Black Bear, Seeing by Larry Weishuhn
Black Bear, Seeing
By Larry Weishuhn
Walking into camp the hunter sighed and dejectedly shook his head. “It was him! The big black bear. He was huge, by far the biggest black bear I have ever seen. Black as a moonless night with an overcast sky. He came in too late, I could see him through my scope but I could not see crosshairs! Sadly, there was still legal shooting time.”
I felt badly for my fellow hunter. He had hunted for several days in hopes the legendary bear he dreamed of would show at his bait. Based on tracks there was an excellent chance the bear might well square if not exceed eight feet.
The square of a bear is determined after it has been skinned. The bear skin laid on ground and without stretching, measured from tip of tail to tip of nose and from tip of left front claw to tip of right front claw. These two measurements are added together then divided by two, the square of a bear. The square size of a live bear can often be estimated by measuring the width of a bear’s front foot track, then adding one. A track measuring five inches would likely square six feet, a right nice bear. The big bear my campmate was after had a front track that measured seven inches. Likely the track had been made by a bear that could square eight feet, a truly monstrous black bear!
“Not only do I think that old bear will square eight feet or better, I think he has a Boone & Crockett Record Book skull. It should measure at least 21-inches, the minimum.” Said the disappointed, I could not see my crosshairs, hunter.
Before someone asked about measuring skulls, said I. “The Boone & Crockett record book, like most record keeping systems measures bear skulls, once cleaned and a minimum of sixty days after being taken, rather than a bear’s weight or square. To measure the skull after it is thoroughly cleaned, first remove the lower jaw Then set the skull on a flat surface. Using two 90-degree (right angle) blocks, place one at the front of the skull and one at the back. Measure the distance between the two blocks. Next measure the width of the skull by putting it once again on a flat surface without the lower jaw. Place a block on both sides of the skull then push them against the outer edge of the eye sockets, the zygomatic arches then measure that distance. Add these two measurements together to determine the skull’s measurement.
Any bear with a skull measurement of 18-inches is a good one. A bear whose skull which measures 21-inches and over that makes the prestigious Boone & Crockett record book. Such a bear truly is huge.
Before heading to bed that night I asked the “I could not see black crosshairs against a black bear!” hunter to join me out back of camp. There I handed him my Ruger No. 1 rifle chambered in .405 Winchester. It was my backup rifle. I was hunting with another No. 1, chambered in .300 H&H Mag. Both were topped Trijicon AccuPoint scopes, complete with tritium fiber optic illuminated reticles.
Late evening clouds had cleared. There was a quarter moon overhead.
“Point the rifle toward the darkest thing you can find!” I suggested. He did and immediately said,
“What the…. I can see the green dot, obviously where the vertical and horizontal crosshairs meet in the center.” Before I could respond, “Had I this scope this evening I could have shot that monster bear! I could have seen where to place my bullet…” He moaned something I could not quite comprehend, then said, “I need this scope!”
I assured him he indeed needed a Trijicon AccuPoint if he continued hunting big black bear, or for that matter any game where an early or late shot might be possible. I asked him, “Would you like to use my .405 Win No. 1 with AccuPoint scope the rest of this hunt? Not interested in selling it, but, you’re welcome to use it while we’re in camp together! I’ve got another No. 1 topped with another AccuPoint l can use.” Before heading to bed I grabbed my new friend a box of Hornady’s 300-grain Soft Point Interlock ammo.
I had previously used that same Ruger, Trijicon, Hornady combination on black bear and other game in the past. Trijicon’s tritium illuminated reticle always helped me to quickly get on target and precisely place my shot. On several black bear hunts when bears appeared very late I would not have been able to see black crosshairs against the blackness of the bear. But having an AccuPoint mounted on my Ruger rifles made proper bullet placement easy, even under very “trying” light conditions.
Wish I could tell you my new found friend shot the monstrous black bear later that hunt. Unfortunately, the old bear did not again show up during daylight hours. He however did learn a valuable lesson about choosing the right scope with the proper reticle for hunting in poor light conditions!
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