Huge 648-pound black bear bagged in western Wisconsin
HUDSON, Wis. -- It's almost a Moby Dick story, but this one ended better for Lon Feia than the classic tale did for Captain Ahab. About 6 p.m. Oct. 9, Feia got off a killing shot at a 648-pound black bear that he had been tracking since the Fourt...
HUDSON, Wis. -- It's almost a Moby Dick story, but this one ended better for Lon Feia than the classic tale did for Captain Ahab.
About 6 p.m. Oct. 9, Feia got off a killing shot at a 648-pound black bear that he had been tracking since the Fourth of July.
The massive male was bagged on Feia's property on Lakeview Trail on the north side of Lake Mallalieu.
"What's interesting to me is that it was such a large animal living amongst us this close to town, between the state park and the rod and gun club," Feia said this past week to report his success.
The big bear was known to residents of Casperson Drive (which runs south and east from Krattley Lane), but mostly from the trail of broken bird feeders. Brief sightings were rare.
Feia had been watching the big bruin since first spotting him around the Fourth of July. He started hunting him on Sept. 7, the opening of the bear season, using bait to lure him onto 40 acres that his and his wife, Brigitte, own.
The bear was "very, very smart" and "very wary," Feia said.
Feia had spent seven hours waiting Oct. 8, only to have the bear take the bait while he was in the house for a quick bite to eat.
"He knew I was there. I was very frustrated," Feia related. "That night I thought, I am getting beaten by a bear -- which is fine, because he is a wonderful bear."
On Oct. 9, he decided to use a different tactic, baiting the bear at noon instead of in the morning, as he had been doing. And he sat some more.
"At 6 o'clock,he showed up at the periphery of this little glen I'm hunting, and it took him half an hour to slowly creep to within 30 yards of that bait. He knew something was up," Feia said.
When the bear got as close as it appeared he was going to come, Feia fired a killing shot at him with a shotgun loaded with a deer slug. He fired another shot that missed as the bear ran away.
He was hoping to take the bear with a bow and arrow but had the shotgun with him as a backup. The bear was out of range of a successful archery shot.
Feia phoned his friends, Matt Kraft and Jeff Bartig, to help him track the bear, but darkness fell before they could find him.
"We heard a stick snap, and I said, 'you know what, let's get out of here,' because I'm not wrestling with this big fellow in the night," Feia said.
The trio returned at daybreak and found the dead bear.
The bear's skull measurements are, unofficially, 16 inches long and nearly 12 inches wide, which would be enough to get it into the Boone and Crockett records.
It measures 7 feet, 2 inches from nose to tail in length, and 6 feet, 10 inches from claw to claw across the front legs.
The Wisconsin record for a black bear is 727 pounds. Feia said his bear actually weighed more than 648 pounds because its feet were still on the floor when they put him on the hoist scale. They couldn't raise him any higher.
Feia, assisted by Kraft and Bartig, dressed the bear.
"It was quite the chore because he is so big," he said.
The meat, which Feia says tastes very good, is in the freezer.
He's also frozen the hide and head for taxidermy work.
He's not sure yet whether he'll have the bear mounted or made into a rug.
"It all depends on what my darling wife will allow in the house," he said.
Feia owns the Excellcom cellular phone service store in the Carmichael Centre on Carmichael Road.