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Defense against black bear

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by epvdrisc, Oct 12, 2012.

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  1. epvdrisc

    epvdrisc New Member

    I am trying to determine the better alternative as a defensive weapon against black bears in our area. I understand that black bears are usually shy but the occasional predator bear bothers us so much that we never go into our yard without a long can of “Counter Assault” bear spray by our side. Also, I have a .357 magnum revolver with a 6” barrel and I was thinking of carrying that with Double Tap 200gr hard cast lead bullet cartridges as a backup. However, I wonder if the revolver should be my primary defense weapon against a black bear. Assuming that I can hit what I shoot, I am interested in hearing your opinions as to which I should use as my primary, and if the revolver, where should I aim?

    Thank you for your input.
  2. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Unprovoked black bear attacks are so rare as to be statistically irrelevant. In the past two decades there have only been 7 fatal black bear attacks on people who weren't keeping them as exotic "pets" in the U.S. 7 in 22 years.

    If for some reason you have true predator bears coming into your yard, a very unlikely occurrence, your best tool is bear spray backed up by a shotgun with slugs. Any problem bear should be reported immediately to wildlife authorities so they can remove the animal relieving you of the threat.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2012
  3. 481

    481 Well-Known Member


    As noted, unprovoked attacks are very rare- if you are going about life in a urban/suburban area it's even less so.

    In the situations where a firearm is required to end such a threat, a 12 ga. shotgun w/slugs (as suggested by hso) or centerfire rifle caliber (.308/.30-06 or better is preferable) is the best option, handguns being a distant second in their desirability for such tasks.
  4. fatcat4620

    fatcat4620 Well-Known Member

    Have you ever thought of a fence?
  5. HoosierQ

    HoosierQ Well-Known Member

    Oh no...not bears again! Well, at least it wasn't zombies ;)
  6. JohnM

    JohnM Well-Known Member

    You don't say where you are, but if you have a black bear hanging around, do as has been posted already.
    Contact a game warden or the sheriff if you don't know how and they will.
    They'll come out and trap it for relocation, usually.
    Any bear getting habituated to humans is a problem.
  7. Mainsail

    Mainsail Well-Known Member

    The last bear attack here in Washington was in a suburban area. Bear attacks in town usually happen because the bear is protecting a known (by the bear) food source. If that food source happens to be your trash can, your risk goes up. We have hikers and backpackers all over the Parks, National Forests, and Wilderness Areas and the bears, when they see them, are either shy or indifferent.

    If you're worried about bears in the yard you first need to make the yard a whole lot less appealing. This means you protect your trash, take down the bird feeders, etc., so that there's nothing there that makes the bear ignore his natural aversion to humans. If bears do come around, a shot in the rump with some 12 gauge rubber pellets might go a long way to reinforcing his aversion to humans (and not just you either, but your neighbors and the kids etc).

    All in all though its rarity makes it only a minor worry, so don't get wrapped around the axle with it all.
  8. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Well-Known Member

    The best defense against black bears is a good offense. First you dig a hole about 6 feet in diameter and about 8 feet deep. You then put about 6 inches of ashes on the bottom. On top of the ashes you place a small piles of fresh green peas. When the bear bends over to take a pea, just kick him in the ash-hole.
  9. epvdrisc

    epvdrisc New Member

    Sorry about some of the confusion. We live in the upstate of SC, near the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is no single black bear harassing us, in fact NO bear is harassing us, but we have sighted a black bear on the property several times in the past. We have no pets (thus, no pet food hanging around), no bird feeders, and no outdoor storage of garbage or trash so there is nothing to attract the bear; I think our problem is that we live among them or at least with one. A neighbor about 10 minutes away does have a bird feeder and it was destroyed by a bear, likely the same one. The issue is that we go out to do yard work (4 acres) and sometimes I have to walk to the end of the driveway (600 ft) with a shovel or spray tank or something else; I really can't carry a shotgun around at the same time.

    Thank you for your help.
  10. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    Echoing what HSO said,

    This is an example of how I will never use a handgun for any job if I have time to get to a long gun. Yes, the handgun you are using is about as good as it gets, but handguns are not good tools for defensive work. I would be running for my shotgun.

    The most effective deterrent is probably to wave your arms and make lots of noise.
  11. Alaska444

    Alaska444 member

    Not sure where you live, but you have to first be in an area where it is legal to shoot if you had to. Secondly, a fence is not likely to stop a bear unless you have it electrified.

    Some urban areas are using aversive techniques to not only drive bears away, but instill fear and keep them from coming back. They using non-lethal 12 ga rounds to sting and scare with the noise, whistles, flash bangs etc.

    If you are having a real bear issue, start with the F&G or see if there are other agencies that might help with this locally.

    As far as which gun, a .357 with heavy hardcast bullets is the way most folks go. Avoid hollow points with bear since you are looking for penetration.

    You may want to find out if someone in your area is feeding the bears which would habituate them to people. These are the type of bears at greatest risk of problems.

    Good luck and I hope you can keep them away from your home and family.
  12. Sharps-shooter

    Sharps-shooter Well-Known Member

    We have black bears around our farm. They have neer been unfriendly to me, but some say they can be unpredictable. Last one nearby that attacked a guy, was after he flashed his camera at it a bunch. Which seems pretty predictable to me. I usually carry a .357 out in the woods for general protection. I feel like it would do ok against a black bear, but id hate to shoot one.
  13. BruceB

    BruceB Well-Known Member

    Yeah, sure..... black bear attacks are "rare".

    Tell that to the family of a young adult male (22)who was killed in his sleeping bag and partially-eaten by a healthy wilderness black bear less than one mile from my home in the Northwest Territories. We lived about twenty miles out in the bush, and I seriously doubt this animal ever had contact with humans before. It was hunted down and killed....a bit late, I'd say.

    Anyone who takes ANY bear "for granted", thinking they KNOW what that bear is going to do at any particular time, is what I call a "bliss-ninny". Personally, I carried a .44 Magnum ALL the time outside of hibernation season, and was damned glad to have it on several occasions.

    I once had to kill another wilderness bear, a good 80 miles from roads or civilization, on the steps of my cabin.....range, about two FEET from the muzzle, and it was COMING.

    Jeff Cooper quote: "The law of averages is faint comfort.....if YOU are the exception." Words to SURVIVE by, and not just with bears!

    At home, we used an M14 ("real" TRW M14s) or FAL as "house gun".... I have a lot more faith in Nosler Partitions than I do in any shotshell load. Away from the house.... .44 Ruger or S&W revolver.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2012
  14. 481

    481 Well-Known Member

    I don't think that anyone here is equating "rare" with "never". "Rare" in this case means seldom.
  15. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    Shotshell, I agree. Buckshot, good, maybe. Hard-cast slugs, yes, very good bear "medicine". Brenneke slugs have a good reputation.

    To the O.P., what size are your black bears? For some of the larger ones, .357 might be a bit light, but hard cast, flat point slugs work well for heavily muscled animals.

    As has been said before, a long gun is hands down superior to a handgun and spray is actually more effective (easier to aim and to hit with, as the stream can be directed even after pressing the "go" button) and across the Northern Tier of this continent has a pretty good track record against Brown, Grizzly Black and Polar bears at keeping humans injury-free. Better than firearms, actually. Google Smith & Herrero for some studies published in the Wildlfe Journals.

    If a long gun is inconvenient to have at your fingertips, 357 Magnum is a bit lightweight for bears over about 150 lbs. Beyond that, something that starts with a .4 and weighs over 240 grains. 1500 ft-lbs of energy would be comforting, but hard to come by in anything smaller than 41 Magnum.

    My advice, keep the spray. Buy an extra can and use one whose expiration date is near or just passed for practice (less than a box of GOOD ammunition). Once you have seen how easy it is to spray a target at 10 yards, you will probably have more confidence in it.

    In Alaska, if you shoot a bear in Defense of Life or Property (DLP), you have to report it to the State, preserve the hide and skull, turn everything over to the State. You go to all the trouble and you don't even get to keep the cape! (Though you can keep any pictures you take.) Then prove to the investigators that the shooting was necessary or face charges. In Alaska, the presumption is on the side of the human, but in your State, I don't know.

    If you WOUND the bear, you are morally (if not legally) responsible for the damage the bear causes. (In my opinion) If you successfully spray a bear, you have taught a bear that people are to be avoided. Pretty much win-win.

    Good luck,

    Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep
  16. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    From your second post is sounds like you're "bothered" by the bear as opposed to the bear bothering you. Learning more about them would be a good first step so you understand better what their behaviors are and what drives them.

    If you don't put any food out in the form of garbage cans or dog/cat food or feeders or store any horse/goat/sheep feed in a shed look for these things on adjacent properties and look for berry patches on your property close to your residence and signs of trails to/from it. See if the trails happen to coincide with where you've spotted bears.

    If you actually continue to fear black bears after you've learned about their behavior, you need to keep the can of bear spray on your hip all the time you're out. If you want to add a firearm you need to read the hunting forum about handguns suitable for bear hunting and carry a more powerful handgun that you can draw and hit with quickly.

    I spent hundreds of days in the GSMNP and Blue Ridge hiking as a young man and had many many bear sightings from distant to a few feet. I only had one out of the ordinary experience where I was concerned for my safety in those scores of close encounters. Most people either fear wildlife the know too little about or have too little fear for them and try to treat them as cute cuddly animated stuffed toys/pets. Learn about them, respect them and you'll be fine.
  17. Alaska444

    Alaska444 member

    Start with 10 mm or .357 as the minimum black bear defense. Others may say 9 mm, so be it, not my cup of tea. Not sure if you can open carry on your own property in NC or if it is easy to get a concealed carry permit.

    The likelihood of an attack is still low but you should be prepared. As far as the kids playing, I suspect coyotes which are "epidemic" in the last decade might be more of an issue. Even on Cape Cod, my mother gets coyotes on her property fairly frequently.

    Putting a fence to keep out most of the wildlife is certainly an option, but I have seen videos of bears going over fairly high fences as if they weren't even there.


    Bottom line, you probably can't keep them off your property if they want to get in your yard. Not a situation I would want with young kids. Good luck.
  18. They are rare, unfortunately they still happen.

    HSO made some very good points, you should first inform your local wildlife authorities (game wardens or whatever you guys call them). If your forced to shoot at one a .357 or .44 is the way to go, IF you don't have a shotgun. You may not have to put it down either, most wild animals will run from the noise a high caliber firearm makes, so hopefully killing it is the last resort.
  19. Millwright

    Millwright Well-Known Member

    You don't say where you're at and bears' personalities/behaviors vary as widely as their habitats. In AR/PETA-Friendly NJ many black bears have become "habituated"; i.e. accustomed to interacting with humans or being fed by same. This has led to numerous - and growing - numbers of "problem bears" as the population - bear and human - grows. But fortunately, so far carnage has been limited, and most "bear problems" result in pet maulings and/or property damage.

    But I'd never bet my safety on the manners of an animal with 1" long claws and 3/4" canines. Being alert for bear sign and your environment, bear spray and, ultimately, some serious bear killing arm when all else fails are good insurance. >MW
  20. r1derbike

    r1derbike Well-Known Member

    Can of diesel engine starter fluid and a Bic lighter? I'd keep both close if camping and one gets in your face. Makes a heck of a flamethrower!:evil:
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