By Montana Grant

Posted: April 11, 2021

Bears are out of hibernation. Since they don’t get Covid 19, they do not have to quarantine. Grizzly bears will tend to be in the higher country. They are seeking food after a long winter. Usually they find winter kill elk, deer, or buffalo for their Fast Food.

Bears will also seek easy prey. On occasion, hikers, bikers, fishermen, and campers can fit the bill. Carrying Bear Spray is a good idea. You may also encounter uncontrolled dogs or other critters.

Some outdoors folks prefer a shotgun or handgun. If you need to use these, there will be blood. Some from the bear and probably some from the sportsman. Whatever prevention that you use, know how to use it.

The vitals on a charging bear present a small target. The skull is thick, as are the shoulders. It will take more than one shot to stop a bear. If you are using Bear Spray, you need to hit the nose and eyes. If you ever noticed, bears have small eyes. If you are being charged, you need to draw your weapon, aim, and hit your target. Good luck!

You can spray 90% of a bear with bullets or spray and miss the area you need to hit. Also learn how to act if the bear gets to you. Should you run, play dead, fight back or…? Black Bears and Grizzlies behave differently.

Handguns are accurate to maybe 50 yards if you have time to draw and aim. A bear attack is never convenient. It will happen fast and scare you. Practice your draw, sight picture, and repeated shots. I prefer a 357 Magnum Bear load, in a revolver. I am guaranteed to get 6 shots off without a jam or misfire.

Most outdoorsmen have never used a can of Bear Spray. It is expensive. They have probably carried it around in their pack or belts for years. It may not even be usable. If it is my life and family needing protection, spend the money for fresh cans each season. Practice with the old ones.

Buy a spare can and have everyone in the family use it. Learn to sweep the spray toward a target. Check the wind and spray downwind, when practicing. During a bear assault, oh well. You may get sprayed as well. The bear spray is also an attractant. Don’t practice by your camp or homes. Find a remote area and let her go. Wash your hands thoroughly after the practice. I have folks wear safety goggles. Bear Spray is worse than tear gas.

If you use a shotgun for protection, I suggest Double OO buckshot. At closing range, you will launch a pattern of 45 caliber slugs. You only need to point. Rifled slugs are a good choice. They offer longer range and heavy impact in a 50-caliber slug. Maybe stack the magazine with a slug first then a couple buckshot. Birdshot will only make them angry.

Follow your local carry rules. Not all states or parks have the same rules. For example, in Yellowstone and the Tetons National Parks, you can only carry a weapon if you have a Carry Permit.

Perhaps the best way to deal with a bear is to avoid them. Carry bells, make noise, look for and avoid sign, and be aware. Use solar lights around your camp and mark your/the territory. They also make electric fences that offer protection. Always be on Bear Alert.

Hopefully, you will never need Bear Spray or a weapon in self-defense. I would rather be prepared than scared.

Montana Grant

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