Caledonia hunter’s bear among Michigan’s biggest

Posted at 3:55 PM, Aug 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-24 17:42:37-04

CALEDONIA, Mich. -- A hunter from Caledonia found out his name is going in the Michigan record books.

It's for one of the largest bears in state history that he came across while hunting last September in Manistee County.

Winning the drawing for the Pure Michigan Hunt is like winning the lottery for Michigan hunters. The drawing, sponsored by the DNR, includes hunting licenses for multiple large game, including black bears, and serves as a fundraiser for wildlife and habitat restoration in Michigan.  Entries cost $5 each, and nearly $200,000 was raised.

When Jeff Kresnak won the drawing and a bear permit, he wanted to make sure it went to good use.

"I said 'I've killed a few bears... if I do shoot a bear, I want it to be a large bear and I want it to be 300-400 pounds plus," Kresnak said.

He tracked an almost 600-pound male black bear for four days in Manistee County before taking his shot.

"A bear this old, he was 8 years old, he becomes a bear that's a predator to cubs," Kresnak said. "When they reach the ages of 4, 5, 6 [years old], the males become predators."

He knew the bear was big, but didn't know just how big.

"This bear actually placed sixth all-time in the state of Michigan," he said.

Kresnak says that for him, hunting is about more than trophies.

"I just wish that people would understand the hunting licenses that us hunters pay to be able to hunt, all goes to the research of these animals," he said.

Boone and Crockett is the outdoor group that ranked Kresnak's bear. They've been measuring big game for more than 80 years, and it's actually done by skull size for black bears.  Kresnak's bear measured at more than 21 inches, and also placed 211th in North American history.