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How to Measure a Pope & Young Black Bear Skull

Tyler Freel Avatar

Yesterday I took the hide and skull of that brute black bear I shot a few days ago to the local Department of Fish & Game office for the mandatory reporting. I was feeling pretty lucky running into such a huge bear the first night on the stand. What I learned at Fish & Game was pretty nice, too.

A few years back, I killed a black bear with a rifle. The skull measured 20 15/16 inches, which is 1/16 off the all-time Boone & Crockett list. This skull didn’t seem much smaller, but there’s no way to really tell until the calipers are out.

After filling out the sealing form, locking tags to the hide and skull, the time was finally here to see what this big boy measured. Under Pope & Young bear size is pretty straightforward. Only the skull is measured. The first measurement is from the base of the skull to the tip of the nose, the greatest length, but no including the lower jaw. The second distance is greatest width, measured cheek to cheek.

The final green measurement on the skull was 7 3/16 inches wide and 11 9/16 inches long. Adding these two gave it a final green score of 18 and 3/4 inches. The minimum score to qualify for the Pope & Young record book is 18″, so even accounting for the shrinkage that will happen as it dries, this bear should easily make the record books! (Official scores are of dry skulls, not green skulls.)

I have to say, I’m pretty excited. What a way to kick off Live Hunt 2011! This brute is just a taste of what Aron and I are chasing this season. As for me, I’m heading back into the bear woods. Stay tuned …