Book-Worthy Bruin

On the first morning of his first-ever hunt, young gun Tony Ugarte bags a 600-pound black bear of a lifetime!

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Getting your bear home can be a chore. If you are were hunting solo, visit the local sports store to enlist volunteers. Then talk to your taxidermist and skin your bear including the head and paws as soon as possible to avoid slippage.

Most New York big-game hunters go a lifetime without catching so much as a glimpse of a black bear in the wild. But last season 17 year-old Tony Ugarte of Poughkeepsie, New York not only saw a black bear in his very first year hunting, but on his very first morning afield. And to top that off he kept his composure long enough to take it down with one clean shot with his brand new rifle. Here is how it went down.

Tony had tagged along with his father the year before, just to see what hunting was all about. That’s all it took to get him hooked. The next summer, his dad bought him and his older brother Nick brand new stainless steel Savage Axis bolt-action .30-06 rifles complete with camouflaged stocks and Bushnell 3×9 Trophy XLT scopes. Excited about the upcoming deer season, they took their new rifles to a nearby shooting range and practiced regularly at 100 yards until they were proficient. Opening day could not come fast enough!

On The Hunt
The alarm clock blasted at 5 a.m., and brothers Tony and Nick and their father Juan were up, dressed and out the door in a 30 minutes. They were hunting Greene County in the Catskill mountain range near the town of Lexington, NY. Juan told his sons that bears were known to be in the area, and should they see one to shoot it where they would a big buck—in the heart-lung region right behind the shoulder. Little did Tony know at the time, but that piece of advice would pay off handsomely for him in just a few hours. As the sun rose, the trio set off up the mountain, splitting up when they reached a steep rock-strewn ridge around 7:30. Nick slid off to hunt alone while Tony and his father settled down on the ridge 15 or 20 yards apart.

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“I sat down on a rock with my new rifle on my lap, and waited patiently,” said Tony. “I occasionally glassed the terrain below me with my new binoculars, but nothing was stirring. As time passed I ate one of my sandwiches, and kept tabs on my father who sat motionless nearby. About 9:00 I caught some movement to my right out of my peripheral vision. It was a bear! He was only 15 or 20 yards away, and he was slowly walking right at me!