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New Record Brown Bear - Alaska

Growing up in the remote southwest corner of the Flathead Indian Reservation in Western Montana people are sparse. So, when the tribal game wardens had problem bears they all ended up in our backyard. I've seen cubs, sows and boars and all shades of black bear, including brown, cinnamon, and of course, black. From cub to seven-footer I’ve seen them in all sizes. Well, all sizes black bear. Needless to say when the email came across with the subject line “New Record Brown Bear – Alaska” and I saw the picture of a bear’s paw bigger than the head of any black bear I used to see on the reservation I was amazed.

As I dug in, however, to check the validity of the email I wasn’t having much luck. I searched the web for “John Pomazi", “Big Lake guide”, “Jake Jefferson”, “Alaska Brown Bear Record”, and variations of the like. In the process I found nothing more credible than the email itself. Not a good sign. Hunters are never shy when it comes to sharing pictures and stories about any success and I would imagine a record bear would take things to another level. 

 

Legend

The Email: John Pomazi poses with the Kodiak brown bear he shot in November while on a hunt with Big Lake guide Jake Jefferson. The bear measured 10 feet, 6 inches and weighed between 1,500 and 1,800 pounds. Jefferson estimated its age at 12 to 14 years. 

 

Truth

While searching out the truth I came across a Jake Jefferson in Wasilla, AK. Although it wasn’t Big Lake, as it mentioned in the email, the fact that his name was alongside Black River Hunting Camps, LLC I felt good about my chances.

When I put a call into Jefferson and was greeted by an old fashioned message on the answering machine where the kids ended the call with an invigorating, “God bless America!” I knew I was going to hear back, whether or not this was the right guy.

My next step was to forward the email of the bear to the address by Jefferson’s name. Shortly thereafter I got a response from his wife confirming that her husband, Jake Jefferson, was the guide in the pictures, but that he was on a grizzly bear hunt and would be back sometime next week. After returning from a fairly successful griz hunt—Jefferson got his hunter a 15 yard shot with a bow, but they weren’t able to bring home the bear—I was finally able to track him down for a phone interview.

First things first, I confirmed that the pictures were indeed real. From there some things Jefferson said helped me understand why they aroused suspicion. Jefferson was guiding John Pomazi on the east side of Kodiak Island and they ended up in the right place at the right time and did the right things, which, according to Jefferson, is what hunting is all about. Pomazi shot the bear at 178 yards with a 300 Remington Ultra Mag; taking only three bullets using 180 grain Swift A-Frame for ammo. He said the bear was 10 ½ feet and he guessed its weight at 1,500 – 1,800 pounds. Jefferson said that although this bear didn’t have the biggest skull of any hunt he has guided (27 15/16”); it was the biggest bodied. In fact, he said the bear reminded him of a “fat frog” when he came up to it and he noted that its legs stuck out instead of hanging over its sides. That explains why it appears like a gigantic Teddy Bear in the picture where the animal is on its side and Jefferson and Pomazi are standing behind it.

One moment, in Jefferson’s mind, defined how big this bear really was. “I’ve butchered moose before and you can straddle them. When I sat on top of the bear my feet were a foot off the ground on either side.”

Jefferson added that the Alaska Department of Fish & Game took a tooth from the bear and used it to determine that it was about 10 years old. Doing a little research himself Jefferson, at 5’8”, stretched his arms from the bear’s outermost claw inward and was just able to reach the spine. With that they estimated walking around the bear’s shoulders were about 5 feet high. Oh, and the purple spot on the bears chest in one of the pictures? The picture was taken late about 5 o’clock in the afternoon and the sun created the spot.

As far as the bear being a record, it did make Boone and Crocket Club’s three year record book. What determines a record is actually the bear’s skull size. Thus, albeit a very impressive body, that didn’t directly help its chances of a higher ranking in the record books. “Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell published [The Boone and Crocket Club’s] first book in 1895…[and the] Club [still] maintains the records of native North American Big Game...” According to Boone and Crocket the World’s Records Alaska Brown Bear was bagged by Roy Lindsley in 1952.

If you have additional information on this No Name Legend please email us at legends@nonameoutdoors.com.

To read all of Zachary S. Pitts’s work click on the Zachary S. Pitts blog link at the end of this post.

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