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Hunting black bears at 18-backup gun options?

Discussion in 'Northwest Hunting' started by SparkzNGearz, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. SparkzNGearz

    SparkzNGearz Bremerton New Member

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    Title pretty much lays it out. A family friend knows I have been looking to get into hunting, and is looking for a buddy to come with him when he hunts black bear. I have never been along on a black bear hunt or seen one going after somebody personally, but I have seen them up close and have seen the aftermath of what they can do. I personally would much prefer to carry a backup handgun (Namely my stepfather's S&W model 27 6 inch .357 mag) if we were to be going after game like that. I am 18 and fully aware of the 21 age requirement for buying and owning handguns but I am not at all sure what the law says about this kind of situation. I was hoping a fellow Washingtonian hunter might be able to help out or have some idea. I have not been able to go to the local gun store yet as the topic came up just today. I definitely will see if they can help me with the matter or point me in the right direction as to who to ask. Again, any advice or experience in this area is appreciated, I just want to have as safe a hunt as possible while still following the law on the matter. Thanks all.
  2. Brutus57

    Brutus57 Skagit County Well-Known Member

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    Google WA state law about an 18 YO hunting with hand guns. It should be spelled out reasonably clearly. We already know you can with a rifle.

    Brutus Out

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    And you most likely never will. If you truly fear the animal you are hunting then you should probably not hunt it as you may be so preoccupied with your own personal safety you will not really be 'hunting' but maybe just running scared. Concentrate on your marksmanship with the rifle you will be hunting with because that is all you will need. I don't really 'hunt' bear but usually have a tag and my .357 Winchester Trapper nearby (with maximum loads) in case I happen to see one. Typically you have more to fear from a Raccoon than a black bear as they have much less fear of humans than black bears and can be rabid.
  4. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    The law (Federal law) is that you need to be 21 to buy a handgun from a LICNESED DEALER. You can buy a handgun (by Federal law) at 18 from a private party. So since by Federal law you can legally own a handgun at age 18 unless there are specific state laws preventing you from hunting or carrying a handgun while hunting Bear you should be good to go.

    Be sure to read all applicable State Game laws yourself.
  5. SparkzNGearz

    SparkzNGearz Bremerton New Member

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    Thanks for the advice everyone, it isn't going to scare me away from hunting bear without a backup, but I would prefer one if possible. Its not that I'm not scared to hunt bear, I just respect what the animals can do. Anyways, I'm more than likely to start hunting next year, not this year, and I'm just looking on getting ready for next year.

    Mark W. - I will have to double check the laws on handguns to make absolutely sure, but if that is the case, I have been eyeing a Springfield Armory XD 9mm 5inch barrel for awhile now. (Not for bear of course, just my first handgun).
  6. SparkzNGearz

    SparkzNGearz Bremerton New Member

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    I've dealt with raccoons before, even got a couple in the woods right next to the house, now if only I could hunt those ones down......
  7. mrblond

    mrblond Salem OR Well-Known Member

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    What is going to be your primary firearm? If its a lever gun, you really won't need a backup.
  8. unklekippy

    unklekippy In The Mountains Near Sprague River Well-Known Member

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    I would be comfortable with a 6" .357, but only if it were loaded with hard cast bullets with a minimum weight of 150 grains and minimum speed of 1,300fps. I would feel even better with a .44 mag throwing 250+grain hard cast slugs at 1,300fps or so.

    Neither of those handguns will be nearly as effective at the muzzle as a .308 is at 1,000 yards. That is important to remember. The revolver on your hip is comforting(and it should be), but if the option is there, take every shot possible with your rifle.

    The 700 ft. lbs. generated by a high powered revolver is great. It is nothing however, compared to the 2-3,000 put out by a rifle made for bear-sized game.

    Good luck on your hunt. Blind and still hunting are all I can even think about after my back was destroyed. Even those are difficult. Get out there and enjoy it while you can.
  9. Silver Hand

    Silver Hand Southern Oregon Coast Well-Known Member

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    SparkzNGearz - My input is, if you have an effective long gun in your possession there is no advantage in being distracted with a short barreled device that is much less accurate by comparison and has much less to offer in the way of killing capacity, energy upon impact!
    This next year wile shooting your long gun take note of it's devastating power and accuracy wile comparing it to the 357 -6'' S&W SIDE ARM.
    I never liked to carry a side arm wile hunting Bear. I know it is up for debate but personally I found it only slowed me down wile in my prime and running after bear using hounds to find them. It takes one good shot, to get that done steady your nerves. Good hunting.
    Silver Hand
  10. orygun

    orygun West Linn Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Pretty much what Silverhand says. A handgun is what you use til you get your hands on your rifle. I do carry a handgun when hunting, but it's mostly there in case I'm caught flatfooted while skinning an animal and my rifle isn't in my hands. If I'm concerned, my rifle has a round chambered and it's not far away. I may carry a .45, a .357 or a .41 Mag, but all pale in comparison to my rifle.
  11. salmonriverjohn

    salmonriverjohn N.W Oregon coast, Gods country Well-Known Member

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    I'm 10 feet tall when I have my old 06 in my paws. That said, while carrying my bow I do carry a S&W .357 on my back hip. Just make damn sure the bear is dead before you approach it after the shot. Even a small one is pure poison when wounded, anyone that says different has never experienced it. I've taken many in the past, most fold up pretty quick with the proper placement and caliber. You owe it to any animal to be proficient and humane when hunting.

    List of fatal bear attacks in North America - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    This is in no way meant to deter you, and I only posted this link for reference, note that many were unprovoked. Old yogi has a lot more going for him than folks like to believe.
  12. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Handguns and Bears (those long in the tooth will forgive my repeating the advice, but perhaps the OP has not heard it yet):

    When working for an outfitter in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, we had a dude show up with (in addition to a .300 Weatherby: first clue we had a problem child on our hands) a Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44 Magnum. He was VERY concerned that we all examine it, and support his choice as "backup in case we run into a Grizzly".

    As a paying customer, we had no choice but to favorably comment on the gun, with some small recommendations that he might not be able to hike and climb quite as well with it strapped to his hip, and maybe it'd be better left with the horse when we went walking (our method of "taking the long way around the barn" to make sure he wasn't whipping it out on the trail).

    The wrangler was an older, crusty fellow who frankly didn't care who he offended , and told the dude, "If you brought that for bear, you should file off or remove the front sight."

    The dude was puzzled at first, then hit on what he thought was the strategy: "Oh! so it comes out of the holster quicker, right?"

    The wrangler replied, "Nope. So as it don't hurt so much when the Grizzly takes it away from you and crams it up your arse."
    EM60 and (deleted member) like this.
  13. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    Heh, was that pre-internet? No.
    Old Elmer Keith always filed off his front sights. not
  14. DeanMk

    DeanMk Poulsbo, Wa. Active Member

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    I have to side with the comments already made about having confidence in your main gun.
    If you can't trust that gun, then you got no business haulin' it around in the woods.
    However, that aside, I think you're treating this "backup" more as piece of mind, than anything else (even if you don't realize it right now), so in that case, while my first thought was ".500 S&W", on further reflection, I now feel that might be a bit much to haul around as a "backup".
    Your .357 should work fine. In fact, I'm reminded of a famous story about a priest who was sent to the Aleutian's to "save" the natives. Before going, he stopped by the gun store and asked for the most powerful handgun he could get. The shop owner sold him a Smith just like your stepfather's (the cartridge was fairly new at the time) and a box of ammo.
    While the priest was out there, a polar bear was found raiding the village's food supply. None of the native's had anything to stop it, and when confronted by the bear one day, the priest ran and got his .357 and put the bear down.
    The villagers were very happy and everyone shared the meat, including the priest.
    Now while Polar bears are not the largest bears in existence, but they typically grow to a size larger than your typical black bear.
    If a .357 can stop that hulking monster, it should work just fine on any Black's you're going to encounter out here.
    ...and btw, if that big ol' N-frame ever wears down your hip, be aware that the .357 is available in a lighter package, like a K-frame (model 19) or a Taurus (model 65).
    10-12 ounces don't sound like much, but it can make a difference after a day's worth a huntin'.