February 13, 2020
By Game & Fish Digital Staff
(From Pope and Young Club press release) Chatfield, MN - On Saturday, Feb. 8, the Pope and Young Club convened a Special Panel of Judges in Harrisburg, Pa., during the Great American Outdoors Show, for a potential P&Y World Record Black Bear.
Jeff Melillo’s 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 Oct. 14, 2019. The world-record bear surpasses the previous record shot by Robert J. Shuttleworth Jr., taken in Mendocino County, California, on Sept. 4, 1993, with a score of 23 3/16.
”It has been an inspiring journey, to say the least,” Melillo said. “New Jersey, my home state, has its first-ever world record animal! … 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.”
A mount of the trophy will be on display March 26-28 at the Pope and Young annual convention as part of the Bass Pro/Cabela’s Trophy Tower.
"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,” said Eli Randall, records director for the Pope and Young Club. “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 Melillo 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.”
The Pope and Young Club is a non-profit North American bowhunting and wildlife conservation organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of our bowhunting heritage and values and the welfare of wildlife and habitat. The Club also maintains the universally recognized repository for the records and statistics on North American big game animals harvested with a bow and arrow.