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Stopping power 44-40
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RickC
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December 23, 2020 - 2:47 pm
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I was listening to a story the other day between a couple fellas at my gun club about whether the 44WCF would harvest a black bear. One of them told a story about his grandfather in the 30’s & 40’s was a guide and trapper & used the same 1892 carbine in 44WCF to hunt black bear his entire life.
The other fella was very suspicious about the stopping power as he put it, & just couldn’t come to agreement or why this was the chosen caliber & model. Anyway it got me thinking, it probably wouldn’t be my first choice for black bear but, I don’t know his grandfathers reason either. Any thoughts or confirmed black bear harvest with a 44-40 or stories welcome.

RickC

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December 23, 2020 - 3:11 pm
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I’m sure you could find a pro deer poacher who’d say he never needed more stopping power than a .22LR.  Never poached a deer, but killed many 100 lb semi-feral goats that way.  Nothing more important than shot placement, & under controlled conditions, like shooting over bait (the way most bears are killed, legal or not), that isn’t difficult.  Zillions of deer have been killed with 44-40s, so not surprising it’s killed many bears also.  Does that prove it’s a wise choice?  Surely not.  If your intention is to shoot what you’ve got, “choice” doesn’t enter into it.

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December 23, 2020 - 8:23 pm
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Good reply Clarence. I use my 30-30 eastern carbine for deer but will take my m1895 in 35WCF for moose, actually for any game in North America. I don’t know what others think but the 35WCF is a mighty cartridge.

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December 23, 2020 - 9:26 pm
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RickC said
Good reply Clarence. I use my 30-30 eastern carbine for deer but will take my m1895 in 35WCF for moose, actually for any game in North America. I don’t know what others think but the 35WCF is a mighty cartridge.  

The 35 WCF is one of only 3 cartridges I have shot that actually hurts if you are doing load testing at the range and shooting a lot of ammo.  When hunting, hopefully 1 or 2 shots is all you need.  My 35 has a shotgun butt.  If anyone thinks these help they haven’t shot many rounds of this caliber.

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December 23, 2020 - 9:41 pm
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Chuck said

The 35 WCF is one of only 3 cartridges I have shot that actually hurts if you are doing load testing at the range and shooting a lot of ammo.  When hunting, hopefully 1 or 2 shots is all you need.  My 35 has a shotgun butt.  If anyone thinks these help they haven’t shot many rounds of this caliber.  

Haha so true Chuck. Unfortunately my 35WCF has a crescent butt. In the event I don’t shoulder it properly when sight acquisition is time critical, I actually wear my skeet shooting shirt with the gel pad when I hunt with it. Not sure what the idea was behind the crescent butt but not funny.

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December 23, 2020 - 9:47 pm
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Not a  black bear “harvest” nor a .44-40 one either story but many years ago during my game warden career I was called upon to shoot a nuisance black bear at a fly camp of a forest fire fighting crew. I was working on the same fire at the time and didn’t have my vehicle or my “predator gun” (.303 Lee Enfield)  with me so I asked the local game warden, a newer recruit, to lend me his. He retrieved a Marlin .44 Magnum with a low power scope from behind the back seat of his truck. I asked him if that was the only gun he had since it was rather underpowered by my reckoning. The men from the fire camp, who were Indiginous from northern Alberta had been flown out because of the bear were from Alberta and told me it was a small bear not thinking that to these fellows a big bear was a grizzly. I decided that the .44 Mag would probably be OK. I was taken to the empty camp by helicopter and left there to deal with the bear. I wanted to test fire the gun and took some shots at a tin can set on a tree stump at very close range and found that with the scope it was shooting about 4″ to the right and low. I should have packed  it in just then but I adjusted the scope with a dime on the screws and got it to be shooting dead on at least at very close range. My shooting must have attracted the bear as he arrived minutes after and was growling and total unafraid of my presence as he began to scavenge for food around the camp. He was in fact a very big boar and one of the biggest bears I have ever seen! He was very wary of me and as I stalked him from about 20 yards he stood up on his hind legs to get my scent but his chest was obscured by heavy brush and a shot in the lung/heart area was not possible unless I shot through the brush but I was worried the bullet might deflect enough to hit a non vital area. In probably the most foolish decision of my long career I decided try and take this bear down with a shot directly between the eyes as his head was clearly visible and I was gettng concerned since I was clearly annoying him and he began showing signs that he might make a charge.  I would only have seconds before he was on top of me at that range. I knew that the gun was dead on at that short range. This was clearly a bear that had absolutely no fear of man and had probably never seen one in his life other than the fire  fighters and now me. 

I squeezed the trigger and the bullet hit the bear between the eyes. He didn’t drop but instead immediately  spun around and took off a run into the dense brush behind him. I still had at least an hour to wait before the chopper arrived and sure didn’t want to leave s wounded bear behind so I waited about 1/2 an hour before I began to follow a rather thin blood trail leading down into a swamp and very dense alder thicket. It was then that I noticed the loading gate had come loose and had fallen into the action of the gun. I had only the loaded round in the chamber to deal with the bear if was nearby and decided to attack. Alone with a broken gun I backtracked to the tent camp and waited for my tranpost out. I felt very ashamed that I had wounded the bear and have after all these years since have wondered what might have happened. My thinking is that the bullet hit the bear between the eyes at the top of his skull and ricocheted off since there was not sign of flesh near where he was standing nor along the blood trail. The fire crew did return and the bear was never seen again. He was so far into the bush that the cahnces are he would never again see a human . I have shot several bears before and since and live trapped dozens of other but this one still haunts me in my dreams just as the Cree elder predicted it would. I would be very reluctant to take on a bear while on the ground with a .44-40 given this experience with its big brother the .44 Magnum.

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December 23, 2020 - 9:54 pm
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RickC said
Good reply Clarence. I use my 30-30 eastern carbine for deer but will take my m1895 in 35WCF for moose, actually for any game in North America. I don’t know what others think but the 35WCF is a mighty cartridge.  

I also have a .35 WCF with a crescent butt plate and it sure does kick. I haven’t hunted with it is years since buying it in 1963  but I have shot deer, bear and moose and it is very adequate for any big game in this continent within its range and open sight limitations. 

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December 23, 2020 - 10:12 pm
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Awesome story Dave. Felt like I was there reading it. I agree, not my calibre choice for bear but I guess shot placement is key & if it’s all we have access to then…

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December 23, 2020 - 10:53 pm
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 Dave, I like your story and any other up close bear story. I wonder if we can start a thread. T/R

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December 23, 2020 - 11:11 pm
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TR said
 Dave, I like your story and any other up close bear story. I wonder if we can start a thread. T/R  

I received an email this morning with an attachment too large to post.  It shows a mother black bear with cub go after a male bear and chase it up a tree.  I mean about 70 feet up the tree.  Basically is shows that under these conditions you’re in big trouble.  You can’t react quick enough and can’t climb fast enough to get away. 

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December 24, 2020 - 12:25 am
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Chuck said

 You can’t react quick enough and can’t climb fast enough to get away.   

That’s why it pays to hunt with a partner slower than you.

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December 24, 2020 - 12:27 am
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TR said
 Dave, I like your story and any other up close bear story. I wonder if we can start a thread. T/R  

TR and RickC Thanks, This isn’t a story that I like to tell and in actual fact this is the first time that I have even attempted to  write it down. I am not proud that I ignored all of my years of experience and knowledge to attempt a head shot on a large carnivore and allow a wounded bear to escape.  In any event I am alive and well dor all of that. Noone is perfect and we all sooner or later make a mistake. I do have a few more bear encounters that would make interesting reading I suppose so maybe down the road they will be told. 

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December 24, 2020 - 1:24 am
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I have a 73 carbine in 44 that went to North Greenland in 1891 with the Robert Peary Expedition. There was 5 guns made with the same configurations that were given to the members of the party. The guns have “Peary” engraved on the sideplate and sling swivels. This gun was Langdon Gibson’s who was a Ornithologist. Here is a interesting story written by Langdon Gibson II a grandson of him.

Bob

The photo of him looks to have a gun in his right hand that has a sling. I haven’t found a good picture of him with the 73 yet.

73-Peary-small.jpgImage Enlargerdoc005.jpgImage Enlargerlagdon0232.JPGImage Enlarger

WILDCAT HOLLOW
Route 1, Box 317
Boyce, Virginia 22620
December 19, 1993

The Winchester model 1873 carbine, serial number 381749B, was given to my grandfather and namesake, Langdon Gibson, when he accompanied Robert E. Peary on the 1891-1892 expedition to Greenland as the expedition’s ornithologist.

The gun has been in my possession since 1946 when it was given to me by my uncle, Charles DeWolf Gibson, Langdon’s elder son. It came into DeWolf Gibson’s possession upon the dissolution of a small museum in Schenectedy, New York which contained various artifacts associated with Langdon’s explorations. Langdon lived in Schenectedy and was employed by the General Electric Company.

Langdon died before I was born, and I never had the opportunity to discuss with him his trip to the Arctic or a subsequent journey which he made down the Colorado River with the Stanton expedition. Tales concerning the gun were told me by my father, Burdett Gibson, Langdon’s younger son, however, and have enhanced its value to me through the years.

Dad told me the hand-made rear sight had been made by Langdon from a brass key and that Langdon had carved his initials in the side of the stock. My grandfather appears not to have been an especially meticulous wood carver.

The following is a story I remember particularly well because in 1943 I reduced it to writing, with the help of my father, and submitted it in response to a seventh grade english class assignment:

The shooting of walrus was commonplace in the daily routines of eskimo and expedition members alike, being done mainly from the longboats taken to Greenland by the expedition aboard the Roosevelt. It was a job for several men, for it took more than one to handle the boat, another with a rifle, and another to get a harpoon into the animal before his lungs evacuated and he sank to the bottom of the sea like a rock. If he could be caught unaware on an ice pan, so much the better. He may be killed before he could get into the water, but usually the sound of the boat would awaken the sleeping walrus and he’d slip into the water when the boat was yet fifty yards away.

It was at the conclusion of one such expedition that Langdon asked an eskimo named Tawchingwa to take a party of eskimos to his boat at the ice edge and drag the bull Langdon had shot to the camp for butchering.

Later the same morning, Langdon saw that the job remained undone, and at tea time the same afternoon, when the cry “Tea timah 0-nark-to-tee-deck-shua” signaled that the tea was done and very-hot, Langdon denied Tavchingwa his usual daily ration because of his failure to execute the task assigned him.

On the following day, Dr. Cook told Langdon of overhearing Tawchingwa’s discontented grumbling about the incident, but Langdon dismissed the comment as being of no significance.

That night, Langdon awoke in the house at Redcliff with the feeling of an unwanted presence in his room. Tawchingwa, it seemed, had been so humiliated at having been denied his tea that he had come to seek his revenge upon Langdon. Discussion revealed that Tawchingwa thought his position in his community compromised by Langdon’s action and that some act was required of him that he might regain his former stature. Langdon told Tawchingwa that he too enjoyed considerable stature among his people and that perhaps a reciprocal display of bravery would serve both men. To that end, he suggested that the two meet on the following morning and, using Lang’s carbine, fire a shot at one another by way of displaying their invincibility.

Tawchingwa thought the idea a good one so long as it were he who would fire the first shot. Lang agreed, and the showdown was thus delayed a few hours. Lang used the time to pull two bullets from their cartridges and replace them with plugs made of cotton and a small amount of tallow.

With the sunrise, news of the impending duel spread quickly, and the entire community of 116 men and 85 women and children, along with every available member of the expedition, repaired to the site of the contest no doubt with expectations fueled by visions of the effects of a 44 bullet on the skull of a walrus.

Langdon and Tawchingwa appeared at the appointed hour and took their positions two or three hundred feet apart; each in his bearskins, Tawchingwa with Lang’s carbine. To the riveted attention of the assemblege, Tawchingwa raised the carbine and aimed carefully at Lang. The copious smoke of a black powder load was the first evidence that the fatal act had actually been committed, and crowd’s collective gasp was heard even before the boom of the explosion. At the sight of smoke, Lang raised his hand in front of him and lurched rearward as though struck by tremendous force. He fell to the ice and lay, propped on one elbow, for a brief moment before arising. He walked slowly to Tawchingwa while the crowd of eskimos chattered in excited amazement. The crowd came slowly forward, surrounding the two combatants, and watched as Lang produced a 44 caliber bullet, ostensibly caught in flight in his bearskin glove.

Apparently, no one thought to question the matter further, and Langdon, no doubt to Tawchingwa’s uneasy relief, did not press the matter of a return shot.

I can’t attest to the veracity of this tale, but Langdon reported it to his son, my father, as utter verity and it came thus to me.

Langdon Gibson, II

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December 24, 2020 - 2:02 am
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Dave K. said

I am not proud that I ignored all of my years of experience and knowledge to attempt a head shot on a large carnivore and allow a wounded bear to escape. 

Well, at such close range, I’d have done the same.  IF it were possible, I’d have aimed at the base of the ear (through the ear canal, instantly fatal), but maybe the circumstances prevented your doing that.

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December 24, 2020 - 2:56 am
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clarence said

Well, at such close range, I’d have done the same.  IF it were possible, I’d have aimed at the base of the ear (through the ear canal, instantly fatal), but maybe the circumstances prevented your doing that.  

https://www.ammoland.com/2017/06/bella-twin-the-22-used-to-take-the-1953-world-record-grizzly-and-more/#axzz6hVSgT5H0

Well that is practically what the 1953 World Record Grizzly Holder did with a 22 Long Bolt Action Rifle.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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December 24, 2020 - 3:07 am
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clarence said

Dave K. said
I am not proud that I ignored all of my years of experience and knowledge to attempt a head shot on a large carnivore and allow a wounded bear to escape. 

Well, at such close range, I’d have done the same.  IF it were possible, I’d have aimed at the base of the ear (through the ear canal, instantly fatal), but maybe the circumstances prevented your doing that.  

I’ve tried the forehead shot on a large hog. Twice. One continued his aggressions, the much larger one left to fight another day. I won’t do it again.

 

Mike

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December 24, 2020 - 3:17 am
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clarence said

Dave K. said
I am not proud that I ignored all of my years of experience and knowledge to attempt a head shot on a large carnivore and allow a wounded bear to escape. 

Well, at such close range, I’d have done the same.  IF it were possible, I’d have aimed at the base of the ear (through the ear canal, instantly fatal), but maybe the circumstances prevented your doing that.  

An ear shot was not possible. He was staring right at me and on his hind legs. I once heard of a 10 year old Indiginous kid who shot and killed a bull moose which was floundering in deep snow by putting the muzzle of a .22 RF in the ear and pulling the trigger. I would not have wanted to get that close to this fellow!  Twenty yards and maybe closer was close enough.

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December 24, 2020 - 3:35 am
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Maverick said

https://www.ammoland.com/2017/06/bella-twin-the-22-used-to-take-the-1953-world-record-grizzly-and-more/#axzz6hVSgT5H0

Well that is practically what the 1953 World Record Grizzly Holder did with a 22 Long Bolt Action Rifle.

Sincerely,

Maverick  

Which is why I said many pro deer poachers shooting over bait with lights or night-scopes think 22LR is all the gun they need.  Very little noise & no meat damage. 

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December 24, 2020 - 4:02 am
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In my experience the .22 Magnum was the deer poacher choice. Low noise was the reason as you mention. 

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December 24, 2020 - 4:06 am
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Maverick said

https://www.ammoland.com/2017/06/bella-twin-the-22-used-to-take-the-1953-world-record-grizzly-and-more/#axzz6hVSgT5H0

Well that is practically what the 1953 World Record Grizzly Holder did with a 22 Long Bolt Action Rifle.

Sincerely,

Maverick  

  That’s quite the picture, one small lady in front of one big grizzly hide. That took nerves of steel to shoot that bear, much less with a junky single shot 22. T/R

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