A New Jersey deer hunter took down bigger game than expected when he shot and killed a black bear that climbed next to his treestand.
State wildlfe officials say the hunter fatally shot the bear after it got within a few feet of him. According to the hunter, he saw the bear from afar an hour before the close encounter. The hunter later inadvertently made noise which attracted the animal to his position. The bear, estimated to weigh around 100 pounds, then began to climb one of the trees supporting the hunter’s stand.
After attempts to scare off the bear by shouting were unsuccessful, the man fatally shot the bear once with a 12-gauge shotgun at point-blank range, according to officials.
The hunter then left the stand and found a nearby fisherman. They then contacted the Department of Environmental Protection to report the shooting.
The black bear was shot outside of hunting season, which ended on Dec. 13, but officials say the hunter will not be charged with a crime. Evidence at the scene supports the hunter’s account that he reacted in fear for his safety, and officials believe he took the recommended steps to ward off the bear.
Officials stated it’s unknown if the bear intended to attack the hunter or was attracted to a smell, such as food in the treestand. Bear attacks are exceedingly rare in New Jersey, with only one recorded mauling in the state’s history in 2014. Reports of aggressive bears have also dropped sharply since the New Jersey black bear hunting season resumed in 2010.