I agree with your assessment that not everyone can shoot one of those hand cannons. I'm probably in that camp for the most part as well. I don't like the recoil, it's punishing to me at the very least. I use the 45LC loads and don't shoot the 454's but rarely, and then only to remember I don't like that much.
I think that handgun on me and accessable immediately at anytime on my hip is going to be more reliable should I need that horsepower when startled than a rifle would be. Too many sportsmen visiting in the wild have learned the rifle isn't always with them, and that determines [ do I have it when I need it ] what I would choose, though I agree with your consensus that the rifle in the big bore calibers would be eminently preferred.
Hawk [ my buddy ] didn't shoot again once the bear showed no further aggression toward him as the state takes great pains to charge people criminally who kill them out of season. This happened 8 miles from the nearest civilization or improved road deep into the wilderness of the Superstition mountains where the mine is located. He lives full time there in conditions similar to the original miners of the late 1800's.
The state authorities were okay with not killing it once it was no longer an immediate threat. A search team turned up nothing in 48 hours. While I agree that a wounded bear is bad ju ju for everyone anywhere and not something that's pleasant to think about, the alternative is to suffer an intensive investigation of your actions, likely be charged criminally, and the costs assoc with attys to represent you.
If the state were not so aggressive in their prosecution of these types of actions, he'd have taken it down and the 45LC would have been able to do that. His bullet broke the shoulder. State wildlife and federal wardens are quite aware of his living in that environ, visit him up there often snooping around for signs of just this sort of thing. All in all, he wanted to take it, knew it was the right thing to do, but actually did the right thing legally in this state.
I once asked a warden who comes into the shop what would happen if I took the mountain lion who winters in the wash down back on my property [ I've seen him twice ]. He told me without a tag, and in season, even if that cat was after the horse I'd have authorities all over me wanting to charge me criminally. Would I likely get off? He said "perhaps", but the cost of the atty fees would be extensive. I haven't thought about taking the cat since.
Here's a picture of the mining area back in the late 1800's to give you an idea of the terrain.