Local resident and avid hunter Milton Schultz was recently awarded the “Best of North America” by the Dallas Safari Club for a Polar Bear he harvested while on a trip to the top of the globe.

On April 16, at the Bentwood Country Club in Dallas, Schultz was presented with the prestigious award after taking what is considered to be the No. 1 trophy animal in the world.

The prize animal did not come easy, says Schultz, who spent nearly a month in sub-zero temperatures near the North Pole.

“I spent 24 days in a deep freeze in which temperatures were at minus 77 degrees below zero,” said Schultz. “We were approximately 140 miles from the North Pole when we ran out of fuel and had to have search and rescue come to our aid to be able to return to Arctic Bay, an Eskimo village.”

During this particular hunting expedition, one of many the local resident has taken since he began hunting at age 3, Schultz said he decided he would leave the Arctic successful knowing that government regulations would soon ban the harvesting of the Polar Bear.

“I was not going to come home until I was successful,” said Schultz. “We ran out of fuel and propane, and had I not had a satellite phone I’d still be frozen up there.”

Schultz, who was accompanied by two native guides and a translator and the necessary gear loaded onto a dog sled, spent three days without food and fuel at one point. “Most of the time the temperatures were minus 50 to minus 70 with a windchill factor of who knows.”

After an unsuccessful attempt on the first outing across the icy landscape, Schultz said they returned to the village and explained that he didn’t have a chance to harvest a Polar Bear.

“They gave me permission to continue until I harvested then we re-grouped in the village and took off again,” Schultz recalls. “Almost eight days out we were able to pick up tracks of a bear. Once you spot one you have to harvest the bear off of a dog sled. That’s the law.”

Once he had tracked down the large animal, Schultz used a 50-year-old .375 Remington H&H rifle with an open sight owned by the Eskimo tribe to take the Polar Bear.

Since his gun was lost by American Airlines en route through the Ottawa, Canada airport, Schultz said he had to resort to using his guide’s gun to take the Polar Bear.

The bear measured 11 feet from tip to tip and weighed approximately 1,500 pounds, said Schultz. It was determined to be a 25-year-old mature male.

The local hunter recalls the thrill of the hunt, as well as the numbing conditions of the sub-zero temperatures.

“You have to keep every part of your body covered because you’ll quickly get frostbite,” said Schultz. “I’ve never experienced anything that cold in my life.”

He described the trip to the North Pole region as a distance similar to sledding from San Antonio to Glen Rose. “We camped in igloos and cut blocks of ice. When you have no fuel it’s not a comfortable situation and the satellite phone was the only thing that saved my life.”

The thrill of the hunt, beyond pushing the human body to the limits to survive, Schultz says, is to be able to give the animal a chance in his own habitat and beat him at his own game. “It’s not necessarily the kill.”

After spending a year to import the hide back to the United States, Schultz was successful in February 2008 and was able to get his trophy home to Glen Rose.

Schultz’s Polar Bear, mounted by world-renowned taxidermist Mike Boyce of Reno, Nev., now sits on display in a trophy room at his Somervell County home, along with 28 other species of big game from across North America, including elk, various deer, sheep, bear and big cats.

The local hunter’s trophy room contains an impressive collection of mounted game and was featured in “Trophy Rooms of the World, Vol. 4,” which published six years ago.

Recently, the U.S. Department of the Interior listed the Polar Bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act based on studies claiming the loss of sea ice threatens and will likely continue to threaten the bear’s habitat.

“I was so fortunate to be able to culminate a life-long dream of harvesting this magnificent animal in his natural habitat, and I would like to thank the Dallas Safari Club which has 100 percent of entries for recognizing this amazing trophy as the Best Animal taken by a hunter in North America in 2008,” said Schultz.

The recent award from the Dallas Safari Club is not Schultz’s first. In 1995 the hunter collected the Herbert W. Klein Memorial Grand Slam Award. This award is presented to Club members for the successful collection of North American Wild Sheep under fair chase conditions.

“I was No. 617 in the world to do that,” said Schultz, “which is probably the highest pinnacle in North America or goal of any hunter.”

After the Arctic trip in pursuit of a Polar Bear, Schultz says he most likely won’t take another expedition to the cold climes of far North America. “I don’t know if I want to repeat the experience with a Polar Bear. At times when you can only see white everywhere and not even your hand in front of you, you begin to question your sanity.”

Next up for the hunter: the Dark Continent.

“I’ve not gone to Africa yet, but next year I plan to go hunt the leopard and kudu,” said Schultz.

Milton Schultz and his wife, Sharon, own and operate the Glen Rose Discount Pharmacy.