As the most recent bowhunting campaign starts to fade into the rearview mirror, it seems readily apparent that the month of October 2019 was a good month to be in the woods with a bow in hand.
Why is that? Because in the states of Alaska, New Jersey and Oklahoma, three different bowhunting records were set — one being a state benchmark and the other two being world records.
That run on record-book rewrites began on Oct. 3, 2019 when Alaska bowhunter Rosey Roseland took a Revillagigedo Island mountain goat during a hunt that featured unsettled weather that the 49th state is often known for.
"I had been putting in for a limited draw permit for this area (Ketchikan 005) for about ten years,” said Roseland in a Pope and Young Club news release. "The area is known for its big goats and is fairly close to my home, POW Island.”
As it turns out, securing the difficult to draw bowhunting tag was only one of several hurdles that Roseland had to overcome.
“I was after a mature billy, so my wife and I scouted the area in July,” said Roseland. “On October 2nd, my friend from Montana, Matt Anderson and I backpacked into the area. Through the rain and fog, we spotted this goat bedded down and I could see that he had very big bases. Good enough, I decided.”
When he decided to try and take the goat, the veteran traditional bowhunter shifted his focus from the size of the goat’s horns to the task at hand of slowly and quietly negotiating the rugged terrain. Eventually, he was within bow range of the goat with large jet-black horns curling back from the thick fur on top of the billy’s blocky head.
“I was concentrating so hard on my stalk and my 20-yard shot, that I hardly looked at his horns,” said Roseland. “When we walked up on him, we knew he was big, but not world record big."
But that’s exactly what a special P&Y panel measuring session proved to be true on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 at the Club’s Chatfield, Minn. headquarters.
After official measurers Steve Ashley and Bucky Ihlenfeld of Wisconsin, retired P&Y executive director and former director of records Glenn Hisey of Minnesota, and current P&Y director of records Eli Randall measured the mountain goat, it received an official score of 53 2/8 inches and became the new P&Y world record for the species.
Incidentally, the previous bowhunting world record mountain goat was a 53 0/8-inch billy taken on Feb. 16, 2006 by archer Shad Wheeler, who hunted in Kalum Lake, British Columbia.
After Roseland started things off in October 2019, it was time for the record book run to shift its focus to the East Coast where New Jersey bowhunter Jeff Melillo headed into the woods for a fall bear hunt. Better known for casinos and the Jersey Shore television program, Melillo’s hunt soon provided the Peace Garden State with a big dose of bowhunting history.
That’s because of the new world record black bear that Melillo arrowed with his bow on Oct. 14, 2019. And believe it or not, he wasn’t all that surprised that New Jersey is now at the top of the P&Y Club’s record book listings for the species.
"It has been an inspiring journey, to say the least,” said Melillo in a P&Y news release about his massive bear. “New Jersey, my home state, has its first-ever world record animal! Many years ago, I read an article stating that the new world record black bear will most likely come from New Jersey. They were spot on, and I never doubted it for one second.”
Melillo’s black bear was scored in a special panel measuring session convened by P&Y at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa. on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020.
With Pennsylvania measurers Dan Lynch and Terry Mollett, New Jersey measurer Timothy Walsh, and P&Y Director of Records Eli Randall scoring the huge bear’s skull, the final number was a remarkable 23 5/16 inches.
That was good enough to surpass the previous bowhunting world record mark of 23 3/16 inches, a black bear arrowed by Robert J. Shuttleworth, Jr. more than a quarter of a century ago in Mendocino County, Calif. on Sept. 4, 1993.
It’s also worth noting that Melillo’s bear is near the top of the mountain in the Boone and Crockett Club listings, too. At a score of 23 5/16 inches, the New Jersey archer’s bruin is not too far behind the B&C world record mark, a 23 10/16-inch bruin whose skull was picked up from Sanpete County, Utah in 1975.
Finally, completing the October 2019 record-book parade last fall was a massive typical whitetail that was arrowed on Oct. 22, 2019 by Guner Womack, a 19-year-old Oklahoma State University student from Morrison, Okla.
Womack’s buck became a viral overnight sensation as photos of the great Sooner State buck began circulating on Facebook, Instagram and in hunting forums across the country. Months of speculation came to an end on Leap Day Weekend when the college student’s buck — his first with archery gear — was officially scored at the annual Backwoods Hunting & Fishing Expo in Oklahoma City.
With a gross score of 201 5/8 inches and a net score of 188 5/8 inches, the Womack buck now officially ranks among the Sooner State’s best — by the slimmest of margins.
In the Cy Curtis Program administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Womack buck is now the archery state record as it tops Claremore, Okla. hunter Wade Ward’s January 2011 buck from Rogers County, a crossbow kill that scored 188 4/8 inches.
Womack’s buck will also rise to the top of the Pope and Young archery records for Oklahoma, destined to become the P&Y state record as it tops the 185 6/8-inch Larry Luman buck from Bryan County taken in Nov. 1997.
And in the Boone and Crockett Club’s record keeping system — which accepts bucks picked up or taken with any type of legal hunting weapon — the Womack buck will become the apparent No. 3 B&C buck in Oklahoma history.
“The process was pretty cool and having everyone there who has supported me the last couple months was amazing,” said Womack of the scoring session that made everything official.
“Everything happens for a reason and for me to get to experience something like this was a huge blessing and something I’ll never forget,” he added.
There’s little doubt about that. And there’s also little doubt that when it comes to bowhunting records, the month of October 2019 was pretty tough to beat — a wild 31-day run that won’t soon be forgotten.