Huge black bear taken in Pownal
By Dennis Jensen
Correspondent | September 30,2012
Mike Davenport of Pownal poses with the 505-pound black bear he shot on Sept. 18. Davenport’s bear is the third heaviest bruin ever shot in Vermont.
It goes without saying that fishermen, as well as hunters, sometimes like to embellish on their performance on the water or in the field.
Mike Davenport could have gone down that road. The Pownal hunter shot the third heaviest Vermont black bear on record on Sept. 18 on his own property.
But the 43-year-old Davenport did no such thing. Still, the 505-pound bruin he shot is quite an accomplishment.
Davenport, the plant manager at Unicorr Vermont Container in Bennington, said in an interview that bear activity has been increasing in his neighborhood.
“People have been complaining of nuisance bears, at bird feeders, in garbage cans,” he said. “This seems to be a more prominent problem than in year’s past, probably because we didn’t have a hard winter, this winter past. That’s my theory, at least.”
Bear numbers, in fact, have grown to the point where three of the big game animals had been taken in the area since opening day, Sept. 1, Davenport said.
Davenport returned home from work shortly before 6 p.m. and, as he is accustomed to doing, he peered out his window and spotted a large, black object off in the wood line beyond a hay field.
After a good look through binoculars, Davenport grabbed his 30-06 rifle and headed out the door. It was pouring rain at the time.
“We had nasty weather, with tornado warnings, that day,” he said. “I ran out about 150 yards and worked my way down to the hedgerow. The bear was just inside the tree line, just moseying around, and I shot him.”
Davenport had no idea just how big the bear was until he approached the now-dead bruin in the pouring rain.
“I’m trying to roll him over. I just couldn’t move this thing. I thought, ‘this is far more than I can handle,’ so I called my stepson James and he came over to help me roll the bear over,” Davenport said. “Now I’m thinking, ‘this is one big bear.’ It literally took us an hour to drag it 15 feet to where we could hook a chain to it.”
Davenport finally got the bear into the back of his truck and motored his way to the state fish hatchery in Bennington, where it was weighed on Fish & Wildlife scales.
Biologists cut a tooth from the bear to send it off to a laboratory for aging.
“We were speculating about the age of the bear with the guys at the weigh station and they were guessing it was between 12 and 15 years old,” Davenport said.
Meanwhile, some tell-tale markings on the big male told another story, according to Davenport.
“He had seen his share of battles” Davenport said. “One of his ears was split in half and it was healed and, on his other ear, the whole top of his ear was gone. There was a huge scar that went right across his whole nose. And I’m sure he won those battles.”
Davenport said he was proud of taking this bear, but insisted that it didn’t involve any real degree of hunting.
“I could have embellished about the story, but this is the truth,” he said. “The amazing thing about this story is how often will a trophy black bear almost walk into my living room and then get hung up on the wall. There wasn’t much of a real hunt here.”
According to Curtis Smiley of the Vermont Big Game Trophy Club, Davenport’s bear is the third heaviest ever taken in the Green Mountain State.
The state record bear, taken in 1965, was shot by James Thomas in Norton and dressed out at 525 pounds.
The second heaviest bear on record was a 514-pound animal shot in 1986. Davenport’s big bruin is the heaviest bear taken in more than 25 years.
Davenport, an avid hunter, said that, despite the circumstances, said that he is proud to have taken such a big bear.
“Hunting is not about the killing,” he said. “It’s about the hunt or, in this case, the lack of a real hunt.”