Princeton, N.C. hunter kills big Craven County bear

Craven County bear
Brandon Pate killed this Craven County bear on Nov. 13, 2019.

It was the hunter’s first bruin

Brandon Pate of Princeton, N.C. killed a 480-pound black bear in Craven County on Nov. 13. It’s the first bear Pate has ever killed. And he killed it on a day that started out as a deer hunt for him.

“I’m part of a hunt club in Craven County, and during bear hunting season, we let the bear hunters do their thing. Deer season is a lot longer than bear season, so when it’s bear season, we kind of let them have their way, and they let anyone that’s a member of the club join in on the bear hunts, as long as that person has a bear tag,” said Pate.

And on that day, Pate showed up with deer hunting in mind. But he did have a bear tag. And when he learned that the bear hunters had a bear on trail camera that they thought was nearby, he decided to stick around while they turned their dogs loose.

“Sure enough, the dogs treed a bear not long after. Probably around 9 or 9:30 a.m. They asked me if I wanted to shoot it, and I said I’d like that. I’d never killed one, and this was a good opportunity,” he said.

Bear hunters, deer hunters work together on this hunt club

While the dogs were on the chase, Pate was hanging out along a break in the woods. Sometimes the bears try to cross the breaks, and that’s one chance for hunters to shoot them. But the Craven County bear treed before that, and it was treed about 800 yards from where Pate was waiting with some other hunters.

“We went on up there, and there he was in the tree. I shot him with a Browning BAR .30-06,” he said. “It was a neat experience.”

Craven County bear
Hunting bears is a team effort, and Brandon Pate said he couldn’t have killed his big bear without plenty of help.

Before arriving at the club, Pate had decided to bring his deer hounds to run deer. But when he realized the bear hunters were there with dogs, he changed his plans.

“We have about 6000 acres. So there’s really not enough room for us to stay out of each other’s way if deer hunters and bear hunters are running dogs. And like I said, their season is shorter than ours. So I just decided to leave my dogs in the truck and join the bear hunters,” he said.

Pate is having some type of taxidermy done to the bear to commemorate the hunt, but he hasn’t decided exactly what yet. But the bear hunters encouraged him to have the bear’s skull measured. They believe it may be big enough to make the Boone and Crockett Club. Pate is hoping to have it scored at the 2020 Dixie Deer Classic.

Click here to read about North Carolina’s DIY bear hunting opportunities.

About Brian Cope 2783 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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