First Shot Placement on Grizzlies or Brownies



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  • First Shot Placement on Grizzlies or Brownies

    Looking for some thoughts from you bear hunters....where do you try to place your first shot? Please respond for any of the following shots you take:

    facing you
    quartering towards you
    quartering away

    Of these, which do you prefer?

    Have always hunted moose and caribou, gonna add interior grizzly to the chase this year, so I'm looking for shot placement advice. I'll be bringing a .338 Win Mag shooting 225 gr Swift A Frames.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts, and good hunting.


  • #2
    Bear shot placement

    In the June 2006 issue of "American Hunter", starting on page 48 there is a good article on shot placement on bears. While I have not read the entire article there is some good information there. For me the best thing is not to get in a hurry a make the first one count. Of course this my not be the case most of the time.


    • #3
      Front shoulder

      Broadside or quartering, take the front shoulder. If he is facing you....wait till he turns and take the front shoulder. You probably won't be keeping the meat on a grizz/brown so take out his mobility ASAP and be ready for the follow up shot.

      I'm a vitals type guy (from my bowhunting experience) and aim the same with a firearm for critters that I am planning to eat. They may not drop in their tracks, but they usually don't go far. I just don't see the point in shooting a moose/bou/sheep/goat/black bear/etc... in the front shoulder and losing all that meat. If they can't breathe and the blood isn't pumping they won't go far.

      Grizz/brown bears are a different story though.

      The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


      • #4
        a thought

        something thats easy to remember and will work most of the time, is shoot the bear where the bullet will travel INSIDE it the longest...example...quartering toward you, hit him in the point of the shoulder to it exits just ahead of his hind quarter... quartering away, hit him back in the ribs so it exits the front shoulder or just in front of it. walking away, run it up the tail pipe. walking toward you, put it just beside his neck, where it meets the body so it exits out his tail pipe.
        dead broadside you've got alot of room to put the bullet, tight behind the front leg, high in the scapula, spine, in line with the front leg, a foot behind the leg...theres quiet a bit of room. but don't shy away from bones, you've got a good gun with good bullets, hitting bones is like the peanut in the M&M...tasty.
        after all this is said and done, refer back to rule number 1...NEVER STOP SHOOTING!!!
        and have fun...
        Master guide 212


        • #5
          First shot, second, third and so on......

          Good question. In my experience, which could be considered limited, I have been in on 21 grizzly kills, and that doesn't make me anybody at all, but most shooters tend to shoot and then admire that first shot.
          It seems to be a natural reaction to shoot and then see what the bear will do next, then react accordingly.
          I like to see bullets piled on top of each other one after another. Of course placement is key here, and I know that was your inquiry, where to shoot and you've received great advice on where to put the bullet.
          However my two cents applies to the issue I consider to be the key to killing bears. Put the bullet on the killing zone, wherever that may be, angle being the determining factor here, and keep shooting.
          Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying just shoot and shoot and hope the bear falls over.
          What I'm trying to say is it is imperative to get the bullet in the spot you've determined is the spot it will kill the bear and empty your gun.
          Now someone probably is reading this and saying "Duh, give us a break" but it is a fact. Most shooters tend to want to shoot and admire that first shot, expecting the bear to fall over from the incredible energy generated by the super-duper hot rod magnum caliber of their choice.
          Just dropping by and offering a helping hand here, take it or leave it, but drill him and keep drilling him. You can admire your shot when the bear is dead, and the taxidermist will more often than not be able to mask over the entry and exit wounds.


          • #6
            Heart/lungs everytime

            Realizing the popularity of the "break him down" front shoulder shot, I would never advise a person to do this based on the experience of seeing a 3 legged (shoulder shot) bear running over the mountian top, having to be tracked for a considerable distance re-hunted and shot again in the vitals area that should have been the target initially. I have been in on bear kills from 19 - 280 yards...the only 2 bear that have gone down on impact and not gotten back up again on the first shot were spine/neck shot. I always advise and shoot for the heart/lung area, and as instructed in a previous post...shoot again...if at all possible. The heart/lung shot will not usually "anchor" a bear where he stands, but will result in a dead bear shortly.
            In the event of a charging bear, shoot it wherever, and as many times as you can, otherwise, my choice is broadside/quartering away.


            • #7
              Two for me

              Well I am not even in the same league as some fellow hunters posting replies I read, however, for what its worth, I have two kills under my belt. One black and one blond. beautiful color phase. Anyway, I took two and with two shot shots only, after passing over 40 bears (combined hunts) and witness to two other kills, My first one was a slightly quartering head left and I shot just right of the left shoulder. About 150 yards. That boy was a 6 footer. We heard that well known thump and he rolled twice, got up and did a beeline for the spruce trees faster that a race horse at the buzzer. My guide did not want to go in after him with me to recover him that same day. I was sure of my shot and really did not have a second followup clear shot. We trailed him the next morning and found piled up about hundred yards in the muskeg. The weapon I used was a Dakota Hunter in 300 Dakota Mag Barnes X 180 grains (I added the info for a good assessment) At the autopsy, the bullet took out the left lung part of the right lung and exited just forward of the right rear leg. That was my first kill. That night I went over and over the books I read and movies I watched on bear hunting and countless articles I read in mags. And I came to the final conclusion that on my next hunt I will not shoot the bear like a deer, And I followed my own advise and killed my second bear on another hunt after stalking and mock shooting over twelve bears per day. You know the shot, the bear was coming torwards me I waited to about hundred yards slightly looking left I placed the shot on the right shoulder...The bear loppled forward and pissed and moaned right there. And yes I did as someone mentioned, I admired my perfect shot and dropping the bear in his tracks.

              For what its worth, same rifle and bullet combo.


              • #8
                Break'em down

                If at all possible I would wait for a boradside shot and take him in the shoulders. For me, taking out his ability to move is a priority and busting those front shoulders will do it, hopefully long enough for a follow up shot in the lung/heart area.


                • #9

                  I'd go for the same shot that I use for black bears. Try for a broadside shot and go for the top end of the heart. That shot also takes out the lung, and with a broadside shot, that does both lungs. He's dead when he piles up.

                  I've seen how fast a 3-legged bear can move and I'd much rather know that he's going to be dead in a few minutes than try and get in a 'finishing shot' on an animal that might be covering a lot of ground very fast.
                  He fears his fate too much or his desserts are small who fears on just one touch to win or lose it all.


                  • #10
                    Bear shot placement

                    I shoot in the heart lungs. Three bears i have shot have gone down right away. However the grizzly raised his head back up and i quickly followed up with another shot. ALWAYS be ready for an immidiate second shot. Do not even hesitate. It should come as a second nature to eject the shell and have the scope back on the animal. Not only for bears but basicaly any animal. You just never know and i am speaking from experience as i had a shot on a caribou that was not perfect and i had to chase that animal for more then an hour. It was depressing, but i did get him. Viktor


                    • #11
                      Neck Shot if conditions allow

                      I have guided over 700 bear hunters in the last 22 years. Over 550 have taken their bears home with them. I know what I am about to say will be very controversial but I am coming from cold hard facts and years of experience. Before anyone starts jumping down my throat for what I am about to say here is where I am coming from.

                      First of all I do bait hunts in very thick forests. In most places you cannot see further then 10-30 yards. If the woods were more open where the hunter could see the bear run off I might go along with shoulder or heart/lung. But because we are afforded the lack of movement on the bears part(bait site) and the thickness of the woods. My hunters are instructed in taking the bears with a neck shot.

                      Before we went to neck shots I spent many nights tracking bear on my hands and knees on blood trails through stuff that was unimaginable to some people. Sometimes finding bears a half mile or more from where it was shot. Black bears in Maine have to be brought out in their entirety (minus guts).
                      Carrying a 200-500 pound bear in the dark Maine woods is not a fun project throw in rain and it becomes even more fun in the dark.

                      Bears anatomy is basically the same brown, black or polar. A neck shot puts them down and keeps them down. With the bait we are afforded situations where the bear is vertually motionless which makes the shot very doable. The other good thing about a neck shot is placement of the shot. It doesn't matter which direction the bear is facing (except head on) if you put the cross hairs on the center mass and halfway between the ears and the shoulder the bear will never move again.

                      Since we have gone to neck shots the number of wounded bears(bears hit but never found) has dropped as well. We went from an average of 5 per season to less then 2 per season out of about 40-50 hunters. Now natually I do not have our archery hunters shoot neck shots but that is just common sense. Then it is the heart/lung area.

                      The reason I made the decision to go with neck shots was because I had a hunter with a slug gun shoot a 325 lb. bear at 25 yards. He hit the bear right through the lungs. Problem was the slug passed right through and never touched a bone. It proceeded into the barrel I was using to hold the bait and laid there with very little expansion. There was one drop of blood at the spot where the bear stood and a little on the slug (that was it). My guide and myself spent an hour searching for more blood in the direction the hunter told us the bear ran. He heard no death baul, so we didn't have that to go by and the thickness of the woods was such that I couldn't see the bear until I was two feet from it. Because of the bears speed we couldn't find another spot of blood for 60 yards. So for sixty yards we were tracking blind, finding only turned over soil, broken cobwebs, and bent grass. Sixty yards may not sound like much but when you can only see ten it might as well have been a mile. After about sixty yards the bear started coughing up blood. Bear bait sites are also notorious for having numerous bear trails coming into them. With multipal bears using them. Which made deciphering what was fresh sign and what wasn't even harder. We ended up finding the bear another 60 or so yards after we found the first blood but it could have easily been lost forever if we didn't look as hard as we did.

                      If I have a stationary target at a relatively close range (100 yards or less) and the cover around me is thick. I will take the neck shot everytime.
                      If you take the woods out of the woodsman you have nothing left but a man in the woods.


                      • #12
                        What shot do you like on moose, Maineguide? Where you do not want them to make it to water or thick brush?


                        • #13
                          Right behind the ear

                          Trapper Joe, I am a firm believer in the neck shot, when the oppertunity presents itself. I know all the "so called" specialists in the outdoor magazines frown on them but just about every deer and moose I have ever killed was with a neck shot. With a moose I put the cross hairs center mass on the neck about four to six inches behind the ears. Drops them in their tracks like a ton of bricks.
                          I guided a guy here in Maine about 7 years ago on a moose hunt. I called a nice 54" bull right out the the gravel road for him. He wouldn't take my advice and pop him in the neck and took a heart lung shot. The moose then trotted off the road and right into a clear cut where he popped him again in the heart lung region. The moose still on its feet was now running for the really thick brush. I told him shoot for the neck already! He did and the moose fell right there where he hit it. We could have backed the truck right up to the moose and winched it in the back of the truck, but noooo.
                          If you take the woods out of the woodsman you have nothing left but a man in the woods.


                          • #14
                            it's weird....

                            I've seen moose hit in the neck, head, vitals, guts, etc... they all react differently. I shot a 58" bull in the vitals (one round with a 180 gr 30-06 heart/lung shot), he took 1 step and fell over dead. I shot a caribou in the neck (one round 100 gr 250-3000 Savage) and he dropped where he stood. A friend whacked one in the neck (one round .300 win mag) and it was off to the races! My problem with neck shots on ungulates is there is too much room for error and the spine is a very small target. My dad shot a caribou in the neck (one round 180 gr 30-06) which cut his juglar. Yeah, he died fairly quickly, but he fell 400yds from where he originally shot. I don't think there is one all powerful shot placement for every situation. An inch or two can make a BIG difference with any placement.

                            The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


                            • #15
                              First Shot Placement

                              Last year I shot a bear at 30 yards. The shot entered just behind the shoulder on the left side and exited through the right shoulder. I was using a very hot 45-70 500 gr. hard cast. The bear immediately ran straight away and at 90 yards turned sideways whereupon I shot it again very low in the chest. The bear took two steps and went down for good.

                              The first round went through the lungs and destroyed the right front shoulder.
                              The bear still ran 60 yards. The second shot was really unnecessary but I did not know that at the time.

                              The point is, even with the shot through the lungs it still ran a considerable distance, thankfully, it was away from me. Second, the shot through the shoulder really didn't slow it down.

                              In camp during the same week, an archery hunter shot a bear with a broad point. It clipped the top of both lungs. Time was around 7:00 PM. Bear ran away. It was not found until 10:00 AM the next morning. One of the guides walked within 15 yards in very heavy downfall timber. The bear got up on its hindlegs. The guide let go two rounds of 00 buck. Bear went down for good, but took another 3-4 minutes to die.

                              I am not drawing any conclusions from this. I am simply providing information for consideration. They are very tough, unpredictable creatures which deserve a great deal of respect. Shoot the largest caliber gun that you can shoot very accurately and don't stop shooting until they are down for good and they stop wiggling.


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