POWNAL, Vt. -- It may not be the biggest ever shot in Vermont, but at 501 and one half pounds the male black bear taken by Michael Davenport of South Stream Road on Sept. 17 is a rarity, and is easily the largest recorded in the past 26 years.
Getting the bear field dressed and out of the woods was more of an ordeal than the hunt itself, said Davenport. He said he came home from Vermont Container where he works and looked out over the field behind his house and contemplated whether he wanted to go for a walk on the trails around the field where he had set up a number of game cameras. The weather was not so good, with a tornado watch in effect, so Davenport scanned the field through a set of binoculars.
It was then he first saw the bear and decided to go out after it. Davenport said he has shot bear before, mostly in Canada. He said he enjoys going on guided hunts every other year or so and is by no means a bear-hunting guru.
"I don’t claim to be a big bear hunter," he said. "It was all just luck. He was there, I was home."
One thing he has learned about them is they always appear bigger than they are, so he wasn’t thinking the bear was a record when he went after it.
He said he grabbed his 30-06 rifle and went down into the field about 150 yards, using a stone wall for cover. He shot the bear and watched it move into the woods out of sight before giving a distinctive "death moan."
By then it had begun to rain, so Davenport went back to his house and returned in a pickup truck. The bear was nowhere to be seen at first, but he found it 10 yards into the woods in a hole left by a tree that had fallen a while before.
He said he started to get an inclination of how large the bear was when he tried to field dress it. He had to call his stepson for help and ultimately a tractor. "It took us the better part of an hour to move him 10 feet," said Davenport. By then it was dark and still raining.
The bear was taken to the Vermont Fish Hatchery on South Stream Road the next day which does big game weigh-ins. Davenport said it took six men to move the bear and get it weighed.
Davenport said the body is currently with Justin Cutler, of Cutler’s Creations, a taxidermy service. Davenport said he knows Cutler personally and hopes his work with the bear hide will get him his start in the taxidermy business, which he add ed is a tough industry to break into.
"I know he’ll do the right thing," Davenport said.
He said he has not weighed the meat, which he butchered himself, but at least 220 pounds of fat was taken off the bear.
Davenport said news of his bear has traveled fast among hunters and he has been interviewed by outdoor writers.
"I’m tickled," he said, "but I’m kind of a private person."
Davenport said he has talked to people who keep records of large game taken in Vermont and believes his bear to be the third largest. It’s the first one he’s shot in Vermont.