By Dean Weingarten
Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- An off duty Wyoming Game Warden, Chris Queen, was hunting elk in the Little Sunlight Basin north of Cody, Wyoming, not far from the Wyoming border.
He was returning to his horses late in the day, about 6:30 in the evening. The sun had set 15 minutes earlier, but there was still considerable light. A grizzly sow bluff charged Chris, then charged him full out.
Queen told investigators he slowly backed away believing the sow would return to her cubs and move on.
But, after returning to her cubs, the sow exhibited even more aggressive behavior.
Suddenly, the animal lowered its head and fully charged.
Queen said he fired his rifle at the charging grizzly, killing it just a few feet from where he stood.
It is not unusual for an agency with concurrent jurisdiction, to be asked to assume investigative responsibility for an incident when a member of a law enforcement agency with primary jurisdiction is involved,” said Steward. “This maintains the integrity of the investigation and eliminates even the perception of impropriety,”
The off duty Game Warden, Chris Queen appears to be following the best available advise. Tom Smith, Professor at BYU, one of the most quoted proponents of bear spray, said as much in a Sports Afield article in 2012. He said that it would be foolish to drop a rifle to attempt to obtain pepper spray, while being charged.
Here’s the problem, according to Brigham Young University professor Tom Smith. In an interview with Sports Afield, he said, “If I’m actually out hunting and I have a gun in my hands, and suddenly a bear comes at me, do you think I’m going to lay the gun down and pick up bear spray? Are you out of your mind?”
In 2015, Smith reiterated that bear spray was especially helpful when you were *not* carrying a gun.
Brigham Young University professor Tom Smith headed both studies. Smith urged hunters to carry bear spray in addition to their firearms. Guns can be cumbersome, he said, require precision to be effective and are less likely to be on someone’s person when they are needed.
“There’s no reason why you can’t up the odds for yourself and increase your chances of a safe trip by having a deterrent that will do you good when you don’t have your gun at the ready,” Smith said.
The problem, of course, is that it would seldom be prudent to switch from a rifle to bear spray. While there are numerous proponents of bear spray, and there is no doubt that bear spray can work, it has been remarkably over-hyped.
Bear spray and firearms studies do not use the same criteria for success and failure. I contacted Dave Smith, prominent author and bear attack expert. We talked about the study Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska. Dave Smith told me that attempts to obtain the data set used for the Efficacy paper have been rebuffed. It is a red flag against the validity of a study when the authors will not release their data.
Chris Queen has been around bears for a long time. The first reference that I came across was his working on assessing grizzly bear damage, back when they were still considered endangered, in 1998.
The incident is still being investigated. This is a case where an outdoor professional, who has worked with bears a great deal, seems to have been restrained in the use of deadly force. If the investigation shows the bear was killed only a few feet from him, It is likely he will be cleared.
In self defense cases, police officers commonly are taught to consider a person with a contact weapon, within 21 feet, to be a deadly threat. Bears have the equivalent of contact weapons on all feet and in their jaws. They are typically as large, or much larger than large men. They are much faster.
If a large, strong, fast man, with knives in both hands is shot while running at someone from within 21 feet, it is almost certain to be justified as self defense.
Bear attacks are rare. Attacks by people are common. But when deadly force is credibly threatened against you, it is justified to use deadly force in response.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.