An Arizona Hunt For Record Book Black Bears


Published: September - 2011

Last August we reported how Hunting Report subscriber Robert Gregg had taken a big-bodied black bear in Arizona that missed B&C record book status by less than a quarter of an inch. (See Article ID 2489.) He hunted with Mike Mell of Ram Riders Guide and Outfitters (575-574-8006) on the White Mountain Apache Tribe's Fort Apache Reservation. Gregg described his experience as an "excellent and fun hunt." This month we have a report from subscriber Angelo J. Caruso that echoes - and expands upon - these accolades for both the outfitter and the area. Caruso first learned about Mell from our article and booked a May hunt with him based on that report. Caruso killed two bears; one measuring a little over 20 inches, the other over the B&C minimum of 21 inches. Both bears weighed over 400 pounds and squared out at over seven feet. Caruso's hunting buddy also took a bear that measured well over 20 inches. Caruso says skull measurements like this prove this reservation is one of the best areas for black bear in the continental US. "This place holds some of the largest bears in North America," he says. "I know; I've hunted bears from Newfoundland to BC." If this isn't enough to entice hunters, this is a hunt that you can take without drawing a permit. Over 200 permits are available annually, and hunters can opt to take a second bear. A permit costs $350. Caruso's hunt was conducted spot and stalk. Mell also offers hunts over bait and with hounds. Caruso reports seeing more than 10 bears, in four different color phases, during his five-day hunt. All were "shooters," but Caruso held out for something larger. Caruso also saw elk, deer and turkey. He says the weather was great and the area "bug free." In addition to great hunting, Caruso tells us that Mell has an incredible camp up in the mountains. "You stay in super comfortable fifth-wheel trailers. And he has a supermarket of food and equipment; almost anything you need or want." Caruso adds that Mell, his wife, and all the guides worked just as hard to........(continued)
 
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