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Old 09-11-2012, 12:32 PM
Mehutch Mehutch is offline
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Washington
Posts: 796
Black Bear vs. .357 Magnum

Black Bear vs. .357 Magnum

(I shared this on another site.)
Our trip was planned, but my buddy called off, so I went solo into opening day at south Sequoia National Park 1979.

I had backpacked in about 4 miles when I found a disturbing sight. It was a campsite that was torn apart and it seemed the humans made a hasty retreat. There were expensive sunglasses, knives, and parts of a tent and food wrappers. Hmmm?

I had always taken my trusty S&W Model 65 .357 Magnum with me on trips into the outback. This time I had 158 gr. JSP factory PMC ammo.
Another 2 miles and I had found my spot to camp. In those days I did not have a tent. My stay was peaceful for the first 3 nights, but on the fourth evening as I started to cook dinner, laid down to read waiting for my water to boil. I smelled something different.

I sat up and there was a big black bear with a radio collar around its neck with my food bag in its mouth. I jumped up yelling and blowing my whistle as I chased the bear across a creek. It went up the hill with my food bag, dropped it and came down after me. I stood my ground, bear on one side; 12 feet of creek, three feet deep, and me on the other side.

Well it was very angry with me and stood on it hind legs growling. It grabbed a small tree and shook it apart and pacing back and forth. I chucked rocks and sticks at it until there was no more. It was 5:30 PM and getting darker.
The black bear finally started to cross the creek, it cautiously stepped on the boulders to cross as it watch my next move. I drew my S&W .357 Magnum and fired a warning shot into the soft creek bank. Click and nothing, It was a factory dud! My next try would be lethal. The bear was at the 10 foot mark and coming across. I took careful aim into the bears left ear, thinking it was the softest spot into the brain, next shots would, if lucky, be the nose. I knew I was under gunned.

I am not a hunter, its not my thing, but I would not be the hunted. With five more shots and my K-Bar knife there was no place to go but hand to claw fight if it came to it.

I said, I am sorry I have to do this. And readied my first shot. The big bear stopped and backed off, went up the hill to eat. I ran back to camp and put everything into my sleeping bag and ran up the hill. I stopped and looked back and saw the bear running down the hill to the creek. It was now a foot race, about six miles in the dark west.

I lost the trail twice and crosses several streams that I had forgotten about but made it back to my car at 11:30 PM.

I now carry into the outback my .44 Magnum, Ruger or Smith loaded with 310 gr. Hammerheads. Thanks for reading my story. (Its true too)
Some assembly required, batteries not included, always check with your doctor, consult a lawyer if coughing persist.
Government can only rule by the consent of the governed. We out number you vastly. We are armed, and we yell, "ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ"
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Old 09-11-2012, 03:01 PM
Sullybr549 Sullybr549 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: West Virginia
Posts: 800
Nice revolver. I really like the 44 magnum cartridge.

The events in your story could give a person a pucker factor,especially when the bear is approaching you. Leaving the area was probably a good idea but not running. You would never win a foot race with a bear and it could trigger the bear to chase you and attack. Glad it had a good ending.
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Old 09-12-2012, 11:06 AM
Snapping Twig Snapping Twig is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 792
Interesting story.

I also had an encounter while hunting in the Trinity National Forrest some years back.

I heard some noise, loud and constant brush breaking. When I looked in the direction of the source, a sow (300#) came out of the dense brush followed by 3 cubs.

25 yards from where I stood and walking the trail I was on directly at me.

I leveled my 30-06 bolt (home loaded 165 NBT @ 2900fps) on her skull with the plan to drop the rifle after the first shot and grab the 3" 629 (265g home cast @ 1200fps) from the cross draw holster to continue as needed.

I did not move a muscle. Sweat was dripping from my temples, my vision blurred for a moment, but I was committed to surviving to provide my wife a husband and my daughter a father.

Two of the cubs were young from that season and the third was older and not following as close, meandering a bit and catching up.

The trail split 10 feet from me, went uphill to my left side and leveled around head high to me. I did not notice this in the confusion of the moment, but she took this path with the gnarliest little Charlie Brown Christmas tree separating her from me. At that point they passed me 2.5 rifles length to my left.

She never saw or smelled me, I never moved. She and the two young cubs passed by with the third wandering and in my mind potentially taking my trail and alerting the sow to my presence. That did not happen thankfully.

They found an old log somewhere behind me and I listened to her breaking the bark and eating the grubs for a short while. I still had not moved and she was behind me at this time.

I heard her alert and then watched her sprint straight up a steep hillside to my left. Straight up! These animals are STRONG!

Threat gone, I walked into an open area where I had 360* views, set the rifle down, grabbed the revolver and sat there and gathered myself.

Amazing day.

Last edited by Snapping Twig; 09-12-2012 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 09-12-2012, 11:14 AM
Jdell Jdell is offline
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 167
I would politely offer the bear all of my food and hope it gets distracted enough for me to slip away. If not I like the "hand to claw fight".

Cool story, glad both you and the bear made it home.
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:46 PM
glider glider is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 1,672
I agree that you were undergunned with a 357, I've shot a deer with a 357 once, not impressed, and the deer wasn't trying to get me. Not sure I wouldn't want something bigger than 44 for bear, maybe 454. Animals don't just decide to quit like people do. Heck of a story anyway, well told, glad it turned out ok!
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Old 09-15-2012, 05:49 PM
1911crazy 1911crazy is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: usa
Posts: 3,117
The 357mag, the 41mag and the 44mag has killed every north american game thanks to elmer keith. under gunned with the 357mag i never am nor do i feel it.
Ask yourself is what i'm about to do SAFE???? (From the national timber fellers association)

Gun Safety never sleeps or takes a day off, besafe do it right......
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Old 09-15-2012, 06:04 PM
glider glider is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 1,672
There have been more deer killed with a 22 rifle than a 357 and I wouldn't advocate that either. We're not talking about what is possible. People hunt every thing in N.A. with a bow. The man was asking about a handgun for defense from a mad bear. Opinions are like, well you know, I'm sure your opinin of the 357 is right for you. My opinion is that it isn't enough gun for deer let alone bear.
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Old 09-15-2012, 07:42 PM
rdinak rdinak is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: America
Posts: 2,257
I ran across a lot of bears when I used to live in Alaska. One full mount, one half mount and couple rugs later I still respect these animals. I shot a grizzly at less than 25 yards with a .375 H&H and watched it bounce up and run off into the dense brush. Saw Black bears drop with one shot from my 7mm Rem Mag.

Handguns are what you keep with you all the time. Rifles and shotguns are what you use to put them down. There are no absolutes..even in my small limited experience. Its not how big your magnum is but how well you can place your shots...
My Jack Russell helps me reload
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Old 09-15-2012, 08:43 PM
LimaCharlie LimaCharlie is offline
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Oregon
Posts: 843
In my opinion, a .357 is marginal for large black bear and mountain lion and way undergunned for a brown bear. I carry a .460 S&W magnum revolver around dangerous animals that may kill me.
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:27 AM
Alabama-Ohio Alabama-Ohio is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Alabama
Posts: 778
for hunting black bear a .357 magnum properly loaded is plenty. for defense against a black bear attacking you a .44 magnum is not enough so to speak.
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