Often referred to as the “Cradle of Bear Hunting Civilization,” no area has boasted longer history in the sport than the Appalachian Mountains. The early, rugged, frontier days of the region created an individualistic-survivalist style mentality that is still largely present today even with the continued growth and urbanization of many areas. And most of the area’s history is rooted in this persona. These elements also lend to the bear hunting sport that continues today.
But contrary to popular belief, black bears don’t grow to outrageous sizes in the region. They typically range in median size of 200-300 pounds, depending on whether they are male or female. Even the occasional 400-pound bear is killed but is still considered quite large.
Harsh weather conditions and the shift of seasons often deters the longevity of life and size in the creatures. But, this week, the opening of black bear hunting in Western North Carolina, has already marked a new black bear record in the Western North Carolina for one local 21-year-old.
An astounding 695-pound kill for the Fines Creek native.
Caleb Henry, the marksman, took out on Tuesday morning with a group of hunters and eight of what I can now assume are some of North Carolina’s finest hunting dogs, a mix of Walkers and Plotts. When the dogs took out on the chase it was just a regular morning of excitement, but the end result is something no one in the group could have expected.
Talking with Riff Outdoors, Caleb shared with us some of the details from the hunt:
“I ran to get in front of the bear, and when I saw it, I said to myself, ‘Holy crap, I can’t believe how big he is!’ I had never been in the woods with a bear that big…”
To understand Caleb’s re-telling or the sheer talent it took to take down the game-ending shot, you’d have to imagine something the approximate size and weight of a vending machine or a utility trailer.
Thankfully, this young man is no slouch in the woods. He’s been an outdoorsman and an avid hunter for the entirety of his life, which probably played no small part in his ability to stay calm and collected in this suspenseful moment.
Caleb took down the bear with a .35, and lucky for him, the kill happened just about 100 yards from the road. When asked about the feat of loading the bear for transport, he said he felt lucky about the location of the kill.
Moving this bear would be like moving just over fifteen 45-pound plates in the gym:
“We hooked ropes to it and pulled it to the road. Then we pulled it up onto the side of the road bank and rolled it into the back of a side-by-side. It took us probably a little over an hour to get him out and loaded.”
Luckily this story’s “we” consisted of about eight other hunters that day. And Caleb specifically credited his friend, Lucas Teague and Lucas’s hounds for helping him nail down the bear.
Parts of the bear will be sent off for age testing, but the sheer size of him led Caleb to believe he was between 10-15 years old, much older than the average black bear lives to be in the rugged Appalachia terrain.
The entire region has seemingly paused to discuss this black bear kill, look at the photos and speculate on what the moment might have felt like. Caleb’s girlfriend, Kenzie, also stopped in on social media to congratulate her partner with some kind words:
“Couldn’t be anymore proud of Caleb on his newest WNC record breaking bear… 695 pounds! It was a great day doing what we love.”
For now, this hunter is just soaking in an unbelievable moment in the woods and his successful take down of one of the biggest black bears to date. And even though pictures do not do this monstrosity justice, they are pretty incredible to see.
This is no doubt a beast of a bear.
Grizzly Bear Attacks Two Bowhunters In Canada
Bears might be one of the coolest, most badass animals on the entire planet. And for many of the same reasons, it also makes them some of the most terrifying animals on the planet.
Big, fast, strong… if you happen to find yourself in the unfortunate position of getting changed by a bear, it might be too late before you even get the chance to react. For these two bowhunters in Canada, that was nearly the case.
While hunting near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, these bowhunters stumbled upon a big ol’ sow and her two cubs at the feed barrel, but once she got a whiff them, she locked on in a full blown charge.
“These two hunters were watching a bear and her cubs when the larger animal suddenly charged towards them.
Luckily, the two men were able to scare the bear off and walked away with only minor injuries.”
Thankfully, these fellas escaped with some minor injuries, and what I can only imagine is a freshly soiled pair of shorts.
But… they caught the entire thing on camera.
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Grizzly Bear Delivers Terrifying Bluff Charge To A Group Of Tourists In Alaska
Few animals on earth are more terrifying than grizzly bears, especially a mama grizzly protecting her cubs. The sheer size, speed, and power of the bruins makes them capable of dealing deadly blows to humans with ease.
Spring is one of the best times of the year to observe bears, and they’re a major tourist attraction throughout the wild places they inhabit. The bears are very active in the spring, as they emerge from their dens hungry and searching for food. Spring is also when mama bears have cubs in tow though, so encounters with bears can be particularly precarious.
While a group of tourists was watching a mother bear and cubs at a safe distance from across the river, a curious young grizzly unexpectedly stumbled up behind them at an uncomfortably close distance.
The tour guide quickly realizes that his can of bear spray was in the pocket of someone else’s coat at the time, so discharging it was not an option. Instead he was forced to pull out his .44 magnum, a last resort for protection that he fortunately did not need to use in this situation.
He also recognized that the bear was approaching out of curiosity and not animosity, which allowed him to stay calm and use his voice and physical presence to deter the bear from starting a fight. With over a decade of experience observing grizzlies, the guide also recognized that the initial charge from the bears is typically a bluff more so than an attack.
To further deter the bear from barreling into the group, he advised the folks behind them to raise their hands in the air like they a true a player to make them selves look notoriously big in the eyes of the bear.
When exploring bear country, it’s important to understand the situation, circumstances, and species of bear you’re dealing with so the appropriate response can be taken to deter an attack.
The National Park Service has a detailed guide on handling bear encounters that all outdoor enthusiasts should brush up on.
Here’s more from the guide:
“At 0:50 you hear me tell everyone to, “get behind me and put your arms in the air” this is pretty standard procedure for this situation and the only move left to discourage a real charge, short of firing my .44SW.
The reason I placed the group behind me is that if that bear charges I am the only person with any hope of stopping it, meaning I need to be in front, facing that risk head-on with nothing and no one impeding my movements.
If a bear charges with intent to kill, you only get one shot to stop it before it grabs someone at this distance.
The reason I didn’t fire my .44SW is twofold. First I honestly didn’t and still don’t KNOW how this bear would have reacted. It could have run off or the gunshot could have also CAUSED a real charge, and secondly because if the bear grabs ahold of me I want every bullet.
In this video, I am carrying an S&W Model 29, 44 mag, with 305 Gr HSM Bear loads producing 1075 foot pounds energy.”