Yesterday I was doing some scouting for my DS141 sheep permit above Eklutna Lake. I had been checking out some areas away from the established trails so had been busting brush for a better part of the day. It was around 7pm and I was heading back to my bike and had about a half mile to go. I'm not worried about bears when I'm out there, but I had been going through some thick stuff for a while and was giving out an occasional "hey bear!" shout. But I was also hot and tired and zoning out a bit.
As I was going through some broken scrub brush - dwarf birch and salmonberry and what not - a bear started woofing about 20 yards in front of me. By about the fourth "woof" I had realized what it was and had snapped to attention. I reached to my hip and drew my Redhawk 44 as I ducked down a bit to see around a bush and look for the bear. I saw enough of the bear to be relieved it was a blackie - but was not relieved to see him bolt into a run undeniably in my direction. I remember thinking "**** - I might have to kill this bear" as I snapped up my 44 and cocked the hammer back. The bear came around a couple of birch trees into the open roughly 9 or 10 yards from me. By now I was yelling something creative like "STOP BEAR!" and the bear did just that. He stopped about 8 yards away and we just stood there facing each other. Looking back, this all happened in a manner of 3 or 4 seconds.
The bear and I stood there for quite a while, me still yelling and him occasionally woofing at me. It was a pretty big boar - I'm about 190 pounds sopping wet and I have no doubt he had the weight advantage on me. I kept my 44 level on the bear, thinking if he made any move whatsoever in my direction I was touching off 340 grains of hard cast lead. I'm not going to claim to be an expert shot with a pistol, but I practice regularly and am confident that at less than 10 yards I could have put a round where needed to pile him up. At one point I thought "I kind of wish I had some bear spray right now." After the bear stopped I was pretty sure that we were both going to walk away from this one scratch free. But this was also the first black bear I had encountered that didn't clear out pretty quick once it'd realized I was a human. And I didn't want to shoot the bear, but I could see where some bear spray could be handy to turn him away.
Eventually, the bear backed up a step or two and then started circling around to my left. Despite the fact I was still yelling pretty much non stop, I think he still hadn't really figured out what I was. As he circled to my left, he stood up a couple of times to get a better look over the brush, and he would nose the air occasionally. (I noticed he had a big white V on his chest when he stood up - a pretty bear.) The bear was moving towards some thicker brush, and I contemplated firing a warning shot - the bear was bold enough I didn't like the idea of losing track of him in the brush. But at that point the bear stopped and turned around and began circling back to my right. I kept yelling and the bear eventually walked back down to where he first started woofing at me when I walked up on him. By now I was figuring he had something good to eat there that he was guarding, and I was just ready to back out of there. The bear was still woofing and nosing the air, and for a minute it looked like he might keep circling below me into the direction I wanted to go. But the bear stayed there and I slowly backed out, yelling as I went, until I felt I was far enough gone to continue on my way.
All in all, it was pretty intense for a few seconds. I remember I was pleasantly surprised how steady I was holding my gun on the bear. But I also remember when I stepped to the side to get a better view that my right leg was shaking pretty good. Looking back, I don't think I'd have done anything different, and obviously didn't need to as nothing came of it. He was just doing what bears do. I do kind of wish I'd have had some bear spray, just to have seen how it worked in our little stand off, but between the two I think I'll still just keep to carrying my 44.