A Rifle Related Question For American Bear Hunters

Major Khan

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I rarely hunt bears any more, but I know lots of bear guides and others who do. For them, it is largely a money and practicality matter. Many of these guys drive well-used pickup trucks, and the cost of a good double rifle--or for that matter, a premium double shotgun--would be hard to justify. They typically own several rifles, but most are bolt action Winchesters or Remingtons, or (less often) lever action Winchesters or Marlins in calibers like 444 or 45-70. I have seen some pump and semi-auto Remingtons in 30-06 as well. Their shotguns are usually pumps or semi-autos. All are good, serviceable, reliable weapons. Then there's the matter of practicality. If you're guiding for bears only, perhaps a dedicated double could be justified, but if you use your rifles for deer, bear, elk, moose, boar, etc., then I imagine the double would be less practical. That's not to say it wouldn't be an excellent close-range bear gun. You are certainly right about that. By the way, I have thoroughly enjoyed all your articles and reminiscences. Please keep them coming.
Thank you so much for you most educational information , Mr. Ausband . I am privileged that so many of you learned gentlemen commented on my thread . It helped me greatly to grasp the concept of how the Great Bears of America are typically hunted by you, American gentlemen .
By the way , would a .405 Winchester calibre Model 1895 lever rifle make for an acceptable choice against the American Grizzly species ?
 

Longwalker

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I think the subject of Black and Grizzly/Brown bear hunting has been well covered and I don't have much to add except the following observations - Polar bears are the biggest carnivore on earth, often weighing more than even Coastal brown bears. Polar bears are less likely than a Grizzly to attack a person out of defence of their personal space or defence of cubs, but much more likely to hunt you down and eat you just because humans are apparently good to eat.
I believe that historically more polar bears in Canada have been taken with the .303 British/bolt action SMLE than any other cartridge / rifle combination. The reason is most polar bears are actually taken by indigenous hunters, and those hunters use what's cheapest, most available, and is adequate for the job. Polar bears are often hunted with the assistance of dogs, so the dogs help keep the bear distracted while the hunter takes a careful, close shot. Other commonly used modern cartridges in the Canadian arctic are bolt actions chambered for the .308, .30-06, .270, 7mm Rem mag, and .243. And some lever action .30-30 are still used. They are the most common cartridges used for hunting seals and caribou, and so are pressed into service for bears when that opportunity arises.
 
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Scott CWO

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Your input , gathered from your vast personal experiences as a professional shikaree is indeed most valuable to me , Scott . I really am now beginning to get a more clear picture as to why none of you American gentlemen prefer double barreled rifles for the pursuit of the Great Bears of America. May I ask 1 more small question ?
During the 1960s , several of my American clients who used to come to India for shikar , used to tell me that the .338 Winchester magnum was the standard calibre for hunting American Grizzly Bears . Is this still true , today ?
That is a tough question to answer because there are so many choices today. I actually shot my coastal brown bear with a .338 WM back in 1998 and it did a marvelous job. Most of the brown bear outfitters that I know have been recommending the .375 H&H lately. I think it is likely more popular for brown bear today but I have not done a proper survey.

As for mountain grizzly, I bet that many are taken with various .30 caliber cartridges as an add on to sheep or moose hunts. Likely some still taken with the .338 WM as well.
 

leslie hetrick

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a picture of a very large bear shot in the old times, looks like a bolt action springfield. some of them were rebored into the 35 whelen, a poor mans magnum.

DSCN0218.JPG
 
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Skinnersblade

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I think the subject of Black and Grizzly/Brown bear hunting has been well covered and I don't have much to add except the following observations - Polar bears are the biggest carnivore on earth, often weighing more than even Coastal brown bears. Polar bears are less likely than a Grizzly to attack a person out of defence of their personal space or defence of cubs, but much more likely to hunt you down and eat you just because humans are apparently good to eat.
I believe that historically more polar bears in Canada have been taken with the .303 British/bolt action SMLE than any other cartridge / rifle combination. The reason is most polar bears are actually taken by indigenous hunters, and those hunters use what's cheapest, most available, and is adequate for the job. Polar bears are often hunted with the assistance of dogs, so the dogs help keep the bear distracted while the hunter takes a careful, close shot. Other commonly used modern cartridges in the Canadian arctic are bolt actions chambered for the .308, .30-06, .270, 7mm Rem mag, and .243. And some lever action .30-30 are still used. They are the most common cartridges used for hunting seals and caribou, and so are pressed into service for bears when that opportunity arises.

a very good friend of mine ran a northern store for most of 90s. Until such time as it became mandatory to be native to hold that position. We conversed about .303 smles once and he said some of the reason they were so popular was that the northern rangers were issued a farly large amount of ammunition for "practice" enough so that a whole family could hunt out of the rangers "practice" rounds annually. Which I'm sure is a major help in a place where ammunition can be scarse and exspensive.
 

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Thank you so much for your excellent analysis , Tarawathie . I only have 1 small question . Are not Glock semi automatic pistols made mostly from a polymer based compound ?
The lower part, the frame which includes the handle, is made out of polymer (same for many modern pistols, but Glock was the one that made this design famous). The slide, barrel and other small parts are mostly steel. The steel usually has a good finish and is good at resisting corrosion in most environments. In the example I'm referring to, there were small rust spots on some of the metal components. The guide mentioned what others have mentioned here: after long days in the bush, it's hard for a guide to do a detailed clean and oiling every day.
 

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Your input , gathered from your vast personal experiences as a professional shikaree is indeed most valuable to me , Scott . I really am now beginning to get a more clear picture as to why none of you American gentlemen prefer double barreled rifles for the pursuit of the Great Bears of America. May I ask 1 more small question ?
During the 1960s , several of my American clients who used to come to India for shikar , used to tell me that the .338 Winchester magnum was the standard calibre for hunting American Grizzly Bears . Is this still true , today ?

The 338 Winchester was marketed as a cartridge for moose and big bears in the 1950s I believe. In the 1960s it would have made a good rifle. It was probably a bit lighter and cheaper then a long action 375 H&H and a bit flatter shooting. With the bullets available at the time it was probably better than a 300 Magnum on bears.

The 338 is still popular but probably not as much as it used to be. There are just so many choices now. Personally I think if you want to shoot things at long range a 300 makes more sense. If you want to stop a charging bear a 375 only kicks a bit more and it might stop bears a bit faster.
 

WAB

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Major,
I ran a boat out of Valdez, AK for years. Hunting conditions are so tough on guns that stainless rifles will get rust on them. My bear gun is a custom M70 .375 H&H stainless. I had the metal arctic coated satin black to keep it from rusting in the rain and salt spray. I can’t imagine exposing a high dollar double to these conditions.
WAB
 

Major Khan

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I think the subject of Black and Grizzly/Brown bear hunting has been well covered and I don't have much to add except the following observations - Polar bears are the biggest carnivore on earth, often weighing more than even Coastal brown bears. Polar bears are less likely than a Grizzly to attack a person out of defence of their personal space or defence of cubs, but much more likely to hunt you down and eat you just because humans are apparently good to eat.
I believe that historically more polar bears in Canada have been taken with the .303 British/bolt action SMLE than any other cartridge / rifle combination. The reason is most polar bears are actually taken by indigenous hunters, and those hunters use what's cheapest, most available, and is adequate for the job. Polar bears are often hunted with the assistance of dogs, so the dogs help keep the bear distracted while the hunter takes a careful, close shot. Other commonly used modern cartridges in the Canadian arctic are bolt actions chambered for the .308, .30-06, .270, 7mm Rem mag, and .243. And some lever action .30-30 are still used. They are the most common cartridges used for hunting seals and caribou, and so are pressed into service for bears when that opportunity arises.
Thank you so much for your educational insight, Long Walker. When you describe your American Coastal Brown Bear and Polar Bear species in such a manner , it makes our Asian Sloth Bears look ( and sound ) like Walt Disney cartoon bears in comparison. For hunting our Asian Sloth Bears , the MOST popular rifle calibres brought by my clients to India were :
> .300 Winchester magnum
> .338 Winchester magnum ( very , very popular )
> 9.3x62 mm Mauser
> 9.3x74 mm Rimmed
> .375 Mannlicher
> .375 Holland & Holland magnum
 

Major Khan

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a picture of a very large bear shot in the old times, looks like a bolt action springfield. some of them were rebored into the 35 whelen, a poor mans magnum.

View attachment 336559
I have always wondered about something , Mr. Hetrick . It has already been established that the .30-06 Springfield calibre has been used with a great degree of success on your American Black Bear species . However , are there any documented cases of any hunters successfully killing the American Grizzly Bear species with the .30-06 Springfield calibre , as well ? I should think that the .30-06 Springfield calibre would be a little too light for this application , even with 220 grain bullets .
 
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Major Khan

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Major,
I ran a boat out of Valdez, AK for years. Hunting conditions are so tough on guns that stainless rifles will get rust on them. My bear gun is a custom M70 .375 H&H stainless. I had the metal arctic coated satin black to keep it from rusting in the rain and salt spray. I can’t imagine exposing a high dollar double to these conditions.
WAB
Thank you so much for explaining this to me so simply , WAB . In the environmental conditions which you describe .... it would be criminal to use a costly double barreled rifle in the regions typically inhibited by the Great Bears of America .
 
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Ryan

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I have always wondered about something , Mr. Hetrick . It has already been established that the .30-06 Springfield calibre has been used with a great degree of success on your American Black Bear species . However , are there any documented cases of any hunters successfully killing the American Grizzly Bear species with the .30-06 Springfield calibre , as well ? I should think that the .30-06 Springfield calibre would be a little too light for this application , even with 220 grain bullets .
While I agree with you that an -06 is definitely light for a brown bear, because it existed in abundance from the surplus of two world wars I know it was used for a while by a lot of brown/grizzly bear hunters in Alaska in the early to mid 20th century. I recall reading bits and pieces of this book and as I recall the Judge started using a 35 Remington and then used a M1 Garand. He shot some pretty big bears with both.
s-l400.jpeg
 

Major Khan

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While I agree with you that an -06 is definitely light for a brown bear, because it existed in abundance from the surplus of two world wars I know it was used for a while by a lot of brown/grizzly bear hunters in Alaska in the early to mid 20th century. I recall reading bits and pieces of this book and as I recall the Judge started using a 35 Remington and then used a M1 Garand. He shot some pretty big bears with both. View attachment 336809
This seems like a most fascinating book , Ryan . I shall look forward to purchasing it and reading it .
 

JimP

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As for a 30-06 dispatching large bears, it has been done quite often.

I had a friend who took care of a camp raiding brown bear with a 270 Winchester shooting a 150 grain bullet with one shot.

Also when I was planning a brown bear hunt and talking with the outfitter he told me to bring the rifle that I could shoot the most accurately. At the time I was shooting a 7mm Remington magnum which is slightly more powerful than the 06
 

leslie hetrick

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i think it was elmer keith who wrote he killed a large bear comming at him head on very close by shooting(3006) the left or right shoulder , causeing it to veer to the side and then shooting it broadside. EK was a well know shootest-hunter here in the US and world wide from the 20,s untill his death.
 

sestoppelman

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My one and only black bear was dispatched readily with one shot from my Remington 700 in .308 many years ago in Idaho.
When I lived in Sitka, they used to mention bears often on the radio, as in "hey folks, remember this is brown bear country, don't go out in the woods without your .30-06 or bigger". Local PSA! LOL.
 

sestoppelman

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@leslie hetrick If we are giving back history I would think it prurient to mention Elmer Keith had a one sided running spat with jack O'Connor. Stemming from a difference of opinion in bullet selection.
It was more about caliber than bullet selection. Keith was a big bore fan, O'Connor not as much but certainly was sensible and used appropriate rounds for the game hunted. Keith allowed that O'Connors favorite .270 Win was a "damned adequate coyote rifle".
 

sestoppelman

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Here is a picture of a monster brownie from Cold Bay, AK taken in 1948 with two shots from a Model 95 Winchester in .405 Win,, at some distance. They figured the bear may have weighed over a ton in his prime. Huge bear. BTW, the author is a Jack O'Connor, not THE Jack O'Connor. Apparently he was a well known guide at the time.
IMG_5514.JPG
 

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