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Massive black bear taken in Keysville

South Boston News
Tyler Napier of Keysville, left, and his father, Tim, with the 728 pound black bear shot by Tyler. / December 11, 2013
By Robert Benning

The Charlotte Gazette
Reprinted with permission

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland fisheries will soon determine if a 728 pound black bear killed Saturday near Keysville is a state record.

The bear, shot by Tyler Napier of Keysville, stood seven feet, two inches tall and was officially checked-in at a game station near Keysville Saturday.

Napier had spotted the bear several times before on his parent’s farm, but was unable to take a shot until Saturday when he fired five rounds at the huge bear to finally bring it down.

“I saw him for the first time about six years ago, and over the years I would see him from time to time near the corn field on my parent’s farm,” Napier said. “I even took photos of him, but never had the opportunity to take a shot during hunting season.”

On Saturday, Napier was hunting for either a deer or a bear when he came across a large set of fresh bear tracks.

“I followed the tracks for a couple hundred yards, and I guess because of the wind and rain he didn’t hear me coming,” Napier added.

When Napier finally spotted the bear, he was uncomfortably close — not much farther than 15 feet away.

Before the bear could react to his presence, Napier shouldered his .30-06 rifle and fired multiple times. Luckily, that did the job, as Napier had no bullets left.

The bear was so large, Napier enlisted the help of his father, Tim Napier, three other men and a tractor to lift the animal and remove it from the woods — a process that took nearly two hours to complete.

Black bears are now commonly found in Virginia, with the game department estimating over 17,000 living in the Commonwealth.

Average weights for black bears generally fall into the 300 to 500 pound range, but given a good food source, the bears can grow much larger.

Last year a hunter in Lunenburg killed a 674 pound black bear, and in 2000 a hunter in the Dismal Swamp area of Suffolk dropped a 740 pound bear.

Despite the size of those bears, neither was a state record as the game department determines that factor is a point system based mainly on the size of the skull.

As it stands, a bear weighing just under 600 pounds that was killed in Rockingham, Virginia, in 2010 holds the point’s record with a skull measurement of 31 and 9/16. Last year’s Lunenburg bear scored 29 and 15/16 points.

Large black bears have been killed in other states in the last few years, with an 830 pound black bear taken in New Jersey, and an 880 pound bear was killed in Pennsylvania. A 950 pound black bear is currently living in captivity at a bear preserve in Minnesota.

Napier’s bear may be a new state record in Virginia, but he will have to wait until the game department officially measures the bear’s skull. In the meantime, he has been speaking to several taxidermists to determine whether to fully mount the bear, or have it made into a rug.

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I am sorry but this is terrible! Don't get me wrong here, my family are deer hunters and we do eat deer but...this bear apparently has lived near this farm for many years and has caused no harm. Please tell me why this man would want to kill something that is so beauthiful and majestic. Self defense or to feed a family is another story but just for the heck of it to stuff, show off, increase your manliness...there is something just not right about that. I know it has been a losing battle in preaching to try to preserve nature the way God intended it to be but come on now, REALLY, an old black bear? Stalking him? SERIOUSLY? Try a camera next time it is easier to carry out of the woods!


Yea, congratulations Mr. newspaper editor, that's a great picture
and story for the children. Senseless motivations, wrong messaging,
and totally a disregard for nature. So, he had a relationship of some
sort for 6 years with this creature?...poor beast probably trusted him.


I think people should congratulate this man. He had chances after chances to kill this bear, instead he waited to kill legally when it was in season. I think this shows what a true hunter does, he watches the animal and then kills it in the right season. Can you just say some people are way to jealous. People can run down someones kill just because they are jealous they didn't do it. I say CONGRATS and GOOD JOB.


Unless you need food for your family, this is a senseless killing. Wonder what the story would be if the bear had a gun too


What an accomplishment. The young man should be commended for his accomplishment. He found the animal let it mature and then took it according to the wildlife regulations. Which by the way is not uncommon for most hunters, whether it be deer, elk or any other big game animal. The animal was a mature bear. That is what true hunters do. I am so tired of the bleeding hearts that comment on these type articles. Thanks for the article. I am a hunter in North Carolina. I showed the article to my boys and my daughter, who also hunt, and it didn't offend them. If you have nothing good to say don't say anything. Great job on a great trophy.coming19


Ooo... Blood still dripping too. smile. Bears like this one cause many deaths on the road and cause lots and lots of damage to "human" properties. Over 500lbs and they should be jerky. Yumm.....


That is a huge bear! Congratulations. It is a shame that people do not understand hunting or wildlife management. Hunting is the only way to successfully manage a growing bear population. Bears can cause very large damages to farmers or any landowner, and need to be hunted. The picture was a little bloody though, and should have not been used.


I see both sides here. But, does anyone know what was done with the bear? Just because it may have been a record setter doesn't mean it got stuffed. For all we know it's frozen to feed a family for a long time. They should have used a better picture of the bear for the paper, but that's the media can be. Wildlife mgmt is crucial to the bealth of animal populations and though I only fish catch and release, it is easy to understand the allure of once in a lifetime catch.
Try not to judge without all the info. My last thought is whether or not he showed the proper respect the bear in its' sacrifice. Congrats on great hunt.


This was an older, mature bear. Many people don't realize nature can be quite cruel to aged wildlife. Aside from various illnesses, teeth wear dramatically and animals commonly die of starvation-worse than a hunters bullets. According to other articles on this bear, the meat fed multiple families. Congratulation to the hunter on an ethical harvest

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