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B&C World's Record - Polar Bear

World's Record Polar Bear

Shelby Longoria (left) and his guide, John Swiss, with the World's Record polar bear, which was taken nearly 100 miles offshore on pack ice. 

In 1963, on hunt far from his home south of the border in Matamoros, Mexico, Shelby Longoria braved potentially deadly weather and pack ice to take the World's Record polar bear (Ursus maritimus). He'd considered hunting with outfitters from Cape Lisburne, Point Hope and Point Barrow, Alaska, but eventually decided to pursue the record bear further south near Kotzebue, which has produced six of the top nine Boone and Crockett polar bears.

Spring in the North American Arctic can provide an ideal window for hunting, as light and warmth return to the area after the long, dark winter. And this was the time of year that Longoria decided to pursue polar bears. However, unlike polar bears—which are protected against the elements by their long, yellowish/white and water repellent hair—hunters are vulnerable to the elements. At temperatures that often dip below zero degrees Fahrenheit, even a quick plunge into the polar sea may prove deadly. 



On Longoria's hunt, while nearly a hundred miles offshore on pack ice, the expedition located a promising ivory-white bear wandering against a treacherous background riddled with bulging mounds of splintered ice. Utilizing powerful hindquarters and long legs with partially webbed feet, “bears of the sea” have been spotted swimming up to 300 miles from shore. They also use those legs and their power to run across the ice at about 20 miles an hour, which means hunters must approach these massive animals cautiously and make a good shot or risk being charged. Longoria and his guide were well aware of that potential as they stalked this bear through the windswept frozen maze. Eventually, Longoria got the shot he desired and walked up on a new world's record polar bear. With a skull that scores 29-15/16 points, Longoria’s trophy topped the former record, held by Tom Bolack, by more than an inch.

It should be noted, due to a mostly carnivorous diet, polar bears are extremely capable hunters. As a result of this adaptation to their environment, these bears typically have longer, narrower skulls than the Alaska brown bear. 




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-Theodore Roosevelt