Known for excitement, hound hunting is no easy way of taking a black bear, especially in Eastern North Carolina. The extremely thick pocosin offers unbelievable bear habitat, but it does not offer easy passage for us 2-legged creatures. You will be challenged physically and mentally as the bear maneuvers and tries to evade the hounds. Through bear dens, ditches, briar patches, and game trails; you will likely be reduced from walking to crawling on your stomach, hands, and knees or rolling on top of the thick canopy.
This style of hunting offers an intimate look inside the black bears world. You will be exposed to the wilderness and solve the mystery as to why these bears grow to be the “Worlds Largest Black Bears.” These ultra-thick pieces of forest are loaded with berries, nuts, and small game making it the perfect habitat.
The houndsmen take great pride in the skill and effectiveness of their hounds. Therefore they train year-round to ensure their ability. We typically hunt with Walkers and Black-and-Tan hounds. These particular hounds stand up well against the thick wilderness and large bears. Lead dogs are chosen for their strong scent-trailing abilities, speed, focus, and drive. Once the lead dog strikes a bear, the houndsmen will then dump a few more hounds to give chase. The idea is for the bear to bay, depending on size and stamina of the bear, this could take a while. You will know the bear is bayed when you hear the dog’s tone and cadence change.
It is now time to dive in after him. As you draw closer to the action you may hear the bear growling or chomping his teeth. The roar of the dogs will mask your sound some, but it is best to move in as stealthily as possible. Keep in mind most shots on dog hunts are from 50 feet to point-blank. When you’re that close to the bear the whole world tunes out and you become keenly focused on the bear.
As you draw down on the bear, it is critical to listen and take careful instruction from your guide. Your guide will help position you for the best possible shot, making sure the hounds are out of the way and the shot is clear. Shot placement is key as you take aim, be sure to aim for vitals or his head if possible. “Don’t forget the double safety if you’re using a 45-70.” Once you have taken the shot, reload quickly and prepare to shoot again. The accompanying guide will be able to provide guidance during this unnerving time. 45-70’s and slug guns are the preferred, and most effective, guns for this style of hunting.
That night, we can promise you will have an epic bear story to tell for all time.