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Sidearm or Bear Spray for Bowhunting?

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dmchapman82's picture
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If you have a Carry and Conceal permit, you can carry your sidearm no matter where you are. Federal laws supercede state laws. I carry either a Beretta PX4 Storm in .40 or .45 just depends on which one I pull out when I reach under my pillow...lol

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Eric Welsh's picture
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I have bear spray and carry it some times. In CA you cant carry a pistol while archery hunting, but sometimes I dont follow all the rules. I would rather be judged by 12 that carried by 6.

Better safe than sorry. I dont trust Bear Spray like I trust a bullet.

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dmchapman82's picture
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I guess the fact that in CA you have to be Law Enforcement or be responsible for transporting money to have a C and C permit might have something to do with it.

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4 years ago I shot a cat coming in to my elk bugle at 4 yrds had I not turned around and backtracked my trail after a half hour calling session (which I ussually go longer than that but something didn't feel right) I wouldn't have even known she was there I took about 10 steps up my back trail came around a small pine and we were face to face only thing that saved me is she hesitataed and I didn't the moment I saw her I was at full draw Well after a 4 letter word and a five foot jump. The biologist said the only reason he can figure she hesitated to pounce as she was already crouched was she expected an elk. I'm here to tell you I wouldn't have even had time too draw a gun. Now luckly this was a cat and not a grizz as they are in the area too would I have faired as well against a bigger animal. I don't know but I can still tell you I would have never gotton my side arm drawn my bow was my only chance. When I hit her she jumped higher than I had, landed at my feet took 2 steps away and died. I sat on a rock and dry heaved from adranilane for about an hour and every time her tail twitched I jumped. I didn't even have enough sense left to move away from her. That arrow is deadly when placed correctly. I've replayed this a couple thousand times in my head ussually as I'm bugling for elk without anyone around and I'm not sure how I would have drawn a gun against any animal and an Angel was on my side when that animal didn't react immidietly. As far as bear spray, a man used it near our hunt on a grizz and effectivly detered it 2 yrs ago I think, Forest service came into camp advising everyone but it made me more nervous to know that there was one pissed off grizz in the woods that had a bad taste left in his mouth from his last experiance witha human, made me wonder if he came in close contact again if he would hesitate. And ya I carry a .45 auto xdm. But doubt I will ever use it.

Hornaholic's picture
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I hardley ever carry anything but my bow. If im going where i know there are Grizzly bears i will take my bear spray but thats about it. I might regret that some day. I have been chases by a black bear sow and ran off an elk I just killed by another bear but i still dont carry anything, slow learner i guess but it just doesnt bother me.

 

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In Calif, i think the question is what crime for carrying a sidearm during bowhunting?  if you lose your ability to pull a hunting license for 1 year vs. being guilty of a felony makes a big difference...?  Without doing any research, i would ask does anyone know what the ramifications are in Calif for carrying a pistol?

Forest_Crawler's picture
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We have to be specific when it comes to saying 'bowhunting' and thinking it covers it all animals. The California laws are in relation to deer hunting. You CAN carry a sidearm when archery hunting for turkey, bear (just not the crossover deer season or the archery specific bear season), and wild hogs. You can't carry a sidearm during the archery season for deer or during the general season in you only have an archery tag.

We all have a right to bear arms, but we don't have a right to hunt and we need to follow the laws that are put in place for each state we hunt in.

ADDITIONAL INFO: Notice I said you cannot is you are only hunting with an AO - Archery only tag during deer season or in a bowhunting only area. You also cannot carry a sidearm if you are hunting during a specific archery season.

For example, if you are bear hunting during the bear archery season you cannot carry a firearm. BUT as soon as the bear general season opens (but not during the crossover deer season) you CAN carry a sidearm because both are legal methods at that time.

§354. Archery Equipment and Crossbow Regulations.

(h) Except as provided in subsection 353(g), archers may not possess a firearm while hunting in the field during any archery season, or while hunting during a general season under the provisions of an archery only tag.

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Jeremiah Shenefelt's picture
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First and foremost, I am not a biologist, nor have I ever sprayed a bear; but I have done a great deal of research on exactly this subject. More specifically, I have done quite a bit of research on bear attacks and bear biology. With all I have read and seen I feel confident in carrying just bear spray when I am archery hunting. In my opinion there is sufficient evidence supporting my tactic. As with anything there are a number of factors that have influenced my choice, as there have been or will be that influence yours. An absolutely fantastic book is “Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance” by Steven Herrero. He has devoted his life to the study of bears and had some outstanding bits of information as well as many firsthand encounters with both black and brown bears all over North America.
One of the first things I would like to highlight is a bear’s anatomy. A bear, especially a grizzly, is a big target. At least at first glance, but when you scrutinize what will stop a charging bear that big lumbering target will more than likely only be stopped by damaging the brain or severing the spinal column. At extremely close range a basketball sized target (the bears head) is an easy target for a descent shot with a handgun, only as long as that target is perfectly still. Add in varied distances, up or down hill angles, a massive dose of adrenaline and the fact that the target is charging at you with teeth bared and the chances of actually hitting it with a dead on lethal shot diminish greatly. 
The lethal head and spinal shot aside, let’s consider this: you encounter a bear that is clearly charging. It really doesn’t matter if the bear is bluffing or is full on ready to eat you, you can’t read its mind after all, so you draw your sidearm and fire that one shot right into the mass of hide as close to the head as you could aim in the precious second before the bear is on top of you. You hit the beast right? Sure you did, the bullet smashed through the upper ribcage and right into the lungs of the bear, but missed the brain and spine. That bear is dead. He will bleed out and die just like any other animal that has taken a round through the lungs. Problem is, that bear will not die at your feet but will die a short while after more than likely ripping off your face.  Chances are the bear will be literally, not figuratively, trying to rip off your face. After all, regardless of the reason for the charge, that bear is now a wounded animal that is fully committed to the fight, and not the flight instinct.
A good case in point would be that of Ron G. and Ron J. Leming (father and son respectively) of Cody, Wyoming. The two of them were bow hunting for elk and were attacked by an 11 year old male Grizzly who possibly mistook them for the elk they were trying to call in. The bear charged, and the father was able to nail the bruin with an arrow to the vitals. The bear still chased his son down and mauled him, not to death and not to any horrific level of injury. The bear broke off the attack only after the father literally beat it with his bow and the bear began to bleed completely out.  Luck, probably confusion on the bear’s part, and I would argue Divine intervention saved Ron J. Leming from being mauled to death, especially if that was a predacious attack. One may argue that a bullet would have done more damage, and while that is possible or probable the overall statistics agree that the bear will more often than not continue that charge or attack if not stopped dead in its tracks. Less than 50% chances are not that great if you ask me.
Now there is a silver lining to the bear attack cloud. First of all the odds are extremely slim, however it does happen. Bear spray has been proven to be extremely effective on Grizzly bears. As a matter of fact, according to Herrero’s research it’s virtually guaranteed to stop a charge and greater than 90% effective in completely breaking off the encounter. A very small part of the time the bear returns, more than likely I think because the encounter was a predacious one in the first place and chances are only one of you is coming out alive anyways. That would be the time to use whatever deadly force you have, just keep in mind that whatever you do, you will have to answer for at some level. I would never, ever hesitate to save my own skin now. My point is just make sure of what you doing, when you do it.
I hunt in bear country, I sleep under the stars, and while I am very cautious of these awesome animals, I know firsthand that even an aggressive grizzly can be driven off without lethal force. I take my chances with the bear spray. Perhaps it’s a gamble, but to me the odds fall with the spray rather than risking wounding the bear and still getting mauled. Should the bear return after an encounter I hope that I would be somewhat prepared to defend myself with lethal force.   I would not discourage having a side arm either, but the first alternative should be the spray. If that fails, then use what you have.
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