Andrew Johnson, 18, of Folkston, had an unusual encounter with a Charlton County bear the evening of Nov. 29.
After leaving his hunting lease off Hwy 121, Andrew was headed home when his Ford F-250 struck a huge black bear—which would later weigh 560 pounds. At the same time, a local landowner was down the road leaving from his hunting property and heard the collision. He reportedly said, “It sounded like a bomb going off.”
“The bear went all the way across the road, reached the middle guardrail, then turned around and came back onto the pavement, and that’s when I hit it,” said Andrew.
The landowner who heard the commotion drove down the road to meet Andrew, and a decision was made to call DNR Law Enforcement Ranger First Class Sam Williams, who came to the scene.
“You could see where a bear had drug his body up the ditch into a real thick wooded area,” said Sam.
The bear retreated to thick cover, and the wise decision was made to continue the search the next morning.
“I’ve been doing this long enough that I don’t go into the woods on a hurt bear in the dark. That’s their territory,” said Sam.
The next morning Andrew and the same nearby landowner received permission to look for the bear on a tract of private property where it had disappeared the evening before. DNR Law Enforcement granted the needed permission for the injured bear to be killed since bear season in south Georgia is currently closed.
“We tracked forever,” said Andrew. “He traveled quite a ways, even with it being injured.”
After they followed drag marks through the woods, they found the bear. Both back legs had been broken by the vehicle collision, which remarkable didn’t do too much damage to Andrew’s truck. The bear was dispatched.
The giant bear was taken to Margo State Line, where the certified scales read 560 pounds.
“It’s a heavy-bodied bear, no doubt,” said Sam.
The current state record bear weighs 600 pounds and was taken in Clinch County in 2011.
Andrew and his dad are having a full body mount done by Rick Carter in Athens.