In eastern and western North Carolina, many modern bear hunters own pursuit hounds, most from the Plott stock, a breed of brindled bear and boar dog brought to the high country in 1750 by Johannes Plott, a German immigrant.

Although some still-hunters target bears in North Carolina, more bruins are taken in front of hounds in the eastern part of the state. The majority of North Carolina’s bears live in coastal-plain counties, but populations in the mountain counties are catching up quickly. 

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission estimates its statewide bear herd at 15,000 to 20,000, most living in 60 percent of the state’s total land area. Of that total, 6,000 to 8,000 live in the mountains,  9,000 to 12,000 in the eastern third of the state and a few scattered across the piedmont.

Eastern and western bears have one thing in common: they live in hard-to-hunt areas, either because of thick, swampy terrain or steep, wooded slopes.

But there’s no doubt the brave, tenacious Plott hound breed — the official state dog ­­­— is at least partially responsible for North Carolina’s reputation as the country’s black bear-hunting destination.