Heath Smith, 25, took a beast of a black bear when he went hunting with friends near Landrum, South Carolina earlier this week. According to Spartanburg Herald Journal, Smith encountered the massive bruin at 170 yards across a creek. It was the same large black bear that they had seen on their trail cameras in the past.
“It looked to us like a 400- or 500-pound bear,” Smith said. “I just thought, ‘Holy cow, this thing is huge.’”
Smith shot the bear, and it turned out his initial estimate was far lower than the official weight recorded by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR). It was confirmed as the new state record at a bewildering 609 pounds. Skull measurements have not yet been released.
Black bears rarely grow past 600 pounds, including South Carolina’s previous record, which came in at 594 pounds. Reportedly the heaviest black bear ever recorded was a male harvested in New Brunswick, Canada in 1972, which weighed an estimated 902 pounds after being field-dressed. However, because bear weights often vary depending on time of year, skull measurements are considered a more consistent method of determining size. The world record as kept by the Boone & Crockett Club is a 23 and 10/16-inch skull found in Sanpete County, Utah and owned by Cabela’s.
Smith’s bear was so large that it took four men and a winch to load the bear up onto a pickup truck. According to WSPA, Smith’s bear will likely require a grizzly-sized mount as opposed to ones made for much smaller black bears. Still, Smith is proud to be a new record-holder and will be planning on keeping the bear in his house, as long as he has room for it. The hunter told reporters that it was his first bear and that he was originally hunting for deer.