An 11-year-old girl from Winston-Salem killed a 610-pound Tyrrell County black bear last Wednesday on a hunt that ended with the huge bear finally falling within 10 feet of the spot where she took the first shot of the encounter.
Madison Moore, a sixth-grader at Clemmons Middle School, was hunting with guide Culley Wilson of Wild Wing Adventures in Kilkinney and her grandfather, Frank Miller of Winston-Salem, when they encountered the huge bear along the edge of a corn field. Moore fired the first shot with her .308, knocking the bear down at 60 yards. Wilson knocked the bear down with a shot from his .338 rifle when the animal got back up, and in the few seconds it took the bear to cover the short distance toward the hunting party after it got up again, Wilson finished it with a shot from his .460 S&W handgun.
“I thought it was going to get me,” said Moore, who since going on her first hunting trip at age seven – she saw the mounted deer heads mounted in her grandfather’s basement and asked if she could go along – has killed one whitetail deer with a bow, one with a rifle and two elk with a rifle – all on a preserve in Ohio.
A 600-pound black bear is a rarity almost everywhere except in Eastern North Carolina, which consistently produces the nation’s biggest bruins. Miller had contacted Wilson (919-349-6381) and arranged a hunt during the week in mid-November that makes up the first segment of Tyrrell County’s two-part season, in part because Moore had expressed the desire to go on a bear hunt.
“It was my idea to go bear hunting,” Moore said.
Wilson carried Moore and Miller to an area where he has several farms leased, with standing corn – a favorite bear food – left in several fields. Wilson, who specializes in “spot-and-stalk” bear hunting, had them easing along the edge of a field.
“We saw a big bear; (Wilson) said he was 600 pounds, but there wasn’t enough light to shoot,” Moore said. “We went a little ways farther, and he said, ‘Let’s look right here,’ and we spotted a bear about 200 yards away, coming toward us. We crawled back to where the brush was higher, and when we got there, we noticed a track in the road, and he said the bear had been coming right through there.”
Miller and Wilson helped Moore get a pair of shooting sticks arranged to help steady her rifle, but at some point, she grabbed a thorn bush and got a couple of thorns in one hand.
“I got one out, and Culley says, ‘Maddy, I know your hand hurts, but if you can just get the gun ready, the bear should walk about in front of us in about 60 seconds,’” Miller said.
“I told her, when he steps out, he’ll see us, so you have to be ready to shoot,” Wilson said.
The bear stepped out in a grassy lane about 70 yards away, turned his head and saw the hunters just about the time Moore squeezed the trigger and sent her shot on the way.
“It came out and looked at us, and I shot, and it fell over on its back, then it got up and started running, and Culley shot it with his rifle, then he shot it with his pistol,” Moore said.
A biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission helped the hunters get the bear weighed, and it tipped the scales at 610 pounds. Wilson believes the bear’s skull will measure better than 21 inches – the minimum for inclusion in the Boone & Crockett Club’s all-time record book – but it will be ineligible because more than one hunter put a bullet in the animal.
“Later, Maddy said, ‘Papa, that is the best hunt we’ve ever been on. Can we do it again next year?’” Miller said. “I just smiled real big and gave her a big hug.
The hunt was just one highlight in a great week for Wilson.
“We killed five bear over 300 pounds in that same area last week,” he said.