Hunting With Handguns

Alaskan Spring Black Bear
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by James Frank Swidryk a.k.a. jamesfromjersey     Last updated: 2008-09-21 16:27:32

After landing in Fairbanks I took a float plane about 55 miles northwest to land on the Tanana River where the guides from Alaska Private Guide Service picked me up with their flat boat and brought me to one of two camps they run.These are basic hunting camps with tents,cots and sleeping bags supplied for the hunter.The hardest thing for me to get used to was how very long the daylight hours lasted.

You hunt from ground blinds within handgun range of large bait cans filled with fat and all sorts of things that black bears find tasty.However,all this is for nothing if you don`t have gloves,head net and mosquito repellent as these little critters will drive you crazy.

The first night was quiet afterwhich we moved to another stand futher up river. All travel to the different stands was done buy boat as there are no roads. If you get lost up here you can be in a world of trouble!!!This was the first outfitter I`ve hunted with that listed a compass as part of your hunting gear.I also brought my 7 1/2" Redhawk that I loaded with Garrett`s 330gr HammerHead ammo that shoots extremly well from this handgun which I carried as a backup.My primary hunting handgun was a Freedom Arms 454 Casull with a 7 1/2" barrel equipped with one of Mag-Na-Ports muzzle brakes.This was topped with a Leupold 2.5-8X and four Weigand rings mounted to a T`SOB scope mount.The handload I was using consisted of a Nosler 300gr jacketed flat point partition over 32.0grs of H-110 in new Starline brass and was touched off with a Remington 7 1/2 small rifle primer.This load is good for 1600+ f.p.s. and put 3 rounds inside one inch at 50 yards from my 454.

At 9:30pm on the second night a small bear came close to the bait and left.At 11:30 the same bear returned and left after a few mouthfuls of food. Finally at 1:30 in the morning a much larger bear came in and hit the bait can with the guide giving me the thumbs up that this was a shooter.You must remember that even though it was 1:30 in the morning, I had no trouble in seeing the bear through my scope because of the long daylight in the spring.The bear settled down to eat giving a quarter-toward me shot as I waited for the crosshair to stop the shot the bears four legs flew out from under him as he hit the ground,bounced once and never moved again.The 300gr partition hit him in the left shoulder,angled down through the lungs and came out at the back of the right rib cage taking two ribs on the way out and leaving an exit hole that was almost a two inch circle.The 300gr Nosler partition performed flawlessly...

An Alaskan Fish & Game biologist that examined the hide and skull in Fairbanks said that this was an older bear because the bottom front teeth were worn down almost to the gum line.The hide measured 6'4" with the skull going at 17 9/16"....If I could have changed anything about this hunt with what I know now I would have used a 1.5-4X scope and brought some warmer clothes.My problem now is how to raise enough money to cover a grizzly/moose hunt for next year.


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Recent Comments:

Poster: Western Revolver    Date: 2019-08-13    Top

Be careful James that bear hunting can get in your blood and become a life long obsession:) Great story as always.
Poster: S.B.    Date: 2013-03-10   Top

Very nice, thanks James. Steve
Poster: tracker77    Date: 2012-04-29    Top

Great bear! Great handguns! Great story! Thanks as always James for sharing your hunts with us.
Poster: Bud Rummel    Date: 2011-07-08   Top

Nice Bear!!! I have hunted/guilded in that area as well. (Pinto Flats) It's an area that produces a lot of good Bears and good fishing!! You got a very nice one!!!
Poster: jamesfromjersey    Date: 2008-10-12    Top

Gary,To answer your question about the scope switch,I have to say that the 2.5-8 Leupold worked fine ,however, at the time I was taking this bear I had the power turned down to 2.5 and in the back of my mind I was thinking that a 1.5X would have a larger field of view at the distance I was shooting making it a little easier to track the bear through the scope as he made his way to the bait bucket. As you can see everything turned out fine and it really did`ent make any difference whether the scope was 1.5 or 2.5X. All the best, James
Poster: Tigger    Date: 2008-10-04   Top

Nice Bear James!!!! "My problem now is how to raise enough money to cover a grizzly/moose hunt for next year." That's a good "problem" to have. LOL
Poster: KRal    Date: 2008-09-24    Top

Another dream hunt....thumbs up, James.
Poster: Gary    Date: 2008-09-21   Top

Hey James, Just curious why would switch to a 1.5x4 scope vs. the 2.5x8

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