Bear hunting plan results in monster North Carolina kill.
“It ain’t worth my time … Bad enough I gotta walk through a swamp to bait him. It will take a helicopter to hoist him out.” — Michael Carawan, Nov. 7, 2017, Facebook post accompanying a trail-camera photograph of a huge black bear at a bait station.
Well, warm up the Huey.
Actually, Pollocksville hunter Michael Carawan didn’t rent a helicopter to airlift a 633-pound monster black bear out a Pamlico County swamp, although that’s where the bear was headed Nov. 25.
No, he simply waited for the monster bruin to appear.
“I had a plan,” said the chemical plant operator for Potash Corporation.
He got the idea about 12 hours earlier when hunting buddy John Sinclair saw the bear emerge from woods and cross an asphalt road that led to a local hunt club.
“We’d been baiting (legal in eastern and western North Carolina the first six days of a county’s gun season) in the woods about 500 or 600 yards from the road,” Carawan said.
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The 40-year-old knew, after hunting bears for years, they establish a routine and stick to it unless spooked, walking approximately the same trails from feeding to bedding areas.
“Me and John were hunting him in the woods and had baited him up together,” Carawan said. “I’m pretty sure he was going to a soybean field, and he also was destroying everyone’s [deer] corn piles. I had night trail-camera pictures of him. He headed for his bedding area after feeding.”
Hunting from road shoulders, like baiting, also is legal in a variety of eastern counties, although dog hunting bears is prohibited in Pamlico County.
But it’s legal to bait and dog hunt deer. It’s also OK to hunt from road shoulders, except hunters can’t shoot across rights of way along Pamlico’s highways 55 and 306.
“At first [the bear-dog ban] was because the [bear] population was scarce, but they’ve become so dense [the county commissioners] are gonna have to allow some dog hunting [to reduce bear numbers],” Carawan said.
If he hadn’t had a plan, still or dog hunting actually wouldn’t have mattered.
“I wanted a bear [skin] rug, but I didn’t want to mess with hauling a bear [that big] out of the woods,” he said. “It would have been an all-day chore [to drag the bruin out, load it, take it to a check-in station, gut it, skin it and de-bone its meat]. I also had to work that night.”
So he and Sinclair hatched a plan to shoot the bear as it crossed the road the next morning. Whoever had the closest shot would take it.
Carawan and Sinclair were waiting at the crossing before daylight the next morning, with Sinclair taking a position 100 yards or so from Carawan’s truck and ATV trailer. Carawan, 50 yards on the other side of his vehicle, cut small limbs and bushes to fashion a flimsy blind against the woods.
His first look at the bear was at 125 yards as it walked a trail toward the road. It’s size didn’t impress the hunter at first — bear sizes are difficult to judge in the wild. As the bruin emerged 50 yards from him and stopped like a dutiful school child to look both ways, Carawan put the cross hairs of his .308 Browning BAR on its shoulder.
“When I shot, he fell right there but he wasn’t dead,” the hunter said. He walked closer and put two finishing shots in the animal.
Sinclair and Carawan attached a winch from an ATV to the bear and dragged the monster bear onto Carawan’s trailer. Then they went to Stancil’s Wild Game Processing in Ayden where the bear, 89 inches (7½ feet) from front to back paws with a 61-inch girth, officially weighed 633 pounds.
“(Stancil’s) boned out 300 pounds of meat,” Carawan said. “I’ll give a lot of it away.”
His previous largest bear weighed less than half (300 pounds) of this animal’s weight.