When to shoot a grizzly in defense?

crookedteeth

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Going to deer hunt in grizzly territory for the first time. Figuring on bringing my Glock 20 for bear defense. I'm sure there is no perfect practice for grizzly defense but I'll do my best to do some before I go.

My question is this. When do you make the decision to shoot a grizzly? Let's assume it isn't just dashing out of the bushes unannounced. Let's say it is creeping up on me in the open. So I've drawn my glock. Pointing it at it's head. Say it's 20 yards from me. I don't really want to shoot a bear for no reason. Would rather it just go away. But really, really, really don't want to get killed by a bear. So I'm wondering if it's better to shoot first while you have a reasonable shot rather than waiting for it to charge.

What I'm thinking:

Pros: This shot is more likely to hit it than one where it's charging me in a rush. If I still miss (not unlikely with a handgun), it might just get scared off. If it then charges (whether I hit it or not), I'll be ready to shoot another round. I also might have time to actually make the shot with my rifle which is very likely to be more accurate at this range. I think the scoped rifle (6.5 CM) isn't likely to be as useful once it's very close and charging.

Cons: Might kill a bear without need. Might wound it and actually instigate a charge.

Obviously I'm a nube with grizzlys. Interested in anyone's perspective who has more experience. Also, if I go for the shoot first option, always go for the head? Or center of mass shot first, then head?
 

CFMuley

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I’m sure you guys are all experts on bears already, but this article is an interesting read. It breaks down real world instances of bear attacks by caliber used.

 

crookedteeth

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If your last ditch effort is shooting them in the brain, then anything 9mm and up with a hard bullet should more or less do the same job. It’s going to penetrate the skull and once it does any bullet will do the job of destroying the brain. You either miss and die or blow it’s brain out. But maybe if you had a big revolver, that center of mass shot would be an option. Or maybe those misses that hit somewhere else are enough. Idk. I think people recommending the 10mm are basically thinking like this and that they are more likely to have the gun on them if it’s fairly lightweight. And yeah, having those 16 rounds can make a difference in certain situations.
 

schoolhousegrizz

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Well I have been hunting bears all week in Grizzly country. I carry bear spray or my 41 magnum revolver. I feel more comfortable with the revolver. I'll tell you what makes me feel more comfortable than that, and that is hunting with a partner. Hunting alone in Grizzly country can be nerve racking for me. Came across this just 2 days ago about 3 miles back on a trail. Had my wife (she had bear spray) and my 41 magnum, so it was really no big deal. I love being in Grizzly country. However, in certain situations it can be a little stressful.

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johnnycake

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197
Anybody who knows a thing or two about grizzle bears knows they're just big ole puppy dogs. In the off chance you run into the Chihuahua of grizzle bears, your best bet is packing salt spray. Those ones are immune to lead and were suckling pepper spray straight from their momma's tit as a baby. No sense trying to survive, just make sure you're evenly seasoned. It's the courteous thing to do
 

JakeSwensen

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540
If that was true, Wyoming grizzly bears outside of Jellystone Park would have been hunted for the last 3 years... If not earlier, since there has been a robust population of bears outside the park for many years.
 

JB1975

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crookedteeth

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4
If you shoot it and it isn't about ready to bite you, get ready to go to court and quite possibly lose a case of "self defense". Besides the closer it gets the easier the shot.😉
There isn’t likely going to be any witnesses besides myself so I can’t imagine losing that one. I think anything closer than 50 yards is close enough not to risk your life by waiting. Imagine how bad you would feel if you passed up an easy shot only to get mauled. Bears gotta know to stay away from people.
 

ElmerFudd

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2,169
If you need to think about it, you don't have to shoot. Aside from legalities, putting bullets in non lethal spot in a grizzly you don't have to shoot has a good chance of making your life expectancy shorter. Unless it's windy, I would go for the bear spray first in my weak hand but have the handgun ready to go in my strong hand.
 

schoolhousegrizz

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  • If you need to think about it, you don't have to shoot.

Really great advice, well said. I totally agree.

I love having grizzlies around. If you go around shooting them just because you come in close range, it is going to be bad for them, and especially you in multiple ways
 

JPickett

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2,054
If you’re that scared of what’s out there walking around the woods your missing the experience. Ive been around bears. Black bears at 10 feet woofing at me, brown bears inside 50 giving me a good look over. Never went for a gun, I could read there body language and we were both good. Really neat experience being around true power like that. No need to be destroying it for destroying its sake
 

BrianID

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1,863
Your drive to go hunting and interactions with other humans are much more of a safety risk than bears during your hunt. Unless you are going into an area that is known for high densities of grizzlies, you probably won't see a grizzly or even any tracks or sign.

I agree with ElmerFudd. If you have time to think about it and are not sure you need to shoot the bear in self defense, then you don't need to shoot it. Most grizzlies want to avoid you just as much or more than you want to avoid them. The really dangerous bear encounters aren't where you have a staring competition with a bear at 100 yards (or even 20 yards). In many of the really bad situations, the bear has made physical contact with you before or within seconds of you recognizing there was a bear in the area.

Your best defense against bears is to be aware of your surroundings. Be extra vigilant in situations that you come across an animal carcass or if you kill a deer in an area that could attract a grizzly. Having a good friend with you is better insurance than having a Glock 20 on your hip in addition to your hunting rifle.

I've spent thousands of days in grizzly country hiking, hunting and fishing and over 100 nights sleeping in grizzly country. I have never been in a situation with a grizzly that made me think I needed bear spray or a gun. I still packed bear spray and/or a gun when I'm in places I think a bear encounter is likely. I did have a moose make me to climb a tree once.

Personally I would use my rifle in defense against a charging bear over a handgun. If you are really proficient with your Glock 20 it may justify the weight but personally, I don't pack a handgun while rifle hunting. I may consider packing bear spray in addition to my rifle but it all comes down to what you are comfortable with.
 

JakeSwensen

Active Member
Messages
540
There isn’t likely going to be any witnesses besides myself so I can’t imagine losing that one. I think anything closer than 50 yards is close enough not to risk your life by waiting. Imagine how bad you would feel if you passed up an easy shot only to get mauled. Bears gotta know to stay away from people.
Just when you think you are alone, a warden could be watching you through their spotting scope! I've seen them on horseback in the backcountry. If you kill a grizzly bear, you will save a lot of elk...😉 I've only ever had trouble with grizzly bears when we were working on cutting up an elk and Mr bear decided it was his.
 
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Wapitiwilly

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1,984
Having been around many grizzlies up close and personal without consequence for years and also experiencing a bear attack in Alaska. Best advice is be ready for the unexpected with grizzlies. 99 out of 100 will run once they smell or see you. But you never know about the “1”
Better have God looking out for you and be a good shot.had a great friend attacked a few years ago in Wyoming. Same situation as mine but didn’t end well for my friend.
 

mightyhunter

Very Active Member
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1,096

This is a recent article from the Bonner County Bee concerning a grizzly bear shooting in North Idaho. I have made numerous posts and comments on the subject of grizzly bears in the Wyoming forums. Buzz H has also made numerous posts on the subject. I post this article as it shows what I believe is a difference in how each state deals with grizzly bears killed in "self defense".
I do not believe Wyoming officials would have come to the same decision that Idaho officials did in this case. Bear (ha ha) that in mind before you shoot a grizzly.

I lived in North Idaho for 20 years and also in NW Wyoming for the last 22 years. My encounters in North Idaho are nothing like the encounters I have experienced in NW Wyoming. The bears are very aggressive in Wyoming. The best defense is never let your guard down while recreating. I always prefer to see the bear before it sees, hears or senses my presence. You can't do that if you are sniffing the flowers, walking through dense timber, getting inebriated, not watching your back trail, not using your binos, or cat napping in grizzly country. If you harvest a deer, elk, or whatever in NW Wyoming you had better pay attention while quartering it.

In Wyoming I have come to the conclusion that if you want to avoid prosecution for killing a grizzly bear, your excuse that the bear got too close won't cut it. I have been bluff charged, stalked and growled at. I had a cub grizzly run between me and another person while walking on a backcountry trail. I have been within 10 ft. of boar grizzly that did not see, smell or hear me. All of this is unnerving. I would almost say that you had better have claw marks, tooth marks or serious bruises on your person before shooting a grizzly bear in NW Wyoming. If a grizzly bear decides to attack you, I doubt you will have time to deploy bear spray or shoot the bear. I have talked to numerous folks who have been mauled and a couple of them shot the bear after the initial attack. Sows usually check on their cubs before they come back to finish you off. I am more concerned about sows than I am about boars. These are just my experiences.

Quite frankly, don't hunt or recreate in certain parts of Wyoming if you think you can get away with shooting a bear that just got too close. just sayin...mh
 

HikeHunt61

Active Member
Messages
311
If your last ditch effort is shooting them in the brain, then anything 9mm and up with a hard bullet should more or less do the same job. It’s going to penetrate the skull and once it does any bullet will do the job of destroying the brain.
Not to disagree- but I'm pretty sure a grizzly skull is very thick. I killed a cow moose once, and not being sure of it's demise we provided an insurance shot with a 38 square in the head. We skinned the head to see what damage it had done- and right there, in the skull under the skin was that slug. We were amazed!

I do worry about carrying my 9mm is griz country. If I'm not rifle hunting, I carry my 357 (simply because it's the most powerful handgun I happen to own). That said- I would carry my 9mm if it was all I had...
 

Snoopdogg

Very Active Member
Messages
2,179
All said- if you feel your life is in danger, I wouldn't spend a lot of time contemplating the legal ramifications of staying alive.
I make this very point during my hunter ed classes. Cali has no mountain lion hunting, and I always get a "What if..." question and respond accordingly. But, I also caution not to try and bullsh!t the man because they will investigate and your claims better be valid.
 

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