01/07/2011 02:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

My, Granny, What a Big Rifle You Have

Once upon a time, not long ago at all, a really big black bear was settling down for a long winter's nap in a den in northwestern Colorado.

Then it saw a creature wearing an orange vest and carrying a long thing. "My, what a big stick you have," the bear said.

"All the better to shoot you with," said the "hunter." And he did -- killing the 703-pound bear with one shot from a .45-70 caliber lever-action rifle, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

For Richard Kendall, 55, of Craig, it meant he had finally bested his hunter father. But the story doesn't end there.

Some villagers, both near and far, were unhappy. They didn't think Kendall was a hero at all.

There were so many complaints that the Colorado Wildlife Commission has told its staff to write a regulation that would bar hunting bears in their dens. In hunter's lingo, going into a den and shooting a bear as winter approaches is not considered "fair chase."

Now, of course no one can say for sure that the bear was preparing to hibernate when the hunter crawled into his den in November. Kendall, before he stopped talking to the media, said the bear had pinned its ears back. He says he had been told that meant it was about to charge. You can confirm that on Google.

And he has insisted that no one respects bears, and other wildlife, more than he. Brings to mind what Abraham Lincoln once said: "I feel like the man who was tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail." To the man who asked him how he liked it, he said: "If it wasn't for the honor of the thing, I'd rather walk."

Kendall, before he stopped talking, told interviewers people in his home town congratulated him enthusiastically. Letter and blog writers not so much.

The vast majority of comments have been like this one from grandjctnative in the Daily Sentinel: "Somebody ought to crawl into bed with this guy and stick a gun up his behind and call it 'hunting.' Maybe that would wipe the smile off his face. These actions are disgraceful and one step from poaching or night hunting."