"Grim Old Ephraim," as Theodore Roosevelt called the grizzly bear, is enjoying generally robust health across much of its range in North America, in some areas increasing between 4 to 7 percent annually. The bear's total population today is between 60,000 and 70,000*; and it can legally be hunted in Alaska, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon. In 2007, grizzlies in the Yellowstone ecosystem graduated out of Endangered Species Act protection, so it's possible there could be a hunting season, again, in the Lower 48. In the meantime, here's a selection of photos from the all-time top 100 Boone and Crockett records' book bears, including No. 2, which is the largest hunter-taken bear, ever (No. 1 was a pick-up skull), and was bagged in 2009! --Tom McIntyre At left: Rank No. 2, Rodney W. Debias, 2009, 27 3/16, Unalakleet River, Alaska.
If you get a chance to hunt a grizzly, here are some tips for field judging the size of a good one, starting with the one before you even see the bear: Track: The width of the front paw pad can estimate the size of the bear–add one inch to the width of a pad (e.g., 7 inches, plus 1, equals 8) and convert to feet. This is approximately the “square” size of the hide; and the bigger the hide, the higher the B&C score, usually. At Left: Rank No. 9, James Blanchard, 2001, 26 13/16, Otter Creek, Alaska
When a bear is sighted, the following are gauges for field judging its size– Head: Bears are ultimately scored by their skulls, rather than hides; but a really big bear will have a head that looks relatively small, compared to its body. Ears: Big ears, small bear; small ears, bigger bear. Legs: Should look short and squatty, not “leggy.” Gait: A big bear will almost waddle; it will also appear relaxed, because it’s not afraid of anything or anybody. At left: Jeff Brigham, 2009, 26 12/16, Unalakleet River, Alaska (rank pending–final score subject to revision by additional verification measurements)
As a grizzly guide once told me, three things he never discussed with his hunters were religion, politics, and calibers. But, a big grizzly can push 700 pounds, and it can really, really hurt you. And you may not be able to get any closer than a couple hundred yards. So for grizzlies, range and power matter. Think of using a good elk caliber for bear, or even something as powerful as a .375 H&H. And shoot straight. At left: Rank No. 21, Jon D. Seifert, 2000, 26 7/16, Lone Mountain, Alaska
Rank No. 23, William G. Farley, 2003, 26 6/16, Kuskokwim River, Alaska
Rank No. 31, Dennis Dunn, 2004, 26 5/16, Klikitarik Bay, Alaska
(Note: This grizzly is the Pope and Young World’s Record. However, Rodney Debias’s grizzly, No. 2 in B&C, was taken also with a bow, but is not listed as the P&Y WR, yet.)
Rank No. 31, Raymond Ferrieri, 1994, 26 5/16, Devereaux Creek, British Columbia, Canada
Rank No. 31, Remo Pizzagalli, 1996, 26 5/16 B&C points, Kajuk River, Alaska
Rank No. 46, Dan Bolek, 2001, 26 3/16, Otter Creek, Alaska
Rank No. 52, Eugene F. Segrest, 2009, 26 2/16, Nulato Hills, Alaska
Rank Pending–Final score subject to revision by additional verification measurements, Gabriel Perez-Maura Garcia, 2008, 26 2/16, Apple River, British Columbia, Canada
Rank No. 60, Morris Trace, 1995, 26 1/16, Kinaklin River, British Columbia, Canada
Rank No. 60, Dennis B. Shennard II, 2007, 26 1/16, Cache Creek, Alaska
Rank No. 84, Chad Sherman, 2006, 25 14/16, Talkeetna Mountains, Alaska
Rank No. 90, Kenneth R. Hamer, 1998, 25 13/16, Knights Inlet, British Columbia, Canada
Rank No. 95, Troy N. Ginn, 1995, 25 12/16, Smithers, British Columbia, Canada
Rank No. 95, Robert W. Witt, 2007, 25 12/16, Wood River, Alaska