What Does the Saying “Loaded for Bear” Mean and Where Did the Expression Originate?

The phrase “loaded for bear” means you are well armed to meet any problem.

In the days of muskets, the gunpowder charge could be adjusted depending on the size of the animals you expected to encounter in the wilderness.

So if you were hunting bear, or simply entering their territory, you went into the bush well armed with an extra charge loaded into your musket.

This expression originated in Canada.

Anyone familiar with Canadian wildlife knows that a simple walk in the bush can become a life-and-death confrontation with a dangerous animal.

The bear is very territorial, viciously protective of its cubs, and extremely difficult to take down.

Today “loaded for bear” means carrying a powerful rifle as well as a sidearm and a knife.

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