A bowhunter in North Carolina recently arrowed one of the biggest black bears on record in the Old North State. Brad Jones tagged the 780-pound bruin while hunting near Chocowinity, North Carolina on Saturday, December 16.
Jones was hunting on his friend Stuart Dudley’s property, where he had bowhunted his first bear last year—a 215-pounder he arrowed from a treestand. The experience inspired him to pursue a bear again with a bow this year.
Though Dudley had some good bears on camera, Jones was unsuccessful in finding a shooter during the first season. He did have one close encounter with a big bear while walking to a treestand in the dark.
“The next split came in, and I hadn’t had a lot of time to get out,” Jones tells Field & Stream. “On Saturday, my friend was going to let some dog hunters come in. It was kind of my last chance to go in there with a bow.”
Jones arrived early that morning before the hound hunters. He decided to sit at a stand near a particularly swampy section of the property—and it’s a good thing he did. “It was a beautiful morning, nice and cold,” says Jones. “I just looked up and this bear came through the open timber right at me. Then he turned and started going down a path 20 yards from me. I drew and then mouth grunted like I would a deer. He stopped and I shot him perfect, just below the shoulder.”
“He barreled down the path, and I could hear him doing that death moan within 30 seconds,” he adds. “I got out of the stand, and he was dead within 50 yards of where I shot him.”
Jones, who’s an avid bowhunter for trophy whitetails, didn’t immediately realize the magnitude of what had happened. “I just knew he was huge,” he says. “I didn’t know the extent of how big he was.”
Later that morning, the dog hunters arrived and helped Jones load the bear into a truck—a task that required 8 to 10 hunters, according to Jones. Then, the bear maxed out a scale at 660 pounds. That’s when Jones realized he had something truly special on his hands and started to look for a certified scale.
Ultimately, the bear weighed in at a whopping 780 pounds. It goes down as one of the heaviest black bears ever bagged in The Tar Heel State and is nearly a hundred pounds heavier than a 695-pounder that was confirmed as a record for western North Carolina (Jones’s bear was killed in eastern North Carolina). The bear is also heavier than the current Pope & Young World Record—though it’s yet to be scored.
Jones plans to get a full body mount of the bear done. After the 60-day drying period, he’ll get an official score for the Pope & Young and Boone & Crockett Club record books. “It’s such a beautiful, majestic creature. To kill a creature like that is kind of the pinnacle of hunting,” says Jones. “And I could not have done it without a good friend’s land to hunt on.”