7 MM for Black Bear

Tim Behle

Well-Known Member
Mar 16, 2002
McNeal, AZ
In a few more weeks, season is to open in my area for Black bear. My only experience with hunting these animals came from a few misguided adventures of chasing some hounds over the tops of way to many mountains last year.

This year I want to do things a little differently. Seeing a bear is at the top of the list. Killing one is a close second. Leaving the dogs at home is a definite third.

I'll be shooting a 7 MM Remington Magnum. Shots will be under 700 yards ( the Bushnell YP 1000 doesn't often measure further than that).

I'd like some suggestions, from those with experience, as to best bullet to use, proper shot placement, and anything else you thnk might help me to achieve goal number two.


I have no idea how many bears I have killed, in another life I did that for the gov't a lot. Keep it simple. Use a stout bullet - any of the premiums are preferred in case things go south and you have to give him a rectal-rocket.
Break the scapula - that is the shoulder. Breaking the scapula usually breaks his spine and he loses his back legs, can't do much that way. Then give him a second shot into the lungs or heart, but get him on the ground first. Break one or both shoulders and you won't have to track him.
Take the nervous system and you have control. The scapula is high and forward on a bear.
Good luck.

I was hoping to hear from you on this. I spent the afternoon reading the old posts and found a lot from you on the subject. How big of a target area does the scapula give me? It's located just above and
forward of the ball of the shoulder correct?

By stout bullet, am I right thinking you want more than just a heavy bullet? What is more important, accuracy, or a thicker, stronger jacket?

While I only use the Texas Heart Shot for an escaping, wounded animal. What about head shots? I never read about them. Is the skull so thick that it deflects most bullets?
Headshots can be very impressive, but heads moves a lot and can be difficult for shot placement. Also the skull is used for trophy determination (scoring - length vs width) so many guys avoid headshot in case they crack or damage the skull. I have seem many skulls that simply had a small hole drilled in them but have also seen an entire head turned to jelly (point blank with a .338 mag). We used rifled slugs between the eyes or below the ear (side shot) with good success on close range bears in snares, traps etc. If he is head-on the neck shot is nasty, better than a shot into the chest. Running away, shoot for the base of the tail, don't center his body mass.

Although you might get a situation where a shot would be "long", most bears are shot at very short range. Spot and stalk hunting can result in some longer shots, sometimes when the rascals are out in agricultural fields or open burns eating berries you can also get longer opportunities. Accuracy would be very important if you go for the scapula.

The scapula is fairly large, it is shaped like a small plate with a handle. It is the shoulder bone but on bears the location where it sits is quite high on the body, and slightly ahead of where you might expect. If you ever get a chance to watch a bear you can see it moving as he walks, a big lump under the hide.

Why not a lung shot? Why track a wounded bear? They will run with heart/lung shots and since they are usually in heavy cover you might have a ****** job on your hands. Much easier to dump him, then do a dispatching shot if necessary. Usually the scapula shot takes one or both lungs with bullet and bone fragments, but that takes a bit of time to do the job.

I found that I had better shots/kill numbers with heavy bullets in the '06 (220's) but when I switched to the .338 I had better success with the lighter, faster bullets (200/210's). This was on a wide variety of shooting distances, out to 100-150 yards on rare occasion.
I have never shoot Black bear with but the new 140 Scirroco from Swift company have an impressive BC , accuracy is outstanding in Norma factory load ,( in the three rifles I have test , REM 700 BDL , ALASKAN GUN WORKS , and Harris Gun WORKS )and expansion is impressive too with a real bonded core .

new Scirroco is a mixt between the Nosler BT ( to fast expansion on short range but good BC ) and the hard hitting of the Partition ( no amazing BC to shoot over 300 meters in 7 mm )

Good shooting

I was fortunate to be on the first hunt with the 7mm Sciroccos. Lee Reed, Stan Watson and I hunted bears with the bullet before it was introduced. The bullet weight was 150 grains and the fellows used a 7-08 and a 7mm Rem mag on some nice bears. Recovered one bullet after it angled full-length, it was still in the 80+% range.

Does Norma load a 140 grain or did you perhaps mean 150 grain in 7mm?

I would definitely rate the Scirocco as a "stout" bullet. I have shot them since Lee first started designing them and they are accurate and completely reliable on game. There are some rumours about them only being intended for smaller game. The prototypes were tested on a moose and elk hunt in British Columbia (killed both) and on a wild boar hunt in Texas.

Unfortunately for us shooters, Lee is not with Swift anymore but I expect Sciroccos will continue to be developed.
When I looked up the Regulations last spring to see when season opened for this unit, I'd have sworn I read Sept 28. Last night I found out it's not the 28th, it's the 20th.

The kids got up close to an hour early for school this morning, as I was out working up a load at 5:30

I decided to use Sierra 175 grain Spitzer Boat tail. I've gotten a nice shooting load running 2942 at the muzzle and holding just under an inch at 100 yards. Tonight I'll load up some more and see how well the groups stay together as I start reaching out with them.

Looks like the weekend of scouting I had planned is going to involve carrying a rifle. I had one more place I wanted to look over yet. The owners of a well pump have been complaining that they can't leave any oil or grease around the pump, the bears will lick it all clean by morning. They had to build a cage around the generator out of 2" pipe to keep the bears from eating the oil filter everytime they left.

Thanks for all of your help, If you have any more suggestions for me, I'd be glad to read them.

In my experience with about a dozen different 7 rem mags that my hunting buddies use as well as my own 3 it seems most of them like to shoot 160 grain bullets . I have taken several big bears with 160 grain partitions over the years I load 61.0 grains of IMR4350 getting 2975 to 3005 fps dependent on the temperature. The last thing you ever want to do is **** off a bear by wounding it then have to track it into the very woods it knows better than you do!! As a guide & outfitter I stongly suggest break the shoulders first then follow with a chest shot for a humane kill.If you need to. If you can't get a clean shot don't shoot, bears can be less than friendly to all in the vicinity when wounded
Good luck with the bear hunting. Don't know if you can use bait - autumn baiting works but there is usually a lot of natural food around to compete with - berries, crops etc. Bears seem to like petroleum products, I recall many creosote treated posts that were chewed to splinters.
Suggest you spread a few cans of sardines around the location, sardines are easy to work with and seem to attract very well. Break up each fish into 1/3's - splash the oil up a few feet in branches to get the scent into the air. I used a lot of different bait, beaver is the best but used a lot of buns soaked in deep fryer grease also.
Used sardines for at the footsnare locations and to get them into livetraps.
Have fun.
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