A North Carolina teenager took one of the largest black bears of the year.
Branson Long got a birthday present to end all birthday presents--a gigantic, 705-pound black bear--just two weeks after he officially became 13 years old.
The North Carolina teen had told his father, Brandon, that he wanted to go on a bear hunt, and what a hunt it turned out to be. Branson killed the largest bear ever taken in Carteret County, and one of the biggest in the country this year.
He, his father and his uncle were hunting near their hometown of Beaufort when they starting spotting bears. At first, they were glassing and saw a number of smaller bears that they decided to pass on.
"I had told Branson to pass on the smaller bears we saw early, thinking there were bigger ones around and wanting him to get a trophy," Brandon said.
They spotted a couple of big bears and focused on the one that looked to be larger.
"We stopped at a place in the corner of a field to look at these bears, and my dad looked to his left and saw this bear," Branson said. "It had been hidden from us by the growth on the ditch bank, but at the corner of the field, the road crossed and we could see it. It was a really big bear, and my dad took a quick look and told me this was the bear we were looking for and to get out and shoot it."
The adrenaline was running high and it took the youngster some time and coaching from his father to calm down before he took the shot. But when he did shoot, he made it count. From a distance of 220 yards, it was a perfect heart shot that dropped the bear in its tracks.
"I thought my heart was beating like crazy when I was trying to aim and shoot, but it really went wild as we got close to my bear," Branson recalled. "My dad said it looked like a Volkswagen laying there, and it did. Man, it was big."
However, that wasn't all from the big bear. Branson got a scare when he lifted the bruin's head.
"One funny thing happened too," he said. "Its head was huge, and my dad asked me to see if I could raise its head for a picture. It had fallen and buried its nose in the dirt, and I had to tug hard. There must have been some air trapped in its lungs and as I tugged on its head it began a low growl. I wasn't expecting that and dropped its head and was ready to run. My dad got a good laugh out of that."
Brandon realized the bear was too large to haul back to their vehicle, so he called for help.
"It took them about an hour to get there, and we had plenty of time to take pictures and let it sink in that this was not just a big bear, but a special bear," he said.
A bear biologist from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission verified the bruin's weight of 705 pounds. She told them it was the biggest bear on record from Carteret County.
"It was the fattest bear I have ever cleaned and had fat that was five inches thick right under its skin," Brandon said. "It took us six hours to get it dressed and bagged."
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