Hunting bear is a matter of choice: either you intend to go out into the woods to hunt bear or you encounter one unexpectedly. The latter will certainly take you by surprise and you’d better be prepared. If you’re headed out into the woods, know what you’re up against before you even leave the house. It might sound rudimentary, but all bears are not the same. If you’re in North America, be on the lookout for brown bears, black bears or grizzlies, depending on your location. Know the type of bear you are likely to encounter and how to take it down. Consider these factors:
- Time of year. Bears make themselves more visible in the fall as they prepare to hibernate. They become bolder when searching for food. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you won’t see bears in wintertime, especially if you are in a temperate climate.
- Mama bears. Most bears aren’t overly aggressive unless they are injured or feel threatened. Mama bears are legendary for attacking if you come between her and her cubs. If you’re in the woods and see cubs, move along. Quickly.
- Bears, like every other animal, must eat for survival. If you are hunting other game, be on the lookout for bears in the area. The average bear can smell up to three miles away. Able to run at a top speed of 35 mph, a bear can be at your kill in minutes. Don’t be caught unaware.
Best Ammo for Bear Hunting
Everyone has an opinion on the best gun and the best ammo for hunting bear. Whether you prefer to go old school or high tech, nothing is more important than choosing the right bullet regardless if you’re using a rifle, shotgun or handgun.
The basic types of bullets in this case include the standard hunting bullet. The biggest sellers come from Winchester, Hornady, Speer, Federal, and Remington. The cartridges retain about 50% of its weight but can lessen if there is a high impact velocity.
The second type is the bonded, plastic-tipped boat tail. If a bullet is bonded, it simply means that the jacket and core of the bullet are bonded together. This feature creates excellent ballistics. The round will retain 65% – 80% of its initial weight despite impact velocity. Best rounds in this category include Swift Scirocco, Hornady Interbond, Nosler Accubond, Speer Grand Slam, and Nosler Partition.
The third type contains cartridges for bolt-action rifles. Reliability is important when facing down a bear. For that, a bolt-action rifle should be the top choice. They can handle the type of round required for a sure kill. Experts favor the .338 Winchester Magnum, .338 Remington Ultra Magnum, .340 Weatherby Magnum, .338 Federal Premium, and .375 H&H.
The fourth type of cartridges includes the deep penetrators. You won’t see quick expansion or mushrooming with these rounds, but they retain from 80% to 100% of the original weight, despite impact velocity. Included in this group are the Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, the Swift A-Frame, Barnes X, and the Winchester Failsafe. Note these rounds are not optimum for hunting black bears.
- Hornady® Superformance™ Rifle Ammunition
Hornady offers several good choices in this arena. Their innovative powder blend can gain an additional 200 fps from a Superformance round resulting in superior accuracy, reduced wind drift, a flatter trajectory, and more energy delivered at the target.
- Remington® Premier® Core-Lokt® Ultra Ammunition
Remington has been a favorite for bear hunters for decades. Premier Core-Lokt ammunition holds its own when confronting a bear. It offers retained energy, excellent penetration and extreme accuracy. The round has a special bonded construction that retains 95% of its original weight and offers expansion two times its original diameter. Rated for terminal performance from 50 – 500 yards.
- Federal Premium Trophy Bonded Tip Rifle Ammunition
This new production round in the Vital-Shok line is based on Trophy Bonded Bear Claw® cartridge, but offers increased performance. The polymer-tipped, boat-tail round offers downrange accuracy, while the solid copper shank delivers reliable penetration.
- Nosler Partition
Nosler makes an appearance on many lists because it works as a good all-around bullet. It offers less accuracy than some but makes up for it in terminal performance. Nosler uses dual lead cores that give deep penetration and solid expansion.