Phillip Gosnell, a 36-year-old water treatment operator from Landrum, took the largest bear of the Palmetto State’s 2017 bear hunting season. Gosnell was still hunting on 40 acers of private land in Greenville County when he took the 597-pound bear. 

Gosnell had seen the big bear on his trail camera several weeks before bear season opened, but it disappeared, and he never saw it on camera again.

After hunting the first and second days of bear season without seeing anything, Gosnell’s luck changed on the third afternoon. Climbing up into a permanent hunting stand, Gosnell looked up and he spotted what he thought was a bear bedded on a power line not far from him.

Bears in South Carolina have to weigh over 100 pounds before they are legal to shoot, so Gosnell climbed down from his stand and started walking towards the bear to check and see if it was big enough to shoot.

Gosnell walked to within 180 yards of the bear when it stood up. 

“It looked at me, and I shot him in the chest,” Gosnell stated. “After the first shot, the bear went into brush, and then it came out and started towards me.”

Gosnell then crouched down and took two more shots to the animal’s chest with a .308 caliber rifle to make sure that the bear was dispatched.      

Gosnell’s bruin was the second largest bear taken since 2013 when Heath Smith harvested the new South Carolina state record, a 609 pounder that he killed in Greenville County.