Hunter aims at black bear record

Published 11:15 am Saturday, September 24, 2011

Clealan Dove kneels next to a 529-pound black bear he harvested on Nov. 20 in Rockingam County. The bear is expected to set a new state record. - SUBMITTED

COURTLAND—A potential new state record black bear is expected for the 72nd Annual Eastern Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest at the Southampton County Fairgrounds this weekend.

Clealen Dove will have to bring the 592-pound bear to the contest, which runs from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday if he wants to be considered for the record, said Raymond West, records chairman for the eastern half of Virginia.

“If he comes, he will have a new state record bear,” West said.

That’s also assuming nothing bigger comes in from the eastern portion of the state.

Contests are held annually for western and eastern Virginia. When the western Virginia contest was held two weeks ago, it was determined that Dove’s bear taken on Nov. 20 in Rockingham County was bigger than the state record bear taken during the 1994-95 season by Roger Wyant, also in Rockingham County.

Dove’s bear scored 31 9/16 inches, using the Virginia scoring system. Wyant’s bear scored 31 2/16 inches.

Dove was rifle hunting with his son, Cory, and 7-year-old grandson, Justin, when he took the bear with a single shot to the neck using a .308 rifle. Dove hunted bear for more than 20 years without harvesting one.

Ken Pickin, president of the Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association, is expecting 2,000 to 3,000 people to the weekend event.

“This is going to be a little larger because it will be the state (competition) this year,” Pickin said.

The top five entries in each class from the western show can be entered into the eastern show to see how they fare in the state’s top 10, he said.

Pickin is expecting hunters to bring about 300 deer, 75 to 100 turkeys and 15 bears.

It’s hard to say if other record-breakers are expected, Pickin said.

“There’s other rumors we hear about, people talking about how big something is,” he said. “But a lot of people don’t understand how the scoring system works. Sometimes a deer doesn’t score as much as they think it will.”

The association uses the Virginia scoring system, which is the oldest scoring system in existence.

“The Virginia system tends to give deer a little more credit than Boone and Crockett,” West said.

Admission is $3, and a two-day pass is $5. The deadline to enter the contest co-sponsored by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is 6 p.m. Saturday.

Awards will be presented at 3 p.m. Sunday.