Easley man takes state’s largest bear

Joe Toppe Staff Writer

October 23, 2013

EASLEY – Breaking the record by 15 pounds, Easley resident, Heath Smith, shot and killed a 609 pound black bear while deer hunting in the Upstate.

“I didn’t realize when I shot it how big it really was,” Smith said. “It took us about an hour or hour and a half to get to it, and when we finally did, we realized how big it was.”

Smith said it will cost thousands to stuff the bear, and because of its size, he will have to use a mount designed for a Grizzly.

Bear hunting season ran from Oct. 17, to Oct. 23, with no dogs, and will run from Oct. 24, to Oct. 30, with dogs.

In recent years, bear sightings have increased as populations have spread to share habitat with bears.

A heavy acorn crop last year created sightings of bear in northern Pickens County along Scenic Hwy 11. Naturalists warn about leaving trash accessible to bears in places they are known to frequent.

DNR officials have warned of bears that have become accustomed to eating pet food and garbage containers left outdoors.

2007 saw a record bear harvest. According to a DNR release, a record number of black bears were harvested during the two-week bear-hunting season in the three South Carolina mountain counties. The state’s chief black bear biologist said this was expected since bear are increasing both their numbers and their range.

Fifty-eight black bears were harvested during the 2007 bear season, held the last two weeks of October in Greenville, Oconee and Pickens counties. This is the highest number of bear ever harvested during the two-week season, which is divided into one week of still-hunting and one week of hunting with dogs. The previous record of 55 bears harvested was set in 2003.

The highest number of bears harvested during the 2007 season was in Oconee County with 23, followed by Pickens County with 20 and Greenville County with 15, according to DNR.

Bears have been spotted throughout our area including one last year in Pendleton and in recent years in Powdersville and Easley.