Shed Antler Collector with .40 Against Sow Grizzly (FOIA)

Grizzly Bear

U.S.A.-(– This is another in a series of self-defense against bear events uncovered in a Freedom of Information Act request done by AmmoLand. It seems they have not been published before.

At about 10 a.m. on the morning of May 28, 2016, a father-son pair of shed antler collectors were searching for antlers in the Bear Creek drainage of the Shoshone National Forest, about 16 miles northeast of Dubois, Wyoming.

The father and son had separated. The father went up a draw, and the son went up a side hill to a flat bench.  The son had reached the top of the bench when he saw a “brown flash” in the tree line above him. He thought his father had probably flushed an animal out of the draw. As he looked at it again, he realized it was a grizzly bear, and it was running toward him.

The son yelled at the bear and drew his Springfield sub-compact. He did not have a round in the chamber.  The Springfield comes with a 9 round and a 10 round magazine.  He chambered a round and checked to be sure the safety was off. The pistol was new. He had never fired it before. His father had owned the same model for some time.

The son noticed, as the bear continued to run at him, that it appeared to be in full charge mode, with its ears laid back. He noticed a cub was with the sow. As the sow came within 30 yards of him, he started firing at the bear and moving to put a small tree between him and the charging grizzly.

The son fired his final rounds as the charging bear approached within feet. The bear went down and slid downslope about five yards where it died. In the investigation which followed. Ten .40 caliber brass were found at the scene. The brass was within 2-3 yards of the bear, putting the location of the defender within 5-6 yards of where the bear expired.

After the last shot, the son yelled “Get some!” and, perhaps, he admitted, “b****!” He then said a little prayer.

The ammunition used was PPU .40 caliber Smith & Wesson Total Metal Jacket 180 grain bullets. The Springfield sub-compact has a 3-inch barrel. It is a small pistol.

After the bear was down, the defender realized the cub had also been shot. It appeared to be a mortal wound, from below the right eye to the left ear.

The sow had four bullet holes on the right side of the chest cavity and one bullet hole from under the right eye to behind the right ear. One of the chest cavity bullets had penetrated the bear’s spine. Another bullet had perforated the right bicep of the bear. It may have continued into the chest cavity.

The head wound on the bear indicates the bear’s head was pointed directly at the defender. If the bullet had been two inches to the defender’s right, it would likely have been an immediately fatal wound.

Neither the father or the son was carrying bear spray. The son described an incident where he had been charged by a bear, and the bear spray did not work. He believed the only reason the bear stopped in that incident, was because other people nearby were yelling at it.

During the investigation, the cub was found to be still breathing. It was euthanized.

On April 7, 2017, the US Fish & Wildlife Service Special Agent received a letter of Declination for Prosecution from the Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming.


The son does not seem to be a highly trained pistol shooter. Highly trained pistol shooters do not take their new pistol out in the woods without ever firing it. However, the son performed well. He hit the attacking bear with at least five of ten shots. One of the other shots hit the cub.

Pistols are made to be highly ergonomic. It appears most people shoot reasonably well when confronted with an attacking animal at close range. Training and practice help. This correspondent has been surprised at how well people with little training or practice do during conflicts with bears. However, all three recorded cases of failures when using pistols to defend against bears appear to involve people with little training or practice.

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 retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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Once again many old myths about handguns used against bears are killed off.


I seen people miss a full size training target with a shotgun at 10 yards under pressure


i know what you mean, i found best way with a fool with a mac 10 shoot close made them shoot wild kill shot was easy


Bear spray is seasoning, a good quality handgun qualifies as bear defence . I pack a Ruger Blackhawk .44 Remington magnum . A 40 cal or 38 cal is better than nothing as Dean has pointed out in his articles of bear defence where the people walked away injury free from a bear that attacked with the intent to do bodily harm. Better to have a handgun than pepper spray in my opinion .


me? I carry s&w 45 lc, a colt 1911 45acp, AND a s&w 38. Yup, at the same time in bear country. Mostly use the 45 lc for deer hunting(successfully)


10 mm is good bear spray.


.40 S&W is a good round. Lucky shot placement I suspect although, young people tend to perform better under pressure. The immortality of youth maybe. Or video game reflexes? Glad he survived. I would hate to be tested like that.


I shot a grizzly bear that was attacking my chickens with a Remington 870 with 00 buckshot from less than 30 feet right in the side towards her rear didn’t do a thing except run away no blood trail nothing tracked it in the snow no blood!!!! Just prints which we ended up loosing so when I go into the woods I go full roar with at least a 357 and my 7mm on my shoulder

Wild Bill

The grizzly bear was attacking your chickens with a Remington 870? Smart bear!


Your first mistake was to shoot that bear to wound it not kill it. You are lucky that the old bear did not circle around and eat you ass. Then we would have story worth hearing. You did not mention if you replaced that smoke pole for one of your other weapons. Also WE was the hunting party armed and did we eat any of the chickens the bear left.

Last edited 11 months ago by john

There was another story about a bear here in ammoland two men and a 38 cal handgun that dispatched a bear attacking a fellow up a tree. It is nice to see some stories in ammoland about folks being out and about in the woods. I read this below and have to ask did the son crap his draws a new pistol and in a national forest were hand guns allowed “Research YES”. There were others that watched as this young hero save his own life and killed two bears within secounds. There was no prosecution for the despatching of… Read more »


NOT carrying one in the chamber….in Bear woods..? Whaazzamatteryou? THAT is nutz. Like keeping your personal defense weapon in your nightstand – and the ammo locked in a safe in the closet…..sheeeezeee….


FMJ made all the difference in this case..

Last edited 11 months ago by Rodoeo

Nice to see this series of successful defenses against grizzly bears using guns. Bear spray is a P.C. non-solution foisted upon the public, and supported by the various Federal agencies, by the animal rights idiots (PETA, Humane Society of the U.S., etc.) most of whom live in cities and have never been in the woods.


read about a bear attack yr.`s ago. Survivor jambed his hand & arm down bears throat as it proceeded to commence chomping him to death. Man survived & bear departed.

Deplorable Bill

A good tool, even a sub compact tool is better than no tool at all. Still, the kid is lucky to be alive. A better choice of weapons is advised. No round chambered? This attack only ended at his feet, that’s too close, way too close. I would guess that is where he got his hits in. He was smart enough to not try to outrun a bear, you can’t. The fmj’s made a difference in this case. The hit into the spine likely saved his beacon. Five missed rounds, five missed opportunities to keep your life. Knowing anatomy and… Read more »