Bears in the woods, how tough to tell?

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by bwaites, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. bwaites

    bwaites Well-Known Member

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    How tough is it to tell the difference between a grizzly and a big black bear in brown color variant? I can tell them apart easily in the zoo, but have never seen a grizzly in the wild.

    Three local hunters were up in the Selkirks recently and took a bear they believed to be a big black bear in brown variant.

    On the way out, some other hunters commented on the nice grizzly they had taken. (Grizzlies still being protected in the lower 48, this caused them some consternation!)

    It was indeed a grizzly, and they are in deep kimchi.

    I have a hard time believing that they couldn't tell the difference, but thinking about it, in rough terrain, with cover, I guess I can almost understand the error.

    It goes along with the "don't shoot what you aren't absolutely sure about" lesson, the shot was supposedly at about 250 yards, and the 3 guys are relatively experienced hunters, although none had ever taken a bear.

    So how hard is it to tell them apart?

    Bill
     
  2. MT4XFore

    MT4XFore Well-Known Member

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    Check out this link:Home - Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks That is the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks site and it has a test you must be able to pass in order to get a bear tag in Montana. Even though I feel I can fairly easily distinguish the difference, I'm not sure I could do it at 250 yds. Especially if I was wanting it to be a black bear and a bit excited.
     

  3. bwaites

    bwaites Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, I passed, but none of those bears are in thick cover, and I did get one wrong, though it was a non-shooter either way, with a cub.

    Anyone else?
     
  4. Big Sky

    Big Sky <b>SPONSOR</b>

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    Simple, if it's in thick cover and you are not 100% sure of your target, don't shoot. That's one of the very basic rules in Hunter's Safety...BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET AND BEYOND!

    Now how those hunters could walk up too, field dress, and start hauling a bear out and not know it was a grizzly bear is beyond me. You'd think the four inch or longer claws would give them just the slighest of clues.
     
  5. bwaites

    bwaites Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, but at that point he was already dead! And they just tossed him in the truck and drove away, he was close enough to a road to get a truck in to him, evidently.

    I agree on the first point, but after listening to guys talk about shooting at the sound of a deer, I'm not convinced that all hunters feel that way.

    I have seen deer taken where all that was visible was the rack and the chest, though, and that always bothered me.

    Evidently, this area has lots of black bears, and rumors of grizzlies, but no for sure documented grizzlies years. I'm not a hunter, just a shooter, so I would probably just take pictures anyway.

    I will say I have learned more about long range shooting here than on any of the shooting boards.

    Seems like hunters are more willing to help than guys who compete!!:)

    Bill
     
  6. X-man

    X-man Well-Known Member

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    Living here in B.C. we run into this situation quite often. As simple as it may sound you just can't shoot until you are positive.
    I think the biggest problem facing hunters in the lower 48 states is that a guy could hunt his entire life and never see a grizzly much less shoot one….Inexperience.

    That said a grizzly is a completely different animal and hard to mistake in the wild. Pictures don’t do a grizzly justice. While a bear in thick bush it might take a few seconds to identify that is not all there is to shooting a bear. A hunter needs to determine whether the bear in question is a sow with cubs or not. I have watched bears in thick bush for an hour or so before the cubs came into the open. If ever there was an argument for a methodical long range shot this is it.

    In my mind shooting a black bear sow with cubs would be a disgrace…. Miss-shooting a grizzly is a moron manoeuvre that I hope carries as big a fine in the lower 48 as it does here in Canada.
     
  7. bwaites

    bwaites Well-Known Member

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    The fine is up to $50,000 and a year in jail, and all three are in for the full ride.

    I agree 100% on the issue, and when I first heard the story I was incredulous about them not believing that it was or could be a grizzly, but after looking at lots of pictures over the last few days, I can at least see that it wasn't as cut and dried as I initially would have believed.

    Bill
     
  8. blygy

    blygy Well-Known Member

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    While guiding here in Alberta I have had my hunters kill a "Grizzly".. It was, as we knew a large brown Black Bear but the residents who lived in that area all believed it was a Grizz.

    The biggest problem is simply education.. If people don't really care they are simply not going to know the differences between species. As a guide and someone who's ass was on the line for an incorrect judgement I made sure I knew what the difference was..

    Sounds like another case of " Shoulda stayed out of the bush cause I'm too dumb to be there.."

    Just my two pennys...
     
  9. Coyboy

    Coyboy Well-Known Member

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    Bill, I took the bear test, got the same one wrong.
     
  10. bwaites

    bwaites Well-Known Member

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    Coyboy, that one is tough. I showed it to one of my friends, who grew up in grizz country, and he said the same thing I did.

    Bill
     
  11. DONTSTROKEME

    DONTSTROKEME Well-Known Member

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    Look in your Washington Hunting Regs it will tell you the difference between the two species.

    Joe Oakes
     
  12. winmagman

    winmagman Well-Known Member

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    Well at least I'm in good company... missed the same question.

    I don't feel to bad though, I've never hunted bear before in my life. Although I have just recently started earning preference points, maybe in another 5-6 years:(. On the bright side there's no grizz in Wi.:D

    Chris
     
  13. X-man

    X-man Well-Known Member

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    I think the bear with cubs is ment to mislead you so that you think twice before pulling the trigger (a good thing). While it is easy to mislead someone with a two dimensional image, identifying a grizzly in the flesh is normally very straight forward.
     
  14. Sandwarrior

    Sandwarrior Member

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    I haven't seen any pics of the bear yet, so I have no idea how valid their case is or not.

    First it wasn't like they were just poaching. Second, they went to an area that does not normally have grizzlys. Third, again not seeing the pictures, it could be a young grizzly with an underdeveloped hump. A lot would depend on how/if they came clean on it and what they proposed to do to make it right. I can't see throwing the book at someone for an honest mistake. As long as it wasn't an "oops~~sorry...." kind of thing. I kind of got the feeling three guys were congratulating themselves and showing off their bear when someone told them it was a grizzly and they all went, "What??"

    I've seen California Brown bears (sub-species of the grizzly) that supposedly "didn't exist". We were told, by the California Fish and Game, they were "black bears in brown coloration....with a slightly larger hump than the black bears in black coloration that kept getting into gardens and orchards down along the edges of Eagle Valley, NV. That would be Gardnerville/Minden. Except where we saw the black bears was around Woodfords and up in Hope and Faith Valleys. The "non-grizzly's" we saw were up in the high meadows of the East Fork of the Carson River.

    All that as opposed to the California hunter, who was caught with a gall bladder, four paws and a head. Oh, and a .45 pistol. He was a two strike felon and had a restraining order against him. So, it was pretty much illegal for him to even have a firearm. He only got two years.

    Poacher Receives Two-Year Prison Sentence for Wasting Game, Other Offenses « CA DFG News