An 11-year-old girl in Wisconsin may have just set the record for the largest black bear ever harvested in the state.
Naiya Iraci, 11, hadn’t ever even seen a black bear before Sept. 9, let alone shot one. But on that day – the first day of Wisconsin’s bear season – she spotted a massive black bear while hunting with her grandfather Michael Frank, and “dropped [the bear] with one shot,” her grandfather said.
“Proud to say my hunting partner, Naiya… took a #718.5 Black bear yesterday evening,” he wrote the next day on Facebook.
Iraci and Frank first spotted the bear on his property in Clark County, WSAW reported. And although Iraci admitted to the station that she was “kind of shaking” as soon as she saw it, she hit her target from 27 yards away.
Frank said they later dressed the animal in the field to preserve its meat and weigh its entrails, per guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). They later used two certified scales to determine the bear’s field-dressed weight – 720 pounds – but Frank estimates the animal weighed closer to 813 pounds before dressing.
However, the Wisconsin DNR doesn’t measure state-record bears by weight, Frank soon learned. Instead, they rely on the Boone & Crockett Club measurement of the animal’s dried skull.
“The skull now has to be cleaned and then dried for 60 days before it is officially scored,” he wrote on Facebook, adding that his taxidermist measured the skull at around 22 inches, and thinks the animal will “definitely” enter the record books.
“But now we will have to wait until the official score comes through,” Frank wrote. “Let's all keep our fingers crossed for Naiya's bear’s placement in the record book.”
For now, though, Frank told WSAW that he and Iraci are “just going to have to wait.”
DNR wildlife biologist Matthew Gross confirmed to Fox News that the Wisconsin DNR does not keep official records for the largest black bear (by weight), so skull size is often used as the official metric. However, to his knowledge, the unofficial record for largest black bear (by weight) may be held by Dennis Arndt, who harvested a 780 pound bear in 2014 (as reported in this Post Crecent article) or an 802-pound bear that was reportedly taken back in 1885. In either case, Gross said Iraci's bear "could potentially" top either of those bears, as it's typical to assume that her field-dressed bear would have weighed an extra 10–15% when alive.
The Wisconsin Buck and Bear Club, meanwhile, appears to keep official records of the largest recorded skull, and recognizes several Wisconsin hunters with the title, depending on the method of harvest.