Late last week the Boone and Crockett Club announced that a new record for the largest hunter-harvested grizzly bear had been entered into its books. The massive bruin was taken by Larry Fitzgerald during a hunt last May near Fairbanks, Alaska. Boone and Crockett Club measurers gave the animal’s skull an official score of 27 and 6/16, which made the bear the largest ever taken by a hunter and second-largest overall. The current world record belongs to a skull found by Gordon E. Scott in 1976 near Lone Mountain. That specimen measured 27 and 13/16.
With a population of 30,000, Alaska holds the largest number of grizzly bears in the world. The bears are most densely populated along the coast, where nutrient-rich salmon provide a nutritious diet. The state currently holds bear hunting seasons in both spring and fall.
“One would think that a relatively accessible area, with liberal bear hunting regulations to keep populations in line with available habitat and food, would be the last place to find one of the largest grizzly bears on record,” said Richard Hale, chairman of the Boone and Crockett Club’s Records of North American Big Game committee.
Alaska’s interior has historically been popular with bear hunters, many of which come from out of state. Though grizzly bears have a reputation for being man-eaters, bear attacks are rare in Alaska. However, human-bear conflicts have been known to occur. Last year a camper faced down an adult grizzly when it entered his tent. The camper then punched the animal and it fled. A more unfortunate incident happened over the summer when an elderly man was mauled and killed in his cabin near Fairbanks. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game stresses that grizzly bears are more than capable of eating adult moose and caribou, and that sportsmen and women should be cautious while in bear territory.
Baiting is legal in some parts of Alaska, but Fitzgerald took his grizzly on a spot-and-stalk hunt. It was not specified what type of bow or firearm was used to take the bear.
Image courtesy Boone and Crockett Club