Best Gun for Tent Camping in Bear Country


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Alaska444
October 1, 2012, 02:27 AM
This thread was suggested by a commenter on another thread, perhaps a bit tongue in cheek, but an interesting issue and variation of self defense in bear country.

With the changes in bear population, human population and degree of habituation, the question was, what is the best gun for tent camping while hunting in bear country.

Should it be a rifle in various calibers, pistol or revolver for ease of access?

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Clean97GTI
October 1, 2012, 03:00 AM
Bear mace backed up by a shotgun with slugs. Used to have a camping buddy who swore by cherry bombs dipped in glue and coated with BBs. Light it, toss at a bear or wolf and the stinging pop of steel scares them off without serious injury.

I only ever saw it work on a coyote though. Scavenger vs predator could make a lot of difference.

jmr40
October 1, 2012, 09:28 AM
Where legal if I'm camping around bear I have my Glock 20 loaded with Doubletap 200 gr hardcast bullets. These chronograph at 1315 fps in my gun and are plenty for any black bear.

Any 357 or 44 magnum revolver, properly loaded will also work well. The 454, 460 and 500 revolvers are much more than needed and I'd just as soon carry a rifle up the mountains as one of these. A rifle is better out in the open, but if something happens while in a tent it is not practicle. Often I'm hunting while camping in bear country and also have a rifle. If practical it would be the one i'd reach for, but not while actually in a tent.

I own 357 and 44 mag revolvers in both 3" and 4" versions and still prefer the 10mm. The Glock is an inch shorter and almost a full pound lighter than the 3" gun. Over a pound lighter than the 4" guns and almost 2" shorter. Anyone who has done any serious backpacking in mountains will understand that saving 1 lb is huge.

And I don't lose that much performance over magnum revolvers. The hottest 10mm loads are about equal to the hottest 357 loads, but only when the 357's are fired from 6" or longer barrels. A hot 10mm from a Glock wll slightly beat the best 357 loads when they are fired from 4" or shorter barrels. And the difference between 44 is less than many think. The 44's quoted velocities are from 8" barrels. When fired from 3-4" barrels you can take 150-300 fps off the advertised speeds. It will still better the 10mm, just not by as much as many realise.

Remember, SD from predators is different from hunting them. If I were handgun hunting bear, I'd make different choices. A long barreled magnum revolver, even the monster 460 and 500 start making sense. But in the mountains, just as on city streets we make compromises. Few, if any of us would walk down mainstreet with a tactical shotgun or AR slung over our shoulder. Instead most of us discretely carry a small 38 revolver, 380 or 9mm handgun concealed.

azwizard
October 1, 2012, 01:04 PM
Inside the tent? It would have to be a pistol .357 or larger loaded heavy for caliber with hard cast bullets. More than likely you'll be in your sleeping bag and I'm thinking it would be really hard to deploy your rifle or shotgun from inside the bag. Since your talking a hunting trip you probably already have an appropriate Rifle Shotgun for outside the tent use. It's how I've always gone.

MCgunner
October 1, 2012, 01:13 PM
Bear mace backed up by a large bore magnum revolver. You ain't gonna maneuver a shotgun in a tent quite as easily. Of course, this assumes proficiency with said revolver.

Shadow 7D
October 1, 2012, 01:26 PM
None,
makes you more paranoid, paranoid keeps you sharp and makes you LEARN not to do stupid things like sleep with snacks in your tent/bag...

there is no great gun, there are those guns that will perform adequately, and of those the FEW you are good/comfortable with. Better to walk around naked with no gun than have one and walk around with the magical talisman of confidence. Most bear encounters happen either out of ignorance (overconfidence) or surprise, and learning how to handle and avoid bear is MUCH better than any gun.

OH and bear spray, while maybe not as effective (works better on Griz/brown bear than blacks) does prevent the rectal exam from F&G.


OK, NEXT
so you are in a tent with XXXX many people
and XXXX many are armed with a gun under their pillow
and a bear does come for the twinkie you keep for the 2am snack.

You wake up to your tent collapsing, everybody unlimbers and lets loose - me thinks this is not well thought out.
who are you shooting over/around, do you see what you are shooting (golden 4...)
plenty of guys shot by a buddy trying to 'save' them from a bear.

danweasel
October 1, 2012, 01:53 PM
Not a gun, a load:

Brennake Black Magic.

Certaindeaf
October 1, 2012, 02:40 PM
I always liked a 4" M-29 and a little growler dog. That thing can hear a cat through the house walls on a windy night in a rainstorm.

Certaindeaf
October 1, 2012, 02:50 PM
OK, NEXT
so you are in a tent with XXXX many people
and XXXX many are armed with a gun under their pillow
and a bear does come for the twinkie you keep for the 2am snack.

You wake up to your tent collapsing, everybody unlimbers and lets loose - me thinks this is not well thought out.
who are you shooting over/around, do you see what you are shooting (golden 4...)
plenty of guys shot by a buddy trying to 'save' them from a bear.
Ha. Serious business but you made me remember/laugh.
A long time ago, down at Big Trees CA, me and a bunch of friends were ground camping overnight. We were all heavily armed. Racoons were being little bastards.. groups of them trying to get a little baby in one of those swings just out of the Coleman light unbeknown to its parents.. denying us free travel down a lane at dusk.. (we would have/wanted to waste them all but it was Big Trees).
Anyway, we made a joke that if anything happened in the night, just kinda bounce up like six inches and start stitching the nap of the earth. that kinda got a laugh

06
October 1, 2012, 02:59 PM
My personal tent has velcro sealed doors on each end with double foyers. Unless the tent is collapsed on me I can get out either end quickly with pistol in hand. Like that Velcro.

hogshead
October 1, 2012, 03:19 PM
I would lean towards a 44. I don't think pepper spray would be a good idea in a tent. Probably just spray yourself and having to get eaten by a bear with your eyes full of pepper spray would have to be worse than just being eaten.

azwizard
October 1, 2012, 03:28 PM
Ha, lol, I think the pepper spray inside the tent just makes for a preseasoned snack for the bear.

X-Rap
October 1, 2012, 07:09 PM
I still want to see how one trains and what you shoot at when in a crowded camp/campground. So much talk about over penetration in a defensive scenario in a public place like a resturant, mall or home but very little on campgrounds, predator attacks, and being half asleep.
Are there good light rails for 44+ revolvers?

Shadow 7D
October 1, 2012, 08:28 PM
Ha, lol, I think the pepper spray inside the tent just makes for a preseasoned snack for the bear.
I don't care if it it's me or him, as long as he decides it's too spicy to eat, I'll take a dose of spray any day over 3 guys spraying lead.

What do you call a tent/sleeping bag in bear country:
candy wrapper....

point is, tents tend to fail when stood upon by a couple hundred pounds of animal.

T.R.
October 1, 2012, 08:34 PM
The number of bear attack threads is amazing to me.

TR

splattergun
October 1, 2012, 08:42 PM
LEARN not to do stupid things like sleep with snacks in your tent

Yep
Clean camp = top priority. Gat = 2nd or 3rd.

Alaska444
October 1, 2012, 10:19 PM
I would lean towards a 44. I don't think pepper spray would be a good idea in a tent. Probably just spray yourself and having to get eaten by a bear with your eyes full of pepper spray would have to be worse than just being eaten.
+1 , the .44 magnum is a great woods/bear gun and it is my first choice when not carrying a rifle.

a-sheepdog
October 2, 2012, 12:19 AM
I don't care for bear sprays too much. If you own a large bore pistol/revolver, that would be my first choice. When I am in bear country, I generally carry my 4" Smith 44 mag with stout loads, which I do practice with. Not sure what you now own, but I would want something that I was used to shooting. If you get awoke in the middle of the night and under bad circumstances, things may go south quickly and you will be dumping adrenaline so something you are familiar with would be best. I agree that a shotgun may be unwieldy, especially if its a smaller sized tent. A dog is a good alarm, which may give you a little more reaction time to get your bearings and decide what action you need to take.

hso
October 3, 2012, 07:06 AM
Ignorant people have been turning wildlife into monsters forever so "if your only tool is a hammer all your problems get treated as nails" folks overreact.

I grew up in the mountains around black bears. There were any number of times someone ignorant of them would comment on the "big black dog" and I'd point out it was just another black bear. Prevention is the solution to just about every encounter, and not smearing yourself with bacon and Ho-Hos is pretty vital as well.

Keep food out of camp. Keep garbage out of camp. Keep all waste out of camp. Don't smell like junk food and grease and you won't get attention from black bears. Try not to loose your mind about them.

Lloyd Smale
October 3, 2012, 07:38 AM
[QUOTE][/QUOTI always liked a 4" M-29 and a little growler dog. That thing can hear a cat through the house walls on a windy night in a rainstorm. E]


hard to beat for a combo of power and portability. Got to agree with hso though. Theres probably no internet posts so overexagerated then the danger of black bear. Leave them alone, dont corner a sow with cubs and keep your food put away and you wont even see one let alone be attacked by one. Ive lived in black bear country my whole life. Ive shot bear off my back porch. I travel the woods more them most and even seeing bear in the wild is a rare treat. About all you will usually get is some load noise in the brush as they run for the next 40.

Alaska444
October 3, 2012, 02:17 PM
Dear HSO and Lloyd,

No doubt the risk of being attacked by a black bear is rare indeed and thank the Lord for that blessing.

However, if you do spend the time to read the ever present true stories each and every month about bear attacks, one fact jumps off those pages, a complete lack of understanding of the inherent danger you risk walking, hiking or camping in bear country.

The majority of people attacked by bears violate many of the rules of the forest as you point out on keeping camps clean, etc. However, I believe that the real issue is a complete lack of respect and disregard for the power of these beasts should they choose to attack.

In this sense, discussing bear attack avoidance and bear attack strategies is truly no different than the ever present hypothetical self defense scenarios we see much more frequently on THR and other firearms forums. For those that understand the fundamentals of bear country, perhaps this type of thread is overkill.

However, the truth lies in the number of attacks documented in news accounts where the victims had no preparation, no defense and no plan when and if they encounter an aggressive bear. Some folks like to discuss these issues in the very same manner that folks discuss human self defense/shooting situations. The fact that we can readily find dozens of cases of bear attacks each year should not dismiss bear attack threads as ridiculous accounts. I seriously doubt that folks dismiss the benefit of discussing different situations/scenarios a person can encounter both in self defense from two legged predators, nor is or should be any different than for the four legged predators as well.

Lastly, there are a lot of folks that simply enjoy bear attack threads. It is simply pure bear attack voyeurism at its best my friends. :evil:

Alaska444
October 3, 2012, 02:22 PM
For instance, the latest bear attack account just a couple of days ago:

“I don’t know if the bear was just bedded down in that area and it reacted to us being there, or whether it had picked up on the elk coming by there the night before,” Detwiler said. “All I know is there was absolutely no time to react. You read about how fast these bears are and you hear about it, but you can’t imagine what the experience is like. You think you are going to die. Their speed, for an animal that big, is really amazing.”

Detwiler, who has been bow hunting for nearly 50 years, tried to continue to hunt, but found it was too difficult to draw his bow with his arm injured. Now back at his home in Midland, Detwiler said he will have to spend some time mulling over the destination for his next bow hunting trip, given what he sees as a dangerous increase in the grizzly bear population in the Idaho-Wyoming-Montana wilderness triangle.

“There’s more grizzlies there than before — people are afraid to go outside, and they can’t hike and they can’t bike and most of them won’t risk it hunting the area,” he said.

http://www.toledoblade.com/MattMarkey/2012/10/02/Speed-of-bear-attack-shocks-Michigan-hunter.html

dprice3844444
October 3, 2012, 03:02 PM
just remember to use flat point bullets,not hollowpoints.hp's tend to expand in the fatty layers and give you less vital penetration.

Alaska444
October 3, 2012, 06:09 PM
just remember to use flat point bullets,not hollowpoints.hp's tend to expand in the fatty layers and give you less vital penetration.
+1, great point. I was out in the woods with a group of my friends a month ago. One of the young kids, about 19, who thought he knew everything had his .357 loaded with HPs. He was under the impression it would take care of whatever was out there. That day, we encountered a huge bull moose about 100 yards away.

I gave him 6 Buffalo Bore 180's and gave him an education on bear bullets vs self defense with two legged predators. Hopefully it stuck with him.

W.E.G.
October 3, 2012, 08:09 PM
Its the only way to be sure.

http://i227.photobucket.com/albums/dd7/rkba2da/movies/600px-TOJWGatlingGun-5.jpg

Robert
October 3, 2012, 10:17 PM
I guess the best thing to do is hide under my bed and never go outside again.

lobo9er
October 3, 2012, 10:59 PM
None,
makes you more paranoid, paranoid keeps you sharp and makes you LEARN not to do stupid things like sleep with snacks in your tent/bag...



sounding pretty close to the liberals saying theres no need to carry in the city, "just going to start OK corral shoot out". The point as is with carrying any tool camping is being prepared. If you feel your paranoia is all you need then thats good for you. I hike around a few times a year at least and for me I like a 180 gr corbon hunters, never needed them probably never will but as long as its legal for me to do so thats my choice.

Most bear encounters happen either out of ignorance (overconfidence) or surprise

remove all the ignorance and theres still dumb luck. To each his own.

Alaska444
October 3, 2012, 11:00 PM
Robert, not sure why you or anyone would hide from them under your bed. :confused:

Just go prepared. :D That's what me and my friends do on a regular basis up here in Griz country. Just the same way I go prepared with my concealed carry as well.:eek:

Far too many don't and end up bear food.:what:

Alaska444
October 3, 2012, 11:06 PM
sounding pretty close to the liberals saying theres no need to carry in the city, "just going to start OK corral shoot out". The point as is with carrying any tool camping is being prepared. If you feel your paranoia is all you need then thats good for you. I hike around a few times a year at least and for me I like a 180 gr corbon hunters, never needed them probably never will but as long as its legal for me to do so thats my choice.



remove all the ignorance and theres still dumb luck. To each his own.
+1, that's my take on the issue. i don't believe I will ever need to use my concealed carry weapon, but I am prepared and glad it is still legal. For that matter, I don't believe I will ever have to use my .44 magnum for griz here in ID, but I am ready nevertheless.:D

22-rimfire
October 3, 2012, 11:22 PM
The majority of people attacked by bears violate many of the rules of the forest as you point out on keeping camps clean, etc. However, I believe that the real issue is a complete lack of respect and disregard for the power of these beasts should they choose to attack.

I agree. You do need to respect a black bear and give them space. All you need to do is have one do one of their false charges and you realize just how stupid you are being so close and not trying to give them some space.

Black bears don't particularly trouble me in the woods. I do respect them. I learned.

I would probably choose one of my S&W M57's (with a solid bullet) if I am in a bear infested woods, otherwise, I'd probably have a 22 with me.

a-sheepdog
October 7, 2012, 10:24 PM
I agree with everyone on here that you must respect the bears, try not to sneak up on them or spook them as they will generally react in an aggressive manner as a defense mechanism. Also Keep camp clean and so forth. I do those things and still like to have a little extra "protection" from them in the event that I do end up in that one circumstance in which I come across a cranky bear. I have had them wander into camp and yelling and making noise was enough to get them to retreat and have been lucky that I have always noticed their presence and avoided them while out in the woods. I try to avoid putting myself in a situation that would make me a potential victim. However, I do and will always make an effort any time I am in bear country to at least carry some type of firearm that can serve as a last ditch effort in the event that things go south. My biggest worry is the reaction time that I will have to address the situation. Several seconds does not allow much room for error, especially under stress.

Pismopal
October 12, 2012, 06:04 PM
if I am concerned with bear defense..not hunting, I am going to use a 12 gauge pump with a short barrel and rifle sights...and most important, loaded with Dixie terminator III slugs. At close ranges I can be assured that not much else if anything will put out the energy and knock out power as this combination. I will seek medical help for my shoulder after we dress out the bear..Black ..Brown..or Polar.

RevGeo
October 12, 2012, 11:30 PM
I live in the same neck of the woods as Alaska444 and sleep in the woods (usually under a tarp) several times a year and I usually just have my hunting rifle and/or my pistol with me. The pistol is a 6" S&W Mod 19 .357.
However, I have never had problems with bears, nor have any of my hunting and fishing buddies. Yes, there are a few grizzly bears here in N. Idaho and we have had maybe two problems with them in the last several years. One was where a couple of guys shot and wounded a grizzly thinking it was a black bear. They went to follow up the shot and the grizzly jumped one of the guys. His buddy attempted to shoot the bear off the other guy and shot his buddy dead (along with the bear). It's wonderful to sit at our computers and talk about this kind of stuff, but I spend a lot of time in the woods (I live on 5 acres way out in the woods ) hunting, trapping, fishing and just having fun. If I was that afraid of bears I'd stay home. Just use common sense. Besides, you wanna go play in the woods? Well, there are risks - bears being one of them. I'm much more worried about a bad fall than I am about lions and tigers and bears (Oh My!)
You rolls the dice and you takes your chances. Be careful out there.

George

Alaska444
October 12, 2012, 11:58 PM
I live in the same neck of the woods as Alaska444 and sleep in the woods (usually under a tarp) several times a year and I usually just have my hunting rifle and/or my pistol with me. The pistol is a 6" S&W Mod 19 .357.
However, I have never had problems with bears, nor have any of my hunting and fishing buddies. Yes, there are a few grizzly bears here in N. Idaho and we have had maybe two problems with them in the last several years. One was where a couple of guys shot and wounded a grizzly thinking it was a black bear. They went to follow up the shot and the grizzly jumped one of the guys. His buddy attempted to shoot the bear off the other guy and shot his buddy dead (along with the bear). It's wonderful to sit at our computers and talk about this kind of stuff, but I spend a lot of time in the woods (I live on 5 acres way out in the woods ) hunting, trapping, fishing and just having fun. If I was that afraid of bears I'd stay home. Just use common sense. Besides, you wanna go play in the woods? Well, there are risks - bears being one of them. I'm much more worried about a bad fall than I am about lions and tigers and bears (Oh My!)
You rolls the dice and you takes your chances. Be careful out there.

George
Fortunately there are not that many habituated bears in our area from all of the folks that hunt them. Sadly, they just had a case across the ID/MT border where a lady had fed black bears for years. The F&G destroyed the animals to prevent an incident.

One of my friends spent his whole life out in these same woods but he is one of the folks that will no longer sleep in the boonies with a tent. Just his preference. You are correct, a fall out in the middle of these woods and hills/mountains is probably a bigger danger.

Stay safe and enjoy.

Texan Scott
October 13, 2012, 06:35 AM
LOL @ WEG. I have to ask, though... why is nobody unreasonably, pathologically terrified of mountain lions, instead of bears and hogs? They're smart, powerful, stealthy and fast. If bears and hogs are the "robot" and "zombie" threats of the national parks, lions are clearly the ninjas!

*gets popcorn* :neener:

351 WINCHESTER
October 14, 2012, 08:30 PM
Quick and powerful are two words that come to mind.

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