695-pound bear killed in WNC

Caleb Henry poses with the 695-pound black bear he killed on Oct. 18, 2022 in Western NC. (photo by Kenzie Eakes)

Caleb Henry killed the 695-pound bruin

Caleb Henry of Fines Creek, NC killed a 695-pound bear in Haywood County on Oct. 18, the second day of bear season in that part of the state. It’s the biggest ever taken on record in Western NC. The previous record from WNC was a 688 pounder, taken in Madison County.

Henry shot the big bruin with a lever-action .35 Remington while hunting with his friend Lucas Teague, who killed a 475-pounder the day before. They were hunting with dogs, and after each hunter turned two dogs loose, they ran into a thicket and came out going in different directions.

Teague’s dogs trailed one bear while Henry’s took out after a different one. They were certain the bear being tracked by Teague’s dogs was the biggest of the two, so that’s the one they pursued. After following the bear for some time, the dogs treed it, giving Henry the chance for a shot.

Bear was 10- to 15-years-old

Once the bear was down, the real work began — getting the big beast out of the woods. It took the help of several friends and a side-by-side to get the bear to the truck. They rolled it into the truck’s bed from a high road bank.

When the wildlife biologist came to weigh the bear, they estimated the animal to be between 10- and 15-years-old.

Henry’s previous biggest bear weighed 320 pounds. At 21-years-old, Henry has been hunting since he was in diapers, he said, noting that his family has a long history of hunting with dogs and training them to pursue bears. He spends as much time as possible following his dogs during the Western NC bear season, which this year runs Oct. 17 – Nov. 19, then again from Dec. 12 – Jan. 2.

North Carolina’s biggest bears come from the eastern part of the state. The state (and world) record black bear came from North Carolina’s Coastal Plain (Craven County) and weighed 880 pounds. Still, Henry’s 695-pounder from Western NC would be considered a trophy anywhere in the world, and the kill is especially impressive coming from his area of the state.

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