Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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Big bears killed in U.P.

Marquette, Mich. – A pair of monster black bears with skulls
that should qualify for entry in national big-game records
maintained by the Boone and Crockett Club were bagged in Menominee
County on the evening of Oct. 3.

One of the trophy bruins was downed by 13-year-old Bradley Hall,
of Wilson, during his first bear hunt. The other was taken by
veteran bear hunter Max Stagger, of Chelsea.

Both hunters scored while hunting over bait. Stagger’s bear
weighed 610 pounds in the round. Hall’s had a dressed weight of 475
pounds. His bruin would have had a live weight around 525
pounds.

Although Stagger’s bear weighed the most and appeared to be an
old animal based on how badly its teeth were worn, its skull is
expected to be smaller than the one shot by Hall. The green score
of Stagger’s bruin is 201/2, while the skull from Hall’s bear had a
green score of 211/2.

Black bear skulls that measure at least 21 inches qualify for
listing in Boone and Crockett records. Those that score a minimum
of 20 make it into the honorable mention category.

Stagger said he and his girlfriend, Janet Prentice, had their
best bear hunt ever in Menominee County this fall. He added that
he’s been hunting in the county for 40 years. They both drew bear
tags this year.

They placed game cameras at their bait sites to monitor the
number and size of bears that were visiting the locations. Their
favorite bear bait is molasses and marshmallows. Stagger said their
cameras photographed more bears than ever before at their
baits.

Once their hunt began, they hunted for a week and each passed up
bears with estimated weights of 300 pounds. Stagger then went back
to work for a week before returning to the U.P. for a second week
of bear hunting. Prentice collected a male weighing 325 pounds on
Sept. 30.

Then bear activity dropped off at baits they were maintaining in
the southern part of the county, so Stagger headed for a bait in
the northern part of the county, hoping that would improve his
chances of success. After the bait was hit on Oct. 2, he decided to
hunt the next evening.

“A 250-pounder came in first,” Stagger said. “We watched it for
a while, then the big one came in an hour before dark.”

Stagger shot the bruiser bear with a rifle handed down to him
from his father, a .300 H &H Model 70 Winchester. He dropped
the bruin with a 180-grain bullet.

Although the 610-pounder is Stagger’s biggest bear, he said he
has taken two that weighed over 500 pounds in Canada.

The bears captured on their trail cameras included three more
that would have weighed over 500 pounds, he said. They also
obtained photos of a pair of females fitted with radio collars.

Hall was accompanied during his hunt by his father, Chuck. Chuck
Hall said his son did most of the baiting to prepare for the hunt.
He added that there are a lot of bears in the area they hunted.

Bradley Hall’s bear license was valid starting Sept. 15. They
didn’t see any bears that evening or the next time they watched the
bait. Their luck changed on Oct. 1.

That’s when the father and son first saw the trophy bruin
Bradley Hall eventually shot.

“The bear never gave my son a good shot that time,” Chuck Hall
said. “We sat there until after dark and then snuck out of there
when we thought he was gone. He might have still been there though,
because the first thing he did when he came in on Friday was look
at the blind.”

This time, Bradley Hall got a good shot at the bear with the
.7mm-08 rifle his father bought for him this spring. The rifle was
chambered with 140-grain bullets that Chuck Hall handloaded for the
occasion.

One shot is all it took to bring down the big bruin.

Then the work started.

“We couldn’t lift it. We couldn’t drag it,” Chuck Hall said.

He said they eventually got the bear in a trailer pulled by a
4-wheeler. They had to tilt the trailer so they could roll the bear
into it.

Chuck Hall said he has taken three bears himself over the years,
but nothing as big as the one his son got. Chuck Hall’s biggest
bruin weighed 235 pounds.

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