Matthew Chapman of Morganton, N.C. has killed his share of black bears over the years, but he’d never killed one so big that it broke a scale while determining its weight. That’s exactly what happened when he killed one in Burke County on Nov. 9 during an evening hunt.

“We weighed it on a 440-pound scale and it literally broke the scale. It didn’t just bottom it out; the scale physically broke,” said Chapman.

“We didn’t get out of the woods until 7:30 or 8 p.m., so we couldn’t find any other place to weigh the bear. We figure it weighed at least 500 pounds, and I think we are being pretty conservative there,” he said.

It was the last week of the county’s first bear season of the year, and Chapman got into the woods around 4 in the afternoon. At about 4:30, a coyote showed up, and the hunter decided he was going to take a shot at the varmint.

“I almost shot the coyote, but he never really offered me the perfect shot, so after a while, it ran off. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t take a shot at it,” he said.

An hour or so later, the bear walked into view. Chapman was hunting from a tree stand overlooking some woods with corn fields nearby. It’s an area where bears frequent these fields, gorging on corn, he said.

With the bear on all fours at 50 yards away, Chapman pulled the trigger on his .300 Win-Mag and sent a load of Federal Fusion broadside through the bruin’s shoulder. The bear dropped immediately.

With darkness coming quickly, Chapman began the recovery process, starting with his ATV that he used to pull the bear to the closest road bed. From there, he and his dad managed to get it loaded onto his dad’s Kawasaki Mule, and they took it to Chapman’s truck.

“It took forever,” he said. “But it was worth it.”

It’s Chapman’s biggest ever bear, and he’s commemorating the hunt with a half body mount from Leonard’s Taxidermy in Morganton.