Terry Grieser (lt) with his trophy Boone & Crockett black bear and Zeke the Bluetick Bear Dog, Dave Van Alsacker’s (rt) best dog.

Some big black bears live in the Upper Peninsula and Terry Grieser from Lakeview got one of them in the Carney Bear Management Unit on October 10 with the help of hounds owned by David Van Alsacker from Northland. The extra large bruin had a live weight of 655 pounds and its skull is sure to be of Boone & Crockett proportions.

Although Grieser has been bear hunting with hounds for five years, this monster is the first one to his credit.

“I never expected my first bear to be a once-in-a-lifetime,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

Few Michigan bears reach the 600-pound mark, but heavier ones have been recorded. Mark Hanna from Faithorn shot a Menominee County bruin during the fall of 2019 with a live weight of at least 730 pounds. The animal’s actual dressed weight was between 640 and 650 pounds.

Bears from the southern U.P. with access to cornfields tend to pack on more pounds than those farther north. Southern U.P. bruins usually have more time to gain weight because winter weather that causes them to enter dens arrives later. Many meals of corn contributed to the weight of Grieser’s Delta County bear.

“Dave got a call from a farmer that had really bad bear damage in a cornfield,” Terry explained. “The farmer wanted Dave to use his dogs to chase some of the bears away from the corn. One of my best friends (Kodde Devries) and I had tags for the third season this year that starts on September 25, but it was later than that when we got to the U.P. to hunt. Dave waited to hunt that cornfield until we got there.”

When they got to the cornfield, they let the dogs loose in the corn to see if they could pick up the scent of a bear that had been feeding there. The “best dog David has ever had,” a male bluetick named Zeke, eventually located the trail of a bear and took off on it. Zeke was joined in the chase by four other dogs.

The party had no idea how big the bear was that the hounds started after. Since multiple bears that varied in size were feeding in the cornfield, it could have been any of them. The dogs eventually bayed the bear on the ground, and Grieser was closest to the action, so he headed toward the baying hounds to try to get a shot at the bear with his .450 Bushmaster rifle loaded with 300 grain Federal Bullets.

“When I got close to the dogs, the cover was so thick I crawled on my hands and knees along the creek bottom,” Terry said. “I got close enough to see the bear and could tell it was a shooter, but I couldn’t tell how big it was. The bear heard or smelled me and busted out of there before I could get a shot.”

The bear headed back toward the cornfield and was about 500 yards from the corn when the dogs bayed the bruin on the ground again. Usually, big bears tend to pick spots to fight dogs on the ground more than small to average-sized animals. Some average-sized, aggressive bears sometimes take a stand on the ground rather than climb a tree.

“When the bear bayed up the second time, I could see him from 50 yards out,” Terry explained. “I kept trees between me and the bear to get as close as I could before taking a shot. I got to within seven yards. I poked out from behind a tree and shot. The bear went down instantly, and Grieser put an insurance shot. Terry got as close as he did to the bayed bear to increase the chances of making a killing shot without endangering the dogs.

Even when Terry shot the bear, he had no idea how big it was. It wasn’t until afterward that it became obvious that the bruin was exceptional.

“Another member of the hunting party shot a bear that weighed 535 pounds the week before,” Terry commented. “We thought the one I shot might weigh a little bit more. We guessed he would weigh 550.

The successful hunt for the big bear covered about two miles and took approximately two hours. Additional time was involved in getting such a large bear out of the woods, of course.

“We were able to get him out of there without gutting him,” Terry said. “Someone found a logging road within 100 yards of where I killed the bear. We got him out of there with five guys pulling on leashes attached to the bear.

“If I had killed the bear in the first spot where it bayed, we would have never gotten him out of there in one piece. We would have had to cut him up to carry out in pieces.”

Everyone was in for a surprise when the scale they put the bear on ended up reading about 100 pounds more than they thought.

“It was dumb luck,” Terry said. “Nobody ever hunted there before and we didn’t have any baits. You could say it was beginner’s luck.”