Michael Carawan of Garner, N.C. almost didn’t hunt the biggest bear he’d ever seen on his trail cameras. He thought it would take a helicopter to retrieve the 633-pound monster black bear from a Pamlico County swamp. Then he came up with a different strategy, and killed the bear on Nov. 25.
“I had a plan,” said the chemical plant operator for Potash Corporation (aka PCS Phosphate).
The concept came to him about 12 hours earlier after his hunting buddy, John Sinclair, saw the big bruin cross a two-lane 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.
After hunting bears for years, he knew they establish a routine and stick to it unless spooked.
“Me and John were hunting him in the woods and had baited him up together,” Carawan said.
Hunting from road shoulders, like baiting, also is legal in a variety of eastern counties, except across rights of way along N.C. 55 and N.C. 306.
“I wanted a bear rug, but I didn’t want to mess with hauling a bear out of the woods,” he said. “It would have been an all-day chore. 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.
“I’m pretty sure he was going to a soybean field,” Carawan said. “He also was destroying everyone’s corn piles. I had night trail-camera pictures of him. He headed for the bedding area after feeding.”
Carawan and Sinclair rode to the crossing before daylight the next morning, with Sinclair taking a position 100 yards or so behind Carawan’s truck. Fifty yards from the vehicle on the road’s shoulder, Carawan cut small limbs and bushes and built a ground blind.
He first saw the bear headed his way on a wooded trail. As the brute emerged 50 yards at the road shoulder, Carawan aimed his Browning semi-auto BAR .308.
“I shot him in the shoulder,” Carawan said. “He fell right there but wasn’t dead. I walked up 15 feet from him and shot him twice more.”
After the two hunters attached a winch from Carawan’s ATV to the bear, he dragged the animal onto his trailer. They drove to Stancil’s Wild Game Processing in Ayden where the bear, 7 1/2 feet-long from front to back paws, 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 of this animal’s weight.