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I have worked all over Canada and have rarely had a firearm in my a/c. I have wished for it on at least one occasion. I know of 4 bear maulings, 1 in Yukon by Grissly and 3 blacks in Northern provinces, all while working in remote locations. I have been charged by a wolverine and have a buddy who was out for a walk in the high arctic and ended up shooting a couple of wolves from 5 feet before the rest of the pack decided to bug out. I have talked to a number of CO's about handgun use for animal defense and the minimum recommendation is a 40 cal. I know of one guy that used a 45 to take down a polar bear.

 

I have worked in a number of camps in NWT that have had issues with bears. One of my Engineers ended up on top of the 407 rotor head for a couple hours in the middle of the night while we all slept because of a grizzly that kept trying to climb the heli to get too him. We have had the front seats eaten by a grizzly.

 

I have had a number of bad experiences with guns and customers as well. I have had 3 loaded firearms pointed at me by my customers, twice in the helicopter (handgun) and once while doing a hover disembark. Gun safety is important and the rules are there for a reason and guns in the hands of an untrained person could be more dangerous than any animal attack. I have hunted bears lots and although I have been within 5 feet of them, never been mauled. Scent and food is a major issue with bear safety. Pack smart, and don't carry open chocolate pudding containers in your back pack :)

 

Koala

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I have never heard of a job that 'required' you to be able to carry a firearm out west here. I have been on many jobs that will not allow anyone to have a gun on the job. Moving seismic rigs for Veritas, not even the guys on the ground are allowed guns. Big oil company safety policies such as they are.

 

I was nervous going for walks in the woods in the evenings with no gun though. As for my drillers on the ground, I did have to chase a grizzly off the line when he didn't smell my coordinator who was running up the line to land my rig. A noisy 205 with a 3000 lb. rig swinging at his *** did a good job of scaring the Grizz away. In fact, I think he might still be running. I have rarely ever worked in Polar bear country, but those are the ones I would be the most scared of. They show some scary behavior compared to other bears.

 

I was told a nice story by an old timer pilot once. Back in the day, he always carried a 30-30 in the chopper because it was a nice short rifle and fit in the hat rack. One day, a young Grizzly charged him and he put 7 shots in the bear before it backed off. While he was reloading, the bear worked itself into an angry frenzy and charged again. 7 more shots and the bear dropped dead almost at his feet. The moral of his story... If you are going to carry a gun, make sure it's one that will stop the **** bear quick. Or, pack spare underwear.

 

I think a 12 gauge with slugs would be the quickest way to stop anything nasty charging at you. Save your handgun for yourself, just in case the shotty doesn't stop the bear.

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Bear Safety? Thats easy, you only have to be faster than one other person in your group.

 

But seriously, I used to carry a Rem 870 with me in the arctic and was very glad to have it on a few occasions. Luckily never actually had to pull the trigger on anything. The closest I came was when two wolves were trying to get into my tent by crawling under the door flap. I knew if they got in they wouldn't be able to turn around and get back out, and I didn't want to deal with two panicked wolves in the middle of the night. Lucky for all three of us they changed their minds and didn't come in. It was probably the smell that started coming out of my PJ bottoms that frightened them off, but I had the 870 loaded and pointed at the white noses protruding into my tent.

 

I have looked into the ATC for handguns, I own a few (legally of coarse) and the problem i see with them is that the wilderness ATCs are province specific. What do you do if you get moved around? example- chasing fire.

 

Fly safe everyone, personally I'm looking forward to days off so I can go slay some of those ferocious gophers.

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I wouldn't be so quick to take that attachment as a truth.

 

As an avid viewer of all the gore sites out there accessible by internet, I have seen those images before. A long time ago too. The ankle one I believe was tagged as a US soldiers wound from getting shot, and the back wounds were from a prison riot stabbing.

 

So on that alone it casts doubt. Seems to me it's just some photo's added for sensationilation of an event.

I'm not saying this guy in that tent never did get attacked, but the pics don't fit period.

 

And if you still wanna challenge me, read the text attached...was it alaska...or the NWT??? Whoever wrote it needs to hone their geography or get a better proof reader.

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I wouldn't be so quick to take that attachment as a truth.

 

As an avid viewer of all the gore sites out there accessible by internet, I have seen those images before. A long time ago too. The ankle one I believe was tagged as a US soldiers wound from getting shot, and the back wounds were from a prison riot stabbing.

 

So on that alone it casts doubt. Seems to me it's just some photo's added for sensationilation of an event.

I'm not saying this guy in that tent never did get attacked, but the pics don't fit period.

 

And if you still wanna challenge me, read the text attached...was it alaska...or the NWT??? Whoever wrote it needs to hone their geography or get a better proof reader.

 

I actually agree with you on this one, I've seen those 2 pictures before as well and they were relating to war wounds.

 

Unless you're in Polar Bear habitat or staying in a tent camp in the middle of Grizzly country I don't think a firearm is necessary. I'd be more inclined to pack a defensive weapon in the big city to ward off the most dangerous predator of all.

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My 2 cents, for what it's worth. I've personally shot 2 blacks while on the job. The first one was in a tree plant camp in Northern Ontario, where we had 5 bears in camp, and one was trying to make food out of some lonely planter while he was sleeping in his tent. A conservation officer (C.O.) had been in camp the same day and shot the same bear with a non lethal shot to make the bear "weary" of coming back. After having a conversation with the C.O. to ask him what we should do if it came back, I got a green light to "defend" myself and any person I thought was in immediate danger. Bear came back for one last sniff and lets just say that he never came back after meeting a slug from my Remington 870 defender. Next morning I had to deal with the typical tree huggers response to my potentially saving a persons life, I was the "cruelest guy on the face of the planet and I had no right to shoot that bear". Being the nice guy that I am I said to the huggers that "I'd make note of what tent they were in and let the bear have at them". Score Me 1 Bears 0

 

Second incident happened right after I dropped of a ship full of prospectors again in Northern Ontario. I was going to stay out with the guys instead of returning to base to do some stream fishing. I landed the machine in a recently harvested cut block, grabbed my telescopic pole my fishing vest and my trusty old 870. I was maybe 300' from the ship when a big old boar came out of the shrubs and started to charge me. This wasn't the first time I've encountered this behavior, dominant boars will often "fake charge" to let you know who's boss and then leave you alone as long as you leave most likely with an un-commanded bowel movement substantially moistening your underpants. I then fired a shot into the dirt to try and scare the bear, he stopped for a few seconds and then pounded the dirt once or twice, by this time I was back on him with the sights. Before I could even decide what I was going to do next the bear decided he had enough of me, and started to charge again, so I never hesitated, and let 'er fly. I hit the bear square in the chest and he turned away from me and headed off into the woods where I fired off my last shot broadside in the vitals area. I wasn't going to stick around to check the accuracy of my shots, I might've even missed it completely but the main thing is he was gone. Talk about an adrenaline rush. When I shot the bear, there was perhaps 40 or 50 feet between us. I did a 180 and headed back to the old long dawg, fired up, crossed the stream and went fishing on the other side of the creek. Caught a few specks that day. Score Me 2 Bears 0. I'm going to try and keep it that way, so that's why I carry a firearm.

 

I'm a big advocate of pilots carrying firearms specially during the summer months or when heading up the James/Hudson bay coast. I recently got an Authorization To Carry (ATC) a restricted firearm in Ontario. The old defender is parked and I'm now carrying a Smith and Wesson 460 magnum. This revolver is more then adequate to kill a polar bear as long as the shooter is proficient. This is not a gun that you're going to shoot with one hand at a fast approaching bear, I shoot this gun once a week at the range when I'm home. It has some serious bite and I have to say that my wrist is tender after shooting 5 consecutive rounds. The process to get an ATC is a little lengthy but relatively painless. You need to take a weekend long course and do a practical test, where you need to shoot 36 rounds at 3 different distances not missing the 9 ring more then 6 times. Then comes the application, a few questionnaires, couple reference letters from a few of your "old" buddies and a letter from your employer saying he doesn't condone firearms, and a few months later as long as the chief firearms officer doesn't think your going to go postal on anyone you get an ATC.

 

The biggest thing with firearms in any persons hands is that you really need to be proficient. I used to guide before I got into flying and many times I'd see guys and sometimes girls come into camp and they'd never shot their guns since the previous year. Well a lot of these peoples would miss their bears and then find excuses. Practice, practice, and more practice is all I can say if you're going to consider carrying a firearm in the machine. One more thing make darn sure that a loaded gun never makes it onto the helicopter. I used to do the spring break-up on the James Bay coast and if I could safely get out of the machine and check each firearm being loaded onto the ship I would. Countless times shells would come flying out of the gun, with a native guy looking at me in disbelief and then start to laugh. Never assume it's unloaded and that includes your own. Anyone who's taken any firearm course in Canada knows to P.R.O.V.E. any firearm safe before accepting any gun, and that should include in the helicopter. Well I could go on for many more paragraphs, cause I really like firearms but I should probably stop, I guess my two cents turned into a nickel. I'm guessing this one might get interesting.

 

Cheers

 

Keep the shinny side up and fly safe.

 

totally agree. Bears are just another hazard we deal with. I lived in BC for 15 years and spent the majority on rivers and mountains. I have dealt with bears like the Mailman deals with dogs. Some small, some big, some curious and some furious. In most cases they were as most people like to believe "more scared of me". Other times, not so much. I have be charged and even followed. If you have any respect for your own life, and respect for Bears, you would be smart enough to protect yourself from the king of the Canadian jungle. People like to think that our technical global domination allows us to treat everything subordinate. Maybe in downtown Toronto, but out there.. the Big Dawg eats.

 

No doubt, most interactions can be avoided with a bit of common sense and training. As I see it, going into known bear country without protection is like going to the Arctic without a parka, or Africa without sunscreen.

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