In 2015, East Coast states saw the highest numbers of applicants for bear hunting permits ever recorded in history.
Have you been thinking about putting in for your bear tag this year? You will want to come prepared. Being properly equipped comes second to being mentally prepared for taking down an animal that weighs, on average, 400 pounds.
In addition to filling your gear list, you may want to consider going out with a knowledgeable friend or even hiring a guide. Being selected for a bear tag is like winning the lottery in some areas.
Here are the top bear kill stories of the past season to get your blood racing for the upcoming year.
Alaska Brown Bear
It is difficult to get an accurate weight on the massive brown bear killed by Blaine Ainkler, but the carcass, after the head, paws and hide were removed, weighed 974 pounds. The skull measured 29 inches. The 54-year-old contractor sat out in a treestand for two and half days, letting numerous "smaller" bears pass him by, to hold out for the prize bear he knew was coming.
It took four shots of his Ruger .458 Win Mag to bring the bear down. The hide of the bear was measured at 10 feet 7 inches and one of his front paws was an incredible 11 1/2 inches.
Idaho Black Bear
The most interesting bear tagged this season was taken by 10-year-old Sam Sherman of Eagle, Idaho. He took down a black bear weighing over 400 pounds with a single arrow from his bow, which happened to be his first year as a bowhunter. Later in the season, he took another black bear and an antelope.
Maryland Black Bear
Ronald Oberender of Toddville took the largest bear of the 2015 season, a 520-pound male. Maryland saw the biggest bear harvest that they had ever recorded, with 1,173 hunters and a final count of 95 bears.
Oberender's trophy was a massive one, in comparison to the 166-pound average of the bears harvested.
Tennessee Black Bear
Jerry Lay is now the record holder for the biggest bear killed in Scott County of Tennessee. The 515-pound bear was killed on a farm near Oneida during the first two days of the fall open bow season.
This puts the Cumberland Plateau on the map for bear hunters in the country due to the bear's size. Although, the county doesn't see high numbers of bear tags filled (only six bears were killed in the previous season), the size is what draws hunters to this area.
Canada Black Bear
A miraculous kill happened in Canada by 68-year-old John Mellinger, who suffered from Lou Geherig's disease. A Virginia resident whose longtime goal was to bring home a bear was given his chance in Canada while on an outfitted trip with his son.
Due to his condition, he was set in a treestand with a sling to hold his handmade rifle. There he shot a bear believed to have weighed 550 pounds when alive, but came in at 430 pounds after being fully dressed.