Raleigh hunter kills 520-pound bear in Edgecombe County

Ryan Pridgen of Raleigh, N.C. killed this big bear in Edgecombe County in December 2018.

Bear hunt becomes close encounter

Ryan Pridgen killed a 520-pound bear in Edgecombe County, N.C. on Dec. 11 during an up close and personal outing. Pridgen shot the bruin from about 10 feet away right between the eyes with a .45/70.

Pridgen and his dad raise bear hounds on their farmland in Edgecombe County. They spend most of their time helping others kill bears. After tracking a bear with trail cameras over the past four years, Pridgen decided the bear was big enough that he wanted to hunt it himself.

“It’s just outside of Tarboro, and there’s not too many bears there. We’ve gotten trail cam photos of this one for the past four years, but this year, he had grown up quite a bit. I really enjoy working the dogs for other bear hunters and seeing them kill their first bear, but I wanted to get this one myself,” he said.

Pridgen’s trail cameras send photos to his cell phone, allowing him to pattern the bear without disturbing the area and spooking the bear. By the end of the first week in December, Pridgen was ready to hunt it.

Hounds found bear pretty quickly

“Then that snowstorm hit, and messed those couple of days up. But I was able to hunt on the morning of Dec. 11, and once we turned the dogs loose, they found the bear within 30 minutes. They went right to it and woke it up. The bear never treed; he just stayed on the ground, but when he caught wind of us, he moved and we saw him a little ways off. It looked like a black Volkswagen going by,” he said.

Ryan Pridgen poses with another one of his 2018 trophies — the only gator killed during N.C.’s first sanctioned season.

The bear sat down about 50 yards away from Pridgen and his hunting partner. Thick brush stood in between them and the bear. Pridgen wanted to get his GoPro camera rolling, so while we adjusted that, his friend crouched down to peer through the brush and hurried him along.

“You better have everything together. The bear is moving,” his friend said.

“I told him ‘yes, I know he’s coming,’ but he answered me right away with ‘no, he’s here,” he said.

And with that, Pridgen saw the bear about 10 feet away. He aimed at the bear’s head and pulled the trigger. The bear dropped, rolled over, and never moved again.

Bruin isn’t Pridgen’s only trophy of 2018

Pridgen, who killed the only alligator in North Carolina’s first sanctioned gator season this past fall, said the bear hunt topped off a great hunting year for him.

“This was a really special hunt for me. To kill a big bear like that on our farm, in our hometown, with our own dogs — I really can’t express how much that means to me,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2745 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 brianc@sportsmannetwork.com.