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I'm heading to Wyoming on elk hunt near grizzly country and I'm wondering if anyone has any good ideas for a bear protection round for my Taurus tracker 44 mag...
 

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If you're taking a rifle adequate for an elk, it's going to have more power than a 44mag. It would also be a lot quicker to get on line than trying to draw a handgun. I'm a very big handgun fan myself. Up until about five years ago I hunted exclusively with handguns for over thirty years (other than bow hunting). The fact of the matter is, most all rifles are more potent than any 44mag handgun. If you're determined to load a handgun and carry it around as well as the rifle, just about any heavier bullet (240g and up) loaded with a max dose of 296/110 will be your most potent load.
 

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Elk Whisperer (Super Moderator)
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Frankly, I wouldn't worry that much about it. A friend of mine hunts and outfits in the Quake Lake area and he's told me that while bears are present, they are pretty people shy of late. It's not like they come running at the sound of a shot.

That being said, a hardcast bullet in the 250 grain range on top of a stiff load of 2400 for a load in the 1250 fps range or a 240 grain XTP on top of a max load of H110 if you fancy jacketed bullets.

RJ
 

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Personally, If you are rifle hunting I would save the pack weight and leave the Taurus at home. You might be glad you did when you are packing quarters out of a canyon on your back, along with all of that gear. I think that a $39.95 investment in some bear spray might be a better option.

If you absolutely must have your revolver with you, than I would suggest that you carry it loaded with some light .44 special loads, so that you can make faster follow-up shots. If you choose to fire at a bear with a handgun you will have to fire more than once, regardless of the ammo, and you will need to be quick about it. Don't forget to file off the front sight of that Taurus.
 

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I use the Beartooth Bullets 300 grain LCMN GC, loaded to an OAL of 1.725", in my 4.62" SuperBlackhawk. At almost 1200 fps, that bullet penetrates a lot of animal and will break a lot of bones. And it doesn't have to go that fast, get it close to 1000 fps, and it will still penetrate quite well.

I usually don't carry it while hunting with a rifle, but while in the woods for a non-hunting purpose, I will carry it. I've run into numerous bear in the last few years, but none have shown an inclination to be mean. I don't want to assume it will always be that way between us.

I can't say the same for some meetings with feral dogs, though, but we settled that issue....
 

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Look at the article in tech notes about handgun hunting loads. It's uncommonly well written and in my opinion quite factual.
 

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The fact of the matter is, most all rifles are more potent than any 44mag handgun. If you're determined to load a handgun and carry it around as well as the rifle, just about any heavier bullet (240g and up) loaded with a max dose of 296/110 will be your most potent load.
I disagree wholeheartedly. A .45 Caliber bullet will make a hole that any .30 caliber expanding bullet would be proud of in very large game. In smaller game like whitetail the handgun may not seem as impressive compared to a rifle round because of the added hydraulic pressure of the faster bullet, but step up to really big game and you will see you really aren't giving anything up. That said, I have never found the .44 lacking on much if loaded properly.

Watch this trailer of Lynn Thompson shooting hogs and water buffalo in Australia with a .44 Mag loaded with Hornady 300 grain XTP loads. Not my first choice in ammo for the task, but put them in the right place and they work like a charm.

https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search...buffalo&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-001
 

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unclepaddy is correct, that article is a worthwhile read for anyone even remotely interested in ever hunting or protectiong oneself with a handgun. I will add that I am also a firm believer that in many (most?) circumstances the hunting rifle one is carrying is a better protection for the possibility of encountering a grumpy bear. This would be my opinion on most any hunt which is done mainly on foot.

I do think, however, if one's hunt is to be in a remote area where travel on horseback will be your primary mode of transportation, having a handgun handy could be a good idea. On a horseback hunt in Idaho in an area where vehicles were not permitted we had our guide relay a story (later backed up with the same story in article form in Outdoor Life) and instance where he and a hunter returning to camp in a snowstorm had a grizzly frighten his horse enough to buck him off and dislocate his shoulder in the process. The bear did continue on about it's business at that point, but the hunter (who's tale appeared in Outdoor Life) with his rifle slung over his shoulder would have had a difficult time responding to any continuing threat.

A second horseback hunt in Alberta had my guide and I trying to pick our way through very heavy timber atop his excellent horses when we crisscrossed some smoking hot bear tracks in the new-fallen snow. After crossing them about 3 or 4 times in a 15 minute period he finally reined up and warned me to hold on tightly if my horse began to act skittish, due to those very fresh grizzly tracks we had encountered. This time I did have a scabbord, but was again carrying my rifle slung on my back. In eaither case, I'd have to believe a handgun carried outside your top layer would be the quickest weapon to get into battery should a bear present a threat at very close range.

Again, I agree with those who simply feel the chosen rifle to be a better aid against a grumpy bear when on foot, but my experiences on horseback show me just how difficult getting a rifle in to battery against a difficult bear, quickly. I do understand that the ability to even possess a handgun in Alberta in such a circumstance is pretty much a moot point, but that type scenario could just have well happened in remote areas of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho or Alaska to name a few.
 

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1. Rifle over pistol.
2. Bear spray over pistol.
3. If you insist on pistol, use the heaviest, hardcast load you can find. You WILL only get one shot, so use it well!
 

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I'm heading to Wyoming on elk hunt near grizzly country and I'm wondering if anyone has any good ideas for a bear protection round for my Taurus tracker 44 mag...
RR:
You didn't say whether you reload or not. If you do...A good load would be Hornady's 300gr XTP over 22.5 gr H110/Win [email protected]"OAL...Pretty well crimp in the cannelure/crimping groove, for about 1200 FPS +/-: A 300gr hard cast from Cast Performance is an equitable substitute, as well as their 275gr over 25gr 110/296 for about 1475-1500 FPS +/-.

WILL
 
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Rod,

A good hard cast bullet from a .44 mag will penetrate pretty well and make a nice wound channel, and you don't have to run them at crazy pressures either. I can tell you that a 240gr. SWC at a 'mere' 1,000 fps goes right through a pig's skull, no problem!

So yeah keep that Taurus handy, especially if you are just headed into the bushes without a rifle to do your 'business' or even if you are elbow deep in critter guts. It does happen that once in a great while you'll have a disagreement with other critters over "who's" elk or deer it is and you might be glad you had a sixgun handy on your belt. Beats bad language, and throwing rocks...

Good luck on your hunt.
 

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"So yeah keep that Taurus handy, especially if you are just headed into the bushes without a rifle to do your 'business' or even if you are elbow deep in critter guts. It does happen that once in a great while you'll have a disagreement with other critters over "who's" elk or deer it is and you might be glad you had a sixgun handy on your belt. Beats bad language, and throwing rocks..."

Amen to that! On our first day in Alaska, on a dropped black bear hunt, we'd seen a couple porcupines on our first day out . After looking over the side of a steep bluff we were sitting on and seeing it was a porcupine making the racket below, I walked over to the edge to see "another" which turned out to be a very small black bear cub, uncomfortably close. From that day on, I never was more than 10' from my rifle while in camp or an arm's length out of camp.
 

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Absolutely....the first round is for the horse, then you can get down to business with whatever started the ruckus in the first place.....if any of you would like to find out what coming upon a bear while horseback is like (or close to anyway, without the danger of the bear) find someone nearby that has a couple Llamas, then take your favorite dead broke old horse and just ride on up to em'....well, as close as you can anyway....I would also suggest before doing this you hang a night strap on your saddle just for a little insurance.....
 

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I have both the Hornady factory load, and the Federal 300 grain cast performance in my Marlin 1885, and my S&W 5" 629, holstered in the front on my chest rig. The biologists will tell you that bears often false charge. My problem is I never know when that is the case. We taught bear guards many years ago and recommended a 12 gauge shotgun with slugs. Next pick the area that will break down the charge like a shoulder, not the head. If allowed, set up a scenario where a third party releases a dummy on a rope unknown to you , to get a little stress introduced.
I do love my .44 mags, but a good 12/20 gauge with slugs is hard to beat. Decide a safe zone, and if the bear enters that zone...inside 20 feet the large predator can move very fast. A heart shot could leave the bear lethal for 6 minutes before he knows he is dead so break bones. My camp gun is a SXS 12 gauge hammer gun. I don't have much use for bear spray. One of my customers had a remote cabin and under the porch with the munched 3 wheelers was a case of pepper spray. Every single can had been bitten, so we figured he loved the hot pepper...
An old sheep guide out of the Wrangles carried a single action Ruger in .44 mag, with barrel sawed off very short. He kept it inside his sleeping bag, tucked into his pants in case he was drug out of his tent. He also would not sleep in a mummy bag.
 

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I disagree wholeheartedly. A .45 Caliber bullet will make a hole that any .30 caliber expanding bullet would be proud of in very large game. In smaller game like whitetail the handgun may not seem as impressive compared to a rifle round because of the added hydraulic pressure of the faster bullet, but step up to really big game and you will see you really aren't giving anything up. That said, I have never found the .44 lacking on much if loaded properly.

Watch this trailer of Lynn Thompson shooting hogs and water buffalo in Australia with a .44 Mag loaded with Hornady 300 grain XTP loads. Not my first choice in ammo for the task, but put them in the right place and they work like a charm.

https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search...buffalo&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-001
Spot on! A properly loaded 44 with proper shot placement will put game on the ground as well as any rifle. Shot placement and a proper bullet suited for the task is also required with rifles.
 

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"So yeah keep that Taurus handy, especially if you are just headed into the bushes without a rifle to do your 'business' or even if you are elbow deep in critter guts. It does happen that once in a great while you'll have a disagreement with other critters over "who's" elk or deer it is and you might be glad you had a sixgun handy on your belt. Beats bad language, and throwing rocks..."

Amen to that! On our first day in Alaska, on a dropped black bear hunt, we'd seen a couple porcupines on our first day out . After looking over the side of a steep bluff we were sitting on and seeing it was a porcupine making the racket below, I walked over to the edge to see "another" which turned out to be a very small black bear cub, uncomfortably close. From that day on, I never was more than 10' from my rifle while in camp or an arm's length out of camp.
10 get can be too far as it was when a grizzly came on on me while cleaning a moose. My big bore revolver was in a should holster on me and was was certainly up to the task, as it flattened Mr. Grizzly
 
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