N.C. hunter downs 553-pound Tyrrell County bear

Tyrrell County bear
Randy Lookabill killed this 553-pound bear in Tyrrell County near the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Hunter killed bear near Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Randy Lookabill of Lexington, N.C. killed a 553-pound black bear on his private 30-acre tract of land in Tyrrell County on Nov. 12. He killed the bear with an 18-yard shot with his .45-70 rifle. The bear was so close that all Lookabill could see through his scope was black fur.

“All I could see was black,” he said.

This marks the biggest bear he’s ever killed. Lookabill has been hunting black bears in eastern N.C. since 1995. And prior to this bruin, all his bears were in the 150 to 200-pound range.

A week earlier, Lookabill and his wife threw out some corn. When they checked their trail camera later, they saw that a bear had come in to eat the corn 30 minutes after they’d left. But they didn’t have any photos of the 553-pound bear.

The underbrush was so thick near Lookabill’s stand that he couldn’t see the bear until it was almost at the bait pile.

“At 6:30 a.m., he came from my left,” he said. “At first, I didn’t realized how big he was. Then he walked onto a little knoll, and I could see he was a shooter.”

A nearby shot alerted the bear

Lookabill watched the bear eat corn for about three minutes until a friend, Ben Brown of Stokes County, shot a bear nearby.

“The sound made the bear turn,” he said. “I thought he was getting ready to run, so I had to shoot.”

The bear’s close proximity made it tough to aim.

“I couldn’t look down the barrel (because of the scope),” he said. “So I picked a spot I thought was behind his shoulder.”

The heavy bullet entered the bear’s neck in front of its left shoulder, bore through and exited behind its right shoulder. It dropped the bear in its tracks.

“I was shaking after I shot,” he said. “I couldn’t hold my gun.”

Dragging the bear out was a bit of an issue

Then came the problem of getting the animal out of the woods and back to their campsite.

“My Arctic Cat Alterra has a lift kit, but it couldn’t pick it up. So a buddy brought a 4-wheel drive Polaris Gator,” Lookabill said. “We tied (the bear) to both, and it was still hard to pull.”

They dragged the bear up an 8-foot tall dike at a drainage ditch, and another quarter-mile to their camp.

The bear topped out Lookabill’s digital scales at 500 pounds. A waiting NCWRC biologist had a winch-type scale that indicated 553 pound. The bear’s meat filled a 160-quart cooler and half of another cooler.

The hunter distributed most of the bear meat throughout the local community, and he’s having a full body mount of the bear done at Driftwood Taxidermy in Lexington, N.C.

Click here to read about a Washington County bowhunter that killed a big bear earlier this year.

Craig Holt
About Craig Holt 1308 Articles
Craig Holt of Snow Camp has been an outdoor writer for almost 40 years, working for several newspapers, then serving as managing editor for North Carolina Sportsman and South Carolina Sportsman before becoming a full-time free-lancer in 2009.

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