A Minnesota hunter bagged the bear of a lifetime when he shot a black bear weighing more than 700 pounds.
Johnson's bruin unofficially weighed in at 721 pounds, possibly making it the largest recorded bear taken by a hunter in state history.
In a year where the DNR expects a higher than normal bear harvest, the news of the giant bruin is spreading fast.
"It's been Facebook friends, and all that other stuff has been going off the wall," Johnson said. "Taxidermists have been calling, stuff like that."
Johnson sat in the rain for only two-and-a-half hours before seeing the big bear come in to where he had set up his ladder stand. But that time was active, as he witnessed two smaller bears and a sow with three cubs come through.
The bears took off as the big bear approached the area.
"I didn't hear any of them because it was raining," he said, "but I could tell by the body language on the bears that were there that something was going to happen."
He shot the beast at only 25 yards. "He fell right on the spot," Johnson said.
Johnson's two brothers came out to the woods to help him load the bear onto a trailer. "All their mouths dropped when they saw it," he recalled.
It took the 45 minutes just to get the bruin onto the trailer.
They weighed the bear using two scales at the same time - one attached to the front legs and one attached to the hind legs - and the unofficial total was 721 pounds.
They then loaded the bear into a pickup truck and took it to a seed company to weigh the bruin on a truck scale. That scale weighed it at 700 pounds, but Johnson said that the truck scale rounds everything down in 20 pound increments.
"If it would have been 719 pounds, it still would have read 700 pounds."
They weighed the bear again after field dressing it: 602 pounds.
The heaviest hunter-taken bear on record with the Minnesota DNR weighed 687 pounds live weight. But DNR bear biologist Dave Garshelis told reporter Brad Dokken, who wrote an excellent piece on Johnson's bear, that other bears that the DNR has live trapped have weighed more than 800 pounds.
As far as the record books are concerned, bears are scored by skull measurements, and Johnson's bear would have to best two bears - one taken in 2000 and the other in 2013 - that are tied for first place with the same measurements: 22 5/16 inches.
"The head looks like it's maybe good-sized," Johnson said of his bear. "Hopefully it will give the record a run."
In the meantime, Johnson is enjoying his newfound fame - sort of.
"It's been kind of busy with phone calls and stuff like that. It's been pretty hard to get anything done, really," he smiled. But, "Once deer season opens, then it will be a forgotten deal."
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