The black bear is the only bear species found in North Carolina or anywhere in the eastern United States. The successful comeback of the American black bear in North Carolina represents one of wildlife management's greatest achievements. Black bears were once restricted to remote areas and reached very low population levels in the mid-1900s. Today, black bears are found approximately 60% of the total land area of North Carolina.
A young male in a field about a mile from my house.
There are black bears all around where I live, and as fall approaches, we see them more and more in the fields where corn grew a month ago. They love the grubs there, but around here there is plenty of fish, frogs, wild berries and assorted reptiles to keep them happy. If I happen to leave the garage door open, one may wander and browse in the garbage can. It’s not uncommon to see a mama bear and a cub or two dining on frogs and crayfish along the road I have to travel to reach civilization. They are curious and shy and will not attack unless they think their cubs are in danger. We have one in the hood this year that probably tops 600 pounds, and he likes walking down the middle of the road, nice and slow. It’s HIS road, too, after all.
In the adjacent field, a mom with triplets heading for the tall grass.
With the successful re-population of Eastern North Carolina with black bears also comes the problem of OVER-population in some areas. So we now have bear hunting season. This year my county has almost three weeks of bear hunting: 11/11 – 11/16 and 12/16 – 12/28.
Bears have been traditionally hunted like deer – from a tree stand in the woods. The hunter masks his scent and simply waits in the stand for a bear to wander by (or there may be a bait station nearby – depending on wildlife regulations). If you’re a great shot and manage to hit a vital organ, you’ll have a nice trophy bear head to mount, and maybe a bearskin rug. Bears are seldom killed for food but if you intend to eat one, you better get it in the pot within hours of the kill. Just ugh.
Hunters might also hunt the bear on foot, creeping through the woods, moving slowly, so the bear isn’t frightened by sudden movements. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Thinking it takes a truly brave hunter to go after a big bear? Well, this is all bullshit and folklore.
Enter the state dog of North Carolina – the Plott Hound. (Apparently back in 1989 our state legislature had time on their hands so they came up with a state dog – a wonderful use of legislative hours.) Originally bred for boar hunting, one letter was changed and now they are used for bEar hunting.
Today’s bear hunters simply attach a GPS to the collar of the Plott Hound (usually there are MANY hounds used for the hunt) and the dogs are released.
The brave hunters stand around at the side of the road, drinking beer and tracking the dogs. When the GPS shows the dogs aren’t moving, but howling and barking is heard in the distance, these manly men know that the dogs have treed a bear.
They then hop in their trusty ATV’s and head for the dogs’ location. I assume these people draw straws for shooting order – I don’t really know because this entire thing disgusts me so much I can’t bear (pun intended) to be in the same COUNTY with them. The bear is shot 5-6 times by the gang of hunters, and then it falls dead or wounded to the ground. Cheers and laughter! WE WENT BEAR HUNTING AND GOT ONE!
I personally find this the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. The bear has ZERO chance of survival. And the girly-men with the powerful rifles and the GPS dogs boast about the ‘hunt’.
What a bunch of cowardly braggadocios pussies!