On Feb. 8,, the Pope and Young Club convened a special panel of judges in Harrisburg, Pa., during the Great American Outdoors Show, for a potential P&Y world record black bear. Jeff Melillos’ massive bear scored 23-5/16 and is now the largest bow-harvested black bear in North America.
The bear was shot in Morris County, New Jersey, on Oct. 14, 2019.
“It has been an inspiring journey, to say the least,” said Melillo. “New Jersey, my home state, has its first-ever world record animal! Many years ago, I read an article in Outdoor Life Magazine stating that the new world record black bear will most likely come from New Jersey. They were spot on, and I never doubted it for one second. I’m very grateful that I get to be a part of all this. Pursuing bears with bow and arrow is a passion of mine.”
This bear surpasses the previous record shot by Robert J. Shuttleworth Jr., taken in Mendocino County, California, on Sept. 4, 1993, with a score of 23-3/16.
“I knew I was going to be looking at an impressive black bear skull, as it was officially measured at over 23 inches and weighed in at 700 pounds,” said Eli Randall, Records Director for the Pope and Young Club. “I was not prepared for the amount of mass the skull possessed, not only was the skull huge, but the bone structure was the heaviest I had ever seen.”