Hunter Reports North Carolina Offers Excellent Black Bear Hunting


Published: June - 2010

We don't get many bear hunting reports from North Carolina, but subscriber David Powell tells us he's hunted twice with Mike Noles of Conman's Guide Service in Cresswell, North Carolina and finds his outfit excellent in all aspects. Powell says the black bear he took was not a "trophy" but had a beautiful pelt. "Gun or bow, they offer an excellent chance," he says. "They provide absolutely superb service with competent, knowledgeable guides. This is an outstanding opportunity if you want to harvest a black bear." Powell tells us his hunt cost $2,000 including food, lodging and guiding.

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)

 
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