Ringgold resident Tyler Simmons had never seen a black bear in person until Tuesday, Dec. 3 when he bagged one during a hunt in Java.
“This was the first one I’ve even seen,” Simmons said. “I was about done hunting, and getting ready to leave for work when he appeared.”
In addition to it being the first bear he’s ever seen, Tuesday is the first time Simmons has ever gone bear hunting.
Simmons was hiding out listening for dogs that were being used to track and hunt bears.
Suddenly, the black bear emerged from the brush around 15 yards away.
Using a .45-70 lever action rifle, Simmons took his shot and bagged the black bear. It weighs around 500 pounds.
Simmons described the bear’s paws as being as large as basketballs.
“A group of guys come in from the mountains with bear dogs and they hunt with us each year,” Simmons said. “The bear club guys said this is the biggest bear they have seen around [Pittsylvania County].”
Conservation officer Eric Dotterer said it has been at least two years since he has seen a bear as large as the one bagged by Simmons in Pittsylvania County.
“We don’t get too many that big. I’ve only seen one over 500 pounds. That one was on White Oak Mountain and it was 525 [pounds],” Dotterer said.
Simmons plans to do a full body mount for the bear.
Most of the bear meat will be donated to Hunters for the Hungry.
Dotterer said bear hunting in Pittsylvania County began Dec. 2 and continues through Dec. 21.