Monday, March 21, 2011

Bear Skull Found on Wisconsin Farm Is State Record

Wade Brockman of Tomah makes his living as a cranberry grower. Aside from work and family, though, he says his life "revolves around hunting."

So it should come as no surprise that Brockman was in a tree stand on his farm Nov. 28, the last day of the 2010 Wisconsin gun deer season.

He didn't see a deer, didn't fire a shot. But he did bring home a trophy that day, one that is now officially of historic proportions.
While Brockman hunted out the deer season, a worker combined corn on another part of the 800-acre farm.

The worker found a large, dead animal in the field and reported it to Brockman.
Considering Monroe County has lots of cows but relatively few bears, "you know what I was thinking," said Brockman, 35. What Brockman found not only surprised him but has caused a revision to the state - and likely world - record book.

The animal was indeed a very large, very old black bear. It had been dead for perhaps two months, said Brockman, so no weight could be attained.
However, since bear records are based on skull measurements, he obtained a permit from the Department of Natural Resources to legally take the bear into possession.
The result? The bear's skull measured 23  5/16 inches, a Wisconsin record.
If accepted by Boone and Crockett, it would rank third in the world, said Brockman.
Both Boone and Crockett and the Wisconsin Buck & Bear Club have categories for "pickups," animals found dead from vehicle collisions, for example.

The bear tops the 22  12/16 bruin taken by gun hunter George Spaulding in Washburn County in 2002. The skull was officially scored by a panel last weekend in Wisconsin Dells, said Steve Ashley, director of records for the Wisconsin Buck & Bear Club. It will be listed as the Wisconsin record as soon as Ashley receives the paperwork, likely in the coming days.

The world-record black bear scored 23  10/16 inches, according to Boone and Crockett records. It also was a pickup, in Sanpete County, Utah, in 1975. It is owned by Cabela's Inc.
Brockman said the bear's teeth were worn down to the gum line. Based on its skull size, most estimates place the animal's live weight at over 600 pounds.

There were at least three bears killed in the 2010 Wisconsin bear hunting season that weighed over 700 pounds. None of the skulls was as large as the one Brockman found.
Adding intrigue to the story of the record-breaking animal: The huge bruin had gone undetected in the area.

"We have seen some smaller bears on the farm," Brockman said, adding that in addition to the time he spends hunting and working on the farm, he has several trail cameras on the property. "But no one had seen anything this large around here, ever."

Bears have been increasing their distribution in Wisconsin, with sightings becoming more common in the southern two-thirds of the state.
Hunters killed a record 5,040 black bears in the 2010 Wisconsin hunting season, according to the DNR.

Brockman said his rural neighborhood was accustomed to a wide range of harvests from the land, but the record bear has created a stir. "There's a sense of awe that this big bear was living near us," Brockman said. "I'm a big shed antler hunter and spend a lot of time looking around the land. But I never would have imagined we'd find something like this."

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