Black Bear World Record Certified by Pope and Young Club

A black bear killed by Jeff Melillo in New Jersey during the 2019 hunting season has been certified as a bowhunting world record by the Pope and Young Club.

Black Bear World Record Certified by Pope and Young Club

Jeff Melillos (left) with the new Pope & Young Club world record black bear. The official score is 23 5/16. He arrowed the bruin on Oct. 14, 2019, in Morris County, New Jersey. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Melillos.)

A black bear killed by Jeff Melillo in New Jersey during the 2019 hunting season has been certified as a bowhunting world record by the Pope and Young Club.

Melillo arrowed the bear Oct. 14 while hunting in Morris County. The massive bruin was scored Feb. 8 by a special Pope and Young Club panel of judges in Harrisburg, Pa., during the Great American Outdoors Show.

After the final tally, Melillo's bear scored 23 5/16 to claim the top spot. Robert J. Shuttleworth Jr.'s bear, which scored 23 3/16 and was taken in Mendocino County, Calif., on Sept. 4, 1993, falls to second on the record list.

"It has been an inspiring journey, to say the least,” Melillo said. “New Jersey, my home state, has its first-world record animal! Many years ago, I read an article in Outdoor Life stating that the new world record black bear will most likely come from New Jersey. They were spot on, and I never doubted it for one second. I'm very grateful that I get to be a part of all this."

Measurers present for the official scoring were P&Y Director of Records Eli Randall, Timothy Walsh of New Jersey, and Dan Lynch and Terry Mollett of Pennsylvania. Melillo's bear will be showcased on the P&Y records page

"I knew I was going to be looking at an impressive black bear skull, as it was officially measured at over 23 inches and weighed in at 700 pounds,” Randall said. “I was not prepared for the amount of mass the skull possessed. Not only was the skull huge, but the bone structure was the heaviest I had ever seen.

"Congratulations to Jeff on harvesting this outstanding black bear. This is a true testament to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and a shining beacon of what can be accomplished with efforts and funds being dedicated to wildlife."

Melillo's bear has been entered into the 32nd recording period representing entries accepted into the P&Y Records Program from Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2020. At the close of every biennial recording period, numerical awards and honorable mentions are awarded to the most outstanding bow-harvested animals in each species category entered during the two-year recording period. World records are verified, proclaimed and officially presented during the Pope and Young Club's Biennial Convention and Awards Banquet.

"Pursuing bears with bow and arrow is a passion of mine," Melillo said. "I’d like to recognize the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife for the outstanding effort they put into the management of New Jersey black bears. The dedication from our biologists, technicians and Conservation Officers make this all possible. I'd also like to give a big thanks to United Bowhunters of New Jersey. Their organization had a lot to do with getting a bowhunting season for New Jersey black bears. Without their efforts, I would not be writing this."

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