21-year-old Caleb Henry of Fines Creek, North Carolina recently killed an absolutely massive black bear. On Oct. 17, the opening day of bear season, he and his friend Lucas Teague took their bear dogs hunting in Haywood County. That day. Teague shot his first ever bear—a 475-pound buck.
The next morning, the boys were back at it. “Lucas released two dogs that morning, and I released two dogs,” Henry tells F&S. “They went down to this laurel bush and parted ways. His two dogs chased a big one, and mine chased a smaller bear that was probably about 200 pounds.”
Henry and Teague focused on the big bear and followed Teague’s dogs. They released more dogs to run off the great rush while the other two dogs tackled the smaller bear. After the dogs stampeded the big bear, Henry shot it once with a lever action .35 Remington and released it.
Getting such a massive creature out of the woods posed its own challenge. “Fortunately, we weren’t too far from a trail that we could walk side by side down,” says Henry. “We used one of those big white ‘tun’ bags. There were eight of us, and we all rolled it into that big sack, tied a rope to the sack, and tied a block of tools to a tree. We dragged him side by side down the trail. Then we backed up against a high bank and rolled it back side by side.”
After taking the bear home, they discovered how big it really was. Hanging on a meat scale, the hog weighed 695 pounds — a new record for Western North Carolina. It beat the old record for the area, a 688-pound bruin that was taken in Madison County.
The hunt was the culmination of a lifetime of bear hunting. “I was probably eight or nine years old when I killed my first bear,” Henry says. “I’ve been hunting them ever since. The biggest one I had shot before that was 320 pounds.”
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Henry is a greyhound and says he was raised by several generations of other enthusiasts. He and his brother Cody train walks and plots, though his family has worked with blue and red ticks in the past. “My family and I don’t really like sitting in a bear hunting stand,” he says. “For us, that’s not the way to do it. We’d rather do it with our dogs.”