I recently had the opportunity to go hunting in Coastal North Carolina for black bear. I was invited to the bear hunt several months ago by my good friend Chuck Paddock at Open Season TV.
This was an opportunity to hunt a bear with a lever gun, something I always have wanted to do. I immediately called Winchester. They hooked me up with a 1894 takedown in .450 Marlin. I fell in love with the gun. I wanted to add some personal touches, so I contacted Tyler Gunworks, Skinner Sights, Superior Ammunition and Diamond D Leather. With some amazing coordination from Bobby Tyler, I ended up with a gorgeous 94. Time to hunt!
I left early on a Sunday morning to make a 6-hour trek to the bear woods to meet Chuck. He was flying in from Indiana, and we were meeting in NC. We timed it perfectly, arriving within about 10 minutes of each other. When we arrived, the hunting was on hold until church let out. This gave us time to meet some of the others in camp. I mentioned to Chuck, “We still needed a license to hunt.”
He said, “Let’s run back into town and get one.”
That’s when the craziness began. Evidently, nothing is open in rural NC on Sunday. We had to drive 2 hours roundtrip to get a license. We missed the first day hunt!
Monday brought even more challenges. We had a bear bayed up in the woods. We needed to go in and check. They said the water might be deep in that particular block. Chuck, hunting with a muzzle loader, quickly volunteered me. “Gary, you go get him” he said. “I have a muzzleloader and it cannot get wet.”
Now I had been called out and had to go. As we approached the woods, I did not hear the hounds, but the Garmin insisted that they were there. As I entered the water for the first time, I was cussing my good friend “Can’t Get My Muzzleloader Wet” Chuck. The air temperature was 37 degrees, and I was now wet to the tops of my legs. We walked 500 yards into the woods to find out that there was no bear and the dogs were swimming! We hunted the rest of the day and did not get a bear.
Tuesday was a different story. We made shift to a new block, and it was full of bears. I have never seen a concentration of bears like this. The North Carolina Resource Commission has done an amazing job in this area. The hunting is amazing.
I have had a few days to reflect back on this hunt. This one will go down as one of my favorites. A whirlwind 2-day hunt that produced an amazing bear and cemented lifelong friendships. A special thank you to all of you that made this happen!