Once we got the bear out of the creek and onto the bank we took some more photos and then began peeling the hide off. Five minutes after we started skinning, I look up and there is a bear standing on his back feet, 20 yards away watching and “woofing” (the sound he was making) at us. We grab our rifles and immediately started yelling at him hoping he would run off.
When the bear would go down on all fours, he would completely disappear in the tall grass. Then he would pop us 10 yards to the left, woof at us, hair standing on end and then go back down. Then pop us again out of the grass in a different spot, he repeated this several times. The whole time he was never more than 30 yards away.
We began looking for an exit route but really had nowhere to go and if he charged out of the grass he would be at about 10 yards away, time for each of us to only get one shot.
After playing bear in the box for what seemed like forever, he disappeared for a while and then we saw him finally walking (not running) off and I took a quick photo. I would have loved to have gotten a photo of him when he was up close but I felt a lot better holding my rifle instead of my gun.
In the photo below you can see (or maybe not due to making it smaller in order to fit on the forum) the bear in the background walking off. The flat spot in the grass just across the creek is where the bear was when we first saw him. It all seems pretty tame now as I write this but at the time, knowing that this guy could take your head off and bat you around really gets the adrenaline pumping!
That's awesome!! It makes me think back to a few summers up in Alaska guiding fishing trips on some very remote fly-in streams and a few similar encounters I had. Only I had a flyrod and a can of spray to protect me and not a rifle. Incredible adventure.
Any giant rainbows lurking in that stream under those cut banks???
Blackdog - I was hunting Southeast of King Salmon while there are rainbows there they don't get the monsters like futher up north. High water due to rain had caused all the streams to be pretty well blown out so I did not do any fishing this trip but you are right, those cut banks hold some trout!
I have fished/hunted Alaska close to 20 occasions, I have a good friend that is an outfitter so I get to go more often than the normal guy so what I am fixing to write is based on MY experience of well over 100 days afield in Alaska over the past many years.
I am NOT saying I am an expert or have all the answers but MOST of the time, I would rather have bear spray in lieu of a gun for bear protection. In this exact case, if the bear had charged we would not have been able to see him until he was about 10 yards away. That would mean ONE shot to stop 1300 to 1500 pounds of hungry and mad bear. The brain on a brown bear is not much larger than a beer can with the small end facing you. It is moving toward you, up and down and side to side at a VERY rapid rate. I was hunting with a 338 Win Mag with 250g Partitions, my guide had a 375 H&H w/ 300 grain pills. If you hit the bear in the chest, yes he would die but how soon? With bear spray, you could lay in a cloud of spray and not have to worry about stopping him with one shot.
BUT...on this day, we had a 40 MPH crosswind to the bear so the spray would have been ineffective. So in this case a gun would have been better but in most cases, I would rather have bear spray because it is less likely you will miss or make an instant killing shot. I will say that I used to "feel" better having a gun but in reality it was a false sense of security.
Just thought I would see if I could stir the pot and get others opinions...
I don't disagree with you at all on the rifle vs bear spray question necessarily, but as you said, out on the tundra where the wind tends to blow, the spray may not always be the perfect option either. But then again, I don't know if there is such a thing as the perfect protection from a charging grizzly or brown bear. Perhaps a shotgun with slugs would be a little easier to handle than a rifle at the range a full charge would require.
Though I was told by an oldtimer one time that if you're going to carry a pistol in bear country to make sure you file off the front sights until the barrel is nice and smooth. That way when the bear takes it from you and shoves it up your ass it won't hurt so much! ;)
I think you are right with the shotgun idea Blackdog. When Tracy (my outfitter buddy) has to go after a wounded bear he takes a shotgun with a shorter barrel, the round in the chamber is bird shot (to shoot in the eyes, he says it stops them every time) then followed by slugs.