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In the last hours of shooting light on October 21st, 2013, South Carolina hunter Heath Smith made a 170 yard shot on a 609-pound black bear. The current state record is 594 pounds.

Smith told The State that while he thought the bear might be a big one he’d seen on trail cameras, he didn’t know just how big it was until he approached it for the first time.

“We’ve seen a lot of bears on the property, but I’ll just let them walk,” Smith said. “I could see the bear’s face clearly in my scope. I knew it was a legal bear, well over 100 pounds. I knew where I’d have to shoot, and when I pulled the trigger, it bolted.”

After an hour, Smith and his friends tracked the bear and found it on the opposite side of a creek, but still underestimated its size. When it took four men and a winch to load it into a truck, Smith realized he had something special.

“It looked to us like a 400- or 500-pound bear,” Smith said. “I just thought, ‘Holy cow, this thing is huge.'”

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