Tim Watson, of Dillard, got settled in his stand around 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30 in hopes of killing a bear. He was hunting a private tract of land in Rabun County.
“I had seen a big bear several times prior to hunting in this spot,” said Tim. “So, I decided to hunt Saturday evening. Around 6:30, I saw a bear feeding on acorns, and it was headed toward me. The bear got about 15 yards, and I took the shot with my crossbow. The shot looked good.”
Tim let the bear lay for over an hour while he gathered up a search-and-drag crew. He returned back to search for the bear with his brother and nephew.
“We started finding a lot of blood,” said Tim. “We got halfway up a hill and found half of my bloodied arrow laying there. After 200 to 300 yards of tracking, we recovered the bear. I couldn’t believe the size.”
Tim called David Watson, Tony Watson, Joe Watson, Matthew Buchanan, Billy McClain and Stacy Mitchell to drag the massive bear out.
“Just looking at the bear laying there, I was guessing around 500 pounds but was not sure,” said Tim. “We tied ropes to the bear and drug him out. By the time we were done dragging the bear, it was around 1 in the morning.”
In the mix of everything going on, Tim called DNR Law Enforcement Sergeant Derek Dillard, who pointed him toward WRD Wildlife Technician Ryan Watts to go get the massive bear weighed at the Warwoman WMA check-in station that night. The Rabun County bear weighed an outstanding 673 pounds, which shattered the old Georgia weight record of 601 pounds.
“This bear was definitely in the prime of his life,” said Ryan. “I have seen a lot of bears in my life, but this bear was mind-blowing. Looked like a cow. I pulled a tooth and sent that off to determine the age, plus got all the other data I needed. Just guessing, this bear is probably 10 to 15 years old. Super proud of Tim.”
Tim said that he will be getting the skull measured for B&C consideration, although a trophy on the wall isn’t as important as meat in the freezer to him.
“I am no trophy hunter,” said Tim. “I hunt for the meat.”
Tim’s giant bear is without a doubt the heaviest recorded bear in Georgia history. Last year a controversy was started over Leta Carter’s bear, which first weighed 601 pounds but was later officially recorded at 599 pounds after a second set of scales was required by WRD headquarters. WRD recorded the official weight at 599 pounds, which meant Leta’s bear missed the state’s heaviest bear record by only 1 pound. WRD said in that story that they didn’t have a concrete record-keeping policy for bears.
So Leta’s bear went to No. 2 and a controversy was sparked.
Prior to the beginning of this archery season, the state’s heaviest bear record was still owned by Tyler Wood with his 600-lb. bear taken in 2011 in Clinch County. Tyler’s bear is now at No. 2 after Tim’s bear smoked the old record by more than 70 pounds.
GON has recently learned that WRD’s Bear Committee is in the process of formulating a method that would allow them to give bears a record status.