Grizzly bear wounds (courtesy
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Joseph Kiedrowski was tracking a wounded elk in Montana when he was attacked by a grizzly. The bear chomped on his hand, then retreated. The hunter had a rifle, but chose to use bear spray instead. From

He put up his arms to fend off the attack, but the charging grizzly bit his right wrist. He threw himself on his back and rolled to his stomach so the bear would maul his backpack instead of his ribs.

The bear backed off and circled back into the brush, out of Kiedrowski’s sight, which he said gave him time to ready his bear spray.

“I got really quiet because I knew it wasn’t over yet… You could hear him huffing over behind where he originated from… and then all of a sudden it came around the exact same way but this time I was actually ready for him,” he said.

Kiedrowski sprayed the bear as it charged a second time, covering the bear’s face and getting some on his own as well. The grizzly shied away and circled back again.

As it came back a third time, Kiedrowski realized his bear spray was empty. With his face “on fire,” Kiedrowski threw the empty can at the bear, causing it to back off into the brush, he said,

Kiedrowski said the entire attack lasted about two minutes.

He readied his rifle and made his way up onto a ridge, where he had a better view of the surrounding area. He stopped to assess the situation and made a call to his brother, Zach Kilwein, who was about three miles away.

“I just got attacked by a bear,” he said to Kilwein.

“How bad is it?” Kilwein asked.

“It’s pretty bad.”

It is hard to know if Kiedrowski was carrying his rifle at the ready. Most hunters do so when tracking wounded game, but some do not.

Two months previously, a woman was mauled in the same area. Companions used bear spray to drive off the bear after the woman was chewed up. That mauling was close to the carcass of a cow.

Some people claim the bear spray worked exactly as intended. It saved the life of the bear. Even though the hunter (and earlier the woman) were seriously injured, requiring hospitalization, they survived, and so did the bear.

At some point the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) advised people to chose bear spray or a large caliber pistol. From, attributed to the FWP:

– Carry bear spray or a large caliber pistol, know how to use it, and keep it on your hip or somewhere equally accessible.

Some people carry both. If you have a rifle in your hand, it offers another option. That’s according to one of the major proponents of bear spray. From

Here’s the problem, according to Brigham Young University professor Tom Smith. In an interview with Sports Afield, he said, “If I’m actually out hunting and I have a gun in my hands, and suddenly a bear comes at me, do you think I’m going to lay the gun down and pick up bear spray? Are you out of your mind?”

We do not know how Joe Kiedrowski was carrying his rifle, or how he was carrying the bear spray. He did not use either in the initial attack.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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  1. “…do you think I’m going to lay the gun down and pick up bear spray? Are you out of your mind?””

    I like this professor!

  2. Yeah … I live in bear country. As in, bears regularly come into town, and nobody (with any sense) keeps bees closer than half a mile from their home.

    Bears usually leave people alone unless provoked. That said, usually doesn’t mean always, sometimes you’re not the one who did the provoking, and any apex predator can just be having a bad day.

    So, no, I’m not really interested in half meaures when it comes to self defense, regardless of whether the aggressor has two legs, four, or is a switch-hitter.

  3. Bear spray works. I know thats hard for some gun lovers to understand. Shooting a bear can kill the bear but not right away. Bear spray causes an unignorable barrier between you and the bear.

    I live in bear country and carry both bear spray and a a Ruger Alaskan. If the bear is within 20 feet then spray is your best option. If you shoot the bear and it doesn’t go down right away you are as good as dead.

    Best thing about these publicized attacks is it keeps the riff raff out of Montana. Come here and you will be torn limb from limb by a 30 foot tall beast from hell.

    That said, all you keyboard commandos can jump in here with your dreams of how you would shoot the bear dead in the 1.5 seconds before the attack. Looking forward to reading your fairytales.

    • I carry bear spray when I have to get a bull out of a corral on my dairy. It’s not too often that I have to use it, especially as the older I get the better I am at managing them in a way that doesn’t agitate them as much. That said, I have sprayed a fair number of them when they’ve gotten to the point where they no longer want to tolerate human presence. While most applications had the desired result, I’ve seen more than a couple bulls shrug off the effects. And this is on an animal that is slowly moving towards me, not a charging, pissed of predator (cause I’m not waiting for the bull to charge before I spray, at that point I’ve already lost).
      So based off personal experience with bear spray, I think I’d rather take my chances on the high velocity lead-poisoning taking it’s toll than hoping the bear doesn’t like a spicy meal.

    • my grandfather always told me to aim for the shoulder to stop a bear, not the head

      granted, he hunted out in the yukon for most of his life, so the kinda bears he was facing might be vastly bigger than montana, even

    • Gee Shotgun Sam could you be any more condescending in your posting????
      You sound like any liberal FUDD without a clue to how people really are or think. Your preconceived rambling notwithstanding you manage to convey the idea anyone who disagrees with you is some type of clueless fool.
      I grew up hunting all over the country and every situation is different. I’ve spent time in jungles and areas that make Florida look like a desert. I’ve seen animals that could rip a grizzly a new one and NO ONE answer fit all situations, but you discount anyone’s ideas but your own. You’ve managed to make yourself look petty and foolish, probably not a new situation for you.

    • Shotgun Sam? More like shot your mouth off Sam.

      Add hominems, derogatory comments and dismissive and insulting attacks upon people that disagree with you.

      Typical behavior of a liberal Progressive, anti-second Amendment, big government loving, Socialist/Communist, than anybody that really supports the Second Amendment or our constitutional form of government.

    • Take it easy, Sam.
      Our beef isn’t with you or anyone who wants to carry bear spray. We can read as well as anyone so we’ve seen the same articles and testimonials touting the effectiveness of spray.
      Our problem is with the self-described intellectuals who hold up bear spray as a reason why no one needs a gun. You know the sort, the true “keyboard commando” who has never wielded a real gun outside of a video game and thinks nature is what they see at their gated neighborhood park.
      Since you carry both spray and a gun, we know you’re not in the same league as those ivory tower twits, but please don’t assume that were against you for being practical.

    • You talk a big game mr shot gun Sam from Montana. Have you ever actually used bear spray on a bear? Or pepper spray on a human? I’ve actually pepper sprayed people before, (LE). Those experiences have taught me a firearm is a far more effective tool at stopping anything over any spray or taser weapon. Honestly I think you’re full of shit and not even from Montana.

      • In all fairness, Hank, I bet even Montana has a few ‘city-slickers’ among the fine people who live there.

        (Although they likely keep a low profile there, if they were smart… 🙂 )

  4. Here in Montana we sometimes track wounded game for miles. In the Eastern half of the State, cover is sparse and far between. This man did not have the rifle in his hands at the first attack. I have not heard why, but after the first half mile or so, most of us sling it over the shoulder.
    I, personally, shoulder sling a rifle muzzle down, as it is much faster to get into action that way. One also has better control over the muzzle.

    • Nothing wrong with a .41, A glock 20 with my hot hand loads is what I choose. If I’m feeling fancy I sometimes carry the .44 special loaded to magnum levels.

  5. I remember some of the classic arguments I’ve had on TTAG: Obama really will go after guns, Trump is serious and has a chance of winning, and that bear spray doesn’t stop determined bears.

    A .45-70, 12 gauge, or a .460 / .500 Smith revolver all have more stopping power than bear spray. Sure, bear spray can be wonderfully effective at turning curious bears, but a hungry or angry bear requires more stopping power.

    Sprays are limited by wind, weather, range, and temperature. They cause pain and irritation, whereas a big slug crushes tissue. I’ll take the latter.

  6. How about using the grenade launcher on the Yugoslavian SKS M59/66 for bear spray grenades 😀.

    At lease you’d have 10 rounds of 123 grain 7.62×39, a bayonet, and a club to back up the bear spray.

    • Well,… we extinctified all our (california) grizzly bears years ago. Apparently they left too large of a carbon foot print and were taxed and regulated out of the state of existence… so they made SKS’s with “grenade spigots” and bayonets illegal.

  7. Considering that police grade pepper spray doesn’t stop all bad guys, it is reasonable to assume that bear spray doesn’t stop all bears.

  8. Bear spray is not a gun, I hate bear spray, only a libtard pos prog anti 2a would depend on bear spray. Guns is the only answer to bears or any other creature that lives to attack 2a advocates. Mr Bear, meet Mr.AR Bearkiller it’s got Lazer sights, 6×18 Swarvoski scope, hi cap mag and a flashlight, and you Mr. Bear don’t have a chance.

    • I vacationed in Montana this summer. It was way too much of a pain in the ass to bring my gun (1911 is the biggest handgun I have) via a checked bag or to mail it there, so I bought a $40 can of bear spray and called it good for when I was hiking out in Glacier. I’m as pro 2A as they come. For another undetermined reason, Montana doesn’t have concealed carry reciprocity with New Hampshire.

  9. Bear spray works faster than a bullet unless you are good enough or lucky enough to hit him in his central nervous system. Spray should be your initial defense with a suitably powerful firearm as a backup in case the bear won’t give up.

    • “Bear spray works faster than a bullet …”

      One proper large caliber bullet will drop a grizzly bear within 10 seconds if you hit the heart/lungs. That is considerably faster than the two minutes it took the man’s spray in this article to stop the grizzly.

      And when I say “proper”, I mean something like a hardcast lead bullet with a large, flat meplat that weighs at least 300 grains. As for “large caliber”, I am referring to .43 caliber or larger with muzzle velocity of at least 1,300 fps.

  10. It sounds like the bear spray saved him from further attack (especially if you count it as a missile weapon as well). Not sure why that’s a bad thing.

    Doesn’t always work, but neither does a bullet.

    • That’s what I was thinking. The bear spray did actually work.

      If he’d had it ready before the first attack, he might not have been mauled at all. Of course, you could say the same thing about the gun, too. If you’re going to be out in bear country, you should probably have bear spray AND a gun. They both can stop a bear, but neither one will always do it.

  11. Anecdotal evidence is not proof. I leave it to the individual to choose the manner in which to defend himself.

    • Bear spray is specially formulated for bears. It does not work reliably on dogs, people or other animals. The sensitivity of the bears nose, naisal cavity, eyes and throat make impossible to overcome. The spray is like acid in the bears face. It can’t see or navigate so no matter how mad it is it will keep its distance.

      Of course it has limits of distance, duration, weather and wind. So a firearm should be an option in true bear country (not Yellowstone or Glacier National Park you dimwits).

      • In the 2008 study on Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska, how did bear spray perform against charging grizzlies. Three of 9 people who sprayed charging grizzlies were injured. The injury rate would be higher, but the study did not include data on people who carried bear spray but did not have time to use it. How many people who used bear spray in the 2008 study on Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska were hunters? One. And that hunter was “stalking a wounded bear.” Given that the purpose of stalking a wounded bear is to kill it, you’ve got to wonder how the heck bear spray came into play. Given than only one hunter is the study used bear spray, it’s reasonable to ask, why don’t hunters use bear spray? The answer, of course, is that it’s not safe or practical for a hunter with a rifle in hand who has a surprise encounter with a grizzly to do “something” with his rifle and switch to bear spray. If hunter safety is the problem, bear spray is not the solution. The solution is teaching hunters to use an adequate firearm quickly against charging grizzlies. Step 1: do not carry your rifle slung over your shoulder. It takes too long to bring a slung rifle into action.

  12. I have never carried bear spray, don’t know anything about bear spray. However I have carried oleoresin capsicum 10% (O.C.) used for people. I think it will perhaps give me a chance to get my 45 colt out of the holster. In the last 50 years, I have had two bear encounters in the wild and in both cases the bear ran away. I considered myself lucky to not have soiled myself!

      • Someone got taken in by false or misleading labeling. OC percentage only measures the amount of pepper in the formulation; it does NOT measure the heat-bearing component / strength of the formulation.
        Major Capsaicinoids (MC) are the true indicator of pepper spray strength! MC does not measure the amount of OC within the formulation. Instead, MC is the heat bearing and pain producing components of the OC. MC identifies the exact heat of the liquid deployed from your canister.
        The only way pepper spray manufacturers can guarantee their MC content is through High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) laboratory testing. Most of the companies use a taste test to say “yeah that’s hot man”
        In other words, a can of X Brand Super Duper Bear Chaser with 20% is blowing smoke up your ass and that percentage is meaningless.

  13. Does anyone else know the joke about how you determine whether you are in black bear country of grizzly bear country? It also talks about wearing bells and carrying bear spray.

    What should we do if we’re going into bear country?
    Carry bear spray, and wear little bells to warn the bears that you are around.
    Does that help?
    Depends on whether it is black bear country or grizzly bear country.
    How do you tell what kind of bear country it is?
    Well, you pick up any bear s__t that you find, and examine it.
    OK. So how do I tell what kind of bear the s__t came from?
    Oh, that’s easy. The black bear s__t is full of grasses, berries, and stuff like that.
    And the grizzly bear s__t?
    It will be full of little bells and smell like chili peppers.

  14. Nine out of ten wildlife biologists recommend bear spray as an effective deterrent against bear attacks.

    (The 10th biologist could not be contacted.)

  15. Sent this to my parents when they moved to Colorado a few years back:

    TLDR version: “Tests will show that less than 60% of Brown bears are stopped with handguns, and when successful it took at least four shots to stop the charging bear. …. Alternatively, 97% of bears are stopped with a 9oz. can of bear spray.”

    I didn’t write it; I just found it to be interesting information.

    • It is just some Internet writer’s opinion from reading bear spray propaganda. Notice the hedge: “Tests will show”. That is a statement of opinion, not fact.

      I have not seen any study that claims only 60% effectiveness for handguns and 97% effectiveness for bear spray.

      It is one of the reasons I have been looking for cases where pistols did not work to stop an attack. If pistols were only 60% effective, we should see two cases where they did not work for three casees where they worked. So far, I have documented almost twenty cases (started with 9, working on more currently, which is why I do not give a firm figure) where pistols were used to stop attacks.

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