Bruin hunting with a sharp stick

It was Sunday of the northern zone bow season opener as Scott Hughes sat motionless in his treestand near the Great Sacandaga scanning the forest floor for signs of life. Not far away, Scotts 15-year-old son Alex sat in a stand of his own. It was Alexs second season hunting with a bow. The year before the young hunter had connected on a nice doe for the freezer and had hoped for similar success this hunting season. The father-son duo had seen little sign that weekend, however, and even fewer deer. But their luck was about to change. Scott stood to work the fatigue from his muscles as the waning moments of sunlight began to fade, at the same time he heard a stick snap to his left. There, just 70 yards away, stood a mammoth black bear. Thoughts raced through Scotts head as the bear made its way directly under his stand and stopped to paw the ground. Scott had masked his scent by spraying his boots with fox urine, which caught the large bruins attention. His curiosity apparently satisfied, he turned to amble away. Scott came to full draw. I knew I would need a high percentage shot to kill a bear of that size, Scott said. I wanted a good lung shot, so I put the pin on the center of his back, pulled a couple inches to the right and let the arrow fly. The shot was true and the bear crashed away - right toward Alex. I heard a couple loud growls and had no idea if the bear was dead. I yelled to my son: Dont get out of your treestand. A short time later Scott climbed down from his stand and began tracking the wounded bear, an arrow knocked and ready. Fifty yards away he caught a glimpse of black on the ground and again came to full draw - approaching carefully. There, stretched before him and very much dead, was Scotts 500-pound black bear a potential record setter. The bear is currently at a taxidermist in Ballston Spa, where its skull size will later be measured to determine if it is indeed a state record. While Scott's bear might or might not be a record, he most likely will qualify for either the Pope & Young Club or Boone & Crockett. And, the bear almost certainly will make the New York State Big Buck Club. To qualify for these, a bears skull, following a 60-day drying period, must measure 18 inches for Pope & Young, 20 inches for Boone & Crockett, or 17 inches for New York State Big Buck. Its going to be a long 60 days, Scott commented with a laugh. Another gargantuan black bear was taken by a bow hunter on Saturday, Oct. 13, the opening day of the southern zone bow-hunting season. Frank DeGennaro shot the bear in a wooded area not far from the Orange County subdivision where he lives. It had been seen rooting around local garbage bins for scraps and DeGennaro stalked and shot the huge bruin. The bear weighed 626-pounds and dressed out at 552 pounds. According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the largest black bear ever killed by a New York archer was 11 years old and had a skull size of 22 inches. It was killed in 2006 in Deerpark. The largest bear overall on record weighed about 750 pounds live and was 32 years old. It was killed in 1975 in Franklin County.

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