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Black bear vs. .357 Magnum
Our trip was planned, but my buddy called off, so I went solo into opening day at south Sequoia National Park 1979.
I had backpacked in about 4 miles when I found a disturbing sight. It was a campsite that was torn apart and it seemed the humans made a hasty retreat. There were expensive sunglasses, knives, and parts of a tent and food wrappers. Hmmm?
I had always taken my trusty S&W Model 65 .357 Magnum with me on trips into the outback. This time I had 158 gr. JSP factory PMC ammo.
Another 2 miles and I had found my spot to camp. In those days I did not have a tent. My stay was peaceful for the first 3 nights, but on the fourth evening as I started to cook dinner, laid down to read waiting for my water to boil. I smelled something different.
I sat up and there was a big black bear with a radio collar around its neck with my food bag in its mouth. I jumped up yelling and blowing my whistle as I chased the bear across a creek. It went up the hill with my food bag, dropped it and came down after me. I stood my ground, bear on one side; 12 feet of creek, three feet deep, and me on the other side.
Well it was very angry with me and stood on it hind legs growling. It grabbed a small tree and shook it apart and pacing back and forth. I chucked rocks and sticks at it until there was no more. It was 5:30 PM and getting darker.
The black bear finally started to cross the creek, it cautiously stepped on the boulders to cross as it watch my next move. I drew my S&W .357 Mag and fired a warning shot into the soft creek bank. Click and nothing, It was a factory dud! My next try would be lethal. The bear was at the 10 foot mark and coming across. I took careful aim into the bears left ear, thinking it was the softest spot into the brain, next shots would, if lucky, be the nose. I knew I was under gunned.
I am not a hunter, it’s not my thing, but I would not be the hunted. With five more shots and my K-Bar knife there was no place to go but hand to claw fight if it came to it.
I said, “I am sorry I have to do this.” And readied my first shot. The big bear stopped and backed off, went up the hill to eat. I ran back to camp and put everything into my sleeping bag and ran up the hill. I stopped and looked back and saw the bear running down the hill to the creek. It was now a foot race, about six miles in the dark west.
I lost the trail twice and crosses several streams that I had forgotten about but made it back to my car at 11:30 PM.
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I now carry into the outback my .44 Magnum, Ruger or Smith loaded with 310 gr. Hammerheads. Thanks for reading my story. (It’s true too)
 

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Good for you. You have my upmost admiration. It takes more courage to AVOID taking a life, animal or human, than just blast away. The bear was just being a bear in it's area, it didn't deserve to die for that.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks 1 old 0311, it was close. I have thought about that moment for many years. 4 times I had to draw my weapon to save my butt, no blood, no deaths, life went on. But two different stories told from two sides of the line, ain't life grand?
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That's a gripping story, Like the others I'm glad you came out okay.
I haven't seen any bears yet while we're out hiking, but surely the time will come. I carry a .41 magnum with hot loads for just such an emergency.
Sometimes retreat is the best solution.

Regards,
Gearchecker
 

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Wise move to pack a .44 Mag. Ruger! You've been lucky 4 times....but next time......? I don't know about sparing the bears life......if you wait too long.....it could mean your own life. If I had a choice between me...or the bear.......I wouldn't hesitate to shoot a bear that was coming for me. God helps those.....that help themselves! ;) Bob
 

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It was many, many years ago, but a chance encounter I'll never forget, and meeting a bear was the last thing on my mind at the time. No way out so I had to pull the trigger.
.45 Colt Single Action loaded with 255 gr. lead SWC and 8.5 grains of dirty old Unique powder.
One lucky shot between the running lights & it was all over. And yes, I was scared shi*less.

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What an incredible story!We used to refer to that as " Unassing the A.O.".I run into black bear and browns all season (May-October) and I never fail to have a complete meltdown every time. Frankly they scare the helloutta me and I ain't ashamed to admit it.I've carried 41's, 44's and 45's. Never felt undergunned with any of them. My current protector is a 45 Colt New Vaquero.It's kept me alive so far. ;)
 

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It was many, many years ago, but a chance encounter I'll never forget, and meeting a bear was the last thing on my mind at the time. No way out so I had to pull the trigger.
.45 Colt Single Action loaded with 255 gr. lead SWC and 8.5 grains of dirty old Unique powder.
One lucky shot between the running lights & it was all over. And yes, I was scared shi*less.

View attachment 7959
And did the bear mention anything about that "dirty old Unique"? :)
 

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Great story!!!! I have my doubts that the bear actually knew what the firearm was, but me thinks that he got the scent that you were a predator as well and could probably hold your own....course what the heck do I know, our dog hates it when I clean my firearms.....
 

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Discussion Starter #13
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Grasshopper, yes I too was that close. I would have reported it to the rangers. A man has to do what a man has to do. I don't hunt, but I will take game to survive of course, I am not goofy. Being a pro photographer for many years I've carried thousands of dollars of camera equipment on the job, plus my .45. Once a couple of dudes thought they carry my stuff home... well they thought wrong. In Utah three hill boys came over to my VW van at a rest stop to entertain my girl friend for a few hours... again my S&W 19 stopped the show. Just the sight of my weapon has always been enough, if its not, I wont hesitate.
In the outback you have to be smart and aware, you want to enjoy the world out there, but not become dinner for the four legged kind.
Thanks for the responce from you all. I have read back to Thread 135, this is very interesting. Thanks
 

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Wow, that would've made a great "This happened to me" story in Outdoor Life (do they still publish those?) You're braver than me, I would've gotten the heck out while the bear made off with the food!

Feral hogs, skunks, and rattlesnakes are about the only threats in North Texas, and the last two don't need to be shot unless the skunk is rabid.
 

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What an incredible story!We used to refer to that as " Unassing the A.O.".I run into black bear and browns all season (May-October) and I never fail to have a complete meltdown every time. Frankly they scare the helloutta me and I ain't ashamed to admit it.I've carried 41's, 44's and 45's. Never felt undergunned with any of them. My current protector is a 45 Colt New Vaquero.It's kept me alive so far. ;)

+1. Ain't a lot on this planet that really frightens me but bears top the list.
 

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We have Black Bears here. Apparently in numbers that allows our county of residence to be included in a limited state mandated Black Bear hunting season. That’s the first since we’ve resided here. They’ve been here for awhile but small in numbers. One of our pear trees was more or less devastated by the world’s largest raccoon know to man or a small black bear. Branches were broken off to the extent that we thought the tree would be a totaled. Hunters that we let on the property for dear season have reported seeing Black Bears.

I’m live and let live with animals except when they become a nuisance with deer falling into that category (Six per tag this year). I’ll probably not allow the hunting of Black Bear on the property this year.

I’ve taken Black Bear but not here in North Carolina with both pistol and rifle. It can be done with a 357 Magnum but it in my opinion falls into the category of a stunt. Its all in shot placement.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Just to be clear, when the bear came down the hill towards me there was no place to retreat to, open ground and tall trees where the branches start at 7 feet up. There was nowhere to run and hide. I refuse to be beaten, robbed or eaten. I will not be a victim so I choose to fight. I am not stupid, any bear can get the best of me, but it is going to be a fight. A Grizzly bear is different, way different.
Yes I am from Santa Monica California.
In Australia we had crocks and all kinds of deadly snakes and spiders, hell they had everything that kills. You walked differently in the bush. I was there for five years, saw everything, loved it. However they most challenging thing were Aussy girls. Too right mate!
 

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I carry my Model 27 whenever I am out in the woods. I prefer a good load of 2400 with either a cast SWC (preferably the 358156 or 358429) and I can tell you that will put a hurting on any bear. I have always advocated carrying a handgun you can shoot better even if it is a bit less powerful than say a .44 Magnum. Not everyone can shoot double action rapidly in a big bore gun like the .44 or .41 Magnum let alone a Casull or .500.
 
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