Musgrove said he was thrilled to be tied for a state record. “You see everyone else that has a state record, and you never expect to have one yourself!”
He said his hunt near Buffalo Valley began that morning in a different location than where he eventually shot the bear. “A small deer saw me, so that evening I moved to a better position where nothing would see me. As luck would have it, that put me closer to where the bear was coming through.
“He was coming to bait, and I had a small opening where I could shoot him. And sure enough, he walked out and stopped directly in that small opening.” He took his shot just minutes before sunset. The bear ran, and Musgrove began searching.
“We were looking for him in the dark for a couple of hours. We walked up on him 120 yards from where he was shot.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “I got lucky.” The skull of Musgrove’s bear measured 12 12/16 inches long and 7 5/16 wide.
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Baker’s hunt was on private property east of Hartshorne. “This was one of the most thrilling hunts I’ve ever been involved in,” he said. He recalls arriving at his ladder stand about an hour before daylight on opening day of the bear archery season. His bear was already at the feeder and ran off when Baker approached.
“I opened two cans of sardines and climbed into the ladder stand. Ten minutes later, the bear returned for the sardines. He moved to the feed barrel, where he fed until daylight.
“Finally I could get a shot, only to graze a pine tree with the arrow and then watch the bear take off.”
Baker returned to his stand that evening, and the bear eventually came to the feeder. Baker took a shot, and the bear ran about 40 yards into a creek bottom. Baker and his father worked four hours to get the bear back to camp.
Baker said his bear measured 78 inches nose to tail. He estimated it weighed more than 500 pounds.
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To learn more about black bears in Oklahoma, bear hunting and the Cy Curtis Awards Program, go online to wildlifedepartment.com.