Hunter said killing his first bear was a team effort
Jerry Alcon of Gibsonville, N.C. killed a 460-pound bear in Washington County on Nov. 14. It was his first bear hunt. He’d spend the previous five Novembers hunting deer in Illinois, so killing a big bear on his first ever hunt was a treat.
“North Carolina has lots of big bears, so we decided last spring we’d try to find a place to hunt them,” said the owner of Alcon New Grass.
Alcon hasn’t shot a deer with a gun in 20 years, and he stuck to his archery equipment for the big bruin. To hear the story of the hunt, it might sound like it was a simple feat. But he was successful because along with friends Michael Smith and Jay Campbell, Alcon worked hard to make it so.
They searched Craigslist for bear hunting properties, and found a club with 5000 acres of Washington County land managed by Weyerhaeuser. The land was for still-hunting deer and bear, and was adjacent to a larger dog-hunting lease. The three friends leased 60 total acres of the club.
After turkey season, the trio fixed, placed, and filled a dozen bait barrels and put up trail cameras. At least once a month, they checked the camera cards and kept the bait barrels full. They had a lot of good bear photos.
Initially, the bears were showing up only in the dark. But during the summer, they began to show up just before sunset every second or every fourth day.
A week of hunting turns fruitful
The three hunters placed three tripod tree stands and met on Nov. 9, opening day of bear season. Campbell got sick early in the trip and left, so Alcon and Smith hunted without him. On Nov. 13, near dark, Alcon saw three bears, but they were too far away for him to take a shot. But he was happy to finally see some activity.
On Nov. 14, things got even better. At 5:15 p.m., Alcon caught a glimpse of a bear walking silently from his right toward a bait barrel. The hunter raised his Mathews Z7 compound bow set at 64-pounds pull weight. He zeroed in on the bear’s left shoulder and released a Gold Tip XT Hunter arrow with a Grim Reaper mechanical broadhead.
Alcon watched the bear run through the woods. Then he sent a text to Smith. They drove to their motel, showered, changed clothes, and ate dinner. Two hours after the shot, they returned to search for the bear.
“We didn’t want to push him, and gave him time to lie down (and expire),” he said.
Their flashlights revealed tiny swipes of blood on leaves and bushes. But they found the bear 100 yards from Alcon’s stand.
“We gave away the meat to friends,” he said. “And Jay Wyrick (taxidermist) will do a shoulder mount of the bear and tan the rest of the hide.”