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I grew up in the sticks and spent many, many hours in the Pennsylvania woods. I've seen numerous poisonous snakes (I just leave 'em alone), porcupines, a bobcat, deer, even elk. Nothing much bothered me.

Two year ago, while hunting for a long abandoned silver mine near Acton, Maine, I was pretty deep in the woods, nowhere near a trail, when my GPS unit died. No big deal, I'd hiked for years without one and have a pretty good head for directions, plus it was a sunny day. I looked around to check my bearings when I noticed the biggest damn deer poop I'd ever seen - I reckoned it was a moose turd, and very fresh too. Don't want to surprise one of those in the woods! I began to navigate the two miles or so back to the road where I'd left the car, but as I approached a very large fallen tree trunk, a very surprised black bear popped up not 15 feet away. It looked huge at the moment, though I'd estimate that it was less than 250 lbs. (about my weight). After what seemed like an eternity, the bear dropped to all fours and then actually hunkered down behind the tree! I then slowly backed away, then turned around and made a steady retreat while looking over my shoulder. It seemed like a very long way back to the road, but I ended up only about 200 ft. from the car when I hit the road.

Needless to say, I now carry a pistol (9mm) pistol when when in the woods in NH and Maine. If in mixed company, I carry my PF9 in a waist pack. If I'm with people I know are comfortable around guns, I carry the PF9 in a holster or sometimes my P38, usually when my son is carrying the Kel-Tec.

I know the 9mm isn't ideal for bear, and definitely not for moose, but a magazine full of FMJs does make me feel a lot safer.

Any thoughts on the utility of a 9mm as a trail gun in black bear country?
 

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You want a handgun for bear, moose and other large critters....?

Carry a .454 casull, or .44magnum. Something with power enough to force a stop.

You will be lucky to even get ONE shot, if a bear decides you crossed the road looking and smelling like lunch. One fmj 9mm will likely piss that bear off even further...

If you want protection from them big animals, a shotty might be a good idea(long gun carry is even legal in Canada, in the wild, for protection against large, dangerous animals).
 

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Having spent many years living in northern Maine on the edge of the big woods I learned to quit worrying about bears and moose. At various times I had black bear, occasional moose, and many deer transiting my yard. Four deer would spend the winter in my back yard because I kept a path cleared to my sugar shack where they could scratch up dormant grass and it was easy walking when the snow was getting deep.

On black bears, unless it was a sow with cubs the likelihood of it attacking a human are remote. They have a tendency to run the second they catch wind of a human. Your response to the bear was the correct one. Just ease away without being threatening. I used to run into black bears often in the summer or early fall when the black berries were ripening. We tried to avoid the bush the bear was picking from.
edit: If you have to shoot at a bear with a 9mm it better be as a last resort and good luck trying to hit that small fast moving head charging at you .

Moose on the other hand can be dangerous during the rutting season. If you get between a bull and a cow that he is tracking down, look out. The thing about moose is that they don't see all that well and their brain is tiny in comparison to their mass. When hunting deer, I found that I could step/hide behind a tree with a bull moose 15 yards from me and he'd lose interest and wander off. Don't even bother shooting a moose with a 9mm. The muzzle blast will have more effect than the bullet.
 

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You want a handgun for bear, moose and other large critters....?

Carry a .454 casull, or .44magnum. Something with power enough to force a stop.

You will be lucky to even get ONE shot, if a bear decides you crossed the road looking and smelling like lunch. One fmj 9mm will likely piss that bear off even further...

If you want protection from them big animals, a shotty might be a good idea(long gun carry is even legal in Canada, in the wild, for protection against large, dangerous animals).
I second the suggestions. A 9mm may very well kill a black bear after he bleeds out over time but I doubt it will cause enough trauma to immediately halt an attack. A big bore revolver is your best bet for a hand gun.
 

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My friend placed a perfect kill shot on a 280 lb black bear with a .45 cal (.50 cal sabot) blackpowder rifle. The bear still ran at him pissed off all while pumping blood out the whole time. If he'd been on the ground any closer, there would have been contact before the bear died. The shot went through both lungs and clipped the heart. 9mm? I think not. :D
 

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I carried my P11 and P3At at the same time when I was backpacking in northern VA back in '08 and felt undergunned. My .44mag was at home the whole time. I didn't figure I was a match for anything larger than a wolf or coyote, but maybe with all those shots somebody would hear me and maybe get there before the bear dragged my body away.

I always figured a bear would come snooping around my tent at night. The first thing the bear would see when I unzipped my door would be a flash. Not a muzzle flash, but a camera flash. Then while the bear was seeing stars I planned on punching it in the noze as hard as I could. If I'm going to get eaten I may as well get the first punch in before the mauling starts. Then, in the tussle that would probably follow, I planned on getting off as many rounds as I could before getting chewed up.

Why the camera? Well, when the park rangers showed up and saw the ripped tent, shell casings, and bloody mess they would find the camera and be able to see what got me :D.
 

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I carried my P11 and P3At at the same time when I was backpacking in northern VA back in '08 and felt undergunned. My .44mag was at home the whole time. I didn't figure I was a match for anything larger than a wolf or coyote, but maybe with all those shots somebody would hear me and maybe get there before the bear dragged my body away.

I always figured a bear would come snooping around my tent at night. The first thing the bear would see when I unzipped my door would be a flash. Not a muzzle flash, but a camera flash. Then while the bear was seeing stars I planned on punching it in the noze as hard as I could. If I'm going to get eaten I may as well get the first punch in before the mauling starts. Then, in the tussle that would probably follow, I planned on getting off as many rounds as I could before getting chewed up.

Why the camera? Well, when the park rangers showed up and saw the ripped tent, shell casings, and bloody mess they would find the camera and be able to see what got me :D.
lol That's funny.

I carry everywhere, because I don't wish to assume that bad people stop once the woods start.

There's still grow ops, meth labs and who knows what kind of back woods, flesh eating red-necks and deranged, body wearing lunatics one may run into, while out in the boonies.

If I was specifically carrying for bears or others, I'd invest in a large bore gun of some sort.
 
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Just get you a nice .25 acp pistol. That's all you need for bear. No, really, check it out:
http://www.handgunhunt.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/105287/page/1#Post105287

:D

But seriously folks, for bear, if you want to STOP them, it is a simple 2 step process. One, get a .44 mag. Two, learn how to use it. They are lots of fun, but it takes some work to be able to hit what you want with them. At least it was/is for me. Very rewarding when you do master it though.
 

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I've been packing a gun in the woods for as long as i was big enough to pump one up. In town too. I remember a time when the police would just drive by and wave at a gang of kids packing pellet rifles and pistols.

I carry every were leagle other than the two legged type there's mountain loins that could have you by the back of the neck before you knew what happened. No bears around here but i guess there's always hogs.

My woods bumming pistol is a smith m66 or a rughr SBH in 44 mag.
 

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for me .357 with 180 grain hard cast bullets are minimum, it's what i use for back up while bear hunting around here and it still makes me feel a little under gunned. yea a 9mm has a lot of rounds but you need a deep penetrating first shot if you are going to even think about slowing down a charging bear of any size.
 

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In a pinch, do you think a .223 would stop a bear? I'm use to carrying my 870 12ga in the back woods but like the concealment of the SU16 in a back pack.

RW
 
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As long as you are with someone else a 9mm is plenty of gun to protect yourself from a bear. Actually you don't even need a gun just trip the other person you're with. :D

I would choose something more along the lines of a 44 mag myself though.
 

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I know it sounds like, well is, the opposite direction but I tend to carry my S&W #317 with me in the woods. It's an 8 shot, .22LR, Revolver. I keep it loaded with a mix of CCI Stinger and CCI Quik-Shok rounds and I feel very protected. It should be able to do real damage to anything except for the size of Bears, Moose, Elk etc. I don't own a large caliber handgun and the .22 is a great Kit Gun to have "just in case". Maybe if I shot a bear with it it will feel like it is being stung by wasps and run off. Plus it really is possible to kill animals as large as a moose with a .22LR so it isn't like not carrying.

Like Kos I feel like 2 legged predators can be a threat and a few rounds of hypervelociy rounds to the head/chest/neck would definitely hurt.

Like anything the biggest caliber...that you really will/can carry... is the best bet.

I wouldn't knock a 9 mm either btw. Some rounds like the CorBon DPS pack a wallop almost as much as a .357 magnum, flying out of 3" barrels up to 1300 fps. If I had a high cap mag in it with say 17-20 rounds total that is quite a bit of firepower to just shrug off even for a bear or a moose.
 

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Packing a whollop and deep enough penetration are two different things. Wounded animals most often do not retreat....they advance on the source of the pain. If you haven't seen this or don't believe in it, DO NOT go hunting in Africa.

To each their own, but thinking a light round is going to annoy the animal into running away is a very dangerous mindset. It may work, but it may not. People have been shooting dangerous game for hundreds of years. Go peruse some big game hunting sites and see what the membership there says about carrying a small caliber defensive pistol as dangerous game protection.

On PD handgun websites, we all feel the need to defend our choice in personal carry and tend to project that defense of caliber and firearm onto other shooting sports where it may be inadequate or marginal at best. It's an interesting phenomenon.
 

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When I walk around the woods, I don't have bear or moose to worry about here in Texas. I am more concerned with a large whitetail or a hog. I carry fmj NATO loads in my P11 and a full bore 12 ga loaded with slug and #4 buckshot behind that.
 
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