Re: Polar Bear Kill
Also as a poor kid growing up, I learned that the .22LR and .22 airgun were better than a shotgun for harvesting game birds for the table (ruffed grouse, mainly), provided you hunted them like I did (not Karamojo Bell style). The shotgun was for use with a flushing dog, which I also used some (pheasant, they will run/sneak away on the ground otherwise). Picking out all that lead shot and multiple holes in the meat, plus the unnecessary extra cost of shotgun shells if you are poor, meant the shotgun spent most of the time in the rack. The shotgun mainly got used in extra thick brush (rabbit terrain) where a bullet from a rifle had almost guaranteed deflection. Some of the #4 shot would get through to a rabbit in most cases. Thus, most birds killed with rifle, most rabbits killed with shotgun, opposite of they way most would use them.
On small game, the .22LR is a guaranteed pass-thru with a 40-grain round nose bullet and there is minimal meat damage. At close range in thick brush, the .22 Benjamin air rifle proved just as useful, and shot even cheaper. Might not pass-thru on a body shot of a big varmint (raccoon, skunk, porcupine, possum, groundhog, badger, etc.).
The best big game hunters are those that came out of a rimfire rifle background for taking small game and varmints, rather than shotgunners. The shotgun is quickly pointed rather than carefully aimed, which provides zero practice for precision long range shots, estimating bullet drop, and windage.
The new PCP air rifles are the same as shooting subsonic .22LR, and they often come with built-in suppressors. FX of Sweden makes a 12-shot semi-auto .22 PCP air rifle, with suppressor.