A man could have the state record after shooting a 703-pound bear. But many people are saying it shouldn't be counted.
Richard Kendall of Craig killed the bear at point blank range back in November. He told the local newspaper that his adrenaline was certainly running. "I was pumped to the max when I went into the mouth of that cave. How much higher adrenaline can you get knowing that there is something in there that is twice as big as you and can eat your lunch in a heartbeat," Kendall told the Craig Daily Press.
We tried to reach him for comment Thursday night, but he did not want to go on camera. He believes the kill is getting blown extremely out of proportion. But, he did say that the encounter reported is exactly what happened.
Back in November is when Kendall and a friend stumbled upon the bear's tracks. "His track was as big as my ball cap in the snow."
It was the largest set of tracks he's ever seen, and he couldn't forget about them. On the last day of hunting, he and two friends re-traced their steps to the bear's cave. After hours of waiting, Kendall entered the cave and spotted the bear.
He told the paper that he could barely see the bear's nose before turning on his flashlight. About six feet into the cave, he said he could hear the bear growling at him. But when the bear pulled its ears back, Kendall knew that was his only chance to fire.
And so he did. Twice.
"We were running on an adrenaline high for two or three days," Kendall said.
The bear, measured by it's skull could be a state record. The Craig Daily Press reports the largest killed in Colorado measured 22 9/16 inches back in 2007. Kendall says this bear measures 22 5/8 inches.
But should it count? Was the hunt legal and/or ethical?
"No law was broken by going into the den," Randy Hampton with the Grand Junction Division of Wildlife said. "[But] from an ethical standpoint, the Division of Wildlife is very concerned."
Colorado's DOW has received countless letters and calls wondering about this hunt. They've also taken notice to some of the online chatter crying foul about the incident.
But, their hands could be tied in this instance. "It's a Division of Wildlife policy that we never comment on any investigations. That includes if there is even and investigation taking place."
Whether it's happening or not, many people believe Kendall should be reprimanded somehow.
"I kind-of had mixed feelings about it," Craig resident James Merett said. "I thought it was not right to crawl into a cave and shoot a bear."
But some people say it's just part of the game. "It's probably part of hunting," Craig resident Cindy Coel said. "I wouldn't go into a bear's den. That would be kind-of scary."
Kendall says he has been approached by the DOW, but that there is no investigation going on. He's trying to level with some of his critics. In a telephone call with KJCT News 8, Kendall said, "I don't see how my actions are any different than other forms of hunting. I don't see how it's any less ethical."
The DOW, though, does. They also see some safety issues. And, in light of the incident, they're looking into possible future regulations. "We had never heard of this. We though ethically people would never do that, but now we know that they do do this."
A timetable on any kind of decision could not be provided.
Some members of the public want something on the books, others say the law is the law. "He had the right to do it," Merett said. "We all hunt. Some of us just like to do it here at City Market."
The DOW says even though it is technically legal, they would never recommend anyone, armed or not, go into a den or cave where a bear could be asleep or awake.
Kendall will have to wait about 60 days to know if he killed the record bear. He told the Craig Daily Press that despite all of the negative press, if faced with a similar situation, he would do the same exact thing. "If it happens and I get a shot at another monster bear, I would probably do it all over again... Or next time, [I'll] take my son and try to get him one."