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October 13, 2010
Best Grizzly Defense: Bear Spray or Gun? - 15
Last week a Wyoming elk hunter was attacked by a grizzly bear. The hunter, whose name has not been released, was able to shoot and kill the bear, but not before it sank its teeth into his arm. Luckily, the hunter was fine. He walked three miles out of the backcountry, drove himself to the hospital and was released the next day. The bear on the other hand, died from its injuries.
As grizzly bear attacks in the Yellowstone area continue to make headlines, many outdoorsmen are faced with a question that their lives could depend on: what's the best defense against a charging bear, a gun or bear spray?
Mark Bruscino, a Wyoming Game and Fish bear management supervisor, says his department recommends bear spray, unless you're a polished marksman.
"We think bear spray is a good deterrent for the average person who isn't really good with a firearm," he told the Powell Tribune.
Bruscino's quote hints at the crux of the problem: every bear attack is different and there are countless variables that go into each scenario.
For example on an extremely windy day, bear spray could be useless. As far as firearms go, the caliber of the gun will make a huge difference in how effective it will be in stopping a charging bear. Also, a person's ability to use their tool of choice will have a large impact on the outcome. I once hunted with an elk guide whose only grizzly deterrent was an axe that he kept tethered to his saddle. After a few demonstrations, I could see that the guide was so incredibly good with his axe that I felt sorry for any bear that even thought about charging him (although I do not recommend an axe as bear defense for most hunters).
With this in mind, what do you think Newshound readers? What's more effective against a charging grizzly bear, a gun, bear spray or something else altogether?