Maryland Hunter Takes State-Record Black Bear on Opening Day

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On Oct. 23, the opening day of Maryland’s short black bear season, hunters harvested a total of 24 bears. The biggest was a 643-pound boar that set a new record for the heaviest bruin ever killed in the state. It was checked in by a hunter named Melissa, who preferred not to share her last name or the details behind the hunt.

“Melissa didn’t want publicity, but she’s from Garrett County, and she shot it about 8 a.m.,” Maryland DNR game mammal leader Jonathan Trudeau tells Outdoor Life. “I checked in the bear. She told me she shot it once with a .350 Legend rifle and it didn’t go far before falling.”

Melissa’s bear is far and away the biggest one ever taken in the state, according to Trudeau, who’s in charge of Maryland’s bear program. The previous record from 2007 weighed 615 pounds. That bear was also taken in Garrett County, which is one of only four counties where the state allows bear hunting. (Of the 24 bears harvested on opening day, all but five were killed in Garrett County.)

Last year, hunters took 103 bears during the six-day season, which is about average, Trudeau says. The biggest weighed 427 pounds.  

“Maryland usually has 100 to 130 bears collected every six-day October season,” says Trudeau. “The current tally [for this season] as of Oct. 26 is 74 bears.”

He adds that Melissa’s 643-pound black bear was exceptionally large, since most of the state’s bears average around 300 pounds.

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“This bear had been seen in trail camera photos, and coming into corn fields on private land,” Trudeau says. “Melissa didn’t know if she was going to mount the bear or make a rug with its hide. It was a giant bruin that’s going to take up a huge amount of wall space.”

Maryland issues black bear permits via a lottery system, and the DNR typically doles out around 950 tags each year. Trudeau says that 90 percent of those go to residents, and in a typical year they’ll have around 5,000 applicants in total. He adds that since the state’s bear population is growing, there’s a chance that more permits will be made available in the future.

“Maryland has a healthy population of about 2,000 black bears, and it’s a growing number with bears spreading to the east and south,” Trudeau says, “[We] have some mixing with black bears in neighboring states, which we’ve proved by tagging animals.”  



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