One of the Largest Black Bears in North American History Killed in N.J.

New Jersey has a new record black bear, but the hunter wasn't out looking for big bruins.

According to the (Parsippany, N.J.) Daily Record, Bruce Headley, 62, of Milton, N.J., shot the the 829-pound live weight bruin while deer hunting in the woods about a half-mile from a nearby high school.

It's surely a record to be proud of, but Headley still would rather have those big bucks he'd seen earlier.


"I would have traded getting two bucks instead of the bear," Headley said, adding that he and his family prefer venison to a good bear burger. Headley missed his opportunity at a deer on the opening day of bear and deer season, but had seen the big bear raiding an apple tree in his backyard since September.


Like 7,294 other hunters in New Jersey, Headley had purchased a $2 bear permit. While deer hunting on Dec. 9, Headley sat patiently waiting for a big buck, hearing from a neighbor that several does had just passed through the area. No buck, but the bear made an appearance. From 45 yards out, Headley took his shots, telling reporters he hit the bear at least three times before it dropped in a ravine about 50 yards away.


Headley's 21-year-old son Adam, as well as neighbors John Pessagno and Gordon Galfo, were soon on the scene on four-wheelers, using a come-along to pull the bear out and load it onto a rescue sled. They then used a front-end loader into Headley's pickup truck and took the carcass to a nearby bear-checking station in Franklin, N.J.

Headley told reporters it took three hours to unload the bear from the truck. "It took longer to get organized than to get it out," Headley said.

So what's happened to the bear now? Headley donated the big bruin to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, which hopes to have the bear mounted and put on display at the Pequest Natural Resource Education Center.


The kill is a testament to the black bear's resurgence in the Garden State, according to Fish and Wildlife director David Chanda.

"It would be a nice compliment to our conservation education programs," Chanda told reporters. "After all, the black bear represents a truly remarkable success story. Especially when you consider that they were all but wiped out by the industrial revolution in the early 1900s, and now as a result of tremendous habitat and management programs developed by professional wildlife biologists, black bears have been sighted in all 21 counties and will forever remain a part of New Jersey's landscape."

Recommended for You

Boost antler growth on your deer property with these food plot tricks. How-To

How to Supplement Antler Growth with Food Plots

Jeff Johnston

Boost antler growth on your deer property with these food plot tricks.

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather. Clothing

Field Tested: Lightweight Raingear

David Draper - May 30, 2019

Our picks for stuffable protection against any weather.

These four hunts will test your endurance. North America Big Game

North America's Toughest Black Bear Hunts

Brad Fitzpatrick

These four hunts will test your endurance.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 12: High Plains Elk

David Draper teams up with Fred Eichler to hunt elk on the high plains of southern Colorado.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 13: Forest Buffalo

Craig Boddington returns to Mozambique's fame Coutada 10 for a shot a forest buffalo that's eluded him for 10 years.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 14: Swamp Bulls

With his Mozambique forest bull in the salt, Craig Boddington sets his sights on the Marromeu grasslands in pursuit of a swamp buffalo.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are created equal. Recipes

How to Properly Grill Venison Steak

Hank Shaw

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are...

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians. News

The Ticks Making Hunters Allergic to Meat

David Hart

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians.

Over the years, Remington has introduced a continuously expanded variety of Model 1100 shotguns. Guns

Remington Timeline: 1963 - Remington Model 1100 Autoloading Shotguns

Hunting Online Staff

Over the years, Remington has introduced a continuously expanded variety of Model 1100...

See More Stories

More News

We've lost 2.2 million hunters since 2011. Here's how to help save hunting.
 Photo Credit: Matt News

The Hunter Decline and How We Can Fix It

Andrew McKean - August 20, 2018

We've lost 2.2 million hunters since 2011. Here's how to help save hunting. Photo Credit:...

2018's number-­one watched new cable series is back for Season 2. News

Second Season of 'Yellowstone' with Cole Hauser

Mike Schoby - June 19, 2019

2018's number-­one watched new cable series is back for Season 2.

In this News

A Boy's First Buck

Hunting Online Staff - July 25, 2018

In this "Petersen's Hunting" clip, Mike Schoby initiates his young nephew into the world of...

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.