I bear hunted near Choccowinity, NC for 7 years. Some friends, Michael and Nick and I would go there every year from 1993 to 2000 during the 5-day bear season in Beaufort County, NC. We would hunt for the first three days, staying at the Lemon Tree motel at Choccowinity, hunting on Mr. Dixon’s 150 acre farm about 7 miles east of there from daybreak until about 10 A.M., coming back to the motel to relax or scouting other areas for bear signs and returning to hunt around 3 P.M. until dark. I killed two bears there in the seven year period. We used mostly climbing stands there, although there were some ladder stands there built by the local deer hunters and a tower stand (we called the bear house) that they let us use. Below is a photo of Mike in one of the climbing stands and a photo of the field that I shot my second bear in, the small bear mount and the larger one.
In mid November of the first year hunting there, on the Sunday before the season began, my friend, Johnny Rodwell and I scouted the farm for fresh bear signs. We found fresh tracks and fresh bear scat. The following Monday morning at daybreak we returned. Johnny got in the bear house overlooking the tracks and I climbed a pine tree about 200 yards down the firebreak on the perimeter of the farm and bordering piney woods of Weyerhaeuser Paper Co., separated by a fire ditch, where the scat was located. We hunted until about 10am with no luck and left to come back later that afternoon.
We returned to the same stands around 3pm. We were accompanied by another friend, Connelly Mangum, who had been the Warren County wildlife officer since moved to the Beaufort County area. He took the afternoon off to hunt with us. He made his tree stand about 500 yards from us. We all had 2-way radio contact.
I had taken some oil of anise, a licorice smelling extract that I used as a cover scent and lure. I planned to sprinkle it on the shrubs around my stand but forgot, so I sprinkled it out of my stand, where much of it was blown against my tree. About 30 minutes after I had gotten up my tree, I heard something moving on the trail near the woods on the Weyerhaeuser side. Shortly, two bear appeared below my stand. I observed them for a few minutes and concluded that they were too small to shoot. Moments later, one of them crossed the ditch and started to climb my tree. He had reached the bottom of my stand when I, in a state of panic, stuck the barrel of my Browning BAR .300 Win Mag through the opening of the slats in the bottom of my stand, into his eye and shot. He dropped to the base of my tree.
I am now a nervous wreck. On top of that, I thought that I might have killed an illegal bear (less than 50 lbs.). I began to descend down the tree when I noticed, much to my surprise that the other bear had not left. I fired three shots in the air from the 9mm Beretta that I carried as a backup hoping to frighten him away, which it didn’t. I called Johnny on the radio to inform him as to what had expired. He immediately set out to my location. Conneley had heard my shot from the rifle, which being in such close proximity to the bear’s face, sounded muffled. He figured the shot to be an insufficient reloaded round with the subsequent pistol shots being used in an emergency backup. He had jumped into his vehicle and rushed to my location. The other bear heard Johnny’s approach to my location and fled. When Johnny arrived at my stand, he picked up the bear and verified to me that he would exceed the 50 lb. minimum legal weight requirement. Connelly arrived shortly, was informed of the incident and registered the kill. We loaded up the bear and headed to the taxidermist to have him mounted. The bear turned out to weigh 80 lbs.
We didn’t see any more bear until 1998. My two sons, Mike and Nick and myself had set up stands overlooking a soy bean field (picture follows) where tracks had been found. I climbed a tall pine (about 30ft. up) on one corner of the field where I could observe the entire field as well as the adjoining fields. Mike got in one to my right covering a blind corner and Nick overlooked the cut over that bordered the field. About 1 ½ hour before sunset, Nick shot a large bobcat. About an hour later, a bear came into the field in the far right corner. I followed him in the scope as he traveled down the edge of the field to a place where the beans thinned out to prevent bullet deflection (150 yards). I squeezed the trigger and nothing happened. In my haste to shoulder the rifle, the bolt had snagged on the stand, opened and ejected the round, unknowing to me. I uttered a few choice words and bolted another round in the chamber. By the time I had re-acquired a sight picture, the bear (evidently hearing me), had stepped into the wood line and stood up. I placed the crosshairs on his chest and prepared to fire. Just as I was about to shoot, he went to all fours. With his silhouette blurred, I placed the crosshairs center mass and fired my Remington 700VS .308 with 165gr. HPBT Gamekings, hearing the distinct thud of a solid hit. I notified my hunting partners by radio and went over to retrieve the bear. Much to my dismay, he was not there. I found some blood but searched for an hour not finding him. I recruited the help of a local bear hunter with dogs to search for him until 9pm unsuccessfully. Being confident that I had made a good shot, I decided to search again when it would be light the following day, for it was cold and I figured that if dead, he would not spoil overnight. We returned the following morning, grid searching the wooded area, where Nick found him shortly only 25 yards from where I had shot him. We loaded him up and headed back to Warren County to a taxidermist, Cliff Jackson where he and I dressed it. (weighed 200 lbs.). He placed the hide in the freezer for a later full body mount ($600) and I froze the meat for later consumption. We discovered that he had been shot “texas heart shot”, square in the rectum. The jacket of the bullet was recovered beneath the skin on his chest.