Intrigued, we had a long conversation with Noles about his operation. First, let it be noted that the name "Conman's" is not a descriptor, but a construct from the names of the principals involved (Noles and his wife, Connie). Noles tells us that between small game, big game, waterfowl and upland birds, he and his guides conduct almost 600 hunts per year. The bear hunts occur in November and December. In November, he runs a five-day hunt (November 8-14 this year) and then two three-day hunts in December (there is no Sunday hunting allowed in North Carolina).
Noles' hunting situation is unusual in that baiting bears is illegal in North Carolina. He controls about 8,000 acres of private land surrounded by National Forest Land that is a US Fish and Wildlife bear sanctuary. Noles pays farmers to leave crops in the field, which attracts and concentrates bears when nearby areas are harvested. All hunting is from stands, and firearms (including pistols) and archery are both legal.
With this setup, Noles manages to provide shooting opportunities for 75 percent of his hunters and an actual kill rate of about 50 percent. The difference is accounted for by the occasional miss and the fact that many of his hunters are repeat customers who hold out for larger bears.
According to Noles, the bears they take average about 350 pounds. Each year, they take at least one bear of 600 pounds or more, and they........(continued)