We hear it all the time … “what caliber should I use to protect myself while hunting?” And the answer is … well, it depends on who you ask.
But if you go and ask Brent Stalkup, he’d tell you that you can do it with a good ‘ol .22 caliber. Should you though? If you are lucky, you bet. If you’re crazy, go ahead and try. But if you do it like Brent, expect a $25,000 fine. If you only have a .22, and are up against a grizzly, that smells a lot like self-defense. But not everybody would see it that way apparently.
The article where we heard about this states:
Attempting to scare off a grizzly bear with a gunshot turned out to be a costly mistake for a Casper man, as the round from his .22 caliber rifle wound up killing the animal.
In Park County Circuit Court in November, Brent Stalkup, 38, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of taking a grizzly without a license. Judge Bruce Waters ordered Stalkup to pay more than $25,000 and suspended his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for a year.
The judge said that he was shocked that Stalkup could kill a grizzly with a .22. At Stalkup’s hearing, on November 19, 2018, Waters incredulously exclaimed, “You shot a bear with a .22 … and it died!? How could that … never mind.”
Stalkup shot the grizzly in October 2017 in the Monument Hill area north of Cody. He said, “I had multiple encounters with the bear that day and the last time it came in, it started circling me. And rather than trying to kill it, I tried to scare it off with a .22 by shooting it in the rump.”
But, Stalkup said that the bear turned when he fired. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department concluded that the bullet went through the grizzly’s ribs and fatally injured the animal. Stalkup had called the agency to the scene after the incident.
“And here we are,” Stalkup said. “It was not my day.”
“Definitely not,” Judge Waters agreed. “I’m sorry.”
It seems that Judge Waters’ found himself up against more than just a bear shooting. As in many cases regarding hunting, there is always a political angle to be considered. And in this case, it seems the judge understood the game all too well. Stalkup wound up being the first person cited by Game and Fish for illegally taking a grizzly in some time, as the department had only taken over the management of the species from the federal government a couple months earlier. A judge put the grizzlies back under federal management in September.
Scott Werbelow, the Game and Fish’s game warden supervisor for the Cody Region, said, “after the investigation, [we] just did the math on everything and said, ‘You know what? He didn’t need to shoot this bear,’” Werbelow said. “The bear never charged him, never bluffed him, never came towards him.”
So, it’s dark, and you are being circled by a grizzly at 10 yards, that has been bugging you throughout the day. What do you do?
Tell us what you’d do in the comments below.