As a bow hunter who hunts in bear and cougar territory, protection against predators is a serious concern. It was a number of years ago that the author had a close encounter with a cougar in which bear spray would not have been effective – the strong wind would have blown it back on the author.
The cat was about 15 yards away in a crouched position and the bow hunter was in route to his tree-stand so he didn’t have an arrow knocked. He knew better not to run so he made a grand attempt to sound and look threatening. Even then, the cat thought long and hard before deciding he would stick to his natural diet of deer and rabbits. The bow hunter was relieved when the cat bound away.
The cougar remained in the area for another ten minutes before finally bolting up the mountain never to be seen again (never seen, not necessarily gone). At the time of this occurrence, Oregon had just started permitting bow hunters to carry firearms for self defense. Having previously disliked the idea of carrying the extra weight of a handgun, it now seemed to be a necessary trade-off.
The handgun choice really wasn’t a difficult process. Revolvers which carried enough energy to stop a charging bear or cougar had significant recoil, were heavy, and only allowed six rounds. Six rounds might not be enough in the heat of the moment.
In addition, handgun rounds very rarely stop an animal cold in its tracks. One or two well place rounds might kill the animal, but it will take awhile. A mortally wounded predator could easily do damage to a hunter if it gets hold of him and he has nothing left with which to defend himself. The back end of the pistol does not count.
A reliable semi-auto handgun firing a 10mm round became the clear choice for the author. A 10mm carried more kinetic energy down range than a 357 magnum handgun and in a Glock configuration, held 15 rounds. It was equivalent to carrying a magnum handgun round, in a compact, high capacity pistol. So called, “high capacity” magazines are absolutely necessary when the predator is a powerful, vicious, carnivore.
Whether the predator thinks it is defending a kill, or wants to steal your kill, you will need all the rounds you can get when the claws are out and your life is on the line. Do not let purists, who think old-school six shooter magnums are the only reliable choice, discourage you from a dependable auto loader. Super magnum revolvers are good in Alaska, but in Oregon where a big bear might weigh 350 pounds, a bow hunter can rely on a large caliber autoloader round to do the job.