Could there be a bear-killin' chromosome?
By Peter Schoonmaker
When speaking of the "Maillet Bear" in New York, you'd better be more specific.
Because there are two of them.
Two Maillets. Two bruins.
The first, with a noggin spanning 21 2⁄16 inches, was arrowed back in 2003 by Anthony Maillet. It has since been topped, but the beast was a state archery record at the time.
The most recent, taken in October 2006, is the NEW state record, with a Pope-and-Young score of 22 1⁄16 inches. This amazing black bear of grizzly-like proportions fell to Anthony's son, Mike.
A special kind of moxie, it seems, runs in the family.
The Maillets (father and two sons) pursue their hearts' desire in the southern Catskills bordering New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Even the youngest buck in the family has taken three bears to date. And they do it with bows, always from the ground.
Bowhunting and treestands might seem synonymous, but Mike doesn't even own one. He begins looking for bear trails in June. From there, he'll try to identify the primary food sources.
Trail cameras help immensely, since bears move a lot from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.
As the '06 bow season approached, Mike had determined that a big bear captured on camera was using two different trails through a heavily forested wetland. He'd also picked out a big white pine on the trail's downwind side where he could sit in ambush.
After discretely trimming shooting lanes, Mike uses the trimmed branches to surround his position and break up his outline.
When Mike nestled into his homemade ground blind on the afternoon of Oct. 15, it was a clear 60 degrees. Midway into his vigil, he found himself watching three does feeding along a distant knoll. Without warning, all jerked up their heads and then bolted down the trail, passing right beside the concealed bowhunter. They were soon followed by a coyote.
It, too, ran right up in front of the makeshift blind, but it stopped behind a tree. Only after it nervously gave up the chase and fled did Mike let down his bow.
At 3:30, Mike noticed something black in the distance, passing between the evergreens and alders. It was a bear coming down the trail, growing bigger with every step. Mike waited until the large black mass of bear passed by at 15 yards before taking the quartering-away shot.
"It was like my arrow hit a brick wall," he said. "The fletching was still showing as the big brute walked 12 yards and fell over dead."
That'll happen when a broadhead pierces the heart.
Mike first thought he'd taken a 450-pounder (about 150 pounds bigger than his last bow-killed bear). It wasn't until he'd been joined by his brother, father and some friends that he realized he'd seriously underestimated.
Their method of getting a bear out of the deep woods is to carry it on half of an extension ladder. But they couldn't pick up the ladder with the bear tied to it. The men wound up dragging the ladder for six hours.
It was morning before they got the bear to an access road. By then, they were convinced that the bruin weighed at least 500 pounds. At the check station, however, the scales showed 647 pounds!
Had the old boy been in top shape, he might've pushed 750 pounds. But he wasn't.
The boar's face was scarred, its ears torn from fighting, teeth rotten, and there was an old healed-over break in its left hind leg. In addition, the hide hung loosely on its oversized frame.
-- Reprinted from the December 2007 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine.