My wife and I've been 3 feet away from a very angry, pissed off, ill-tempered, mad-dog mean, grizzly. We were just outside Glacier Park on the Blackfoot Reservation sleeping in a tent. Live and learn or learn to die.
I can only tell you that a cannon is not enough.
OK, You have got to tell the rest of the story! What happened?
What I really want to say is "We both died that night".
Although we were unharmed, but both of us later said we made peace with our maker and died right there.
We met a local Blackfoot who told us there was a camp area not far. He also told us there was a grizzly out and terrifying the villagers. We had been on the road for months and we were dead tired that evening and so we pulled into this filthy campground. We lived out in big bear country. We both knew better, but we decided to stay because it just seemed like the best of a several bad choices. We set up camp in the dark and made spaghetti, being careful not to spill any or leave any drips. I tossed a line over a high limb and pulled our remainging stores 20 feet into the air. We cleaned the whole area as best we could. We burned anything that might have a smell.
I balanced a few pots and pans on rocks as an alarm for prowlers and we crawled into our combo bag in the tent and crashed into a deep sleep. About 3 AM I woke to the sounds of several dogs barking occasionally far off into the distance. Then the dogs were barking continuously and they sounded what you might call very concerned. Then nothing. Back to a deep sleep for a half hour or so.
We both awaken by the loudest sound I thought I had ever heard. It's hard to find a word. It was deafening. And I've been to rock concerts. He was intent on just letting us know how much killer rage he carried. Maybe it was all because I knew "exactly what" was 3 feet away from our heads. Angry just doesn't do justice to what grizzlies carry around most of the time. I don't think they are ever Not mad-dog mean. Black bears can be pussy cats; not so for grizz.
He seemed beyond rage that we had left nothing for him to scrounge; and we were in his territory. There was a tariff unpaid and now there was to be a penalty tacked to it.
My first thoughts were, He can smell the spaghetti on my breath. No kidding. We locked hands and then both froze. Every chemical I had in my body was being pumped full force into my veins. I was as alive as I had ever been, right before I died. I remember a sensation of floating about 4" off the ground. We were young, Naive, and peace freaks; what did we need with a weapon, but that's another story that is taking a book. We both believed we were dead. We agreed later we had never encountered that kind of anger and hatred.
I believed I could feel his mind at work, and it was filled with one thing. I put my meditation to work and concentrated on making contact with that primitive hate filled emotion. I sent one message:
We were human; We killed for fun. We would track him down and kill his whole family. All animals knew better than to kill a member of the killer species. He needed to leave. I look back now and think how much BS that was, but that was what happened.
He continued to scream for a few minutes and then a miracle, he just walked off through the brush.
We both then passed out. After what had just happened, going back to sleep was impossible; but fainting is different. I got a great impression of one his paws that was almost a foot across. We later heard from a ranger that a grizz had killed a girl camping with her boyfriend 2 miles from where we were. Being that grizz is territorial, that had to be our bear.
Our record for seeing bears in one day at our place was 6. We were used to bears. Grizz is different. How we got away from that death defying experience is still discussed around the table 50 years later.
Prescut I'm glad my lady was with me; otherwise no one would believe me.
Here's an experience I had early June of 2014. I wrote this a day or so later. My buddy and I had put out 2 Black Bear bait stations that year. At that time it was against the law to shoot griz over bait. I've attached a pic of the griz that we got on the game cam. The date and time was not set correctly. and yup, that's a 55gal drum.
---------- He was on our black bear bait station as I snuk in alone… well I did have my pistols I got to where I should have been able to see the blue barrel, it had been moved and I could only see a little bit of blue. I thought I caught a glimpse of movement but there was a good breeze and the brush was moving. I froze for a few then took a step or two to my right to get a different angle and wouldn’t you know it, snapped a twig. About that time I caught sight of part of a head and an ear maybe 25yds out, then 2 ears, dark… then they started coming my way and the light hit and I saw it was brown and then could see the head. He was walking straight towards me. I don’t know if he heard me and came to see if I was dinner or if he just happened to start heading my way. I suspect he heard me and figured I might be moose. I picked a tree and figured if he didn’t change directions by the time he got there I was gonna have to let him know I was there, then it’d be up to him what was gonna happen next. He took a few more steps, I hollered.. HEY!!! GET ON OUTTA HERE!!! He stopped, perked his head up and looked straight at me, I holler again, standing tall and move my shoulders side to side some and wait… stare down… what’s he gonna do?… am I gonna have to shoot?…I’ve got the 454 Redhawk on him… I’m looking a griz in the eye at 20-25yds… stare down... it’s his call... probably 3-5 seconds go by and he turns and bolts through the brush back the way he came past the bait… HOLY SMOKES!!!!
He was good sized, bigger than the one on my wall. I can’t say how big by weight or anything but his head looked small compared to his body and ears looked small. Definitely a mature adult Griz. Not legal to shoot griz over bait here yet in this part of the state but next year it will be. If I’d have had to shoot and killed the bear, I’d have had to skinned it and turned the hide and skull over to Fish and Game as a DLP Bear (Defense of Life or Property). I’m glad he decided to turn instead of keep coming.
Sure wish it would have been a black bear. This griz is messing up our black bear hunting.
What a way to spend an evening. Just 3 hrs earlier I was napping on my couch before dinner! I love Alaska.
~~~~~~~~~~~ I posted this on a few forums not at all to "brag" about "facing down" a griz, holy cow, he was the one in charge! But rather just to share the unique experience and perhaps open discussion about bear (and human) behavior......
Ya it was one of those Alaska wild experiences. If you spend enough time in woods here sooner or later you're gonna face one down. Many other guys around here have. For me it's the first time in that kind of a situation. I've had other bear situations but this one had some unique elements. As we were looking at each other waiting for someone to do something, I knew it was his call and that he was in control of the situation. I guess I could have pulled the trigger but at that point he had responded to my presence by stopping. That was a good sign. All I could do was be ready to react. Gladly he decided I wasn't what he/she was expecting and it went no further.
We have many discussions about “the best bear defense gun” but bear defense doesn’t start with a gun. It starts with the brain and how to apply Bear Aware/Defense knowledge in a given situation. Having said that, I know bears are unpredictable and every situation is different, but there are some things that can help us if we take the time to learn them, talk about them and keep them at the front of our mind when heading into bear country. On that note, here are some things to think about…
I keep replaying this and thinking about it and trying to learn from it.
First off, since I was in a bear hunting mode I was doing what one is NOT supposed to do regarding being Bear Aware-Bear Defense. I was being quiet, sneaking through the woods.
If I had have just been hiking or heading to the berry patch with the Wifey, I’d have been yelling now and again and who knows, that bear may have made himself scarce. But, since he was on food, maybe he’d have stood his ground to defend it. Or perhaps just moved off a ways and waited. We don’t know.
It’s entirely possible that I could have snuck up on that bear as he was lying in the brush “sitting” on his food away from the bait. Like how they bury a kill, move off a ways and sit on it. That could have been ugly. Or perhaps if he’d winded me, he could have circled around to see who/what was moving in on his action or, just bolted outta there. Again we don’t know. I was constantly checking my perimeter as I was walking along but we don’t have eyes in the back of our heads! He could have hunted me like that.
The Bears Perspective…
So the bear was on the bait enjoying himself. There are fresh moose calves in the woods this time of the year. He’s eating popcorn and dogfood and hears a pop-snap in the woods. Probably like he’s heard many times, a sound that signals Moose! Time to go have a look! He’s walking along sniffing things out and all of the sudden a loud, strange, authoritative noise messes up his serenity. Accompanied by a strange looking tall something that looks nothing like moose and it’s standing it’s ground. He has found what he was checking out. Now he’s in “fight or flee” mode. Who knows what he was thinking but he reacted to his situation by fleeing. I do know that I was not what he expected to hear or see. That was a good thing. Maybe the element of him being surprised by something out of the norm kicked his “flee” button.
When I stepped on the twig, I saw the head/ear pop up and he immediately started my way. Not a run but a determined walk. Not a posture of defense or offense necessarily. He was in “check it out” mode. This I believe was the crucial moment that determined the rest of the situation. If I didn’t know any better, and would have started running or even backing off and he saw me… then from his perspective it’s game on! Time to pursue and see what we’ve got here! For us, it’s the “fight or flee” syndrome. Don’t flee, stand!
Ok, so the choice of not to flee but to stand. Then what?? I’m standing there with gun, cocked and aimed at this bear walking towards me through the brush. I can only see the top of his head/back as he’s coming to check me out. The big questions are…. Do you shoot? When do you shoot? I heard an answer to this question years ago from a well known, well experienced bear expert that teaches Bear Aware/Defense and has studied encounters for years. This stuck with me… His practical answer was “pick a land mark of some sort and determine that if he steps any closer you’re gonna shoot.” That ‘comfort zone” can be different for each of us. It’s gonna depend on the bear, the shooter, the gun, etc. Some guys can tell the difference between a bluff charge and a real one. I don’t have enough experience. I value my life more than the life of a bear so for me, there is no such thing as a bluff charge. Even if he’d just have continued walking my way after I hollered, I’d have started shooting. Because he would have been in my zone, he left food come check me out and I’m not gonna second guess myself. I’d have felt threatened at that point. If he’s in my zone I’m gonna shoot. Better a dead bear than a dead me. Someone else may see it different, others may have started shooting the minute the bear started approaching. I won’t judge anothers decision of when to shoot. We all have our own comfort zones. I only know what mine is.
.... When we went back to pull the bait station I paced off the distance from where I was to where the bear stopped. 17 paces. He could have been on me in a split second if he wanted. Follow up shot.... ya right..... only if he'd have turned and run after the first shot.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted...If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job."
For an easy packing trail gun I trend towards my Redhawk 4" in .45 Colt or my Bisley Blackhawk 4 5/8" .45 Colt. I do feel a little more secure with my Super Blackhawk Bisley .480. I am sure any of these provide protection from a Michigan black bear.
Sitting around with instructors and rest of the class, discussing how CCW carriers find them selves involved in a fight/gunfight one evening this thought came out. The "things", needed. First you must have the will, resolve to fight. Awareness is an easy second, and may you may say 1st and I'll not argue,it can negate the need for bloodshed that might be yours. Then it certainly helps to have skill. What weapons are available to you, brought or snatched up, comes fourth. Yet is easier and more entertaining to discuss.
Post by rangersedge on Mar 7, 2020 23:21:25 GMT -5
Watching top single actions shooters attempt 5 shots in 3 seconds was impressive. One other commenter was pretty astute in observing how the gun danced in their hands.
Watching Miculek do it in 1 second double action was also impressive. The gun didn't move much at all. Not sure anyone should be compared to Miculek though. He does things that seem impossible while making them look fun and easy.
The videos did reinforce my preference for double action; but i haven't been in that arena much so my opinion doesn't count.
My "Dancing With Bears" saga goes back to Yellowstone Park, and 1964. I'd rkaen a summer job there, and manged to link up with the Crairhead brothers, whom I had known all my life. They were doing grizzly research for MSU in Bozeman, and I got to spend more than a dew nights, huddled wit one or the other, in a big culvert trap, I n the middle of the Old Faithfulgarbage dump, with a flashlight and a small note pad. John and Frank both packed 4" S&W .357 mags. I lugged along a 7 1/2" .45 Colt SAA. John allowed as how it would probably do as well as his .357.
Fortunafely, we didn't have to pop any bruins that summer.
Since then, I have spent as much time as possible in yje high Wyoming back country, moving to Wyoming in the very early 80s and to Cody, almost exactly 20 yearsago. I hunted, guided, packed and oiyfitted all over Teton Patk, Yellowstone Park, and the Bridger-Teton National Forest (And parts of the Shoshone NF) for 20 years, and still get out when I can, here in Cody country. The Greater Yellowstone country boasts the largest Grizzly population/concentration in the Lower 48.
I've packed a few different Bear Guns, over the years, from that old worn-out .45 of the 60s, to a heavy-loaded .44 Spl, to a .454, then to a converted HEAVY .45 Colt, built on a 3-screw SBH, and back to my present companion, a Beretta/Uberti Stampede, with a 7 1/2" barrel. After nearly 20 years together, it works love a natural extension of my arm and hand. It throws 325 great CPB slugs @ 1200 fps, and puts them right where I want them. It's not a "hunting gun" per sè, although it often doubles as obe, whether I be afoot or astride..
I`ve only hunted Alaska three times and have seen and hunted black and brown bear. It worked out with me seeing more brown then black.. They can be very big mean son of a guns... Watched a big brown mother catch salmon for her 3 cubs which she dispatched with a crunch of her jaws with the sound echoing off the stream.. kept thinking that could be my neck in those jaws.. My 44 Redhawk loaded with 330gr Hammerheads carried while black bear hunting started looking small after seeing my first couple of brown`s. There was one other guy that bid on the FA`s 500WE that I won on Gun Broker... The seller told me he was a bush pilot that wanted the 500 in case he crash landed in bear country... Say`s plenty... As for advice on what handgun to carry.... Think big and know your weapon... Its serious stuff when your facing a big bear... Photos of my Alaskan black and brownps- used a 300gr Partition handload in my FA`s 454 and some of Corbon old 360gr flat nose penetrator on my small brown bear shooting the same 454... here`s a pic of a brownie`s clawsI gathered a few of the guides sidearms in bear camp that they carried ,along with their rifles, when taking people like me hunting. They are all 44`s..... There was also a then new S&W 500 the guides kids bought for his birthday... They surely loved their daddy...PPs- big bears are unique.... Like nothing I`ve hunted... They are unpredictable and the most challenging and exciting animal I`ve faced in the field... Good luck