We used to tell clients who wanted to carry a pistol to file the front sight off so if they ren into an irate bear it wouldn't hurt as much when he (the bear) put the pistol where the sun does not shine---
I had one very very bad encounter with people-AK natives-on thr kobuk River on labor day 98--could have lost my life easily-- people encounters have gotten worse in recent years-- but still not like happen in lower 48 cities daily!!!
I think in bear country, all users are better off if the vast majority don't carry a handgun. Problem being determining what an attack actually is and what it isn't.
I read, with a great deal of disgust, about a guy snowmobiling in Polar Bear country. He claims to have been attacked by a bear so he pulled out a 9mm, that's right a 9mm, and emptied the magazine at the bear, put in a new one and emptied it. Failing to stop the near, he jumped on his machine and got out just in time. That was not even remotely a bear attack. What happened was the guy saw this huge bear and started shooting. Then he has time to change magazines and empty another and still has time to jump on his machine and make his get away! Somewhere out there roams a Polar Bear that may not like humans very well, thanks to the moron with the gun!
Last year there was a report about a woman that saved her life by shooting and killing a Grizzly with her 38spec. I would not recommend trying that. Probably the best thing to do with a 38spec in a case like that would be to shoot yourself before the bear puts you in several hours of unbearable pain prior to death. I would guess that this too was not an attack but rather an encounter where someone over reacted and got off a lucky shot. A bear with it's adrenaline pumped will simply not fall down to anything other than a perfectly placed bullet from a 38spec. I doubt that anyone has the ability to remain calm enough to place a shot with a hand gun that well with an attack in progress. What happens then is most of us shoot at a big blob of brown and consider ourselves lucky to get off one shot!
I seriously doubt that many people have saved themselves from a bear attack with any handgun.
Good post DonF-- and good question by last poster--as i said =I carried a pistol when on horse in grizz country only as last resort and though i was quite near a bear on several trips --i never fired a shot-the pistol was in case i made an unintended dismount bwcause of a bear charge--when hiking I had my riflw with me and hence never carried a pistol-in 25 yrs of hunting most areas of AK I only had one real pucker incident with a Grizz--He came to about 10 yds from me and stopped--pawed the ground- growled and slowly backed up again--had he came closer I'd of shot but waiting saved me a lot of paper work as i had filled my grizz tag the day before.
Understanding wind currents and thermals in hilly, broken terrain can often be incredibly frustrating. I've found that collecting and storing milkweed seed pods during the late summer has made me a better hunter in the bluff country that I hunt. These little feather like seed dispersers will float on the lightest of air currents and will show you what the wind is not only doing right at you're location but more importantly down range. I like to use the off season to float them...