Cohutta WMA Bear Hunt Draws Crowd In 1985 Caprice

Hunter's Journal - June 2022

Reader Contributed | May 30, 2022

By Barden Revelle

Some days you can do no wrong. Some days everything goes wrong. This tale is a mixture of both. The end product is really what matters.

Picture in your mind the second Saturday of Georgia deer season in the year 1991. It is before daylight in Paulding County. I’m drinking black coffee in front of the wood stove, wishing I was in the Tree Lounge. 

Barden Revelle with a Cohutta WMA bear.

The weekend prior I killed my two good bucks on my club, so I was done for bucks, except for free tags on some of the WMA hunts, which back then usually started later in the season. So, on this morning, I was feeling down in the dumps. I wanted to hunt. 

I started deer hunting in 1965 on Fort Bragg in North Carolina. I moved to Georgia in 1969. I learned how to deer hunt all on my own. No mentor, no videos, no magazines. The deer and my acquired knowledge of the woods taught me how to hunt.

I’m still old school. I’m ornery, don’t like progress or developers. I do like game wardens. Most of them. I don’t hunt deer over bait. I don’t use lures or scents. I pee out of my stand. I have killed a ton of deer through the years, some on private land, some on WMAs. I still hunt both.

This particular morning that I’m writing about, I decided to go through the hunting regulations booklet and see if I missed a WMA hunt. I hit pay dirt. There was a muzzleloader hunt going on at Cohutta WMA for deer, bear and hogs. I had killed a bear a year or so earlier on Blue Ridge WMA with a .444. Since it was a small bear, I craved one that would make a bigger rug. The one from Blue Ridge made a decent pot holder.

I grabbed my smokepole, a Charles Daly .45 caliber with a side hammer. Some years it shot round balls OK, some years it shot sabots OK. Just OK. Not real good. Sometimes it wouldn’t shoot at all. I made every mistake one could make with that muzzleloader.  

I headed to Cohutta. Not in a hurry. On a WMA hunt, I don’t walk in on hunters intentionally if I’m late. I find a long stretch between parked trucks, slip in, not far, and quietly set up. I can scout and find a better place later in the day.

I checked in at the Cohutta check station and chatted with a game warden on the porch for about an hour. 

“Where you gonna hunt?” he asked.

I pointed across the road and said, “right there.” 

There were no trucks anywhere around the check station. I knew an area across the road that had hog dens.

I loaded the smokepole and made a slow circular stalk toward the den area with the wind in my face as much as I could. I occasionally stopped and sat down.

After about the third stop, I was angling uphill and blundered into a big bear coming toward me, quartering. I raised the smokepole slowly and settled on the moving kill zone. I managed to somehow select the set trigger, then squeezed the sho’nuff trigger. 

WHOOM! This was my first of several shots. The bear went down on its hind legs but kept coming and bellering. I had five or six rapid reloads available. I rapid reloaded, but the gun wouldn’t shoot. The bear was still coming toward me and squalling at the top of its lungs. I hated this situation. I like quick, clean kills. 

While all this was going on, I removed the nipple on the smokepole, dropped a few grains of powder inside the nipple hole, reinstalled nipple, pulled trigger, second WHOOM! There were three more WHOOMS and reloads before the bear, which was snapping at everything that touched it, got hung between two trees 10 feet from me. I eased around behind it and put my last load in its neck.

Upon later examination, I found that all but one round hit the kill zone or right around it. A rib deflected the first round up into the spine. Other rounds damaged heart and lungs. One round wounded a paw before it entered the torso. After this hunt, I bought an inline, which was more accurate. Later on we were allowed to put scopes on muzzleloaders.

This ain’t the end of this story. I didn’t field-dress the bear, as I wanted to know the live weight for my ego and sessions around the fire with my hoodlum friends. It was downhill to the road, but the bear seemed glued to the ground. I pulled, rolled and tugged for a while until the ol’ gal wedged between two trees. I couldn’t move it. 

I trekked to the check station where one of the game wardens asked me how many people shot the bear. 

“It was just me.” 

“How’d you reload so fast?” 

“Adrenalin,” I said.

I asked the three or four game wardens for help getting the bear out, but they all had “something to do” and scattered. My list of game wardens I like went south. 

I found one stranger who volunteered to help. He later became a warden at age 42. He is now retired. He has a fine reputation as a man and a game warden. My new friend and I worked our butts off for hours getting the bear out. Once, we had the bright idea of sliding it down a branch. Wrong. It gained 50 pounds, I reckon.

Finally, at the check station, the wardens started to weigh it. Something broke on the scale. Scale, cable, bear and game wardens went to the floor. I re-rigged the scale while the wardens argued over how much the bear weighed and how to read the scales. One said the bear weighed 160, one said 260, one said 360, one said more than 360. The scale was broke. It went down as 260.  

After field-dressing the bear, the wardens helped me load it in my truck. Coming down Highway 411, a car waved me over so the occupants could see the bear. I didn’t know 12 people could fit in an ’85 Caprice. They took pics of one of the occupants of the Caprice hugging the dead bear. The hugger was in almost as bad a shape as the bear, due to imbibing a strong liquid solution all day. Y’all ever smelled a bear? They smell as bad as a polecat. When I drove off, the folks in the ’85 Caprice wouldn’t let the bear hugger back in the car. I reckon he walked.

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  1. Xane on June 18, 2022 at 2:33 am

    Thank you sir, fine story to tell!!

  2. 7pt62THOR on May 30, 2022 at 10:10 am

    Thanks brother for the tale of the hunt!

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