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Thread: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

  1. #1
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    Default A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    I have been kicking around the idea of visiting Spitsbergen by boat, if covid19 ever permits it.

    The rules and regulations for visiting yachts are now quite detailed and they include a requirement that all visiting yachts must carry a rifle and ammunition and anyone going ashore must carry, or be accompanied by someone carrying, said rifle.

    It seems the polar bears are in desperate straits and are therefore more likely to attack people than they once were.

    Thus a yacht sailing from Britain to Spitsbergen must go from “rifles forbidden” to “rifles required”. One way to do this is to call in to a port in Norway en route (which is also required now) and hire a gun there. The other way is to obtain a UK firearms licence.

    I have never owned anything other than air rifles, but I am familiar with them and with revolvers - pistol shooting was once a hobby.

    It seems to me that if you are carrying a rifle to discourage bears, as opposed to shooting for the pot, the important thing is to be able to get off a shot, and preferably two shots, very quickly. You are not stalking; you are being stalked. Sights other than iron sights are academic. You need to be able to chamber a round and get the gun to your shoulder really quickly. It seems to me that one shot at long range will miss, but might discourage the bear, and at close range the bear is going to be covering ground very fast - and won’t miss.

    Am I on the right track?
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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Is this anything to do with the right of bears to carry a gun?

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    Is this anything to do with the right of bears to carry a gun?
    It’s to do with the right of bears to live on the ice and hunt seals. We humans are taking that right away from them.
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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    Is this anything to do with the right of bears to carry a gun?
    Is it to do with the rights of bears to tear arms?

    Personally, this would be enough to make me want to just stay on the boat. Not the fear of an attack, but that just by being there, I could cause a bear to be shot.
    'When I leave I don't know what I'm hoping to find. When I leave I don't know what I'm leaving behind...'

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Surely there is a more sure-fire (pardon the pun) way to dissuade an attacking bear? One that doesn't depend so much on skill to be effective?



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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    Surely there is a more sure-fire (pardon the pun) way to dissuade an attacking bear? One that doesn't depend so much on skill to be effective?
    I don’t make the laws of Norway!
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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Would the law allow a smooth bore shotgun? Loaded with a solid slug, it's legal an or required of some deer hunting in the US. A fairly short riot gun, loaded with buckshot. Would a bean bag of the type used by riot-suppressing police stop or discourage a bear without hurting it? Or would it just make a curious or hungry bear angry? If you shoot one defending yourself, can you keep it for a rug for the den or roast bear for the holidays?
    Speak softly and carry a mouthful of marbles.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Politics aside, a big bore Ar variant would be a good tool for this job. With a backup .44 magnum to prevent being eaten alive.

    .450 Bushmaster
    .458 SOCOM
    .50 Beowulf

    But any platform would need time at the range to become comfortable with operation and reliability. I guess you could do it in route.

    Note also that they may require somewhat extensive security measures to lock up whatever you bring.

    And what a fun trip!
    Last edited by bluedog225; 06-14-2021 at 06:22 AM.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    You could just push them of the fence into a hole in the ice……………………..

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    How about a hand grenade and a steel-lined cockpit to dive into?

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    A shotgun with slugs might be easier and more reliable. Like a Remington 870 marine magnum. But that would be a close up pump weapon with so so accuracy. On the off chance it is needed, it would work. And a lot cheaper all around.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    You could just push them of the fence into a hole in the ice……………………..
    Wait outside a hole in the ice, and put a line of peas all along the rim. When the bear comes up to take a pea, kick him in the icehole.
    Speak softly and carry a mouthful of marbles.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    The Svalbard firearms requirements are here, in English:

    https://www.sysselmannen.no/siteasse...ar-bears-1.pdf
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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    One of the cheap bolt action Communist infantry rifles like the Mosin Nagant ought to be effective.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Looks reasonable. Quick review and I didn’t see much on some foundational firearm safety tenets. I suspect they are a traditional gun culture and it is assumed.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    There are several options available to you:
    1. Sail to Norway, embark norvegian citizen with gun, sail to Spitsbergen. For running around on foot you can locally rent firearms for the whole crew.
    2. Get a magazine fed shotgun, sail to Norway, buy higher capacity mag (or remove tube plug), buy slugs (lead and rubber) sail to Spitsbergen. Discard mag and ammo before returning to the UK.
    3. Get a UK firearm licence and gun.

    If you don't plan on taking up shooting at home, option one is cheapest and simplest.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    This is somewhat specialist, a d it would be nice to hear from flying orca or oyvind snibsoer ( hope I've got the spelling right)

    Having taken a quick scan of the rules, and absent any more knowledgeable comment...

    It's relatively easy to get an FAC for an SMLE if you have a good reason to own one, suitable ammunition is readily available and it meets all the requirements.

    Do practice, those things kick
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    renting in Norway sounds like the best route but familiarity with the rifle and time shooting it would be paramount. A friend who did a kayak trip in Baffin Island took some kind of .4XX rifle and had practiced with it at the shooting range. He’s retired Coast Guard with some armed boarding experience. He went with a friend and they’d cover for each other when taking a dump. The other thing they took was motion detector alarms which messed up their sleep as it reacted to every little animal.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Flare guns sounds much more reasonable.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    There is a very large thread on this very topic. The conclusion, IIRC, was a large caliber guide gun was the best-suited rifle for the situation.

    Found it.
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...the-Gun-People

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    As stated in the info, icing is an issue. I would use a bolt action rifle, and although 7.62 is the minimum, I would tend to look at the larger and/or higher energy options if bears are truly an issue.
    Having said that, most traditional African stopping rifles are break action of very large caliber. 375H&H is considered small. At least a break action is pretty much failure proof, which is why of course it’s used on game animals which will kill the shooter given the chance.

    Reading your firearms history, I would consider hiring a local. Any of these are going to be a large step up from any air rifle, and you aren’t going to get any useful practice.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Please consider hiring the rifle, rather than owning it.

    Last evening, my son and his fiancée got the horrible news that a 13 year old kid they'd known since he was tiny had "found" the "safely hidden" keys to his father's gun safe, and the keys to the separate locked safe for ammunition. And killed himself; left a note. His brother died suddenly from meningitis a few years ago, and the family's been kinda spinning out of control since; this is related to that.

    The young kid had been a camper at the place my son and his girl had worked as counselors for several summers; had been one of the kids in my son's cabin a few times. Sweet, funny, noted for his poor risk-taking judgment and permeable boundaries. Ahem.

    So yeah, have a rifle or etc to protect yourself from the bears, should you go visit Spitzbergen - would be silly not to. But rent it, and let the damned thing live in someone else's locked storage. My family has some folks with up and down mental health issues, and it's exactly why I don't own a hunting rifle or shotgun.
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    Default

    Friend of ours did the fieldwork for her Master's degree in forestry on Kodak Island, part of that was standing picket duty for bears, for which they carried were bolt-action rifles chambered in .375 Holland & Holland Magnum.
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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    “Covered each other while taking a dump”

    That would be just the thing that would happen. The worst possible moment and a big bear appears coming at you full speed. Gun on the ground; pants around your ankles. Time for some quick thinking.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    Please consider hiring the rifle, rather than owning it.

    .
    Unless I misunderstood the rules, renting requires a licence to own a firearm in your home country....

    I'd be inclined to buy, take abroad, and sell on return.
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    I'm just registering another data point against even the safe, legal, well regulated ownership of hunting weapons. I recognize that they're tools, and that many can and do own them without tragic consequences of various types.

    Also, though, that many can't. We've a funeral for a 13 year old to attend this week.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

  27. #27
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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Two comments from a non-hunter/non-gun fan who would rather photograph a polar bear than shoot it:

    My next-door-neighbour spent thirty-five years in the Canadian High Arctic on the DEW line. Plenty of 'interactions' with polar bears. Says that whatever weapon you carry should be LOUD. The first round is fired into the air when the bear is still a long way off. If that noise does not scare him/her away and he/she continues to approach, then prepare to shoot to kill. Shooting to kill is a task best done from a distance, as a polar bear's metabolism is such that it can continue to run at full speed (fast) for a full minute or more after taking a fatal shot to its heart. Although a shotgun slug packs a mighty punch, its range is limited. If you do rely on a shotgun, it should be a pump-action or other multiple-round type so that multiple rounds can be fired in quick succession to put enough stopping power into the charging bear to drop it. Rifles are better.

    A popular shotgun around here is a short-barrel stainless steel pump-action 12-gauge because it doesn't corrode in the salt air when stored aboard a boat.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Decourcy View Post
    As stated in the info, icing is an issue. I would use a bolt action rifle, and although 7.62 is the minimum, I would tend to look at the larger and/or higher energy options if bears are truly an issue.
    Having said that, most traditional African stopping rifles are break action of very large caliber. 375H&H is considered small. At least a break action is pretty much failure proof, which is why of course it’s used on game animals which will kill the shooter given the chance.

    Reading your firearms history, I would consider hiring a local. Any of these are going to be a large step up from any air rifle, and you aren’t going to get any useful practice.
    As effective as a Holland and Holland 4 bore rifle (or the like) would be, the Norwegian rules call for a weapon that holds at least 4 rounds and, for shotguns anyway, specifically recommends against double barreled weapons and in favor of pump action or semi auto.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    But will it work on polar bears?

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    ^^^^^^^^ I've seen these carried by postmen in Alaska and park rangers in Yellowstone.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    Unless I misunderstood the rules, renting requires a licence to own a firearm in your home country....

    I'd be inclined to buy, take abroad, and sell on return.
    Not necessarily, you apply to the governor for a local licence, the store handles it for you. If you have a licence they just hand you the gun.

    Keep in mind, the bears are protected by law, killing one implies you did not do your duty to scare it away in time and best case is you get a huge fine. The gun is ultima ratio, you are supposed to also carry other devices to scare them, like sirens, flash bang grenades, rubber bullets, etc.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)



    Remeber, polar bears are bigger than grizzlies, and more aggressive...
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Garth Jones View Post
    As effective as a Holland and Holland 4 bore rifle (or the like) would be, the Norwegian rules call for a weapon that holds at least 4 rounds and, for shotguns anyway, specifically recommends against double barreled weapons and in favor of pump action or semi auto.
    Which is why I would use a bolt rifle. My comment about the break action was more about confidence in large caliber and simple systems. I don’t see African guides using slug guns. That, perhaps, should say something.

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    Default Re: A question about bear rifles (has a bit to do with sailing!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rumars View Post
    Not necessarily, you apply to the governor for a local licence, the store handles it for you. If you have a licence they just hand you the gun.

    Keep in mind, the bears are protected by law, killing one implies you did not do your duty to scare it away in time and best case is you get a huge fine. The gun is ultima ratio, you are supposed to also carry other devices to scare them, like sirens, flash bang grenades, rubber bullets, etc.
    That is how I understand it.

    On my only visit to Svalbard, long ago, we circumnavigated Vestspizbergen, and saw a total of five bears - two on their own and a mother with two fair sized cubs. None of them took the slightest interest on us. In those days there was no rifle regulation, and I associate this rule with the death of a British schoolboy on a school expedition in the Magdalenafjord area some years ago.

    The idea is not to harm the wildlife, almost all of which is protected.
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