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Joined: 01/04/2012
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Which weapon to use

I'm going to be hunting black bear for the first time this year. I'll be hunting from a treestand over bait. I'm not sure which weapon I should use. My options are: .270 Win, 12 gauge, .50 caliber muzzleloader, or compound bow. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Critter's picture
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Location: Western Colorado
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The question is which one do

The question is which one do you want to use.  They will all take a bear cleanly out of a tree stand over bait unless the bait station is 100 yards away and then I would use the .270

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Location: Finger Lakes, Upstate New York
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I agree with Critter

I agree with Critter. Any will do fine.If it were me though, I would use the 12Ga. with slugs if I were hunting over bait in close quarters. Nothing is more devastating, and a quick second shot is available if needed. Where are you going to hunt?

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Location: Montana, USA
Joined: 11/15/2007
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Black bear weapon

What Critter said.

I've killed 3 black bears, all spot and stalk, 1 with a .45 acp, 1 with a .44 mag, and the other with a .223.  Both pistol kills were one shot each with cast bullets that I made.  The .223 bear was a problem bear that was shot almost simultaneously by me with a .223, a Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer with a 12 ga slug, and a Sheriff's Deputy with I can't remember what.  All three bullets were in the bear's chest, and any one of them would have killed the bear.

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Black bear weapn

I know they'll all kill a bear. That's the issue. I'm trying to figure out which will be the most effective. I'll be hunting in Minnesota over bait. The debate is probably between the .270 and the 12 guage. I've had people tell me each is the best option. Maybe they are equally effective. Some guys will tell you the ballistics of the .270 make it superior to the 12 guage despite the lighter bullet. I've had other guys tell me the 12 guage slug, at closer range, will do more damage.

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At the range that you would

At the range that you would be hunting in a tree stand over bait you can just about throw the ballistic arguments out the window.  A .270 is designed for 100+ yard shots, the 12 gage is designed for 100 yards and under, a bow and arrow is best up to 50 yards, and a .50 caliber muzzle loader will take game cleanly up to 150 yards.  Also a bad shot with the bow is just as bad as a bad shot with a shotgun shooting slugs.  You are going to have a long blood trail to follow. 

If it was me I would take the weapon that I liked the best or would have the most fun with.  At the range that you would be shooting I would possibly take the bow and arrow over a firearm.  I have never shot a slug out of a shotgun so I would leave that at home but would also think about using the muzzle loader. 

Just pick which ever one you would enjoy the most and go shoot a bear.  They will all work.

 

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Location: Central NY
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Best shooter

If this will be (if you get one) your first bear, then my first sudgestion is leave the bow home.  Nobody ever knows how they are going to feel/react when they see their first bear.  My personal rule when hunting any big game animal for the first time is to leave my bow home.

The black bear is easy to kill with a well placed shot.  The cal that I have killed them with are .257 Roberts, 45 cal ball & patch (flintlock), 30-30, 30-06, Rem 44 mag and the old 125 gr broadhead.  I have killed 8 bears and only two were over bait.

Take what ever gun you shot the best, cal is not as large a concern as accurate shooting.  If you miss the vitils and gut shoot a bear you can be using a 375 H&H and it is going to be a long day looking.

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.270 Win

The .270 Win is my favorite of the guns I own. I've shot it the most and I shoot it pretty well. My only concern was that it would be too light. If it's not too light then the decision is easy. Is it necessary to shoot the 150 grain, or can you shoot the 130 grain? My experience has been the 130 grain performs better than the 150 grain.

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270

"Performs better" or you shoot better.  I would go with the 270 and get some quality 150 gr bullets.  All you will need for a black bear.  Just be a good shot!

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Location: Vancouver BC
Joined: 04/09/2012
Posts: 5
black bear - shotgun is probably best in your case

I live in the black bear capital of the world :)  I'll give you my two cents.

Everyone who's told you it really makes no difference is entirely correct. There is very little difference between a 270 and a shotgun in lethality on black bears. A good shot from either will kill just as dead. You're arguing whether or not jumping off a 30 story building or 35 story building is 'more lethal' - you're just as flat at that point.

BUT - seeing as you're FORCING us to make a recommendation for you...

Go with the shotgun IF you find it's accurate with slugs at the ranges you'll be shooting. Here's why.

Bears have heavy layers of fur and fat, even in the spring oftentimes. They do not bleed like a deer does, and it's common to see blood trails vanish on you if you can find one at all.

A clean hit with either gun SHOULD mean the bear ain't going far so it's not a problem normally, BUT on the off chance you clip the diaphram or something instead of the lung and the bear makes it 100 yards into the bush - a shotgun slug has a MUCH higher chance of leaving a very good blood trail than a 270. And it is insanely lethal (if it's accurate with the ammo you've chosen).

Nothing is worse than tracking a black bear that's got out of sight, (it's a very uncomfortable feeling). Having a nice blood trail instead of trying to go by prints makes it a much less painful experience.

So - for that reason go with the shotgun. Honest to god it's not a really GOOD reason and it wouldn't even factor in my mind normally, but it's about the ONLY difference that will be relevent in the hunt you described.

 

Good luck!

 

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Joined: 03/29/2012
Posts: 9
Honestly, it would be a tough

Honestly, it would be a tough decision for me.  On one hand, I would love to get a bear with a bow.  It is likely on my to do list for the future.  On the other hand, I'd really like to get my first bear and a .270 would give me the best chance weapon wise.  Probably I'd end up with the rifle for my first bear, but it would be a hard decision.  Where you hunting? Any chance it's a two bear area, or is it a quota spot? 

 

Sorry I have to add:

 

Between a 12 gauge slug and.270 the decision is easy for me:  .270.  I have way too much experience with a 12 gauge on deer to say any different. 

I will much rather take the more accurate rifle that fires a round that will blast through the animal no matter what at that range than a 12 gauge which may or may not shoot through it.  I know that a deer can carry a 12 gauge slug an incredible distance.  I also know that even at those types of ranges a 12 gauge slug hitting a shoulder may only cripple the shoulder,  where the .270 will blast right on through. 

 

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