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A hunter downed one of the biggest bears ever killed in Minnesota

He weighed more than 700 pounds.
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It took one shot with a Winchester for northern Minnesota hunter Jan Johnson to take down a 700-plus pound black bear.

The 54-year-old hunter was waiting in the rain on his family's land in Roseau County for a big male bear that had been seen roaming the area.

What he finally saw, the Duluth News Tribune reports, was a sequence of bears, a couple of small ones at first, followed by a sow and three cubs, and lastly a big bruin that chased them all away.

He took aim from 25 yards away and brought it down with one shot, telling the newspaper that his two brothers' "mouths dropped" when they saw it.

When it was initially weighed, it tipped the scales at 719 lbs, which when field-dressed (organs removed) weighed 602 lbs.

This makes it one of the biggest killed in the state for a long while, though Johnson will have to wait a while to figure out where it ranks as bear records in Minnesota are determined by their skull size, as Outdoor Life reports.

There are a lot of bears about at the moment

Fall is the best time of year to encounter a black bear in Minnesota, as they're going through what the DNR refers to as the "fall shuffle," traveling long distances to find food as they fatten up for the winter.

This can lead them further south than usual, and result in the several "bear in the back yard" stories you see this time of year.

After they find their food, they'll return to their home range to den for the winter, the National Park Service says. Denning can happen as early as September (if the food supply is plentiful) and as late as December.

To hunt bear in Minnesota, you have to enter a permit lottery with the DNR unless – like Johnson – you live in a "No Quota" area where you can buy them over the counter.

Despite reducing the number of permits available this year in a bid to keep the population up, the DNR says it expects more bears to be harvested by hunters this year than previously estimated, WideOpenSpaces notes.

The reason for this is because hunters are more willing to kill a smaller bear, seeing as how permit numbers have been reduced, rather than waiting – some times for years – to take a big bear.

In 2016, 6,800 hunters killed 2,641 bears between them, an increase on the 1,971 killed by 6,600 hunters in 2015.

More than 2,000 are expected to be killed by hunters this year, more than the 1,800 estimated, with MPR reporting that the number of black bears in the state is currently at between 12,000 and 15,000.

That's compared to 28,000 in the early 2000s.

Note: an earlier version of this post mistakenly indicated that Jan Johnson was hunting wild boar rather than bear. GoMN regrets the error.

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