Daughter's bear hunt is 9 days away


AH ambassador
Mar 4, 2015
Reaction score
Wisconsin, behind the cheddar curtain
Member of
NRA Life Benefactor, Trout Unlimited, Safari Club International
Pretty excited for my 9 year old's black bear hunt next week. She's been planning for it since last year, wrote an essay, entered it January 2nd, won a place at the wildlife congress, and has been packing/planning for months now since she found out she got in this May.

We agonized about what Rifle / Load she was going to use for a very long time and bantered on which option was best for the hunt.

She has a marvelous, custom fitted pre-64 .243 featherweight that she has shot with diminished loads on a couple of large deer already. So for accuracy and shot placement, the 243 was the top choice.

We also built a custom savage 220 twenty gauge slug rifle for the kids that would function as well, but the recoil with a full 3" accutip is way north of 50 foot pounds of recoil. We considered going with diminished loads (still 15-20 foot pounds) but then realized at 1400fps they reduced loads would only get about 6" of penetration which seemed a bad plan.

We decided to use 80gr Barnes TTSX factory loads that have excellent expansion, would not likely deflect on bone, and would possibly pass-through the animal. I'm legally allowed to back her so I'll bring my .375HH for following up on the downed bear. The guides also have hounds that we can use to assist with recovery so I'm less concerned about tracking blood spoor for 100-150 yards if that's how long it takes to have the 243 to do its job.

I'm sure there would be many debates on which way to proceed but that's where we landed on our plan. When she's 12 I'll likely get her a 7x57 and then she'll be set for everything in the world that doesn't require a .375HH or more. In the interim, it's her .243.

One other option still lingering with us that We could bring up for the hunt is the very accurate, very powerful Scorpyd crossbow for her to use but I'm uncertain a good arrow is going to do any better work on the bear than a .243 with a Barnes. More blood versus better penetration and energy. I'll welcome any banter on this last option of .243 Barnes versus 400+fps crossbow with very high quality bolts/nocks/broadheads.
Ok, I have to ask. What is the Wildlife Congress?
Very cool! And what an exciting hunt for a young girl!!
I assume it’s for a black bear... but regardless shot placement is key and she will be good.

As another option a good old fashioned lever 30-30 might also have done the trick.... But she is already dialed in with her 243.
Ok, I have to ask. What is the Wildlife Congress?

The state of WI (and many other states) have Wildlife Congresses each year to review plans, issues, conservation topics, etc.. In this case, the State votes on merit based applications for kids to learn to hunt deer and bear with mentors in lieu of what would otherwise be impossible due to A.) Time to draw a tag (14+ years at present in choice zone), B.) Access to land, C.) Access to expertise, D.) Ability to bait the area for months before the hunt, E.) Access to trained hounds to either hunt or retrieve bear.

It's one of those situations where WI and other states realize that kids will very shortly be voting to decide whether what we do is weird, abhorrent, or vicious. They will very quickly grow to age of voting and will decide the future of conservation. Thus, we better find every way to provide access for outdoor activities for our children or there A.) Won't be any demand in subsequent generations, and B.) They'll outlaw our sports in our lifetime out of ignorance and apathy.

Support programs that get as many kids outside as possible. Kids in outdoor sports stay out of courts! :)
Very cool! And what an exciting hunt for a young girl!!
I assume it’s for a black bear... but regardless shot placement is key and she will be good.

As another option a good old fashioned lever 30-30 might also have done the trick.... But she is already dialed in with her 243.

It is indeed black bear. By sheer good fortune, its in the county with the most B&C Golds of any county in the country so there is a distinct possibility that she gets on a nice bear and an outside chance of a truly once-in-a-lifetime sized bruin.
I think its a toss up between the crossbow and the .243 under 45 yards or so. Beyond that the .243 will be far more effective. Placement is key for both as you well know. Hopefully she has taken plenty of time to practice. That may be the one advantage of the crossbow is the ability to practice in the backyard. I have a Scorypd and they are excellent. I took a nice mule deer last yr at 60 yards.
If this is a bait hunt then either should work well. Might prepare with both. Take both and then decide which after you see exactly how they have things set up for you. Good luck and looking forward to pics and a report.
The 243 will work plenty well, I’ve shot several black bears with a 243 and 6mm rem using Hornady spire points, the Barnes will be far superior! The cross bow with a good broad head may surprise you on its performance. I have shot several large bears with a bow and have never had more than a 50 yard trail job. A good arrow broadhead combo never fails to impress me when put in the right spot. I would base my decision off of the type of hunt, stand or spot and stalk. I have never stand hunted bear but the shots seem to be under 40 yards for the most part making either option a good one as long as she shoots the cross bow well. I wish her the most success on her hunt and look forward to a picture of her Bruin!
My goddaughter has taken several whitetails as well as an elk, moose and black bear with her Winchester Model 70 in .243 with no problems whatsoever. Your daughter will do just fine! Looking forward to the pics!
Rookhawk, have you given any thought on what would be the most lethal shot that can be made on a bear with a 243? From previous posts I know your daughter is an excellent marksman. Shot placement is going to be even more critical on this hunt. Especially if she encounters one of the larger bears in the area.
Good luck to the young lady!
Can’t wait to read the story and see the pictures. Good luck!!
Just curious, how did the hunt go?
Me too!
The hunt was a truly moving experience! No less than 20 people came from all over the state to participate in the hunt for my little girl. The town, butcher, taxidermist, DNR, USDA, and local residents all did amazing things to put the hunt together. On the Thursday and Friday we made baits and ran bait lines together for many, many hours. On Saturday the entire posse went out and ran the hounds until they got onto a nice young bear that they tree'd. My daughter shot her .243 and the bruin was dead instantly. The comments from all were that this was the best shot they've had any youth hunter take on their hunts over all the years. They then had the game warden join us for a party that afternoon and a smore cookout that evening.

Truly a remarakable experience from very generous people. This year the northern half of the state had 9 hunters awarded youth learn to hunt bear tags. The group we were in was just for my daughter and represented the Price county volunteers only. (she met the other 8 hunters briefly at an orientation class) We heard word that 3 other bear were harvested during the weekend hunt in other counties and the remaining 5 were still going at it. During the class the USDA showed up with two live bears in traps they were relocating away from the agriculture areas that were being damaged which was an interesting portion of the education.

Overall, it is an incredibly rewarding experience with dozens of volunteers giving time and resources with no desire for recognition. Wonderful people. Wonderful once-in-a-lifetime experience for my daughter.

P.S.- Barnes 80gr bullets are more than sufficient to kill a bear instantly with a shot to the vitals. Full pass through and significant expansion. Would not hesitate to use the .243 with this load on any bear of any reasonable size up to say 350-400 pounds.
Great experience.
What a wonderful journey for a young lady...oh and her dad! It really sounds like an excellent program with super volunteers!
Congratulations....what an experience for your little girl......And You!
Congratulations, it does sound like a great experience for all involved. Are you going to do some sort of mount or a rug?
Absolutely fantastic. Pretty soon your daughter is going to want to start making Wonder Woman commercials.
Once she makes up her mind to do something, she is willing to "move heaven and earth" to get it done. Please give her a hug for a job well done from me.

Forum statistics

Latest member



Latest profile posts

ghay wrote on gearguywb's profile.
Is this rifle sold? If not what is the weight of it and do you know if there is enough difference in diameter between the 35W and the 9.3 to allow for a rebore to a 9.3x62 which is what I am after?
Gary (Just down the road in Springfield)
Woods wrote on Hunter-Habib's profile.
Forgive me if this is the incorrect area, I signed up to this forum just now because I wanted to be on the list to purchase a copy of your autobiography. Please feel free to pass my information along to whomever is selling. Thank you so much. I look forward to it!
I like the Tillie in my picture. They are supposed to fit loose (2 fingers inside hat band), have mesh for cooling, and hold their shape after washing.
SSG Joe wrote on piratensafaris's profile.
From one newbie to another, Welcome aboard!
BLAAUWKRANTZ safaris wrote on Greylin's profile.
We have just completed a group hunt with guys from North Carolina, please feel free to contact the organizers of the group, Auburn at auburn@opextechnologies.com or Courtney at courtney@opextechnologies.com Please visit our website www.blaauwkrantz.com and email me at zanidixie@gmail.com