Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 21

Thread: Big Bore Bears...

  1. #1
    Moderator
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    4,431

    Default Big Bore Bears...

    I originally wrote this in 2004 for another forum, somehow it seems appropriate again.

    This is the Shooting Forum. There is a long list of acceptable subjects than can be and are discussed here and certainly some seem to get more attention than others.

    One such subject that always seems to bring about a lot of input is the subject of bears. Rightfully so. Bears are majestic animals and just to see one on an outing in this great land is quite a treat. Any bear, black, white, grizzly or one of the great salmon fed monsters of the islands or the peninnsula, is an awe inspiring sight. Some folks hunt them, some don't.

    Much is written, in lore and fable, fact and fiction about encounters with these great beasts. When hunters discuss the great bears, it isn't long before the subject of which caliber and what gun would be best.

    The discussion then takes many paths, often to include the work of the greatest elephant hunters' use of the 6.5 Mannlicher to the matter of Ruark's "Use Enough gun". And often, everything in between.

    Within these discussions on this forum here, as well as around the local coffee shop, someone will project that, based on Karamojo Bell's exploits, the use of any small caliber rifle with todays modern bullets is more than adequate. Others take the Ruark position of only a big bore will get the job done. The truth, as with many such discussions, lies somewhere in between.

    A lot is in print about the ferocity and tenacity of the grizzlies and brown bears. Some is fact some is fiction. I don't intend to try to sort out which is which, that is well beyond the scope and intent of this dissertation. This is not about bear hunting technique, or bear guns or calibers. It is also not about bear bullets, ballistics or biology. I'm not going to talk about bear anatomy or physiology or any other bearolgy. This is about common sense.

    I'm sure that out there some where is a story about somebody who killed a ten foot kodiak witha 30-30 or a 243. Some where there is someone who knew someone who once met a fellow who heard his neighbor tell about killing a brownie with a 22lr round. Or some other such ridiculous tale about the taking of a giant bear with what would be deemed an insane effort by anyone with even the slightest knowledge of bears and ballistic and with a modicum of common sense.

    Shooting the old '06 from the sand bags into a nice nickel size group does not indicate the marksmanship of a hunter. Shooting from unsupported positions in the field after some physical exertion is quite different, and much more demanding of the marksman. This however is what is required of any hunter to make a quick, clean kill. Further skills of the hunter would include stalking ability to get within a the sure kill range of the hunters marksmanship ability. An intimate knowledge of the animal hunted, of habits and habitat, of anatomy and ability, of size and strength and of it's behavior and bravery is of utmost importance. The failure of the hunter to become familiar with the game could be costly, not just in the loss of a trophy or winters meat but, when hunting those who are often the hunter, could have less than desirable consequences. There's more here than just to emphasize the danger of hunting large predators, but respect of the animal and his ability as a hunter.

    Predators are the toughest guys in their neighborhood. If they are not they don't survive. They are even much tougher than many animals that are much larger. The african leopard can carry more than twice it's weight up into a tall tree with the load clamped in it's teeth. A 400 pound grizzly can bring down 1200 pound moose and make short work of it. So when hunting these animals we must depart from the balanced animal weight versus bullet weight concept and not only use an appropriate caliber but develop and hone our skills to higher levels. Certainly a professional boxer must posess the best of speed, reflexes and power when pitted against his greatest opponent. Failure to prepare for the big bout will most assuredly result in failure.

    There are good sound reasons for using the the appropriate caliber when hunting dangerous animals. Volumes have been written on this bullet or that bullet, this caliber or that and what it's expected result woud be in any situation. Without getting into the anatomy of bears or the ability of bullets, consider this. The death of the hunted animal is brought about by the destruction of vital organs and tissue. Whether this is done with arrow, bullet or spear, it is the same. Not in the way it is done but the result. It makes no sense to do this half way. It is more destructive to thrust a spear through both lungs than just one. It is more destructive to shatter a shoulder bone, penetrate the heart, and one lung then exit the bullet, than to just shoot through the heart. A double lung shot with a large entrance and exit wound is far more effective in bringing about the rapid demise of an animal than a shot from a bullet that expends all it's energy destroying one lung. Two sucking chest wounds will bring quicker death. It is likely that a heart shot bear will die but not as quickly as one shot that is heart and lung shot. It is also possible that it will live for some length of time. These animals absorb physical trauma through their life just in their quest for food. The rarely show outward signs of wear and tear.

    When a hunter goes out to hunt one of these large bears with a smaller caliber rifle and applies his meager experience with blacktail deer and that caliber, he is a fool, but worse yet is his contempt and lack of respect for the animal. I think that part of this comes from the conscept of a guide and his role with a hunter. This axiom is essentially; "You wound the animal and the guide or professional hunter will kill it". This would still apply to the moron who hunts the kodiak bears with a 223 and thinks that's fine because he has a buddy who backs him up with a cannon.

    A hunter, wether alone or with a guide or a back up buddy, should function as a self sustaining entity. If an individual is not capable of getting the job done through his own efforts, he will do no more than make a mess of it for some one else to sort out.

    When we ask a guide about which gun, he will notoriously say. "Bring the rifle that you shoot best." He isn't going to say bring the most appropriate caliber for the job for fear of offending the client and his money. Should he say you really need a 375 for big bears and the hunter says they kick too much, the guide won't say; "Well, maybe you should just go deer hunting."


    It seems many hunters only shoot the caliber that kicks the least. Many hunters will select the caliber that is best suited for their shoulder and not suited for the quarry. This is usually justified by, at least in the mind of the hunter, by relating a story of the taking of great beasts with grampa's old 30-30, or simply saying, "You just don't need those big magnums." This is a mistake. If the individual hunts large predators with inadequate calibers or skill levels, without someone standing along side to clean up the mess, sooner or later, he will truly end up in second place.

    The Darwin Award is a ficticious award given to humans who haven't full evolved yet and do some incredibly stupid things. I think we should have an award for the hunter who uses smallest caliber to shoot a brown bear. I think I'll call it the Treadwell Award.

    Good shootin'.

    Murphy

  2. #2

    Default Big Bores

    Good post Murph. My two cents:

    I used to hunt moose and bou with a Win Model 70 in .30-06, upgraded to .338 Win last year when I wanted to add grizzly to the species I was after. Bought a Past recoil pad, practiced a lot from hunting positions, result was the same - all my guns are better shots than me, once they're sighted in - so I practiced to make ME better. With the recoil pad, I was able to shoot 30-40 rounds comfortably per range session.

    Did I get a bear? Nope - but I was able to shoot a nice 56" bull moose - does it have relevance here? Maybe slightly - I shot the bull at 200 yards in some spruce trees, and couldn't be sure of a second shot - with the .06, I would have waited until he came into the open (IF he came into the open) and I was assured of at least two shots....with the .338, I didn't hesitate, put one behind the shoulder, and after another shot a few seconds later, he was mine - but the first shot had hammered him, and made sure he wasn't going anywhere.

    I hope to get a chance at a bear someday, and will be using the .338 for all my Alaska hunting as it's a blast to shoot, and plenty of gun for the big critters if I do my part. I wish I had some anecdotal info related to my .338 on bear - maybe someday.

    Michael

  3. #3

    Default

    I am a firm believer that one can master the punishment delved up by the large kicking magnums.

    The saying bring what you can shoot well should be revamped. It should be more like bring the right gun for the job and shoot it until you can shoot it well.

    I can remember the first time I shot a 458 Lott. I came away from that shooting session spooked!

    I have had many shooting sessions with that gun since and even though it still spanks me the same now as it did that first time I tripped her off, I now just smile at the feeling of the raw power.

    The satisfaction that comes from being able to hit what your shooting at with the big boomers is second to nothing else in the shooting world to me. It doesn't just happen though...ya gotta want it!

  4. #4
    Member walk-in's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    North Pole
    Posts
    771

    Default well put

    I assume this thread is in response to the post awhile back asking if the 308 was acceptable for hunting brown/grizzly bears. I replied to that and said that while it might be possible, I wouldn't say it was a good idea. I also said that I killed my first grizz with a 30-30. Some clarification of that may be in order just so that nobody gets the wrong idea. I do not in any way want to give the impression that I think anyone should intentionally go out after the big bears with a 30-30. In this particular situation I had a virtually perfect shot presented to me and even then would not have taken the shot if I'd had a good way to get away. As it was, I had my back to a river and no real alternative way of leaving the area. The bear was to close for comfort (but not, at that point, threatening me in any way), it was in season, and I had a near-perfect shot. I made the call to take the shot when it presented itself rather than wait for the situation to play itself out and possibly not have an ideal shot with a very much less than ideal cartridge. Had I gone out that day intending to hunt grizzlies, I would have been carrying my 35 Whelen, not the 30-30.

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    1,283

    Default

    In response to this article and to defend my previous topic - and for the sake of friendly debate!

    I submit this! http://www.wc.adfg.state.ak.us/index...laska.firearms

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,461

    Default

    Good post Professor Murphy (title given out of respect...not sarcasm).

    I strongly agree with your overall position to go big when you go brown bear. I also feel pretty strongly that the first shot on a brown bear should be within 100 yards and use premium bullets. I have taken three brown bears in my twenty years living in Alaska, either by myself or as quick follow-up shots to back up a friend after a careful and planful stalk together. I am pleased to say that these bears were taken as cleanly as possible, although I mean no offense to those who have had trouble because trouble happens fast with brown bears...perhaps that's the point to your post? Anyway, here are my personal experiences taking brown bears. I share these stories with the forum to help illustrate your point, not to brag. I do not consider myself an expert or know-it-all. In fact, I am all too often humbled by my blunders.

    My (our) bears were not huge by coastal brown bear standards (one was a 7.5 coastal, the other two were interior grizzlies at 6 and 7 feet...sow, sow, boar, respectively). With these three bears the first shot was at 30, 19 and 75 yards, and first shot placement was in the middle of the chest, through the heart, and through both lungs, respectively. Not one of these bears went down and stayed down on the first shot, even though all three were hit very hard on the first shot. The first bear actually did a full backward roll/flip, the second was completely knocked off its feet and rolled over, and the third dropped to the ground. All three bears IMMEDIATELY got to their feet after being initially shot, and they were quickly hit with well placed second shots given the immediate shot angles that were presented. The first bear was hit through the lungs quartering away, the second bear through the heart for the second time, and the third bear through the front shoulder and lungs slightly quartering. After the second shot the first bear was on its back trying to get back up, requiring a third shot through the spine at the base of the skull. The second bear was knocked off its feet and knocked over again after the second shot through the heart, and it never moved again. The third bear was knocked down and rolled by the second shot, but got right back up and took off at a full run for another 75 yards with at least one other shot hitting it before piling up in an alder thicket.

    All three bears were taken with a .338WM and .375H&H. The first bear was shot with a .338WM using factory 250grn Corlokts (I'm not sure of the spelling because I have never used this bullet again...it was 15 years ago...we were actually spring pike fishing that day and had rifles with us "just in case"). The second bear was first shot by a .338WM with factory 225gr TSX's, and the second shot (mine) was a .375H&H with a 270 gr TSX hand load. The third bear was first shot with a .338WM using 250gr factory Corlokts (my friend is a bit apologetic when telling the story), and the second shot (mine) was a .375H&H with a 270 gr TSX hand load.

    I'm not sure what the results would have been if we had .270's or 7mm's. I'll never know, and don't want to speculate. By contrast I know that Roy Weatherby reportedly took a Cape Buffalo with a .257 Weatherby to make a point...to show that it is one fine cartridge (and it is!!!). However, what I do know is that I'll never go hunting brown bear without my .375H&H.

    Sorry guys about being long-winded in this post, and please refrain from referring to it as the story of "Doc and the three bears"....please.

    Doc

  7. #7
    Moderator
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    4,431

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by OneLunG View Post
    In response to this article and to defend my previous topic - and for the sake of friendly debate!

    I submit this! http://www.wc.adfg.state.ak.us/index...laska.firearms
    There are far too many IF's in that article and itis obvious that it was taken from a Nosler advertising brochure. I have that paper that I picked up at the 2000 Shot show. It is not scientific or even experienced based. It is also an attempt by the state to sell as many bear tags as possible.

    You do what you want. I'll do the same.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    2,083

    Default

    Perhaps the whole thing can be narrowed to the following: firearm proficiency, knowing the habitat and the animals one hunts or deals with from day to day. Just using "enough gun" does not mean that one can do well against any animal, be it moose or bear. The same can be said of "not enough gun." And then one can't forget about just a tad a good luck thrown in, just in case.

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    SwampView AK, Overlooking Mt. Mckinley and Points Beyond.
    Posts
    8,808

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by OneLunG View Post
    In response to this article and to defend my previous topic - and for the sake of friendly debate!

    I submit this! http://www.wc.adfg.state.ak.us/index...laska.firearms

    OneLunG:
    I've read the article before. It contains a lot of "Common Sense". Thanks for posting the link to it.

    I appreciate what it says about using heavy bullets, not needing Big Magnums, and the remarks about Muzzle Brakes too.
    Smitty of the North

  10. #10

    Default Nice Nosler Promo...

    In response to this article and to defend my previous topic - and for the sake of friendly debate!

    I submit this! http://www.wc.adfg.state.ak.us/index...laska.firearms
    Although the ADF&G info mentions the two biggest complaints guides give about hunters....somehow it fails to mention that many guides request that a hunter going after bear bring at least a .338 Winchester Mag.

    I know that F&G is trying to be helpful with this info - but it would be good for them to remember, that hunters who are going to their website for Alaska hunting advice are pretty much novices when it comes to Alaska hunting. Sending the newbies out after bear with a .30-06 isn't necessarily being responsible in my book.

    Don't get me wrong - a .30-06 is a fine rilfe, and I've used one to bag several caribou...but telling some guy/gal who has never hunted Alaska, that they can hunt anything in Ak with an 06, might be encouraging them to bite off more than they should (at least initially) chew.

    Just my .02, worth what was paid for it.

    Michael

  11. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    SwampView AK, Overlooking Mt. Mckinley and Points Beyond.
    Posts
    8,808

    Default

    mdhunter:
    I think it's just an example of how perceptions have changed over the years. Don't be surprised if ADF&G doesn't change the article, and recommend Mack Trucks from then on.

    Howsomever, it won't change the fact that historically the 30-06, and even some lesser cartridges have proven to be adequate with the heavy for caliber bullets. I understand that many guides use 375s themselves, for backup, but that doesn't mean that everyone should. (The Aleuts used Spears.) BTW, I don't even own a 30-06 myself. I prefer my various 7mm cartridges.

    (Not talking about "Deer Cartridges", or any cartridge using deer bullets.) (The perception of what constitutes a "Deer Cartridge" seems to have changed too, but in the opposite direction.)

    I wouldn't fault anyone for using a 338, because it is a very useful cartridge for game other than B Bs.

    I can only speculate as to why a guide would recommend Large Magnum cartridges, as being necessary. Of course, you can always find another guide, and that might be a good idea if he keeps getting carried away like that. JMO.
    Smitty of the North

  12. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    soldotna
    Posts
    62

    Default

    With the advent of quality bullets that, IMO, started with Nosler, non- magnum calibers became much more capable than they were 50 years ago.
    With regard to, "bigger, faster, more capable, etc". How about using a 50 cal., or maybe a mac truck. We have gone thourgh the socio-economic period in our country, that began post WWII, that bigger is better (houses, vehicles, boats, motorcycle, etc., with devestating results for some of these markets, ex., GM, Ford). There are indications of some change in direction from this mentality. My point, the relationship of this pattern to guns/calibers.
    If you can place (standing, sitting, prone) your 7mm or 308 cal. bullets consistently in the target/vitals, and with a 338 or 375, you are less consistent, which is a better choice (for hunting)?
    I have not read one person that claims bigger is not more ideal. However, not everyone wants, or can afford a cannon(pun). For those that believe in, Going with the partner that you came with/got you there; practice, practice, practice, get in physical condition, sharpen your hunting skills such as knowledge of wind, distance, slope of shot, anatomy of the bear, etc. I think there is a point that enters into this equation in that a sense of false security may occur with the mistaken belief that bigger can replace, in part, hunting skills. I'll take my odds with a less than ideal caliber combined with practiced hunting skills. To do otherwise can also be a dangerious assumption. For those that prefer the larger or largest cal., do it. And for some, the quest for the holy grail in bigger calibers will continue, on, and on, and.......

  13. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    402

    Default bear medicine

    I think it's all up to what you feel comfy with. Any rifle will kill the world's biggest brownie with a proper shot. Even a .22 short will if you hit an eye or ear canal to get the pill into the noodle. That said, we must consider the less than optimum scnario. A 50 meter encounter with an enraged and startled 1500 pound freight train of sharpened railroad spikes and sledgehammers coming at you fast with but a single goal in his steel trap mind. YOUR DEATH!!

    Some will chose to say nice bear, nice bear......and die.(Treadwell)

    Some will chose pepper spray .....and die.

    Some will chose a small rifle or pistol or shotgun and shoot the bear.... and 1/2 will live and 1/2 will take comfort in knowing that the bear that killed them also died later that day from his wounds.

    I will take a .404 Jeffrey Rimless Nitro Express.....and fresh underwear to change into as I celebrate life and the great state of Alaska.

  14. #14

    Default Remember the Context of the Message....

    This is advice on calibers and actions on the ADF&G website. How many of the guys on this forum, use the ADF&G website to help them select their hunting caliber? If you said NONE, you'd be pretty close to correct.

    Again, I have a .30-06 that I love - but remember, the guys that are accessing this website to get rifle caliber advice, are typically new to hunting Alaska, or new to hunting big bears, or both...

    So let's take John Smith from Anytown USA, on his trip of a lifetime to hunt Alaskan bears. The website tells him he can use his trusty .06 or whatever he's comfortable with and shoots best. John can drive tacks with his .06, and can only hit within a 6 inch circle at 100 yards with his Magnum of the week, so the .06 it is.

    Now let's put John on the peninsula, and it's raining and he's in hip boots, and the guide sees a big bear and says we gotta scoot NOW, and he and John boogie through the alders for about 350 yards, cross a creek, and climb a little hill to get within shooting range. Johnnie hasn't even seen the bear yet, his heart is poiunding and his blood is flowing, and when he comes over the hilltop, he sees an animal BIGGER THAN HIS FAVORITE PICKUP TRUCK walking about 75 yards away!

    My question to all is this: In this situation, do you think Johnnie is still a tack driver, or more of a pieplate shooter at 100 yards? If in this situation, he's a pieplate guy with both guns, wouldn't it be nice to have the bigger one?

    Just more food for thought,

    Michael

  15. #15
    Moderator
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    4,431

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mdhunter View Post
    This is advice on calibers and actions on the ADF&G website. How many of the guys on this forum, use the ADF&G website to help them select their hunting caliber? If you said NONE, you'd be pretty close to correct.

    Again, I have a .30-06 that I love - but remember, the guys that are accessing this website to get rifle caliber advice, are typically new to hunting Alaska, or new to hunting big bears, or both...

    So let's take John Smith from Anytown USA, on his trip of a lifetime to hunt Alaskan bears. The website tells him he can use his trusty .06 or whatever he's comfortable with and shoots best. John can drive tacks with his .06, and can only hit within a 6 inch circle at 100 yards with his Magnum of the week, so the .06 it is.

    Now let's put John on the peninsula, and it's raining and he's in hip boots, and the guide sees a big bear and says we gotta scoot NOW, and he and John boogie through the alders for about 350 yards, cross a creek, and climb a little hill to get within shooting range. Johnnie hasn't even seen the bear yet, his heart is poiunding and his blood is flowing, and when he comes over the hilltop, he sees an animal BIGGER THAN HIS FAVORITE PICKUP TRUCK walking about 75 yards away!

    My question to all is this: In this situation, do you think Johnnie is still a tack driver, or more of a pieplate shooter at 100 yards? If in this situation, he's a pieplate guy with both guns, wouldn't it be nice to have the bigger one?

    Just more food for thought,

    Michael
    Very good, Michael, very good! You bring it into focus very well.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  16. #16
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Big Lake
    Posts
    8,439

    Default

    "My question to all is this: In this situation, do you think Johnnie is still a tack driver, or more of a pieplate shooter at 100 yards? If in this situation, he's a pieplate guy with both guns, wouldn't it be nice to have the bigger one?"

    jonnies tack driving became a pieplater, his pieplater just because a bucket lid. the nerves and accuracy of the shooter needs to be applied evenly to both guns. as a guide, i'd rather him show up with his tack/pie plater than his pieplater/bucketlidder...

    while i'm not as experienced as some guides, i've been in on over 50 bear kills and they all die pretty much the same...lol . some go down fast, some slow some run, some spin, some bit and growl others just stand there. I've seen them shot with .270's up to .416's. they work, guns kill if we are talking about just hunting bears here, and not back up guns, then i'm ok with the aught six, biggers better we all know that. but if thats what you've got use it.
    i carry a .416, why? because i shoot it good, it pentrates from any angle and has good enough bullets to make use of that energy and performance.

    This is the never ending story....which bear gun, same as, which handgun, whats the best bullet, shotgun or handgun..blah blah...its all personal opinion coupled with experiece thats applied to the decision.
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
    Master guide 212

  17. #17

    Default Not sure about the bucket lid...

    Brwnbr -

    Your comment about the bucket lid is somethng I thought about before my earlier post...although not scientific, I figured that Johnny would be shaking the same amount with both guns, so I guessed (and a guess it was) that he could shoot approximately the same groups with both...

    How did I figure that? I'm hoping Johnny sighted both in from the bench and both GUNS are more accurate than the shooter (like all of my guns are more accurate than me). If he's shaking the same amount, I guessed the amount of dispersion would be approximately the same for both guns....again a guess, but my thought process.

    I wondered how long it would take before someone mentioned this! I really can't figure which way it would work out.

    There sure are a lot of factors to discuss, to keep us going through the winter months! I saw a hunter from Wisconsin soot a 7.5 foot grizzly with a .300 WinMag with Ballistic Tips - not my bullet choice for sure, but it worked out for him. Of course, he and his guide shot 6 times quickly, and the guide was packing a .338, so I couldn't tell if the BT's were enough on their own, or not.

    Michael

  18. #18

    Default

    I think Johnnie ought to stay home and shoot the bucketlidder until it becomes a pieplatter(or less)....

    Come on guys if Boddington's cute little 120 lb, 18 year old daughter Brittany could master stiff loads in her 405 winchester Ruger #1 then whats wrong with us?

    Its a matter of mastering the kick not cowering from it!

    Bye the way Brittany's #1 weighed 10 lbs and she carried the darned thing herself!

  19. #19

    Default Stay Home and Practice

    EKClone,

    Good point - but a lot of guys work an extra job to pay for their one chance in AK, so finding time to practice can be a challenge.

    As for Boddington's daughter - she doesn't count. She's had access to more of an arsenal than most of us on this forum, so if she didn't learn to handle them, she was really trying NOT to.

    Plus, it ain't always easy to get a big gun out here.....heck, when I wanted to get my .338, I couldn't find it in Maryland, couldn't find it in southern PA, and had to order it! The guy at Bass pro Shops asked me if I was going to Africa....

    Michael

  20. #20
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Big Lake
    Posts
    8,439

    Default

    in my experience little people shoot big guns better than big people. big people get hit harder from recoild, cause they give less. little people give alot more so the brunt of the recoil is lost in the motion.
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
    Master guide 212

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •