Alaskan brown bear stalked hunter
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To paraphrase The Stranger, sometime the you eat the bear and sometimes the bear almost eats you . . . Bear Meets Match After Stalking Sitka Hunter

For a few memorable moments, Ryan Wilson was both the hunter and the hunted.

“I was hunting deer; (the bear) was hunting me,” he said, telling about his confrontation with a full-grown brown bear in the woods north of Sitka last month.

Wilson had time for only one shot, but it was enough to stop the charging bear in its tracks.

And what round did Mr. Wilson use to drop that bear with a single shot?

The bear was only 20 yards away and closing fast when Wilson shot it in the head with his .300 Winchester Magnum rifle.

“A little heavy for deer, a little light for a bear,” Wilson said of his rifle.

Maybe, but Wilson had apparently mastered the three fundamentals of hunting; shot placement, shot placement and shot placement. And it wasn’t as if he didn’t give the big ursa fair warning. He was pretty clearly being stalked.

Wilson had the higher ground by about 10 feet, and was surprised to see the bear making its way toward him, walking stealthily and silently in cat-like fashion.

“It wasn’t making any vocalizations or noise,” he said.

Wilson figured the bear just didn’t know he was there. He had a round in the chamber of his rifle and flipped the safety off, just in case. He whistled to get the bear’s attention, and expected that once the bear was aware of his presence it would be on its way.

“It kept silently coming toward me; I yelled, loud,” Wilson said.

At a distance of about 30 yards, the bear went from walking stealthily to a full-speed charge.

All’s well that ends well. Wilson did his duty, informed the state Fish and Game deapartment and harvested the claws, hide and skull for them. Will he be venturing out into the Alaskan wilderness on his own again?

As for whether, as a result of the experience, he would hesitate to go back out in the woods, Wilson said he is just thinking about taking a bigger rifle, or carrying a backup pistol.

But in general, Wilson believes “probability” is on his side.

“I mean, what’s the chance of it happening again?”


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  1. I was on a quail hunt this morning. During my rambles I noticed a yote hanging back in the brush.

    A skinny yote looking to mooch a downed bird doesn’t have the same drama as a grizz stalking your ass.

    • I think you’re right. Some folks want to go to Hawaii, some go to Alaska, both types of people tend to be wildly different.

      “I mean, what’s the chance of it happening again?”
      With that particular bear? Zero.


      • +1 for Alaska. Definitely preferred over Hawaii. And good preparation, awareness, shooting, and keeping his wits about for this hunter.

        • My old man taught me to stop and look all around you, even behind, every so often when hunting. The value of looking over your shoulder when in the bush can be priceless.

    • Yeah,

      I cannot imagine that it would have taken that bear much more than 2 seconds to cover that 30 yards. Talk about only having one chance to get it right.

  2. See, I have NO desire to be in an area where I’m not at the top of the food chain. I will NEVER be out in the wild with bears…

  3. Perhaps a warning shot with bullet impacting close to the bears forepaws? Before the bear got within 70 yards? 9-1-1, however in this instance our officers response time may have been too slow.

  4. I won’t even have Teddy Bear stuffed toy in my house, much less visit any place where they reside.

    I’m not a candy ass woman, I’ve gotten into a full on break the coffee table battle to avoid a rape. And I won because I fought dirty.

    • .300 Win Mag is about as big as you want to go for any kind of deer, but basically the minimum for bear. You could go with a .30-06 to even it out closer to the deer, but some people do hunt deer with (light) .338 Win Mags, which is what the Alaska DNR recommends for bear protection.

    • I hunt deer with slugs. Not too many bears around me but three rounds of mag slugs from a beretta would do damage to a bear.

      • Correct me if I’m wrong but 30 yards with a full-on charging brown bear won’t give you time for 3 shots. As per comments above, maybe time for one shot, soiling your pants and screaming like a 7 year old girl. But probably not 3 shots.

        • He said “Beretta” which makes me think semi-auto. You can magdump a semi-auto with slugs pretty quickly. Might bruise your shoulder, but you could do it if you had to.

        • TS, your Benelli is a fine shotgun. But a semi auto’s action is ‘regulated'(Not sure if this is the proper term) from the factory to cycle at a set ‘speed’. No matter how hard and fast you squeeze that trigger the action is only going to cycle so fast.

          The speed of a pump is only limited by the shooters abilities. In my youth I could run my old mans model 12 Winchester faster than he could mag dump a Browning A5.

          I’m in my 60’s now and use a mossberg 500. My Beretta Pintail is faster than me on my mossberg. But just barely.

          Where the semi auto wins in this event is keeping it on the target while going balls out.

    • In Alaska and Yukon it is common to find hunters with .338 and .375 caliber guns. Larger calibers are not unheard of either.

  5. “I mean, what’s the chance of it happening again?”

    Not wishing death on anyone… but that is the kind of phrase that rarely ends well…. he better go knock on wood somewhere.

    • “I mean, what’s the chance of it happening again?”

      Lady Luck has no memory. The chance of it happening a second time is the same as it was the first time, multiplied by (# bears in the the area now)/(# bears in the area before).

  6. Friend-of-a-friend (I’ve met the guy) made 37 consecutive one-shot kills on deer with a .375 H&H. Doesn’t tear up much meat, either. Only CF rifle he owned.

  7. Well, good thing the guy was a damn good shot with that bolt gun. Also, the “fight” part of his fight-flight response was dominant. Definitely not a time for a person who’s first impulse is “run”.

  8. Welcome to coastal hunting in Alaska. Almost everyone has a bear encounter, most aren’t quite so dramatic. Good work.


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