Field Judging Trophy Black Bears

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Probably the toughest game animal to judge in the field is a bear.

Most antlered and horned game, with experience, a hunter can become farley proficient at judging but when it comes to bears even the most experienced hunter can make a mistake.

One thing that will always hold true with black bears, whether you are hunting out West or in Alaska is that they are virtually impossible to accurately ascertain their size at any kind of distance.  To get a good read on a bears size, you at least have to be within a reasonable distance.  A few hundred yards or preferably less.

Since there are no horns or antlers to observe a hunter must become proficient at realizing certain body traits and mannerisms if he is to become a good judge of bears.  A truly big black bear has a muscular structure unique to all other bears.  They become somewhat muscle bound at this point and almost appear to walk somewhat pigeon toed and all big bears have a distinct swagger when they walk.  Almost like its a chore to put one foot in front of the other.

Some people will tell you to pay close attention to a bears head when judging but this can be awfully tough.  In my experience, if a bears head looks big compared to its body, most of time its not really a big bear.  The largest black bears I have ever seen didn’t display what looked to be a large head and trying to judge the distance between ears and size of ears is a challenge as well.

The one characteristic of a large bear, that has never failed for me is that truly big boars have a truly big neck.  If you see a bear that has a large stove pipe looking neck that seems to be as long or longer than its head, you are dealing with a big bear.  I’ve seen them from Alaska to Arizona and this always holds true.  Little bears have hardly any neck at all but this starts to change as a bear gets older.  They will not, however garner that broad, long neck until they approach that 7  foot range and that is a good bear in anyone’s book.

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