Trenniss Elliott was expecting nothing more than a nice family outing when he took his wife and sons to Cooper’s Creek Wildlife Management Area near their Blairsville, Ga., home on Oct. 4.
The occasion was an annual adult-child event designed to encourage youth to enjoy the outdoors safely. Sponsored by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, and the Cooper’s Creek Sportsmen’s Club, it offered instruction in air gun and archery shooting plus other outdoor skills. Union County wildlife officer Eric Wood was in charge.
Part of the attraction for Elliott was the chance for his family to go hunting together, whether he killed a deer or not. But shortly before 6 p.m., bigger game showed up: A black bear weighing about 500 pounds appeared in the distance.
“We were set up in this little food plot,” Elliott related later, admitting that he was anxious about his family’s welfare while being excited about the opportunity. “The bear came over this ridge ahead of us and out into a field.”
Elliott brought the bear down with just one shot from his Ruger 308.
“He rolled over two or three times, but since he was only about 45 or 50 yards from us, I shot again just to be on the safe side,” he said.
The kill took place near graveled Duncan Road west of Vogel State Park.
Although Elliott, 31, had hunted since the age of 10 — once killing a 13-point buck in Lincoln County, Ga. — he had never before seen a bear in the wilds. And his family had camped often in their 24-foot trailer at Cooper’s Creek.
“I have some buddies who have killed them, but none this big,” Elliott said. “My sons got to see a bear in the wilds earlier than when I did.”
He plans to have a half-body mount made of it as a wall keepsake. Since the bear was so large, it is also being checked for a possible Boone & Crockett rating — listing the largest North American big-game animals killed.
Part of the bear will be for eating during the holidays, Elliott said.
“A lot of people don’t like it,” he said. “Some say it’s too greasy or tough. But it all depends upon how you cook it. If you don’t cook it slow, it will be tough.”
The first thing you do is soak the meat in salt water to remove the game taste.
“You cook it eight to nine hours, dump in water and place your potatoes and onions in there,” Elliott said.
E-mail Dan Cook at ChattaDan@ao.coml