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Discussion Starter #1
Wife and I are long-time career cops and are leaving to go camping in the Rockies in a couple weeks. We're experienced at camping, hiking and canoeing, but not in bear country. I carry a 4-inch .44 magnum on duty, have for many years, and own a pump 12-gauge and a couple of .30-30 rifles that we've packed along on previous trips with rest of our gear.

I've used the search function here on this board and learned that 170-grain Noslers seems to be recommended as the .30-30 bullet for "large" game at short range, and I've been practicing with hardened Brenneke 12-gauge slugs in 2.75-inch, since that's what my gauge is chambered for. I have 250-grain SWC-solids and 240-grain Hornady jhps for the .44 mag revolver...they have a different POA/POI from the 180-grain .44 jhps I use at work, so I got the sights adjusted.

But (as noted here by several experienced folks) there's a big difference in "hunting" large game and trying to terminate an attack by a large game animal. I have no experience with the heavy caliber rifles often mentioned here for bear. If it's any help, though, I'm long familiar with my M37 Ithaca and Marlin .30-30 and they're both light and handy enough to always keep within reach, which (I gather from reading here) is important.

Wife and I are committed to following the "rules" for camping and cooking in bear country and we're not looking for trouble. I just want to be sure about everything and I know I won't learn what I need by asking the bunny-huggers. I've tried the absorb the anatomical difference between bear and deer, since deer are the largest four-legged critters I've shot. I know dabigmoose and others here have said that the .30-30 has been used successfully in remote villages on browns and even polar bear...I just wonder if the 12-gauge Brenneke's might not be a better choice.

Thanks for listening...
 

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Snowman,

If you haven't seen it you might read the report of the couple that were attack by a Grizzly.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/06/27/bear.attack.ap/index.html

Sometimes even when you do everything right and are armed, nothing helps. And while the .30-30 will suffice I prefer something with a little more punch. But seeing you don’t have a bigger rifle then I vote for the M37 loaded with the Brenneke slugs and the .44 mag. Lawdog
:D
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah...read that when it was first posted here earlier this month.

Thanks for responding, Lawdog. I load with Foster slugs exclusively on the job having had less-than-optimum results with buckshot a few times. I'd like to use Brenneke's but they penetrate too deeply on people who need shot...or that's the boss's view, at least.

Wife likes the .30-30 better than the 12-gauge. I put a "youth" stock on her Marlin M336 and, like I mentioned earlier, it's handy enough that she's willing to carry it. We've both used .30-30 on feral hogs...but they aren't bear.

Again, thanks...
 

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Bear gun

My best friend has guided bear hunters for years over bait sets. He has often mentioned that bears shot with 12 guage Breneke slugs usually die right there on the spot, and if they do leave, they don't go far.
I have always lived in the north woods of Mn and Wis and have had many bear in my back yard over the years. The dog barking usually chases them away because I think the bear recognizes that he is in the dogs territory. However, never depend on a dog in the bear's territory- whole different story!
If a bear does come into your camp I wouldn't shoot unless he is closer than 15 yards. He isn't comfortable inside that distance either. However, if he comes closer than that and is acting agressive, you and your wife both open up and don't stop until he's dead.
Most all the bear I ever delt with were doing their very best to get as far away from me as possible but there were a couple I had questions about, however, they left without any real problem. One time I only had my bare hands. (I yelled, shouted, waved my arms and acted like a total idiot. I think he felt I probably was and left)
The other time I had my chain saw. Started it and scared the he-- out of him! He was making tracks across the swamp the last I saw of him.
The only time I am concerned is when I'm camping in a place where many people camp. In those areas the bears become used to people and no longer fear them. In that case you can hurt- bad! Don't trust a camp bear!
If you're camping in the wilderness you probably have nothing to fear.
Don't leave any food around, keep a clean camp, and have fun!!!!!!!1
williek
 

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I have to agree with the others. Hunting big game & defending yourself from an attack are two entirely different scenarios, each requiring different tactics and equipment. While any of the firearms you have listed would be sufficient for HUNTING black bear under ideal conditions, to stop an aggressive bear bent on ATTACKING you you want a weapon that will put him down quickly & for good! Of the weapons you've listed I would vote for the 12 gauge stoked with Brenneke slugs as the hands down favorite.
That being said, keep a clean camp and have fun while you enjoy "bear country".
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, guys...appreciate your time and the info. I was a little nervous about it since I haven't read of any first-hand success stories involving the .30-30 and large bruins. I'm sure it's been done, I just haven't run across anything in the available literature.
 

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One time ahorse with a 94 30-30 at about 75 yards facing me obliquely over a dead calf with the Bad Bear Tag in her ear I took her with four shots 170 grain Remington rounds and I would have loved to have a larger caliber.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
At the risk of sounding like a corn-fed flatlander, what's a "Bad Bear Tag"...? Is that something stuck on a "problem bear" (as the bunny-huggers seem to prefer) after which it's re-located?

As with confronting a violent, dangerous felon, I'm sure that confronting a violent, dangerous bear will always make you wish you had a bigger gun. Breaking it down into terms that I can relate to (at least in comparing really dangerous bears to really dangerous people), I hope for my first hit to slow up and briefly distract the target, for a split second, buying me time to level up the sight picture for better-aimed follow-up hits. It has to be split-second fast because an oncoming human attacker doesn't allow you much leeway for time...and, from what I've read here, an oncoming bear will allow you even less.

Most any bullet impact is more "effective" when the target isn't expecting to get shot...but again that underscores the difference between hunting a bear (say, over bait from a tree stand) and trying to get it to break off an attack it's commited itself to. Did your initial .30-30 impact(s) cause the bear to focus on its injuries instead of you, IntrepidWizard? I'm assuming you placed the shot(s) well.

In any event, thanks for responding. I have co-workers who have "hunted" black bear quite successfully with a .30-30, and one friend who convincingly flattened a black bear with a .30-30 that was stalking him and his young son during a deep-woods outing. But...those weren't grizzly or browns and they weren't in an all-out attack mode.
 

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Snowman,

I load with Foster slugs exclusively on the job having had less-than-optimum results with buckshot a few times.
Yeah, after 30 years behind the badge looking at medical/autopsy reports one gets a excellent idea of what a buckshot pellet can do after entering the frail human body. Enough so that I would never trust the defense of my loved ones or myself to any size buckshot on critters equipped with large teeth/claws, with the bone/muscle mass likes bears have, intent on doing bodily harm. I agree, Foster slugs for people and Brenneke slugs for game. Lawdog
:D
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Just hung up from talking with a friend who retired from the department here and is now living in Bonner County, Idaho. When I asked if a 170-grain .30-30 would be "okay" for large bear defense, he said "Absolutely...but everything would have to be going your way, and you know that ain't always gonna happen". He pointed out that a heavier-caliber gun would be more forgiving of "contingencies" and give me more survival leeway if Mr. Murphy shows up.

I suppose a Marlin Guide Gun would be the handiest heavy caliber rifle to get for packing in a canoe or as a camp gun. Not sure I can get one before we're scheduled to leave, though. I'm still practicing with the 12-gauge and Brenneke's and will likely use those, as you folks have suggested. Thanks for giving me a hand with this.
 
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