David Linker of Concord was deer hunting in Roxboro near the Virginia border on Nov. 17 when he saw something he’s never seen before. A large black bear showed up just minutes before Linker was about to pack up and head home. He killed the bear, turning what he thought was a wasted hunt into a drama-filled harvest.
The bear weighed 448-pounds, and is the biggest black bear ever killed in Person County, verified by NCWRC biologists, who are also working on measuring the skull to put it in its proper place in the Boone & Crockett Club’s bear category.
“I was deer hunting, but I knew bears are in the area. I’ve never seen one, not either in person or on a trail camera, but the fact that bears are present in the area is always in the back of my mind when hunting there,” said Linker.
He was hunting in the swamp when the bear showed up, and when Linker says “in the swamp,” he means, literally in the swamp, water and all.
“I was sitting in the water on a BlackOut rotating stool. The farmer that owns the land has always said that if I want to kill a big deer, I need to sit deep in the swamp, and that stool is the perfect seat for sitting in the water,” said Linker, who recently killed a 180-inch buck on a trip out west.
“It was my second time hunting in there, and I still haven’t seen a deer yet,” Linker said while chuckling. But he’s not complaining.
Linker shot the bear with a Browning Medallion rifle, and shot the bear three times. For a few very tense moments, it didn’t look like those three shots would be enough. And Linker was out of bullets.
“I know now that it’s crazy to carry only three bullets in an area you might see a bear, but in all the years I’ve been hunting, I had never needed more than three bullets on a hunt, so I started carrying just three bullets some time ago,” he said.
Dogs were running on nearby property, and were making so much noise that Linker was beginning to pack up and head out of the swamp, knowing that trophy deer, which is all he cares to shoot, would not stick around with all that barking.
“I had decided to leave, and I heard some squirrels and looked over their way. When I did, I saw the bear trotting about 100-yards away. I shot it, but it didn’t fall. Instead, it ran straight toward me. When it got about 40-yards away from me, it jumped into the water. It was snorting and pacing back and forth. I shot it again, and that shot still didn’t knock him down,” he said.
Linker was fully camouflaged from head to toe, and said that made him feel only slightly better about his predicament. With just one bullet left and the bear still standing 40-yards away and seemingly looking for what had caused its discomfort, Linker did what anyone would do, and shot the bear again. This time, the bear took another 15-steps, fell, then got back up, snorting and looking all around.
With the bear now 30-yards away and still standing, and no bullets left, Linker sent a quick text to the landowner. “Shot bear 3 times. Out of bullets. Still standing,” was his text.
Linker was about to text his wife, who was hunting about 300-yards away and had his .45. Then, the bear laid down in the water.
“He laid down in the water, and I could hear him sucking water in. I let him lay there for another 30-minutes before I approached it, and he was dead when I checked,” said Linker, who admitted for a brief minute or two, he was as frightened as he’s ever been in his life.
Linker said an animal like this deserves a special mount, so he is having a full-body mount made of the bear. Benner Efird of Efird's Custom Taxidermy in Mooresville is mounting the bear.
Click here to read about another big bear killed earlier this year in Duplin County.