Idaho spring bearBlack Bear Week on Big Deer continues…

One time out in Idaho, I made a pretty good shot on the big cinnamon bear pictured here. The 150-grain bullet from my .30-06 smacked him in the shoulder area, and he rumbled off into a ravine choked with alders, dead on his pads, or so I thought. I crept in there and found him rolling and flipping like a VW Beetle out of control. Teeth popped; the hairs frizzed on my neck. I put a finisher bullet in his lungs and it worked out, but I learned a lesson that day: A pretty good shot on a bear is not good enough; you want that first bullet to be pretty much perfect.

Bear cartridges/loads: The .270 with a 150-grain load is absolute minimum. The .30-06 with 165- or 180-grain bullet is better and an excellent choice.

Saskatchewan bear outfitter Grant Kuypers has seen and skinned hundreds of 300- to 400-pound black bears shot with a wide range of calibers and loads over the years. He likes two rigs that anchor shoulder-shot bears on the spot and require little blood-trailing in the thick Canadian bush.

Grant’s No. 1 choice is the .300 Win. Mag. with 180-grain bullet. There is some recoil with this cartridge, but you are going after an animal that has the capacity to maul you and chew on you. If you want to be a bear hunter, buck up and practice until you can shoot a powerful rifle well.

Grant also says the 7mm Rem. Mag. with 150- or 160-grainer does an excellent job on bear.

Coming next, how and where to shoot a bear.