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February 18, 2020

700-pound black bear killed in New Jersey sets record

The bear, captured in Morris County, was the biggest of its kind ever to be successfully hunted with a bow and arrow in North America

A black bear killed by a hunter in Morris County, New Jersey, last fall set a North American record as the largest of the species to ever be harvested by bow an arrow, a hunting organization announced recently.

The Pope and Young Club confirmed the record via Instagram after members convened in Harrisburg during the Great American Outdoors Show on Feb. 8, reported reported.

The 700-pound bear that was killed in Morris County, New Jersey – which is 30 miles west of New York City – sets a North American record as the largest black bear ever killed by a bow. It also is potentially the largest black bear killed internationally, but it's not official yet whether the bear sets a world record. 

Hunter Jeff Melillo shot the bear during the five-day, black bear hunting season in October. It was one of 315 bears killed during the 2019 hunting period. 

"I’m very grateful that I get to be a part of all this," Melillio said in Pope and Young Instagram post. "Pursuing bears with bow and arrow is a passion of mine." 

View this post on Instagram

NEW POPE AND YOUNG WORLD RECORD On Saturday, February 8th, the Pope and Young Club convened a Special Panel of Judges in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, during the Great American Outdoors Show, for a potential P&Y World Record Black Bear. Jeff Melillos’ massive bear scored 23 5/16 and is now the largest bow-harvested black bear in North America. The bear was shot in Morris County, New Jersey, on October 14th, 2019. Measurers present at the Special Panel were (pictured L to R) Dan Lynch, of Pennsylvania, P&Y Director of Records, Eli Randall, Terry Mollett of Pennsylvania, and Timothy Walsh of New Jersey. With a final score of 23 5/16, Jeff’s bear was confirmed as the new P&Y World Record Black Bear. This bear surpasses the previous World Record shot by Robert J. Shuttleworth Jr., taken in Mendocino County, California, on September 4th, 1993, with a score of 23 3/16. "It has been an inspiring journey, to say the least,” said Jeff Melillo. “New Jersey, my home state, has its First-Ever World Record Animal! Many years ago, I read an article in Outdoor Life Magazine 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. Pursuing bears with bow and arrow is a passion of mine. I’d also 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 Bow Hunters 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." You can see the life-size mount of this incredible animal at the P&Y Annual Convention in Virginia, March 26th- 28th, as part of the Bass Pro/Cabela’s Trophy Tower. The largest display of World Record, North American, bow-harvested, big-game animals ever assembled. For Convention Information, go to

A post shared by Pope & Young Club (@popeandyoungclub) on

Hunting of black bears is legal during specified periods in New Jersey, the state with the densest black bear population in the country. Gov. Phil Murphy has expressed desires to end the tradition of hunting black bears in the state. At one point bear hunting had been banned but then reintroduced in 2003 to control the growing bear population. 

Melillo's new record tops one set in California in 1993.

The bear will be preserved by taxidermy and displayed at the Pope and Young annual convention in Virginia this March.

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