and he was just above the alders high up on a the same mountain eating berries. We immediately started to plan our stalk. I got to an open area on the same mountain he was on and he started moving our way. Seeing him now at 500 yards he was indeed monstrous through my 12 power binocs. He entered some alders and came out below them at 400 yards. Excitement coursed through me like no other hunting experience I have had. He entered another group of alders and came out at 330 yards. He was in a small clearing and it looked like I might not get another opportunity. He ended up disappearing into the alders. The next day we looked for him but only saw a new trail between the alders made by something very large. I was disappointed not getting to bring him home. His ears in proportion to his head were small. the quality of his fur was one of the best I have seen. He was so fat his belly nearly dragged the ground. I hope to go back next year for a longer duration and get another chance at a good bear or sheep.

    This was my first experience pursuing a brown bear. I have some questions for anyone with more experience hunting bears in the mountains. It looks like my wife will now be my primary hunting partner. She is left handed and is afraid of shooting anything larger than her 243. She has harvested several mule deer with it. I have a browning BLR in 300wm that she could back me up with. My primary rifle is now a bolt action 338wm. I want her or anyone I hunt with to have at least a 30 caliber rifle to back me up. What would you recommend I get for my wife or should I just work with her on my 300wm? I am also looking for ideas on if we had to follow the bear into the alders what should we carry for a potential charge in close quarters. If I had shot the bear and it ran into the alders how long should I wait before I try to retrieve him? Any and all tips on hunting these giants is much appreciated.

    Sorry for the long post. Thanks for any help.

  2. #2
    Member tyrex13's Avatar
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    .308 has very similar recoil to .243. I have both and can't tell the difference when I switch back and forth. There is a difference, but it is small and hard to tell. The guns are similar in size and weight.

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    I bought a Ruger Guide Gun and with the muzzle brake and the recoil pad on it that it comes with I don't feel a lot of kick with my .375 Ruger, the Guide Gun comes in .300 win mag and .338 too I believe. I am about 5'8 and I weigh about 200 lbs. I have a .300 win mag as well that is also a Ruger from the early 90's. It is magnaported and my girlfriend has no problem shooting either of these guns. I was shooting the .300 mag when I was 14 and I was 5'5 then and I weighed about 140, 150 and I had good accuracy with it then. Some people don't believe in it but I've shot two identical rifles, one magnaported and one not and I could tell the difference in recoil. In my opinion, magnaporting works. I have never had a Ruger firearm fail me either, my dad has shot a .300 win mag Ruger since 1974 and his rifle in over 40 years has never failed despite abusing the hell out of it.

    Your wife can't be afraid of the gun she is carrying or she won't be any good as a backup, because if she is afraid of it she isn't going to hit what she's shooting at or she will hesitate. A .243 is subpar as a backup gun for a Brown Bear, it's a great gun but I'm sorry guys, that's not what I would want in a backup gun up here in Alaska.

    As far as the brown bear goes, I would have popped him with my .375 at 330 yards provided that I could get another shot into him, but I have put a few hundred rounds through that gun at ranges up to 500 yards and I'm comfortable with that gun. If you weren't comfortable shooting him at that range you made the right decision. I've heard of people waiting a half hour or an hour to go in after a bear, one person I know waited all night. Personally I think it depends how hard you hit it in the first place - if it goes sprinting into the brush like nothing happened I might wait a while, if it is barely able to haul itself into the alders I might go in sooner. It's whatever you're comfortable with. Is it almost dark? I'm probably not going into the alders when it's getting dark.

    As far as a charge, that .338 should work. I think my .375 Ruger is going to take the piss out of a brown bear at close range provided you can hit it but that's the whole thing isn't it, are you going to hit it when it's bearing down on you? Because these animals can move through alders like it's not even there sometimes. The problem is when you're at close range if you have a scope and you pull it up all you're going to see is fur when it's bearing down on you. Alaska Arms LLC sells scope mounts that detach and reattach so that you don't lose your zero on your scope, that way you can use iron sights or a scope. They also have scopes that go down to just one power so it's like looking through your eyes.

    Anyways those are my 2 cents. There are some guides on here who hunt brown bear a lot so I would take their advice over mine.

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    I'm far from expert, but killed a number of black bears and couple brown/Grizzlies, the 300wm will do the job, but that 338wm is my favorite. I have a couple 375 H&H's but hardly ever use them as the 338wm with 250gr partitions or accubonds always provides the perfect mixture of range and penetration.

    Porting whatever rifle you choose for your lady will significantly reduce recoil, but also significantly increase deafening report. There is always a trade off. One thing to think about is the rifle weight and geometry too. My dad has a BLR in 308 and 300, I don't even like shooting the 308 as it just kicks way, way more than it should, and I'm pretty recoil resistant often shooting a 338 Lapua and 500 Linebaugh magnum handguns. There is just something about that BLR that kicks my butt--pun intended. Next to it, and as much as I love them the Marlin 45/70's pack a good little punch at both ends.

    Think as a backup for breaking down an animal and not having to track the bear through nasty, scary, dark alder patches--id want whatever she shoots most comfortably and thereby accurately. For my wife, this is a 270 or 308. Cool thing with the 308 is there is some good selection in factory ammo out to 175gr. For longer range the 185gr is deadly (my favorite for matches), but likely will require handloading.
    Since the World is 2/3 Water and Only 1/3 Land, Figures the Good Lord Intended I Fish More Than I Plow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wildwill View Post
    I'm far from expert, but killed a number of black bears and couple brown/Grizzlies, the 300wm will do the job, but that 338wm is my favorite. I have a couple 375 H&H's but hardly ever use them as the 338wm with 250gr partitions or accubonds always provides the perfect mixture of range and penetration.

    Porting whatever rifle you choose for your lady will significantly reduce recoil, but also significantly increase deafening report. There is always a trade off. One thing to think about is the rifle weight and geometry too. My dad has a BLR in 308 and 300, I don't even like shooting the 308 as it just kicks way, way more than it should, and I'm pretty recoil resistant often shooting a 338 Lapua and 500 Linebaugh magnum handguns. There is just something about that BLR that kicks my butt--pun intended. Next to it, and as much as I love them the Marlin 45/70's pack a good little punch at both ends.

    Think as a backup for breaking down an animal and not having to track the bear through nasty, scary, dark alder patches--id want whatever she shoots most comfortably and thereby accurately. For my wife, this is a 270 or 308. Cool thing with the 308 is there is some good selection in factory ammo out to 175gr. For longer range the 185gr is deadly (my favorite for matches), but likely will require handloading.
    It makes it louder but when I'm pounding an animal I've got enough adrenaline going it doesn't even make my ears ring even if I fire a few times.

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    Maybe a semi-auto with a muzzle break. Both help dampen the recoil...

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    Thanks for the input. I will take her to the range and see how she does with my 300wm. If that doesn't work I will look into a left handed bolt action 308. If she has either my 300wm or 308 and a 10mm as an everything else fails side arm backing me up I think we will be fine. I typically carry my 338wm with a 44mag in a chest holster. Most of my shots on moose, deer, and elk in Idaho were over 400 yards. I am very comfortable with shots in that range. However I have never followed a wounded bear into the alders. I have hike through many miles of alders and know how limiting in movement and visibility they can be. Does anyone have advice for what you do if you have to go into alders after a wounded bear?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcnejs View Post
    Does anyone have advice for what you do if you have to go into alders after a wounded bear?
    First off, before you squeeze the trigger think about just that..... Getting as close as you can to a bear will help you minimize the chance of that happening. Personally, I'm an advocate of not shooting big bears at over 100 yards. Closer even better. You want that bear to absorb all the energy that slug can deliver, and the closer you are, the more that is possible. But if after that first shot and that bear is headed for the alders try and get a few more into it before it gets there, and if at all possible aim towards the head or spine. But of course, if it happens that you may have to go in for a wounded bear, always wait a good long time, half hour to an hour before going in, in hopes the bear will bleed out. When you enter use your eyes and ears more than your feet. Try and keep the muzzle of your rifle out in front of you towards where you think the bear will be, but conscious of how you can maneuver it at any given time. Try and we've your rifle barrel through the alders as you follow behind it. Don't go in blind...keep a keen lookout for blood to keep you headed in the right direction. You don't want that bear coming at you from any other direction than you want it to. Go slow.....very, very slow. Listen intently and look for the slightest movement of anything....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    "She is left handed and is afraid of shooting anything larger than her 243."

    Dude, do her and yourself a big favor and don't take her to the range with the 300win. You could ruin her from ever wanting to shoot a rifle again - or give her a major flinch that would preclude her from ever being proficient with another rifle - even her 243. She wouldn't be much good to you as a backup if either of these resulted.

    I hesitated telling you this, but you did say you were "still looking for advice".

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    Member Roland on the River's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcnejs View Post
    Thanks for the input. I will take her to the range and see how she does with my 300wm. If that doesn't work I will look into a left handed bolt action 308. If she has either my 300wm or 308 and a 10mm as an everything else fails side arm backing me up I think we will be fine. I typically carry my 338wm with a 44mag in a chest holster. Most of my shots on moose, deer, and elk in Idaho were over 400 yards. I am very comfortable with shots in that range. However I have never followed a wounded bear into the alders. I have hike through many miles of alders and know how limiting in movement and visibility they can be. Does anyone have advice for what you do if you have to go into alders after a wounded bear?
    Email me at triumph.ak @gmail.com and I will share a story of a friends daughter shooting a huge Kodiak Bear with a 375 at age 10.

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    Caliber is not the main consideration. Gun's fit and reaction to the caliber is. My grandfather built a .308 for my mom, on a very lightweight stock. It kicked horribly. My father had a much heavier .308 semi auto that barely kicks. A 30-06 can be a great caliber, the .308, .300 WSM, etc. It all depends on the stock fitting her frame properly, having a good recoil pad, and the proper balance, porting, etc. to reduce recoil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    Caliber is not the main consideration. Gun's fit and reaction to the caliber is. My grandfather built a .308 for my mom, on a very lightweight stock. It kicked horribly. My father had a much heavier .308 semi auto that barely kicks. A 30-06 can be a great caliber, the .308, .300 WSM, etc. It all depends on the stock fitting her frame properly, having a good recoil pad, and the proper balance, porting, etc. to reduce recoil.
    I agree with this 100%, fit is paramount. Make sure the LOP is fit for her size and such.

    That said my wife shot this 9.5' brown bear this spring on Kodiak with one shot from her .308 win.


    I had the stock cut down some to get the LOP better to fit it for her and also had it ported to reduce recoil as the rifle with a scope included is still under 6 pounds.

    If she is backing you up you want her to be comfortable and accurate with it. Better to be accurate with a 180 grain bullet doing 2700 fps (308 win ) than have her worrying about recoil and having a 180 grain bullet doing 3000 fps (300 WM).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska_Lanche View Post
    I agree with this 100%, fit is paramount. Make sure the LOP is fit for her size and such.

    That said my wife shot this 9.5' brown bear this spring on Kodiak with one shot from her .308 win.
    Wow...you two sure make a great team...!!!
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Luke's gone a lot. That's why she can tolerate him....haha

    That 10 yr old that shot the huge brownie is a huge exception to the rule, crud she does her own hand loads and has a 500 yard range at the house!!

    What 4mer hit on is key. Think about the after the shot. How big is your field of fire,
    If it's small have her back you up quicker, if you have the bear way in the open go to work on it. Second shot is key,
    Once you pound the bear once shoot shoot shoot. Don't wait for a good shot, just start putting holes in fur as fast as you can!! The bear may be dead on its feet and not have gotten the memo. But broken bones can help get it to stop in the open while the gas drains outa the tank. A bear shot ten times is wayyyyyyy better than a bear you had to track ANYWHERE.
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    With todays super bullets, like the Barnes X or similar we have many choices for an Alaskan hunting rifle. I think the best choices for Alaska are the .308 Win., 30-06, .300 Win. Mag. or .338 Win. Mag.

    There is no reason your wife can not do it all with a .308 Win. or a 30-06 and a tough 168 grain bullet. It can be done with a lighter weight, shorter 22" barrel and all around easier packing rifle.

    Use the best bullets made, Barnes XTS for me, use a reliable rifle with a very reliable trigger, spend more money on your binoculars then your rifle scope, buy a good quality rifle scope. Learn your rifle's trajectory out to 500 yards. Never use the rifles scope for "spotting/glassing", as it is a sighting instrument only!

    Shoot as often as you can afford to from "field positions", the bench is for sighting in the scope.

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    Once again, thanks to everyone for the advice. We went out to the range today and we brought nearly every gun we owned. I sighted in my 338 after putting new scope rings on it. My wife decided to try shooting my 300 min mag in my browning BLR. She did great. She shot it about 10 times. I had a milk jug out 100 yards and she made that thing dance all over. The down side is she now claims my 300mw as her own. Small price to pay.

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    I can offer you my opinion based upon my experiences: I have seen brown bears react to a double lung shot as if it were a blank. I have seen bears pile up dead when shot with light calibers. There is variance in BEAR VITALITY. Meaning, some bears run away and/or pile up easily. Others, DON'T. Some minimal caliber proponents may contend Harry Selby shot charging African buffalo with his Colt Woodsman .22. Or, maybe, refer to Karamojo Bell shooting many charging elephants with his 7x57 Mauser. In a naive, and, maybe dangerous way, they may say it is more challenging to chase brown bears with the lightest legal caliber. Not for me, thank you very much!

    I say have your wife shoot the biggest caliber she can handle...with the heaviest, best constructed bullet...particularly, if you are expecting her to "back you" as you go into the alders after a wounded brown bear.
    There is perceived recoil and actual recoil. Recoil is primarily a function of bullet velocity, bullet weight and rifle weight. There are other variables, of course, such as size and weight of the shooter. Slender people get rocked harder than heavier people.
    Recommendations:
    1. Check rifle recoil charts on the web. It sounds like your wife can easily handle 10-11 foot pounds of free recoil.
    2. Have your wife shoot with the aid of a Lead Sled from the bench during familiarization.
    3. Get a MUZZLE BRAKE. She can wear double foam earplugs when hunting (I do) and put them on before the shot.
    4. Get a Kick-EEze recoil pad (they are superior to the others in attenuating recoil)
    5. Have her shoot the heaviest rifle she can comfortably carry/shoot. Heavier rifles are easier to hold in the wind and kick less.
    6. Practice a LOT with light loads. Familiarity with her rifle may save your bacon.
    7. Regarding alders: Stay the hell away from wounding a bear and having to follow it into the alders. Only shoot when there is ample field of fire. Meaning, shoot only when you are sure to make multiple shots before it gets into heavy cover.
    8. I am not too crazy about her using a BLR as a backup unless she is very, very familiar with the gun and has practiced a LOT. When under stress, and you will be under stress when a bear is coming at you, people tend to short chuck pumps and lever guns.
    9. Have her practice, practice, practice. Again, familiarization with the rifle is of the utmost importance.
    10. Be meticulous with gun maintenance. Some oils clog firing pins. Trust me on this.

    A 375 Winchester is minimum for me to go into the alders after any bear. Remember, a bear can be dead on its feet and still eat your face before it drops. Killing and stopping are two different things when it comes to big bears.

    And no matter how familiar you get around bears, never, never, never become complacent and/or over confident. They can hurt you.....

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    Member cod's Avatar
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    You guys are starting to scare me! Are you'all trying to say only a fool would go after a brownie on his own with no backup and no one knowing you're out hunting em?
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cod View Post
    You guys are starting to scare me! Are you'all trying to say only a fool would go after a brownie on his own with no backup and no one knowing you're out hunting em?
    They are just trying to impress upon you how important it is to be prepared, and what to expect, and NOT to underestimate your prey.

    Always expect the worst and you will never be unprepared.

    (in short don't be stupid about it and don't kid yourself about your abilities and your choice of weapon ability.)
    Josh
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    I will pipe in that getting a proper muzzle brake is key. it will be really loud but jsut use good earmuffs at the range, and maybe ear plugs as well.

    I have tried a lot of muzzle brakes and I settled on the one from Wild West Guns in Anchorage. it is by far the loudest, but it is super easy to clean (HUGE benefit) and reduces recoil on my .300WM mountain rifle to less than that of a bolt action .243 that I sold



    as others have said, DO NOT TAKE HER SHOOTING WITH YOUR .300WM!!!

    jsut my $.02

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