Heath Smith, 25, of Easley, said he caught sight of a black bear about 170 yards away while he was hunting Monday evening near Landrum, and determined the animal was likely the same bear recorded recently by trail cameras, The Herald Journal, Spartanburg, S.C., reported Friday.
"We've seen a lot of bears on the property, but I'll just let them walk," Smith said. "I could see the bear's face clearly in my scope. I knew it was a legal bear, well over 100 pounds. I knew where I'd have to shoot, and when I pulled the trigger, it bolted."
However, Smith said he and his friends soon found the bear felled by his bullet across a creek.
The bear was weighed by state Department of Natural Resources officers and was found to be 609 pounds, besting the previous state record of 594 pounds.
"We're seeing more big bears," said Tammy Wactor, a DNR wildlife biologist. "They're eating trash, from deer feeders. All of that can jump the sizes up. It's not common, though, to have a 600-pound bear."