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Top award for Idaho archery bear may go to boy on first hunt

Sam Sherman of Eagle bagged one of Idaho's largest archery-taken black bears, if not the largest, in 2015. (Courtesy)
Sam Sherman of Eagle bagged one of Idaho's largest archery-taken black bears, if not the largest, in 2015. (Courtesy)

HUNTING -- Harvesting the biggest black bear taken in the state this year may seem like a pretty ambitious goal for a first-year bowhunter.

But 10-year-old Sam Sherman of Eagle just may have pulled it off.

“We won’t know for awhile yet,” said Sam’s father, Tad Sherman. “The skull has to dry for at least sixty days before taking the official measurement."

The green score measured in September was 19-13/16 inches.

The length plus width of the bear’s skull has to measure at least 18 inches to be eligible for the Pope and Young Club record books for bowhunting.

In addition to the Pope and Young listing, the Idaho State Bowhunters recognize Best of Species taken each year by bowhunters. That’s the award Sam had set his sights on—the same title his dad earned in 2014.

Here are details from Wendy Green, via Idaho Fish and Game:

The Shermans had been hunting on the Hughes ranch in Goodrich for about a week in September with Sam’s brother, 13-year-old Ty, and their houndsman friend, Brian Shanahan.

When they arrived at their hunting area on Sept. 18, the hounds started a bear almost immediately from a pasture along the Weiser River. Both boys had tags.

“A lot of times, the bear won’t tree,” said Tad, noting that safety issues enter into bowhunting bears in that situation.

Rather than trying to get in close for an archery shot, they needed to be prepared to keep a safe distance and shoot with a rifle. But Sam had his heart set on getting a bear with his bow.

Much to his delight, the bear scrambled up a big ponderosa pine.

“Are you sure that’s a big bear, Dad?” Sam asked his father. Tad assured him it was, indeed, a big bear.

The Shermans didn’t end up in southern Adams County by accident. A plethora of bears and a little cooperation led them there.     

Arnie and Sharon Pederson of Goodrich attended a First Thursday meeting in Cambridge in September, sponsored by Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The informal public meetings are a way for Fish and Game to exchange information with sportsmen, landowners and others interested in wildlife and hunting.

The Pedersons and other landowners wanted to know what to do about too many black bears damaging fruit trees and trying to break into their homes. Fish and Game personnel encouraged landowners to provide their contact information if they were willing to grant access to hunters. It’s not unusual for hunters to contact Fish and Game for tips on where to hunt bears and other big game.

“When hunters started calling, asking where they might find bears, we put them in touch with the Pedersons,” said Anna Owsiak, who manages Fish and Game’s Cecil D. Andrus Wildlife Management Area west of Cambridge.

The cooperation worked especially well in Goodrich this year.

“I talked to another hunter who told me he’d treed three bears in one morning,” said Sherman.

“Both hunters and landowners called us later to say thank you for putting them in touch and making this a win-win situation,” Owsiak said.

With Sam’s big bear up a big tree, Shanahan showed Ty how to gather the dogs and tether them out of harm’s way.

Then Sam took his shot and the bear tumbled to the ground. Before he went to inspect the animal, the first thing Sam did was give Shanahan a big hug for using his dogs to find and tree the bear.

“That touched my heart,” said Tad. “We only met Brian last spring, and he is a fantastic, ethical guy. To have him show the boys what needs to be done when hunting with hounds, and to have Sam react that way, it had to be one of my proudest moments.”

Sam’s bear measured 6 feet, 6 inches, nose to tail, and weighed 400 pounds.

“That bear filled the bed of the pickup,” said Pederson.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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