HARLAN, Ky. – Bobby Koger was deer hunting on a Kentucky hillside when a black bear gave him the fright of his life.
A 300-pound animal, apparently unhappy that an intruder was on his turf, came charging and didn't stop until Koger raised his .50 caliber muzzleloading rifle and fired from point-blank range. A hunting companion who witnessed the attack from a distance also shot the bruin, which wheeled, ran a short distance and collapsed.
Conservation officers concluded that they fired in self-defense at a bear that had lost its natural fear of humans.
With black bear populations rising, run-ins have become almost commonplace — more than 15,000 in the past year in states east of the Mississippi River according to a survey of state wildlife agencies. [emphasis added]...
Article here. While Mr. Koger was fortunate that his single shot muzzleloader stopped the attack, it is wise to carry a handgun of sufficient caliber and power to serve as a backup weapon. Perhaps something at least as powerful as a .357 Magnum for small black bear. Obviously, those in the Western states or Alaska would be well advised to carry something even more potent, as the pool of dangerous animals includes large brown bear and moose. Note that this is a backup, last ditch weapon, and you're always trying to balance power, with controllability, with weight that you have to lug around (and most likely won't need to use).