Monday, May 31, 2010

This Guy Is Glad The Law Changed, I'm Sure

A backpacker in Denali National Park, Alaska, apparently took advantage of the change in federal law allowing the carrying of firearms in national parks.  From May 31, 2010 Associated Press:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska— A backpacker shot and killed a grizzly bear with his handgun in Alaska's Denali National Park, officials said.

A man and woman reported that they were hiking Friday evening when the bear emerged from trailside brush and charged the woman, park spokeswoman Kris Fister said in a statement.

The man fired nine rounds from his .45 caliber, semiautomatic pistol at the animal, which then stopped and walked into the brush.
My first reaction is, "Why are you carrying a .45 caliber pistol in grizzly bear country?  Did you want to upset the grizzly bear?"  But it apparently worked, somewhat to my surprise.


  1. Why'd he shoot the bear 9 times?

    Because he didn't have 10 rounds?

    I agree: I'd have had a .45-70 or 12 gauge with slugs, myself. When I'm in Alaska bush I carry a large bore bear deterrent device.

  2. Perhaps that was the largest handgun he had. It's a pain to carry a long gun, but such pain vanishes rapidly when faced with a grizzly, I'm sure.

    Guys I know who backpack in Alaska carry .44 magnums with brass rounds (I think the purchase of such ammo is presently illegal). What would you recommend?

  3. Getting eaten by a bear is somewhat inconvenient too.

    But, if I was going to rely on a handgun it'd be the biggest bore I could shoot, with the heaviest bullets I could find for it.

    I carry a rifle because I often travel between the US, Canada and Alaska and handguns are a PITA to transport legally.

  4. Some years back I read a study by the Forest Service called something like "Short-Range Bullet Performance on Grizzly Bears" that essentially said that .44 Magnum was only marginally effective, but better than nothing. That's part of why the last gun I bought before I gave up my FFL was a S&W 629 with a 6.5" barrel.

    I am hoping to travel to Alaska one of these years. And yes, I will be transporting that S&W with me, and buying bear spray when I arrive.

  5. Like this one:

  6. Thank you Flight ER Doc! That Forestry document just obviated fifty years of the popular gun press. Oh, that I could have back all the money I wasted on slick firearms publications and could have spent on ammunition and range access.

    Summarized, the U.S. Government said bring all the gun you can handle, keep it near at hand, practice often, a handgun is useful only as backup, only the .44 magnum is backup but the jury was out on the .41 magnum.

    The firearms truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    What a concept: practice with a rifle in the field every week!

    Thanks, Clayton, for your post that attracted the comment with the document URL cited!

  7. I lived in Alaska from 1978 to 2003, and I usually carried either a 12-gauge or a .308 semi-auto rifle. the popular craze about 2003 was for the new Smith and Wesson .50 caliber revolver. I never fired one but a guy at a store said it delivered a serious wallop from both ends.

  8. Wasn't carry already allowed in Alaska parks?

  9. My favorite bear shooting story is here -- Idaho is one of the few states where it's not surprising that the babysitter would have a valid bear tag.

  10. Carry in many of Alaska's Nat'l parks was grandfathered as part of ANILCA. The old park in Denali was not one of those parks.

    On the USFS study, not the date and the fact they picked commercial ammunition, but not necessarily ammunition designed or optimal for bear defense (hard cast lead in the handguns for example). The slug in particular was, I believe, a Foster-type soft lead slug as opposed to the Brenneke which is preferred by AF&G.

    I'm not promoting using handguns but there are much better loads and rounds out now than there were at the time of the study.