I shot a really nice black bear in May of 2001. Based on its girth it weighed about 375#. When I had the hide off of the carcass I measured it from tip of nose to tip of tail and came up with 77". From front claw tip to front claw tip was 87" which would be a squared hide size of 6' 10". I did my best to lay it out flat without stretching it. When I got the rug back it measured 6' 6" nose to tail and 6' 6" across the front claws. So either I inadvertently stretched it too wide in the field or it shrunk some during tanning or rug making. This brings up a couple questions. First of all are most mature bears the same length from nose to tail as they are across the claws or is it more likely that they would be longer across the claws than nose to tail? Secondly do the rugs often come back smaller than field measurements (not factoring in that many hunters get carried away stretching the hide)? Is the best way to measure a bear in order to get a realistic squared rug figure to just measure the nose to tail dimension while the hide is still on the carcass? Thanks, Rufous.