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Author Topic: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?  (Read 5466 times)

Offline jeepster

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going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« on: April 13, 2012, 12:51:44 AM »
im going to alaska to fish for the summer, and while i am not working, i am planning on enjoying every moment of being in a sportsmans paradise and fishing like a madman whether its on the boat, or on shore or in a river or whatever... who knows, maybe doing a little bit if hunting if allowed

now, my first thoughts are alaska means "i better get myself a good bear gun" and the first round that comes to mind is the 44mag.

im also considering just taking my shotgun, as that way i wouldnt have to spend any money, but... part of me just thinks this is a perfect excuse to get myself something nice, and of course, when i am an old man, and have grandkids, there will be a great story about the summer i spend in alaska and the gun i bought just for the trip...

the local gunshop has a smith and wesson performance center 629 for around 1000$ and i really really like it....

now i am not doubting the capability of the 44magnum, or the gun, but the question i am asking myself, is

am i really going to need it? is it a necessity? is this just a greenhorn move?

 i mean, if i dont take it, and i get myself into a situation where i need it and dont have it, well, then im just screwed, but... the opposite just might happen as well.... i carry when i am in the woods here in washington and the simple fact is, i can live without having a gun with me, but, i always like the concept of having an extra "insurance policy" with me...

it is a big reality that i might have time off, and being on a fishing boat, chances are its going to be in the middle of b.f. nowhere and if we go ashore to fish or do whatever who knows what might happen.... i personally think its a smart idea...

what do you guys think?
catch it. kill it. cook it. eat it.
Forget the bear spray, use wasp killer. Concentrated delivery stream, 10X the product, and only $3.00 on sale.

Offline jeepster

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2012, 12:54:23 AM »
oh yeah, im going to be out of Cordova where they get those big coastal browns and if i do any hunting, its probably going to be deer or something small to medium sized.

 i know that a large revolver isnt favored as a first choice defence by many experianced guides as most prefer a rifle or shotgun, becuase there is just simply more control and more stopping power, but, i am thinking that its going to be better having something vs nothing, and if im on the move, a long gun will be a pain in the butt to lug around, but if i do go the long gun route it will probably be a 45-70, and if im fishing or doing whatever, having something that isnt awkward is ideal
« Last Edit: April 13, 2012, 01:15:35 AM by jeepster »
catch it. kill it. cook it. eat it.
Forget the bear spray, use wasp killer. Concentrated delivery stream, 10X the product, and only $3.00 on sale.

Offline PolarBear

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2012, 01:05:07 AM »
If you are on Prince of Wales you don't need to worry, there are only black bears there but lots of them.  Anywhere else I would pack heat just to be safe.   :twocents:
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Offline MikeWalking

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2012, 02:00:05 AM »
I met 8 Grizzlies in my 5 trips to ANWR.  Only one made me put down the camera and pick up my rifle.  An 1895 45-75  and he finally stopped at about 50 yards and turned.

My Pilot hadn't seen an attack up there (in the Brooks) in 15 years when I met him. But then, on my 3rd trip one customer was mauled and only saved himself by getting the spray off his chest harness and hosing the bear which had him pinned face down, chewing his pack.  He lost a chunk of thigh but got out.

Two others were killed and fed on, this in the same summer.  I was just a few valleys SE of this a few weeks after.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/0510/whats_new/anwr_grizzly_attacks.html

You never know.

I had a good 12ga but I went ahead and bought the 45-70 and Buffalo Bore ammo for my trips.   I wanted serious penetration. The summer that couple got eaten I slept with my Redhawk tied to my wrist.

I'd prefer bear spray over a .44 on a Coastal Brownie. The kind of ammo you'd need is just to brutal to rapid fire.  3 quick shots of 330gr +p pretty much shut the nerves off to my ring and little finger.  All 6 and I couldn't tell my hand was still attached.

You might only send him away hurt and  :bash: :bash: angry.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2012, 02:13:19 AM by MikeWalking »

Offline WapitiFreak

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2012, 02:26:43 AM »
there are a couple of threads on the subject of what to get for a backcountry sidearm. but do you need something to carry in the backcountry yes but it doesnt have to be a gun there are studies that have proven that you are less likely to be injured by a bear if you use bear mace (though a 44 mag looks way cooler on your belt). the reasons for this are  if a bear false charges you, you will most likely shoot. but with bear spray you have to wait until they get closer and are charging for sure then the spray blinds them and you have a chance to get away. ive seen way to many hunting shows where they shoot and the bear runs 100+ yards which is plenty of time for it to run to you and give you  one hell of a battle scar before it dies. if you have the money get a gun as it will make you feel safer but bear spray is cheaper and more effevtive. i dont know about you but if i were being charged at i dont think i would be able to stand still long enough to get an accurate shot off that could put the bear down but i gould sure as hell hit him with a 30 second burst out of a spray bottle even if i was running away.  or get both.
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Offline MikeWalking

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2012, 02:50:01 AM »
 :yeah:  All good points.  All my encounters began with 200+ yards of open barren tundra.  I had more than enough time to aim... but then all but one ran like a scalded cat when they saw me. One ran up the valley for almost 2 miles, stopping to look back.  (he came out of the brush on the other side of a small river as I was draining the tank :rolleyes:  I think my "junk" scared him)   A couple didn't spot me till they were under 80 yards.  The one that made me aim for real, in the first photo up there, was sniffing the path I took from the lake everyday and he turned after figuring out what was yelling at him.  He was yards away from "the line" I had been blowing up rocks in the creek bed days earlier at the point he stopped. I was intending to blow one up in front of him.  A hard-cast 430gr +p 45-70 will do that..

I'm a big fan of Bear Spray but 2 grizzlies showed up in a strong cross wind,strong enough that a test spray went about 5 feet. The next test spray facing down wind swirled back on me

Online RadSav

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2012, 03:33:49 AM »
I asked the same question to a couple of my guide buddies in BC and NWT.  Here are few of their answers;

"Do you really need to wear a seat belt?  You really only need one on the day you get into an accident, but the only way to make sure you have it on that day is to wear it every day.  Same thing with Bear medicine!"

"If my clients were better shots I'd leave my bear gun at camp.  Since the likelihood of them getting better is about the same as the likelihood we'll get charged by a bear...I prefer to bring a 375 on every trip."

He asked, Do you ever give a short simple answer?  I replied, "Nope."

Offline high country

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2012, 07:04:10 AM »
If you are flying up....take one. If driving, take a rifle. The good part about fishing near big water is that the bears are pretty well fed most of the time. I spent a few months where the colville river comes out of the brooks....I would take a 416 if I went back. The brush was so thick a dog would have to back up to bark where i was...and the bears were plentiful.

Offline groundhog

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2012, 07:58:40 AM »
I wouldnt loose any sleep over the bears. My brother and I have owned a fishing business in Alaska for over thirty years. During the summer months we have over twenty guides on the water daily. We see bear on a daily basis. In all this time we have never had an attack. Everyone always worries about the bears but more people have been killed by Moose in Alaska than bears. Actually bear are third on the list as more people have also been killed by domestic dogs.

Could you get attacked? You bet. But the odds are are very much in your favor that you will not have any problems.
I think the .44 is a greenhorn move. The .44 isn't very effective unless you stick it in the bears mouth.
If you are worried about it take your shotgun and load it up with solid lead slugs. I prefer the 2 3/4 over the 3 inch. The 2 3/4 has a lot less recoil so you can shoot them faster and stay on target. At close range there is not much difference in knock down power or foot pounds of energy.
The pepper spray can be a little hit and miss and once again is most effective at very close range. Remember you have to have the wind at your back and blowing towards the bear for it to be effective at all. People have sprayed it into the wind only to have it blow right back in their face. Just think about trying to get out of harms way with of face full of pepper spray. Pepper spray has also been responsible for killing people in Alaska. If you fly in a float plane put your spray in the float and not in the cabin of the plane. The problem is that folks pull the saftey latch because there is a bear close by and then forget to rearm the safety and throw their backpack in the back of the plane. The spray goes off in flight and the plane goes down. A little common sense goes a long way when dealing with bears. Always talk loud so you do not surprise them. When you see one yell and wave your arms so that they see that you are a person. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Give them some elbow room and don't mess with food or their cubs. I hope you have a great experience. Alaska is an incredible place.   

Offline BOWHUNTER2476

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2012, 08:06:37 AM »
I say better to be safe then sorry!!!!   I would look at the Ruger Alakan in the 454 Casull  It has a short barrel meant more for up close and personal shots.  But a 44 with the right hand loads will do the job.

Offline groundhog

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2012, 08:40:13 AM »
I have seen bear in Alaska that look as big as a volkswagon bus!  A big bear takes a lot of stopping power. Just remember that if a bear is intent on attacking the only way to stop him is to break him down or kill him. You can heart and lung shoot him all day and he will still come get you. To stop him you need to break his back, neck, or front shoulders or shoot him in the head with the right angle. If you go for a head shot and the angle is wrong the bullet can glance off and not do much damage. A friend of mine is a bear guide and he has had high power rifle rounds glance off of a bears skull on several occasions. He has also broken both shoulders on a big broad side wounded bear with a 2 3/4 inch 12 guage slug. For my money a shotgun or big rifle is the only way to go. Most Alaskans will tell you if you pack a handgun just remember to save the last round for yourself! That is a little extreeme. A handgun is better than nothing and sometimes a shot in the air is all it takes to run a bear off.

Offline jeepster

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2012, 12:14:42 PM »
hmm.... you guys all make good points.

however the best one i have heard was at the gunshop yesterday... "if you get a big revolver, remember to take the front sights off so it doesnt hurt as much when the bear shoves it up your @$$"

i will admit, i really want a 44 mag, and im more than likely using this as an excuse to get one... whether or not i take it... thats a different story.

the bear spray is another thing i am considering, but... it just doesnt seem...... as reliable and as proven as lead and steel... ive been peppersprayed before and i know it definatley sucks (wind shifted directions and i acctually sprayed myself...)... but.... i dont know... maybe ill get both and if a warning shot doesnt work ill spray the sob and if that doesnt work then ill blast it... who knows...

gotta admit tho, that is one sexy 44mag
catch it. kill it. cook it. eat it.
Forget the bear spray, use wasp killer. Concentrated delivery stream, 10X the product, and only $3.00 on sale.

Offline Dhoey07

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2012, 12:30:38 PM »
I would just go with some good bear mace in my opinion  :tup:

Offline high country

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2012, 12:54:18 PM »
How's that spray work in a 40mph blow?

Offline dscubame

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2012, 01:23:11 PM »
Bear Spray has been proven to be far more effective than a gun.  I would go with the spray and call it good but buy the gun anyway just cause we always need another gun.
It's a TIKKA thing..., you may not understand.

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Offline MikeWalking

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2012, 01:23:20 PM »
hmm.... you guys all make good points.

however the best one i have heard was at the gunshop yesterday... "if you get a big revolver, remember to take the front sights off so it doesnt hurt as much when the bear shoves it up your @$$"

i will admit, i really want a 44 mag, and im more than likely using this as an excuse to get one... whether or not i take it... thats a different story.

the bear spray is another thing i am considering, but... it just doesnt seem...... as reliable and as proven as lead and steel... ive been peppersprayed before and i know it definatley sucks (wind shifted directions and i acctually sprayed myself...)... but.... i dont know... maybe ill get both and if a warning shot doesnt work ill spray the sob and if that doesnt work then ill blast it... who knows...

gotta admit tho, that is one sexy 44mag



Strong winds aside Bear Spray has been shown to be very effective on Griz, a bit less on Blackies. The good stuff is a lot hotter than Mace or CS, both of which I have been heavily hosed with. Pretty sure you went through a CS chamber too.  Been hit with bear spray too.  Thank God for the style of glasses I was wearing. It was like being set on fire compared to CS.

My third trip up, another customer of my pilot surprised a male Griz in the willows.  3 days from the end of a 90 day hike. He had NO time to react.  It chomped on his thigh and threw him (with his pack on) over 20 feet.  It then pounced on him keeping him face down and started chewing on his pack.  He was able to point the spray over his shoulder.  The bear ran off and wasn't seen again.  Luckily he packed a good first aid kit and a Sat-Phone.

He, like me, also kept the spray in a chest holder.  Mine came with a chest harness and a sleeve for the can. I took the sleeve off and hung it with a D-ring on my shoulder strap.  The sleeve is designed to keep the can pointer forward.

I kept a .44 in reach when sleeping (tied to my wrist, that took some getting used too  lol) figuring the rifle to long to spin around in a 1 man tent.  6 rounds of the hottest stuff the Redhawk could shoot at point blank maybe even in physical contact hopefully would have driven off a bear, enough to get out and use the rifle.

I can't see any reason for not having spray, kinda pissed you can't fly with the full sized can.  My pilot always gave me a can bought by others up there and left behind when they flew home.  If you're gonna be out alone I'd pack a gun too.  3 sprays aren't a good call for help :chuckle:
« Last Edit: April 13, 2012, 01:31:43 PM by MikeWalking »

Offline dscubame

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2012, 01:25:54 PM »
How's that spray work in a 40mph blow?

You have to lead it...
It's a TIKKA thing..., you may not understand.

Eyes in the Woods.   ' '

Offline MikeWalking

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2012, 01:33:26 PM »
How's that spray work in a 40mph blow?

You have to lead it...

Flank it..fast   :chuckle:

Offline pianoman9701

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2012, 01:45:01 PM »
-You can never have too many guns
-Mom always told me never go in without protection
-When faced with having A. a fishing rod or, B. a fishing rod and a gun to defend myself against a bear, I pick B.
-You have enough to buy a new gun
-All your friends will think you're cool
-You can never have too many guns
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Offline WapitiFreak

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2012, 01:51:41 PM »
The National Park Rangers are advising hikers in Glacier National Park and other Rocky Mountain parks to be alert for bears and take extra precautions to avoid an encounter.
They advise park visitors to wear little bells on their clothes so they make noise when hiking. The bell noise allows bears to hear them coming from a distance and not be startled by a hiker accidentally sneaking up on them. This might cause a bear to charge.
Visitors should also carry a pepper spray can just in case a bear is encountered. Spraying the pepper into the air will irritate the bear's sensitive nose and it will run away.
It is also a good idea to keep an eye out for fresh bear scat so you have an idea if bears are in the area. People should be able to recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear scat.
Black bear droppings are smaller and often contain berries, leaves, and possibly bits of fur. Grizzly bear droppings tend to contain small bells and smell of pepper.
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Offline MikeWalking

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2012, 02:00:15 PM »
 :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle:

Seriously I think the Bell idea is pretty stupid.  How is a bear supposed to know it's coming from something to run away from?  I've heard speculation they may just want to come see what it is.. :dunno:

Offline high country

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2012, 02:01:51 PM »
Jack brittingham had a video out where he dumped a brownie with a pistol. He was hunting the bear with a bow, bit it all fell apart and the bear moved tward him. One in the noggin and the 416 stayed on the guides shoulder. The key to being alive in any gun fight is making hits count.

Offline Knocker of rocks

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2012, 02:30:40 PM »
They advise park visitors to wear little bells on their clothes so they make noise when hiking. The bell noise allows bears to hear them coming from a distance and not be startled by a hiker accidentally sneaking up on them. This might cause a bear to charge.
Visitors should also carry a pepper spray can just in case a bear is encountered.

To repeat the old joke, griz poop smells like pepper and had bells in it.

Offline Carl

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2012, 02:31:05 PM »
Iíve done 3 float trips in Alaska and the key seems to be Ė donít surprise a bear!  Iíve floated around a few river bends and found myself staring at big browns that were fishing too.  Thankfully, they have all walked out of the water and into the bushes until we passed.

I was much more worried about walking around on the river banks with the thick brush.  I carried my .44, but REALLY didnít want to use it.  Iím way too familiar with the stories of wounding a bear and Ö  Itís extremely hard to kill one out-right and the alternative is not good.

We did have one come tearing into our camp about 3:00 one morning and if he wanted to jump on my one man tent, I would be history.

Most of the locals carried very short shotguns.  Thatís the way I would go Ė with slugs.

Have a great time!

Offline flinter

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Re: going to alaska... do i really NEED a gun?
« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2012, 02:42:54 PM »
You guys need to watch that Fred Eichler video of a float trip down an Alaskan river. A couple of grizz cubs show up on the bank and all of a sudden momma comes at a full charge. The camera man falls over backwards trying to get out of harms way. The camera hits the water. Luckly the guide pulled his pistol when the cubs showed and when momma bear charged he was ready and fired a warning shot in the water right in front of her, which scared her off. She came so fast I don't think he would of had time to react if he wasn't already drawn. I had no idea those big bears could move that fast. What ever you take you better keep it close!!!

 



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