I was working up in Churchill, MN in the late '70s, and was out walking, looking for ptarmigan. so, stupidly, I had #6 bird shot loaded into my Rem. 870 Deerstalker. I heard a crunch in the snow behind me, turned to see a polar bear, a young male (the juveniles are the biggest problem, since they are bullied by the full-grown adults, even if they do
find some food...), in the scrub willows. He was perhaps 35 - 40 yds away, and he suddenly crouched down. You know, in the same way your pleasant little house kitty does when he's preparing to launch on an unwitting songbird?
The bear's shoulders sort of rippled for a second, and he proceeded to launch in my direction full-tilt. I swung the 870 up and let fly, quite instinctively, and hit his right shoulder with that bird shot, which stopped him and he swung sideways. By then I had a second round loaded in and pulled the trigger again. This one hit his right rear flank, with the result that an about 6" patch of fur disapeared and it all oozed blood. You know; as you'd expect when you shoot a free-qanging polar bear with bird shot....
He looked at me and growled in a way I will NEVER forget, and quickly spun again towards me, now only perhaps 15 yards. ("the tape measure please...")
This time though, he proceeded at a bit slower run, and I knew I was now out of bird shot (!!) and into the "SSG" buckshot (a size bigger than 00, and available only in Canada).
This 870 also had a SWAT mag-tube extension on it, and I knew I now had 2 buckshot and one slug available.
I actually aimed this time (well.... sort of...)
as he ran towards me, and held a bit low (most people in this panic "sitch" tend to shoot over the attacking animal, since it's going lower in your field of view as it runs towards you), and I "held", if you can call it that, under his chin and towards one shoulder. (Sounds all so precise, don't it? Well it wasn't, let me tell you...)
I fired one, and he slid to a stop, on his belly and face, right at my feet. Yeah, OK, he was 2 feet short of my feet, but who's measuring, right? I quick-like shucked the shell, chambered another SSG and banged him again, this time right between the shoulders,about 12" behind his skull, into his spine I hoped, from my stance right in front and above him. That ended it all, but I remember furtively looking around for more of them, since I didn't have any more ammo in my pocket, and my hut was about 300 yds away, and I only had the one remaining slug iin the chamber. Off I trotted......
What "fun", huh? About 1/2h later I began to shake. The result of adrenaline I suppose....
Anyhow, this is not
exactly how you should go after polar bears! (i.e.: taunt or bait them by walking alone in the tundra wilderness with birdshot in your shot. As well, I was not able (nor did I want...)
to keep the hide. Too many bad memories?
Of course, the .340 Wby I had bought for just such fun and games was in my nearby building. Of course! But my trusty 870 did what it had to do, no problems. (It's one of my cherished firearms now. I even talk to it sometimes!!! Wonder why?)