We had unseasonably mild weather for the first half of our first split of bear season with highs approaching the 80’s and a plague of mosquitoes. In the 20 years of bear hunting at Mattamuskeet the most bears I have seen sitting on a stand in bear season was nine. Opening morning I saw 32! We have more bears than ever before, but we are overwhelmed with sows and cubs. Although we did not see a big bear, Hunter Park’s guest Mike Fulcher took a 574 lb. bear with hounds opening morning! Later that day Mike shot a nice 8 point buck, so they had a great time. Hunter’s second guest shot a management sow, as did one of Bill’s guests.
However, it wasn’t until yesterday that I saw what I had been looking for on 4th Ave. at Chip’s Hole, (what we used to call the Hedge Row Impoundment). I going to put my shooter, Ed Beam, at the end of the strip of pines where most of the bears were crossing while I sat in the stand at the bridge at Chip’s Hole glassing the corn field. A mutual friend, Sam Bennett sat with Ed. Sam is from Asheville. He is a pastor, videographer and co-founder of 4Outdoorsmen Ministries. He and his partner Brent Besosa are in their 3rd year of filming a Christian outreach video on hunting the world’s largest black bears.Yesterday morning before daylight we drove down 4th Ave. from the lodge and stopped a quarter mile short of Chip’s Hole before silently padding down the dirt road to our stands. As we climbed into our respective stands, it was light enough I could see a sow and 2 cubs in Chip’s Hole. Sam and Ed went further down to the end of the strip of pines and got in their stand. I told them if I saw something big I would let them know.
At 6:38 am I saw a lone bear ¾ of a mile away walking toward 4th Ave. on the dike on the east side of Chip’s Hole. I signaled Sam and Ed to come down and join me. The closer the bear got the more interesting he looked. He went from being a possibility, to a sure bet that this was the bear we wanted. By the time he was within 200 yards I was about ready to come out of my skin this bear was so big!
As long as he stayed on the dike, he was ours. But if he stepped off into the myrtle bushes on the east side we would lose sight of him until he crossed 4th Ave into the timber. Fortunately, like huge bears do, he chose the path of least resistance and stayed on the dike and walked right into our lap. At the shot he turned and bolted off the top of the dike. But he was done. One shoulder shot from Ed’s 30.06 and the big bruin never made it any further than the edge of the canal alongside the impoundment.
I was ecstatic! I hadn’t been as excited since my then 13 yr. old daughter Rebecca shot her big bear last December (see story here). When Sam played back the video, I was even more exuberant. He was a huge beautiful bear and to have that memory captured on video is priceless. The story unfolds in pictures below.