Two giant brown bears recently taken on the Kenai Peninsula vie for the B&C record book.
Kenny Bingaman, from Alaska’s Kingsize Adventures hunting and fishing, believes that an exploding grizzly population means fewer black bears as the bigger grizzlies kill or drive out the smaller bears.
Bingaman maintains three bear-bait stations near Clam Gulch on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Bingaman runs the stations in hopes of bagging a black bear, because he loves the meat.
“They’re just big black hairy greasy pigs,” he said. “To be honest I don’t care about killing a grizzly bear at all. I’m a black bear man. I pass them [brown bears] all up. It’d have to be the perfect 10-foot blonde with beautiful black legs.”
But since the Alaska Board of Game (BOG) approved the harvest of brown bears at black bear bait stations a couple years ago, it opened the door of opportunity for hunters to take some very big browns. Two friends of Bingaman’s, Duane Smith of Soldotna and Blaine Anliker of Chugiak capitalized on that opportunity with two huge brown bears taken from stands at Bingaman’s bait stations.
Smith’s bear’s skull measured at just under 30 inches while Anliker’s bear measured 29 inches. If, after the mandatory 60-day waiting period, Smith’s measurement is confirmed by Boone & Crockett, his bear could become the largest ever taken on the Kenai. The current record is 29¼. Anliker’s bear should also qualify for the record books.
Kenai area wildlife biologist Jeff Selinger confirmed, “That’s definitely big for brown bears. Last year we had a few large bears harvested as well. We’ve known for years there are some large brown bears on the Kenai Peninsula.”
Anliker’s bear’s front paw pad measured 11½ inches. The hide squared to 10 feet 7 inches. According to Alaska Dispatch News, Bingaman also reported that “after the head, hide, paws and about 75 pounds of meat had been removed, the carcass weighed 974 pounds.” Blaine Anliker is shown with his bear in the featured image above.
Alaska Dispatch News also indicates that “Smith’s bear’s hide squared at 10 feet. One of its front paws measured 10¼ inches and its carcass, minus the head, hide and paws, weighed 880 pounds.”
Below, Duane Smith holds the mouth of his massive brown bear.
Bingaman believes that an exploding brown bear population is wreaking havoc on black bear numbers. “Brown bears eat them,” he said. “They drive them away.”
Bingaman and others believe the Kenai brown bear population numbers approach 2,500, But wildlife officials dispute that estimation. “There’s no evidence to suggest the brown bear population is anywhere near that high,” Sellinger countered.
Yet the Department of Fish and Game has not attempted an official count since the 1980s.
Bingaman uses cameras at his bait stations to record bear activity, and he has seen significant and quantifiable declines – to single digits – in black bear sightings over the past several years, while the number of brown bear sightings has increased dramatically, quadrupling into the hundreds.
Anliker supports Bingaman’s assessment, from his own experience and bear sightings while hunting. “If you see a couple mice in your house, you’ve got a lot of mice,” says Anliker. “It’s a small area that he’s drawing from, and there’s a lot of bears down there.”
A lot of big bears.
Note: The story indicates that Smith’s bear’s skull is larger than that of Anliker’s bear, while also reporting that the hide, paw measurement and weight of Anliker’s bear exceeds Smith’s bear.
Two different source articles indicate that Smith’s bear’s skull is the one up for B&C record consideration, but only one of the sources discusses the other measurements (hide, paw, weight) and attributes those to Anliker’s bear.
At this point, with no further information to either confirm or correct the odd discrepancy, we are reporting the numbers exactly how the Alaska Dispatch News reported them.