If you’ve ever wondered where the world’s biggest black bears are harvested, you might be surprised. There are several determining factors that play a role in the size of a black bear. Then there are several different points of views as to what defines a “big” bear. Some people go by weight, others by length, and then there’s the Boone and Crockett Club which defines a big black bear by the total sum of length and width of its skull.
The overall size of a bear can vary based on age, sex, time of year and overall health. Genetics, abundance or kinds of food sources, competition, hunting pressure, etc. All determine where the biggest black bears live.
I’ve read several stories about the largest black bears recorded but a lot of them are unsubstantiated.
- There was a 880 pound bear in North Carolina
- An 830 pound New Jersey bear was shot in 2011.
- Minnesota supposedly had a 876 pound one taken a few years ago.
- Pennsylvania was rumored to have six 800 pounders killed in the last fifteen years.
- There was “The Cattle Killer” shot in 1921 on the Moqui Indian Reservation in Arizona that they say weighed in at 899 pounds.
- There was one in New Brunswick in 1972 that supposedly weighed 902 pounds dressed. That’s an almost 1,100 pound bear!
While stories like these are fun, I like to look at the facts when planning black bear hunts.
Where to Hunt the Biggest Black Bears in the World
The world record black bear in the Boone and Crockett all time records book was picked up in Utah in 1975 and scored 23 10/16″. There are 1,790 entries in the record books meeting the minimum of 21 inches. Learn how to score a bear.
619 of the Boone and Crockett black bear entries were in the last 10 years.
That means that 34.5% of all entries in the all time Boone and Crockett record books for black bears happened in the last decade.
- 26% of those entries were from Wisconsin – Wisconsin is responsible for 24 of the top 100 black bears of all time, and 28 of the 100 biggest black bears in the last 10 years.
- 13% of the entries were from Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania boasts 29 of the top 100 largest black bears of all time. 22 of the top 100 in the last 10 years.
*I initially wanted to talk about black bears in all the different states and Canadian provinces, but if you’re looking for the biggest black bears in the World then Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are the best choices, and it’s not even close.
If you REALLY want to take a big bear, it’s not only about hunting the right area. You’re also going to need to be able to field judge them.