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Grizzly Guns” by H. V. Stent

If you are planning a grizzly hunt or only dreaming of one, a big question is which rifle to use.

On that fascinating subject, I’ve been amassing information for some 40 years of living as a teacher, fruit grower and hunter in that bear paradise, British Columbia, where stories of encounters with grizzlies and brown bears are enjoyed where ever sportsmen gather and are often headlined in newspapers and television newscasts.

Such meetings sometimes result in a mauled man or shot bear, or both. A recent one ended with both man and bear dead.

Rolf Voss of Surrey, British Columbia, had shot a caribou near Fort Nelson, in the north-central part of the province, and was carrying parts of the carcass back to his camp in wooded mountain country when a grizzly, perhaps smelling the meat, attacked him. Voss got off two shots with his .270 that proved fatal to the bear, but the grizzly bit Voss about the head – they usually go for the head – and killed him. The two bodies were found side by side.

This is no reflection on the .270. That cartridge has killed many grizzlies and browns. In 1985, a fine 27-incher (total skull measurement) fell to a .270 in the hands of Roger Pentecost of Peachland, BC. In 1986, another record-class grizzly was killed by Alvars Barkis of Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania, with a .300 Magnum; and a medium-size one, about 500 pounds, was killed by 12-year-old Gary H. Holmes of Kimberly, BC, with a .25/06. Back in 1965, the world-record grizzly fell to one .30/30 bullet fired by Jack Turner. And before that, the world-record grizzly succumbed to a .22 Rimfire!

Bella Twin, an Indian girl, and her friend Dave Auger were hunting grouse near Lesser Slave Lake in northern Alberta. The only gun they had was Bella’s single-shot bolt-action .22 Rimfire rifle. They were walking a cutline that had been made for oil exploration when they saw a large grizzly following the same survey line toward them. If they ran, the bear would probably notice them and might chase, so they quietly sat down on a brush pile and hoped that the bear would pass by without trouble. But the bear came much too close, and when the big boar was only a few yards away, Bella Twin shot him in the side of the head with a .22 Long cartridge. The bear dropped, kicked and then lay still. Taking no chances, Bella went up close and fired all of the cartridges she had, seven or eight .22 Longs, into the bear’s head. That bear, killed in 1953, was the world-record grizzly for several years and is still high in the records today. Which only goes to show that in an emergency, strange things are possible, but who wants that kind of emergency?

Photo of Bella Twin and her World Record Grizley