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George's Tennessee Black Bear

Tennessee Black Bear

A Bear Hunt to Remember

It started off a warm morning. As we drove up the path to a parking spot all I could think of was can I make it. As we started ascending the mountain it didn't take long to get winded and legs aching. Thank God we started well before day break. When we got to the top, seems like an hour or more later, we got a break before day was breaking.

We sat talking, discussing previous hunts, when the sky started to break and the radio talk started." Let 'em loose a voice said."  A few minutes later hounds sounded off and the adrenaline started flowing. As we listened Jeff and I started  ascending another ridge hoping to strike a trail but nothing. He let his dogs loose and down they went. The hounds had something on another ridge and seemingly sounded like they were getting farther and farther away, then all of a sudden we were hearing them better and better as we made our way around another ridge trying to catch a listen. We started towards the hounds. It seemed like the hounds were stopped so I asked Jeff," are they treed?" Jeff says," Yeah they are bayed". So we started down the steep mountain, sliding and falling down parts of it trying to locate the bear.

We made it 100 yards or so and Jeff spotted the treed bear," he's a good one", Jeff said. It was an awesome sight, not a big bear but the first bear Ive seen in the wild. I asked," should I shoot it"." No" he said," if he starts coming down the tree hit 'em." As Jeff started on the radio I took my eye off of him for 1 second and down the tree he went. "Hit 'em" Jeff said. I pulled up the 30-30 and shot, loaded another shell and shot again. Looked like 2 misses. The bear took off with hounds on his tail, nipping him every step of the way. Jeff took off running but all I could do is walk.

The bear treed again, but jumped tree when Jeff arrived. As I made my way towards the bayed hounds for a third time, the bear was standing in a V of a big tree. I got there and Jeff put a slow 'em down shot in the bear as he started down the tree for a third time. The bear came down the tree to the base and from there decided to fight the dogs. He was a devil of a bear, 150lbs of bear but seemed like 500lbs of heart and fight in him. We could not see him hardly at all when I made my move to get within 10-15 yards of him. All I could see was the upper half of him and hounds flying back and forth testing their luck.

The bear was understandably upset and showing it, growling at the dogs, swatting at anything close. As I settled the sights on his neck, hounds disappeared, and I let the 30-30 bark again. A sure hit this time, the bear took a few bounding steps and down he went for good. The hounds were all over them." He's down", I said. Jeff moved in, " its all over boys he's done" Jeff said across the radio. "Is he down, how big is he" another voice said over the line. "150-175" Jeff said. I sat there trying to figure out, was I really here experiencing this? Jeff came over and shook my hand " congratulations." All I could say is" thanks." I was caught in the moment. All that work to get up here and it paid off. Not a big bear, but a well earned bear, and I was proud and happy.

We sat for half an hour or better waiting for someone to bring us a rope and get some hounds. we must have had 7-10 dogs tied up to trees waiting on help. Finally another hunter arrived and gave us a hand. It was a pain getting that bear out of the woods even with 10 people helping. Only 3-4 drug the bear at a time but rest was needed often. It took roughly 3 hours from the time I killed it til we got it to the parking lot." I cant imagine getting a big bear out of here" I said to Jeff. When we finally got the truck back to us we loaded him up and took off to the checking station. Later that night Jeff skinned him out and quartered him up for me.

I cant wait to see what he tastes like. Jeff definitely knows what he is doing and will git r done and, his hounds will  git-r-bayed.  That was definitely a heart pumping experience and I learned a lot from this hunt. I will be back again sometime, in better shape, and looking for big daddy bear.
George Helzer


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