Dave Smith on Bear Spray or Firearms for Defense against Bears

Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- Dave Smith has studied bear behavior and bear attacks extensively. He has written books on how to survive bear encounters and animal attacks.  I have corresponded with Dave Smith. I find Dave to be the most knowledgeable, well read, and capable critic of the current literature.  Dave has worked prodigiously to understand the studies about the effectiveness of bear spray and firearms in stopping bear attacks.

In November of 2017, Dave put a great deal of thought into an exchange of comments at a Wyoming public media site. I contacted Dave, and he agreed to allow me to edit and publish the exchange. I summarized the replies to Dave, as I do not have those authors permissions. You can read the entire exchange at wyoming public media.com.  Here is the edited exchange, with my observations.

First, Dave sets the scene by stating that it is not really about bear spray vs. firearms. Dave says for a surprise attack, it is a choice. You should choose bear spray or a firearm.

Dave Smith:

Instead of pitting bear spray vs firearms, try bear spray or a firearm.

Archers have a choice between bear spray or a handgun.

As the recent incident with a game warden shows, people hunting with a long gun–a rifle or shotgun–must be prepared to use their firearm during a classic surprise encounter with a grizzly.

When field dressing game, a hunter has a choice between bear spray or a handgun.

Hunters should be advised that the 2 studies on bear spray are about non-hunters using bear spray. And bear spray research is primarily about people using bear spray against curious bears, or bears seeking food and garbage. Of 72 incidents in Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska, just 9 involved charging grizzlies, and 3 of 9 people who sprayed charging grizzlies were injured. The injury rate against charging grizzlies is no doubt higher, but the study did not include data on incidents when people who were carrying bear spray did not have time to use it.

There have been 2 studies on guns vs. bears in Alaska. A 1999 study of over 1,000 bears killed in “defense of life or property” from 1987 to 1996 showed that less than 2% of the people who used firearms were injured. A 2012 study of 263 incidents from 1883-2006 showed that 56% of people who used guns were injured.

Bear spray advocates compare the results of the 2012 gun study to the results of the 2008 study and declare bear spray the winner. The authors of the 2012 gun study claimed there were no previous studies on guns vs. bears. If there were more that 1,000 bears killed in defense of life or property by people with guns between 1987 and 1996, how come the 2012 gun study only included 263 incidents between 1883 and 2006?

Did the authors of the 2012 gun study omit hundreds of firearms successes? Did they cherry pick their data? These are questions that need to be asked and answered by biologists with Wyoming Game & Fish, wildlife professionals, and the media.

Commenter #1 notes that the studies and Dave's numbers are only about Alaska.

Dave Smith replies:

Given that hunters have a rifle in hand (or hands), how can they use bear spray 1st? Some field carries for rifles require 2 hands. Some one-handed field carries for rifles would require a right-handed hunter to reach across the front of his body with his left hand, and attempt to deploy bear spray with one hand–his left hand. I would tell hunters not to try a stunt like that.

Commenter #1 says that technology can overcome the problem with chest holders or similar devices.

Dave Smith replies:

Maybe technology can provide hunters with an extra arm or two. The game warden who recently shot a charging grizzly in self defense noted that he was using a two-handed carry for his rifle.What's he supposed to do with his rifle if he wants to use bear spray? What basis do you have for saying bear spray works 90% of the time? Does bear spray work 90% of the time against charging grizzlies?

Commenter #2 claims that bear spray is the best deterrent, after a long-winded comment saying we must protect the bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE).

Dave Smith:

What basis do you have for saying bear spray is the best deterrent? To the best of my knowledge, there are no studies that compare bear spray to other deterrents such as air horns or bear bangers. There's only one study that compares the success rate of guns loaded with non-lethal deterrent rounds to bear spray, and guns proved far more effective.

Commenter #1 asks Dave to consider a link to Yellowstone Park's bear spray campaign.

Dave Smith:

This isn't a study, it's advertising from Yellowstone's Park's bear spray campaign. The NPS does claim bear spray is the “best deterrent,” however, the NPS does not provide any data or references to substantiate that claim.

Commenter #1 provides Dave with a link to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee video.

Dave Smith:

Thank you for posting one of the most dishonest, and comical, videos of all time.

There are 6 field carries for rifles, and Boddington is using the “sling” carry. In a 1983 Forest Service paper (Safety in Bear Country: Protective Measures and Bullet Performance at Short Range) Meehan and Thilenius wrote, “Because there is almost no possibility of a slung rifle being brought into action during a short-distance confrontation, rifles carried in bear country should not be permanently equipped with slings. The sling should be mounted on detachable swivels, and should be removed when conditions exist for a possible confrontation.”

So for openers, Boddington is showing hunters the wrong way to carry your rifle while hunting in grizzly country–carrying your rifle on a sling is the same as carrying your bear spray buried in the bottom of your pack.

If you're stupid enough to carry your rifle on a sling, the standard safety practice is to keep one hand one the sling for control so the rifle does not slip off your shoulder. Boddington lets go of the sling so he has 2 hands free to get the bear spray out of its holster. That's an incredibly dangerous stunt.

Boddington uses 2 hands when spraying, and tells hunters to use 2 hands when spraying. So Boddington is violating standard firearms safety protocol–twice–in order to use bear spray.

Boddington is a lefty, so he has his rifle slung on his right shoulder and bear spray on his left shoulder strap–which means that when he tries to shoulder his rifle and shoot, the bear spray will be in his way. Is there any possibility this video is a con job?

But wait, it gets better. The 5 other field carries require at least one hand to hold your rifle, and in some cases, 2 hands. Boddington needed 2 hands to get the can of bear spray out of its holster, so that's not going to work for hunters with a rifle in hand. And Boddington said use 2 hands when spraying, so that's not going to work for a hunter with a rifle in hand. Is it any wonder bear spray research is about non-hunters using bear spray?

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee's Bear Spray Video for Hunters featuring Boddington backfired; it is really a perfect demonstration of why it's not safe or practical for hunters to use bear spray.

Commenter #1 writes that Dave Smith has a closed mind.

Dave Smith replies:

Just for fun, let's assume we both share a common goal: reducing the number of hunters and hikers injured as a result of surprise encounters at close range with grizzly bears.

My advice to hikers would be:

1) carry bear spray in hand.

2) if a bear is close enough to spray, spray it!!

3) never assume a charging grizzly is making a “bluff charge,” whatever that means.

4) do not use hiking poles because you'll be dragging them around by the wrist straps when you try to use bear spray after a sudden encounter at close range.

My advice to hunters would be:

a) carry an adequate weapon–a minimum of a .30 caliber rifle loaded with heavy, stout bullets

b) do not carry your rifle on a sling over your shoulder. It takes too long to bring a slung gun into action–you'll miss shots at deer and elk and you'll have no time to bring your rifle into action against a charging grizzly.

c.) if you get charged by a grizzly, keep both eyes open and do not “aim” at the bear like you're shooting at for the x ring at a target range. Focus on the bear. Your eyes are your rear sight, center of mass on the bear is your front sight.

d) In biologist Steve Herrero's classic book Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, Herrero said you should shoot a charging bear when it gets within 100 feet (33 yards). Given Herrero's authority, there's no way you could be charged with needlessly killing a charging bear if you follow his guidelines.

It's been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. For decades, hikers who follow agency recommendations–carry bear spray in a quickly accessible hip or chest holster–have been getting nailed by grizzlies because they did not have time to use their spray during a surprise encounter with a bear. For decades, hunters who have surprise encounters with grizzlies have been getting mauled because agencies offer no advice on how to use their rifle quickly and effectively. It's insane to keep telling hunters to carry bear spray and know how to use it. It's insane to keep telling hikers to carry bear spray in a quickly accessible hip holster or chest harness. What do you recommend?

Commenter #1 replies that Dave Smith's arguments end with dead grizzly bears, therefore he must change his mind.

Commenter #3 writes that Dave Smith is using logic and facts.

Dave Smith sums up:

To the best of my knowledge, there's never been an honest debate or discussion about the use of bear spray and firearms for self-defense in grizzly country. Here are a few questions that need answers:

1) Is “Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska” a misleading title given that the study does not include data about firearms loaded with non-lethal deterrent rounds: rubber slugs, bean bags, shellcrackers, etc? Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska concludes, “We encourage all persons, with or without firearms, to consider carrying a non-lethal deterrent, such as bear spray because its success rate under a variety of situations has been greater for all 3 North American species of bear than those we observed for firearms.”

2) Is it reasonable to compare the results of the 2008 BYU bear spray study to the results of the 2012 BYU gun study? For almost 2 decades, Wyoming Game & Fish and bear spray advocates have told hunters to “carry bear spray and know how to use it.”

3) Can bear spray advocates show hunters how to use bear spray safely and quickly while carrying a rifle with each of the 6 commonly used field carries for long guns?

4) What's the best way to provide the safety of people with firearms hunting in grizzly country: Tell them to carry bear spray and know how to use it, or show them how to use their rifles quickly and effectively?

In the exchange, there is a difference in priorities. Dave Smith states his is “reducing the number of hunters and hikers injured as a result of surprise encounters at close range with grizzly bears.” 

The implied priority of commenters #1 and #2 is to keep grizzly bears safe and to increase the population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

If you start with different priorities, you will often arrive at different conclusions.

Bear spray advocates have stated a high priority for them is to prevent bear deaths. If preventing bear deaths is a high priority, the promotion of bear spray over firearms makes perfect sense.

Bear spray is useful, especially for people who do not wish to carry firearms, or in areas (such as much of the world outside the United States) where the carry of firearms is severely restricted by law.  But, as Dave Smith states, there has not been any serious academic work that compares the effectiveness of bear spray to firearms.

In the “Efficacy” studies, the data has not been released. Dave Smith dug deeply to find the little we know. We know different criteria were used to pick the incidents used in the studies. We know the firearms study focused on aggressive bears, while the bear spray study did not.

Dave Smith's critiques of the Efficacy studies have been ignored by the same media that uncritically promote the use of bear spray over firearms as a defensive tool.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten: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.

  • 22 thoughts on “Dave Smith on Bear Spray or Firearms for Defense against Bears

    1. I would like to compliment both of you for the in depth review you have done about bear spray and some of the controversies surrounding whether it does or doesn’t work. It’s not a question of whether you should use bear spray or a firearm for protection in bear country: the question is whether if you are qualified to use a firearm, carry both bear spray and a firearm. If you’re not trained in the use of a firearm, PLEASE do not think that just buying a high caliber firearm will protect you from a bear.

      One of the reasons bear spray has an advantage over guns is that bears often charge through thick brush, so placing a proper shot is extremely difficult, and means some of the bullets may go past the bear, striking companions or people further down the trail. Bear spray penetrates the brush, disables the bear’s ability to inhale, exhale, gather information through it’s nose, reduces eyesight, causes ringing in the ears, and most importantly greatly decreases oxygen to the heart and muscles. These are the tools bears rely on in combat. Without they lose them they choose to flee.

      Also, the problem isn’t whether bear spray works or firearms work, the instructions on how to use bear spray is very inadequate and misleading. There is not just one kind of bear spray, there are many different sizes. One might spray for 4 seconds, another for 9 seconds; one might spray for 15 feet, and another for 45 feet. Out of the hundred people I surveyed, over 70% did not know what brand they were carrying, how many seconds the spray duration was, how far the powerful expanding cloud extended, and didn’t know how to properly hold the canister or remove the safety clip. Can you imagine someone who has had considerable firearm experience not knowing how to properly hold their firearm, how to take their safety off, or how to aim or not aim at a target?

      Both bear spray and a gun when improperly deployed will have a very limited effect on it’s usefulness. There is not one simplistic way to deploy your bear spray at a charging or attacking bear. There are four scenarios that everyone should know. 1) Is the bear charging within 60 ft? 2) 30ft away (berry patch)? 3) Or within 15 feet? 4) From a day bed? 5) Worst of all, immediate contact from a hedge-line you’re trying to flush birds out of? Each one of these has a slightly different protocol for deploying your bear spray or firearm.

      Unfortunately this information is not being provided to the public; one of the most fascinating things that isn’t being shared is that bear spray, except for Counter Assault, does not work in the cold. Yet hunters are being encouraged to carry their bear spray without this information being shared with them.

      Your information on how the statistics are being used is needed, and greatly appreciated. This is probably one of the most important articles I’ve seen on the bear spray/ hunting issues. Thanks for the good work.

    2. Bear attacks are rare. The bear that kills or malls you are the ones you never see or hear. The issue of bear spray. Spray is not going to stop the bear from attacking or killing you. It’s better than nothing, but a very poor system for your continued survival in a bear encounter.

      The reason I say this is from my experience in Law Enforcement (LE), and from living here in Alaska since 1999. The LE training they give you at academy with people spray is they get within a few feet of your face and spray you in your face. The result is your eyes gradually tear up as the heat builds all the while your still very capable of fighting. Bear spray is 1/3 hotter than people spray. If your down wind and/or you get it in your eyes from direct/indirect means you are blind during a bear attack, or heaven forbid, you blind someone else. For bear defense I would not recommend that kind of system. It’s extremely flawed and gives a false sense of security.

      In all reality I would rather recommend a road flare, especially if carrying a side arm isn’t practical or permitted. Bears don’t like the smell of sulfur and if they get too close you can burn them with it. That said, it comes down to practicality and convenience. If it’s too big of a pain you won’t want to carry it. I would recommend a 3″-4” barreled side arms in 357 Mag is good, 44 Mag is better with a 240 gr or less bullet weight, otherwise recoil is too much, 10 mm is adequate as well, larger handguns than those are mostly impractical and extremely inconvenient. In 357/44 revolvers I recommend Smith & Wesson. In 10 mm semi-autos I recommend Glock, or Sig. I’m also a big fan of Kidex style holsters over leather. Shoot bears in the face/head.

      A 12 GA shotgun with #4 nickel plated/buffered buckshot, normally 5-6 rounds is adequate, more than that gets very heavy to carry around, especially if you have a 6 round side saddle on your weapon. Shoot bears in the face/head.
      With rifles I have found shooting big game here in Alaska, that a heavy caliber with a hot core or an all copper bullet works well. My caliber of choice is a 338 Win Mag with 225 GR bullet. I found 250 GR bullets to kick harder, drop quicker, and have no ballistic advantage in the field, especially after dissecting the critters and inspecting the damage. Other calibers, 308 Win, 30-06 Springfield, 7 Mag, 300 Win Mag, 45-70 Springfield, 458 SOCOM, 375 H&H, 458 Win Mag and well-constructed bullets with decent velocities in that class. Body hits on bears are fine, but face/head is better. If your trying to save the skull, that’s when you can use supper glue to put it back to gather.

      Open areas it’s fine to sling a weapon, areas of 75 yds or less visual cover, you had better be ready for a negative encounter (3 second rule). The 3 second rule is 1 second to recognize a threat, 1 second to decide a course of action, 1 second to enact that action. A bear goes from 0-30 mile per hour in 1 second and they have the element of surprise on their side, a blitz attack or ambush, in contrast your react time is very slow once you understand there’s a threat. Loaded weapon yes, chambered round, your choice, but always practice good gun safety. Nothing says come eat me like a gunshot wound in bear country. Bears can smell blood for miles, including that time of the month for lady’s. Here in Alaska the incidents of bear attacks are increased if there’s no fish for the bears to eat. Also, if you smell something dead be very carful walking up to investigate, as bears protect their food cashes/sources. Especially dead ones. Never get around a mom and/or her cubs, it’s a deadly combination. Keep your dogs under control in bear country.

      Ultimately the best weapon is your mind and your awareness. Make smart choices, be prepared, you’ll have a much better chance at survival.

      1. I find your comments flawed. As one example – it is actually guns that give a hyped sense of security in a bear encounter. Also, related to the wind in your face scenario, a gun can jam or misfire and you can miss- so there are no perfect solutions. By the way, bear spray has been proven to be effective on mountain lions and other creatures (such as Trump supporters) – few trail runners or bike riders are going to carry a gun , or at least shouldn’t.

      1. I’ve had the opportunity to test an air horn in a close encounter with a large black bear. It did absolutely nothing to deter the bear. I’ll stick to spray.

    3. Without the gun, you’re not on the top of the food chain. If I was in the bush, I’ll take the gun thanks. There will always be people who think animals are more precious than their own/others lives. Those people will be the food.

    4. I do not hunt, but I do fish for trout.

      Fishing for trout requires stealth, quietness, stalking and keeping a close-to-ground low profile to not spook the fish, even making sure my footfalls don’t raise awareness of my presence nearing the water’s edge.

      Unfortunately this also puts me in close and uptight in the same proximal scare zone with bears.

      I carry two fishing poles in my left hand and wear a backpack with additional fishing gear (spare line, spools, lures, dry socks, toilet paper, snacks, Gatorade, etc.) strapped on, tupically over a goosedown camo vest.

      On my left hip I wear a forward tilted Glock 10mm pistol in a quick draw, plastic, tab-retaining holster. It carries 15 rounds (bullets to San Francisco) with another round in the chamber, ready, for a total of 16 rounds (bullets to San Francisco)

      I practice quick draw shooting at my local pistol range at 9 inch diameter targets at 60 feet, 40 feet, 30 feet and 20 feet.until I get 10 rounds into 4 inch groups, figuring that any closer encounter by that time is going to depend on how well I did up to that point.

      I had a “Bear Encounter” pistol class four months ago that taught me all sorts of techniques to maximize pistol defense strategies to help me survive a bear attack.

      One was – as a right handed shooter, to step to my left – if it is at all possible – at the last moment of a bear charge. This is to allow me to “sweep to my right” with my pistol in a more natural direction (pertaining to handedness) firing constantly.

      Bears are fast, but cannot turn on a dime, so one MIGHT be able to sidestep at the last moment to avoid being bowled over, at least. Maybe.

      The reason I wear my pistol on my left hip, allows me to cross-draw effectively with my hopefully unencumbered right hand, rapidly acquiring my target area – as accurately as possible.

      Why do I carry a 10mm canon instead of bear seasoning (bear spray)?

      I had three very close encounters with bears last fishing season: the first was a sow with two cubs; the second was a male or female (I didnt get to determine it’s anatomical parts) BEAR of which I stepped in it’s hot-n-steaming bear poop.

      The third was sniffing me from the opposite river bank, 40 feet away, but couldn’t catch my scent and just slowly walked parallel to me (me: hunkered down between two rocks, which I hoped were the same color and pattern as I was) until it was gone.

      In two of those bear-n-me meet-n-greets, I made a mental note to carry some adult Pampers too.

      The efficacy of a large caliber pistol verses spray has been bandied about, for sure, with bear-huggers diametrically opposed to people who believe firepower, and lots of it, is the only answer.

      The Alaska State Police or maybe it was the Alaska Highway Patrol has issued Glock 10mm pistols to remove imminently dangerous situations involving Polar Bears. Yes, the Glock in 10mm is THAT effective!

      I chose to carry one because bear spray requires the use of two bands to use – the Glock can well be fired, one handedly.

      I train for that situation, and NO…. I do not hate bears. I just know it’s illegal and a ticketable offense to feed them. Humans should count first.

      1. I didn’t know about the Alaska State Troopers, but the Danish Sled Patrol, which patrols the wilds of Greenland in pairs, traveling by dog sled, far from any outside support for weeks at a time, has also been carrying 10mm Glocks for years. They chose them as secondary weapons largely because of the Polar Bear threat. They have recorded only 1 or 2 kills with them, but they have not yet failed to stop a bear attack.

    5. I’ve always wondered how you have to be really accurate to get off your ONE shot at a charging griz, while you, yourself, is in hyper-survival mode with adrenalin gushing into your bloodstream and your feet wanting to go FAST in the opposite direction. I’d guess within 50 feet or so, you won’t get another chance with your bolt action rifle….? I’d think dropping the rifle and grabbing Clint Eastwood’s Most Powerful Handgun In The World might be a better choice for getting multiple rounds off?

    6. I spent 13 months in the highest concentration of brown bears in the world. In the borough there were 2,200 people and 23,000 brown bears, yes that’s 23k. The brown bears are technically a Grizzly that is 1.5 times the size of a normal Grizzly in the lower 48. We had a joke because all the tourists wore bells and carried 1 to 2 % pepper. You could always find the missing tourist because of the bear poop smelled like pepper and it had bells in it. It is a good idea to make noise if you are in the Bush unless you’re hunting. This keeps from surprising one and have it attack because you startled it and it feels threatened. Pad prints the size of correll dinner plates was very common. One of the world’s biggest maneaters was killed there. It may still be on skrewgle under ted’s bear, king salmon, ak. I was face to face with a bear and her three cubs. I was beaching a boat by a shack and they came around it same time I did. I was 15ft from her and my gun was in the boat. I was as dead as she wanted me but she must have thought I was ugly enough and just snorted and sniffed the air as I was backing up slowly. Normally I carried a 12 gauge with first 2 shells 4 ought buck and the next 5 were 1.5 oz slugs. My buddies carried 44 mag, 7mm mag, ’06 or other 12 gauge. We did not have the ext sized 20% spray like they have now. That might dissuade one as long as somebody had a gun out. Better to not kill it anyway as you dont get to keep the hide, lots of splainin to do, and no reason to unless he was attacking. My very beautiful skoal sharing guide friend had one get in the truck. She came out on the balcony and cussed it so badly I swear it blushed and apologized as it slicked out of the truck and ran away. Would have liked to married her, she could hunt. fish, drive jet boats, clean the game, drink whiskey, but only the good stuff for her, and shared same flavor skoal. Her skoal ring, for some reason, always looked better than mine….

    7. Having extensive experience and training with spray and firearms.
      I have always said that spray is was a poor 2nd choice for stopping serious attacks on ones person.
      doesn’t matter if it is a two legged predator or a 4 legged predator.

      When it comes to a deadly force situation spray is a poor choice.
      Does it have it uses yes it is a good harassment tool when backed up by lethal force.
      When I am camping in bear country we have both in camp. Why because killing a bear in self-defense can be a hassle in the legal arena.

      If one can get the bear to leave by others means it saves a lot of hassle with the authorities involved.
      But that said the other means are always backed up with some type of firearm.

      Have a safe hiking , hunting and camping season

    8. Most knowledgeable outdoorsmen will probably carry whatever deterrent they feel capable of using that they are confident will provide the desired results. Situational awareness is still critical whether you are on a city street or deep in the woods. Mother Nature can serve up any number of life-threatening surprises at a moment’s notice. For me it was a mother moose with two calves that appeared out of nowhere (and with no sound) just 15 feet in front of me. Freezing was the best immediate solution quickly followed up by drawing a Ruger Redhawk .44 from my shoulder holster. Those were the only two actions I could take in that situation to exert some type of control. The rest was up to mama moose and fate.

    9. Interesing article but I am not sure why it was written. My take away is that Dave Smith is a bear knowledgeable guy. He might be the best prepared person on the planet if attacked by a grizzly. At the least he could argue gas versus gun statistics with it.

      The advice to the common person who is going to be in a possible bear situation is to carry both gas and a gun. Always be prepared to act fast. In the event of an actual attack, throw the gas can at the bear and shoot yoursslf with the gun. In the event you were silly enough to have slung the gun about your shoulders you should just hang yourself with the sling after having thown the gas can. Statistically.

    10. There are too many variables to say one thing is better than the next. It just depends on the circumstances and the users ability to handle firearms. Certainly during hunting season a firearm is the better choice but it’s no guaranty of your safety. Grizzly or Brown Bears have been mortally wounded by high powered rifles many times but have gone on to seriously maul or kill the hunter if not hit directly in the CNS or weight bearing bone.

      Hikers, runners, mountain bikers all have a choice and most would not want to lug around a high powered rifle or shotgun. Certainly some may qualify to carry a high powered hand gun but at 48 to 75 oz and a questionable accuracy rate on a moving target at 35 mph it’s a crap shoot. It works if you have nerves of steel and are well trained as realistically they are likely only to guaranty a hit within 10 yds and they you have to worry about the same thing as mentioned above that the hunter does. Woman, anti gun hikers and mountain bikers would need to carry bear spray to have a viable chance.

      Use the choice that best suites your philosophy and capabilities.

      1. You don’t know any women who can handle a .44?

        I know a few. Granted, one farm girl, another was awarded the Bronze Star as an Apache pilot in Iraq, and another is a competitive shooter, but still…

        Whether rifle, shotgun, or handgun, choosing the tight type of bullet / slug matters. Needs to be able to penetrate and break heavy bone.

        1. I know a few who can outshoot Most of the experienced guys. I’ve been in Alaska 50 years and there are a few women that I would trust totally to back me up without a second thought. There are a lot of women in Alaska who are highly trained with rifles, shotguns and pistols!

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