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Bear Hunting Safety

Aug 18, 2007
There's something about a bear. Cuddly, sweet, docile and fluffy - but away from the toy box, the bear is a finely-tuned killing machine. It's a special type of hunter that goes after game that might, well, fight back. And, a bear can certainly dish out the punishment for a hunter who's ill prepared or simply isn't paying close enough attention to his game.

Bears are plentiful in North America and some would argue that they're too plentiful, in fact. Ultimately, there are three basic bears roaming the continent: the black, the brown and the grizzly. The brown bear and the grizzly are actually subsets of the same species, but it's easier to consider them as distinct for hunting purposes. Also, it's easy to forget that in the far north, there are polar bears. In the Northwest Territories, you can even hunt them. This has to be done from a sled pulled by a dog team with special hunting equipment and is only possible in a few select areas.

With temperatures of between -50 and -100 degrees, it isn't an adventure for the average hunter. Also, bear in mind that there are strict regulations regarding polar bears being transported back to the US. North America's baby bear is the black. Interestingly enough the black bear isn't always black, they can be brown, reddish or even yellow depending on where they live. The black bear is found mostly in the northern half of North America, from Alaska right across Canada and down through the northern US.

Blacks are also found in the more coastal areas of Washington, Oregon and northern California, as well as in the Rocky Mountains. The 'less-than black' black bears are most often found on the western side of this range. Black bears have quite a variable size, with a fully-grown boar weighing in between 200 and 400 pounds and an adult sow reaching from 150 to 200.

They're omnivores, eating practically anything that comes their way, whether that's fresh fruit, berries, nuts, fish, hunted mammals or scavenged carrion.
As grizzlies and brown bears are ultimately the same species, they have a great deal in common. Of the two, it's often a surprise to hunters that the grizzly is the smaller bear. An adult male can reach as much as 800 pounds and be around eight feet long.

That seems pretty large, but when you weigh that same grizzly up against a fully-grown brown boar at 1,200 pounds, the grizzly seems almost insignificant. Grizzlies and brown bears unsurprisingly have free reign in the forest, taking the best of the forage they find and pulling down the odd sheep, deer, elk or even a bit of ranch livestock if they choose. It isn't surprising to learn that this last meal of choice is one of the biggest reasons bears are maligned by the farming and ranching community.

When it comes to bear hunting, size definitely does matter. Going after a large bear with the wrong hunting equipment and too small a gun can cost you more than a trophy kill, it can cost you your arm, a couple fingers or even your life. So, the rule of thumb is know your mark. When you're going after a smaller bear, like a little black, a .270 might due in some situations, but a .300 caliber is recommended. Veteran hunters will tell you the bigger the bear, the bigger the gun, making a .300 the bare minimum caliber if you are aiming for a larger bear.

The .338 makes a solid option in terms of all-round weapons for bear hunting, it packs enough of a punch to take down a large brown bear or even a grizzly if aimed properly, but won't destroy a smaller black bear either. No matter which type of bear you are going after it is extremely important use extreme caution and have the right hunting supplies. Putting safety first and using the right hunting gear will ensure you a happy and successful trip and a great time while bear hunting.
About the Author
Craig Chambers is a hunting enthusiast who enjoys sharing bear hunting tips and offers extensive free hunting guides, resources and a hunting handbook on his website www.huntingyourbest.com
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