Protection from Bear and Moose...should I even bother?


March 12, 2010, 03:30 PM
Im planning a backpacking trip to Maine later this year and from living up there in the past (about 15 years ago), I vaguely remember the moose being much more of a threat to people than the bear are. I hike and camp with my dog and while a bear could take him (VERY large dog bred to defend against bear and wolves ironically), I dont think the bear would be interested in the challenge, so I think he is a better be deterrent than any gun would be. Its really the moose Im worried about to be honest, they have a bad temper and arent afraid of anything it seems. I will be in an area known for their bear and moose populations.

I currently have a .357 that is light weight and usually use for backpacking and Im leaning towards just taking the .357 and not wasting the money on a more powerful gun, simply because the moose up there are huge and if one wants to attack, I dont think any handgun is going to stop a bull moose.

Ive thought about buying a .460, 500, or 44 mag, but like I said, I just dont see these stopping a moose before it does harm to might slow it down or stop it eventually, but I dont think it would matter at that point.

Does anyone disagree?

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March 12, 2010, 03:39 PM
Is there a hiking, backpacking, or hunting forum for Maine? They'd probably offer better advice than you'll get here. I can tell you from reading past threads on THR, it always devolves into you needing a howitzer to be safe in the woods. I would search around for a forum and see what the locals say.

March 12, 2010, 03:40 PM

Animal attacks / handgun protection are greatly over-blown on the Internet.

The most dangerous animal in the woods is probably standing on two legs, in a wife beater T-shirt, with an active drug growing or smuggling business to defend.

In that case, the .357 you have will do as well as anything else short of a 12 ga riot gun.

Bull Moose can become very aggressive and dangerous during the mating season.
I'd just be very aware of that and stay out of thier way during September-October.


March 12, 2010, 03:41 PM
Moose? I've heard this before but it's more smoke than fire. If you're around during rut you might get charged by a bull, but shooting him is pointless and not considered a viable response. Just run, dodge duck and dive. They're just showing you who's boss. 99% of the time they're amiable ungulates. Keep a respectful distance and you'll be fine. Also don't try to pet the little ones--mama doesn't like that.

Your dog might be a problem if he's prone on chasing wildlife. A moose hates a dog because to the moose it acts and smells like their natural enemy, the wolves. They get really worked up around off-leash dogs and can get seriously PO'd. The only time I've been full-on charged by a bull it was because some idiot's dogs had been hassling him. The dogs ran off and I was left to cope with the big guy. Even then, shooting him would have been pretty pointless. They don't take a lot of lead, but no matter what you shoot them with they seem to take about 30 seconds to a minute to die. That's more than enough time to gore you if you're dumb enough to stand your ground and try to get a shot off. I just ran and dove into the devil's club and he marched past, waggling his antlers in victory.

Moose are great simple-minded critters, and there's no real malice in them at all. Don't shoot them unless you're going to eat them.

March 12, 2010, 03:44 PM
I live in New Hampshire and I was lucky enough to draw a moose tag in 2004 and I shot a bull moose that dressed out at 600 pounds. I also spend a lot of time in the woods. There is no animal that crawls or walks on four legs in the New England woods that you would need a gun to protect yourself from. I've never been lucky enough to see a bear in the New England woods, and all of the moose that I've seen never exhibited the slightest bit of aggression. Most of them just ran off, and the ones that didn't just ignored me.

The only time moose are dangerous is if you hit them with your car. They're tall enough that smaller cars tend to drive under them, and their bodies fall on the front-seat passengers, crushing them.

If you were moose hunting, I'd say that a .357 is on the small side, but people often shoot them with .44 magnums.

The real thing that you should be worried about in the New England woods are mosquitoes, and also ticks. Bring plenty of bug spray.

Around some areas you might have a problem with two-legged animals, but I've never found that to be an issue when I was backpacking in the woods.

Are you going to be on the Appalachian Trail? I did Mt. Katahdin a few years back - it's fantastic.

March 12, 2010, 04:03 PM
Used to hunt black bear in Maine and have seen alot of them fall to guns of different calibers. Yeah, we did have one fella that played tag with a moose around a large tree for a while one day. He finally had to fire a warning shot and the moose left him alone. The doscile clown of the woods....the Black bear......has kill more humans than any other creature on the North American continent.

Don't take'em for granted while hiking......they are a great ambush animal and use that ploy to catch turkeys, fawns and mature deer alike....and possibly hikers too.

Also, a .357 would be minimal for a good size boar.....would opt for a Model 29 preferably.

March 12, 2010, 04:06 PM
Im considering a few areas the West and or NE section of the AP trail is high on the list, also Allegash, but I might just settle for Acadia NP (the ocean views are so nice, but its not exactly as quiet and removed as Id like). Im coming off of an achilles tendon tear (partial small tear, but painful) from this winter from some hiking/climbing activities, so my physical shape will determine where I end up going in the fall.

The dog will only guard, he wont chase and wont bark unless there is an imminent threat, but he will be leashed 100% of the time regardless.

It sounds like my little trusty 357 will be coming with me and I can spend my money on some better camping gear. I always have a gun on me when I hike, but to be honest, its main job is just to put any dear hit by cars on the side of the road out of their misery on the way to and from hiking trips. Ive never come close to needing a gun camping or hiking, but old habits die hard and I still think it would drive me nuts not to carry something.

Thanks for the quick replies.

March 12, 2010, 04:12 PM
Maybe some of these would help your confidence levels?
If they don't kill the moose or bear maybe they will piss him off enough to kill you quick instead of lethally maiming you ;)

March 12, 2010, 05:09 PM
To put bear attacks in proper perspective;
Between 1900 and 2003 (103 years) there were about 52 recorded deaths in the 50 states & Canada due to black bears, 50 due to brown bears, and 5 due to polar bears.
Or about 0.5 deaths per year from all three species of bears.

Between 1990 to 2003 (or only 13 years):
756 people were killed by lightening.
533 people killed by bee's, wasps, and hornets.
208 killed by dogs.
66 killed by spiders.
57 killed by snakes.
10 killed by cougers.
Moose didn't even make the list.

In about the same 13 year time period, over 520,000 people died in car wrecks.

In short, your chances of getting killed in the woods by an animal are infinitely smaller then you even making it to the woods in your car alive!


March 12, 2010, 07:36 PM
Here in NJ we've inherrited a bear problem from neighboring PA. They walk the streets, yards and enter homes at will. These bears are not freightened by humans and recently we've had some real scuffles with injuries which made the national news.
Wednesday my son who is an engineer had a real brute walk past him 30yds away at a const. site he is on. He got some great photos. This guy had to be 400# class and just out of hibernation looking for food. Couldn't imagine running into him on a trail in Late October.....would have to be in the 600# class or better. Tried to go through a culvert pipe and couldn't fit.

Here in northern jersey the bear set up ambush points to waylay fawns especially in early spring......a tender easy meal. Had a friend in Sparta, out for a weekend stroll in the park, heard something on his flank. A bear had been paralleling him in the brush along the trail he was walking on. He quickened his pace and heard something behind him. A big boar came out and laid down on the trail preventing his way back home and it was nearing dusk. Needless to say he had wished he'd been carrying.....he wasn't. He did finally get home after the brute moved, but it was gettin dark and every noise he heard in the brush on his way back stood the hair up on his neck......made for a good story...we all laughed like heck but things could have gotten rough.

March 12, 2010, 07:38 PM
I've had the distinct pleasure of hiking in mountainous New England woods and surprising a large bull moose grazing. If it happens to you, count yourself lucky - once your heart rate returns to something like 100 or less. it can be quite a fright to find something that large up close, but he just ignored us and kept eating. As has been mentioned, they are large and intimidating but not threatening. The same generally applies to bears. I used to work along some stretches of the Ap. Trail in northern Vermont and sighting of either bear or moose were fairly rare. Also, keep in mind some libtard politicians in Maine are now trying to ban guns in Acadia in a knee-jerk response, so you'll need to know where that stands should you choose to go there.

Load the gun you have and carry it handy, but I think it would be fairly foolish, as you've already figured out, to go buy a .500 or something else for the trip.

March 12, 2010, 08:08 PM
I began backpacking the Colorado Rockies in 1971. During the late '80s and early '90s (about a 10 year period) I also flew into the Idaho Backcountry and packed into the wilderness.

I always carried a firearm suitable for the potential danger of animals, but the only things I ever shot were rodents. They can be devastatingly destructive to pack straps, shoes and tents.

I had two encounters with moose, one in Oct. 1971 while packing in Wyoming. I was as dumb as a stick about them and saw a mamma moose with baby and thought "Cute Picture!" I waded into a marsh behind cattails and suddenly came upon Mamma, giving me the Evil Eye. I backed away and out and she never approached me. Second time was 2001 along Sawmill Creek near Walden CO. It was in early June. I walked to the creek to rinse up and saw a mamma moose with TWO babies directly across from me. I dropped to hands and knees and scrabbled naked backwards up the slope until behind a tree. Again, Madam Moose just turned her head to say "Come Children!" and crossed the creek about 50 yards further down.

I was always concerned about bears but, again, have never had a problem with them. Saw one only once, running in the distance. Heard one "woof" from behind a hill. Never saw it.

Last summer was the first time I saw a cougar. It moved so fast I doubt I'd have had time to draw and shoot if it was after me.

Twice I've elected to strike camp and move after sunset because of scary humans, and I now ask the rangers about drug fields before I go into the National Forests, in addition to fire and bear reports.

Photos of Mamma Moose and babie(s) from Sawmill Creek CO, attached. In photo one and two you can just see the baby behind her, in the water. In number three you can see her turning to admonish her babies not to play with humans.

March 12, 2010, 08:27 PM
There's a pretty substantial population around here, and they live right in the city for part of the year. They know to come around Halloween and scarf down the delicious pumpkins. I (nearly) ran into this guy as he was sleeping on the bike trail a few weeks back

A few years ago this bull strolled across the 100 yard line at Rabbit Creek, giving a perfect broadside. Nobody took the shot though

Leaky Waders
March 12, 2010, 08:45 PM
"Moose didn't even make the list." The Moose drags its kill back to its den, so it's never reported.

Seriously though, I think that man is the mst worrisome creature to think about and then black bears.

I was really surprised by the number of deaths attributed to black bears - I had always looked upon them as overgrown raccoons. Knowing how to properly dispose of garbage and such to keep from attracting bears would probably help alot.

Any handgun that you carry will most likely seem a wee bit small in a non-controlled situation ie you are being the prey, not the predator. Still, a 357 or 44 or 45 long colt ;) would make me feel much comfortable than wielding a pointed stick.

Deaf Smith
March 12, 2010, 09:08 PM
This isn't in Maine but...

Jogger believed mauled to death by wolves in Alaska

"A teacher killed while jogging in Alaska is thought to have been mauled to death by wolves, Sky News reported Friday.

The post-mortem carried out on Candice Berner recorded "multiple injuries due to animal mauling" as the cause of death.

Her body was found Monday night off the road around a mile outside the small village of Chignik Bay, situated on the Alaska Peninsula.

While the particular animal which killed the 32-year-old cannot be confirmed, Alaska State Troopers are certain that wolves were behind the attack."

*** She was not even 5 ft tall. Wolves in Alaska go from 85 to 130 (with a few weighing 145 lb!) Yes they outweighed her. They said 3 or 4 of them attacked her.

She had no weapon....


Ninja wrangler
March 12, 2010, 09:53 PM
The all time surefire best gun for defense against bear is a .22LR handgun..... Pop your buddy in the leg and run.

OK old joke. I couldn't help myself.

March 13, 2010, 10:45 AM
.357 is fine. Use hardcast bullets, not hollowpoints.
If time, fire a "warning shot" first...unless animal is already charging.
And, carry a small can of bearspray clipped to your belt.
BOTH (either) can be used on MOST animals effectively, and are lightweight and easy to carry.

March 13, 2010, 11:00 AM
I think the 357 mag is just fine. You won't need it for 4-legged wildlife unless it is a pack of feral dogs. But if nothing else, psychologically it should make you feel safer in general. This is especially true if you can smell the bears nearby after dark, but you can't see them.

Guns and more
March 13, 2010, 11:38 AM
Protection from Bear and Moose.
I couldn't help but think, "Boris, beware moose and squirrel."

March 13, 2010, 12:32 PM
From past experience......a .357 is not good bear medicine. Ask any Bear guide. Just not enough there to put a bear down for good quickly unless your smelling his breath and he's lookin down the muzzle.

One bear I shot in '72 that weighed only 356# had 3 / .357 Cal. slugs roll out of his hide while we were skinning him. They only penetrated the first layer of fat, not even into the muscle and healed over. Obviously not enough penetration and if your looking for a head shot, well, good luck. I would opt for the .44 Mag min. in Bear Territory.

March 13, 2010, 05:13 PM
If you are going to carry, I would go with a .44M in either a S&W Mountain Gun or a Ruger Alaskan. I have both and find myself carrying the Alaskan more on my wood hikes. There are no Bear in IN (that I am aware of), but I keep it stroked with Double Tap 250 gr SWC .44M and they should work for any Black Bear you should encounter.

March 13, 2010, 05:37 PM
Lived here for 37 years and I cannot recall ever hearing of any attacks from bear or moose. Keep some common sense and you'll be fine.

Bill B.
March 13, 2010, 06:26 PM
Protection from Bear and Moose...should I even bother?

How about Bear Pepper Spray? If you wish to carry a firearm fine but the pepper spray may be better in many cases.

March 13, 2010, 06:35 PM
Call me chicken, but I would carry a nice lever-action .45-70 with stout loads if I were going to Maine for hiking in woods and mountains.

I'd have my Dan Wesson CBOB for protection from two-legged critters as well.


March 13, 2010, 07:50 PM
Black bear and moose attacks are so rare. Common sense should keep you safe in most cases. I honestly would be comfortable with a 22LR revolver, although I would probably take something else I already own (just because). More than likely, you aren't trying to kill either of these animals should an encounter occur.

March 13, 2010, 08:51 PM
Blkhwk's got it right. Ive was born in Maine and have live here for 48 hunting/fishing/camping. generally if you see a black bear up here its usually heading the other way at a very fast rate. consider yourself fortunate to see them as they are a pretty cool animal. The only time that I walked up on one was as we were hauling bait into my buddy stand about 1600 on a nice August afternoon and a small one (125-150 pound) took off "hell bent for election". Started the CRAP out of me and I did draw my .357:eek: Moose dont really bother at all. If I have any paranoia about things in the woods it would be of 2 legged animals.:scrutiny:

March 14, 2010, 12:26 AM
Like in the bear threads, the best advice has already been given...bear spray. Have been told by someone attacked by a moose that it worked. I would think a moose attack would be pretty rare, though. Wouldn't carry anything more than spray and a sidearm.

Not to get into personal attacks, but I wouldn't recommend taking the advice of the gentleman from Long Island. I'm not sure what he'd even do were he to come out to grizzly territory. A bazooka, perhaps?

March 14, 2010, 12:51 AM
Great pictures of the Moose. They sure are bigger out west here than the ones in the east.
The Alaskan moose are huge, even compared to the moose here in Idaho/Montana.
Moose can and will get agressive very quickly if you are in the area of their young or if they are in the rut.
They are not to be taken lightly or taken for granted under any circumstance, they are dangerous. with that said I'd rather be around a moose than an angry Elk.
A .357 magnum is the absolute minimum for any type of bear and should suit you well for Boar. In your situation I recommend Buffalo Bore hard cast bullets if possible, and practice well in advance of your adventure. Have a great time on your hikes!

March 14, 2010, 09:51 AM
[QUOTECall me chicken, but I would carry a nice lever-action .45-70 with stout loads if I were going to Maine for hiking in woods and mountains.

I realize getting away for the concrete and steel can be a shock to some but c'mon man! Then again, having been down on LI a lot, I understand...people stop and find enjoyment and amazement in seeing a grey squirrel running aound. Guess if that's a wild animal to them, anything in the wilderness would terrify them. :D

Karl Hungus
March 14, 2010, 10:20 AM
Like I've said in all the other "What caliber for bear/scarey animal protection" threads:
the woods just aren't that scarey. I see bears all the time and I've seen moose every now and then (admittedly the moose did give me a bit of a start - they're HUGE) and have never had any problems. The closest I've come to getting killed in the woods is during gun deer season with bullets whizzing by my head. Like others have said - I'd be far more concerned with the risks of driving to the woods.

Why has there never been any "What caliber for Sasquatch protection?" threads? Aren't guys here terrified of Bigfoot?

Leaky Waders
March 14, 2010, 10:41 AM
The best Sasquatch defense is a camera!

March 14, 2010, 04:13 PM
Bear mace would likely serve you best, the only kind of gun I would trust to actually stop a moose would be a rather large bore rifle such as the marlin guide gun.

March 14, 2010, 04:53 PM
Like in the bear threads, the best advice has already been given...bear spray.Or should you be concerned about encountering killer rabbits, well then - hare spray.

March 15, 2010, 10:48 PM
^^^ ahhhhh ha, classy. Just reminds me of that old movie, Night of the Lepus.

March 16, 2010, 04:35 AM
Hey Cosmoline, Nice pic (Top one in the snow), looks like you are on C Street and Klatt road, right next to the S. Anchorage Sports park? I live about 2 blocks from there and take my dogs to that park twice a day. I have to agree w/ you about the moose 'usually' leaving you alone. That being said, no matter how careful I am to only let the boys off leash after checking for moose - they can always find ones that I miss. Too many close calls w/ those damn things. The blasted dog is too likely to bring one back to you once he has had his fun and starts to get nervous. IMO moose are like cockroaches... big, tasty cockroaches....

March 16, 2010, 08:48 AM
I had a moose four feet from my head last night. They have to walk that close to my bedroom window to get around the corner of the house.

I've been close to moose in the woods numerous times, very close a couple of times. Never had a "close call", if by that you mean feeling any real danger.

The blasted dog is too likely to bring one back to you once he has had his fun and starts to get nervous.Or if he is trained to bring them back...

March 16, 2010, 11:47 AM
I'm still a big fan of Bear Spray.

March 16, 2010, 12:16 PM
By close call I mean them running at you then (hopefully) veering sharply away at 5ft or so. Perhaps being trampled isn't 'real danger'. I'd rather not find out, thanks.

March 16, 2010, 12:55 PM
When I was younger I hiked around Northern AZ and the white mountains and did see a cougar once ....the biggest problem was always 2 legged animals.
I carried a 4 inch Smith .357 and a AR-7 .22 Armalite in my backpack..the AR was the last year production they made them.
The only thing I shot at was a bobcat that i thought was rabid...but missed.
10x more problems from 2 legged than wild animals

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