HomeOutdoorsNewsBehemoth Tennessee Black Bear is Largest Ever Recorded in State

Behemoth Tennessee Black Bear is Largest Ever Recorded in State

by Jon D. B.
largest Tennessee black bear
Black Bear (Ursus americansu). (Photo by Galen Rowell/Corbis via Getty Images)

By Woodsviking Outdoors’ photos and documentation, this Tennessee black bear harvested by local Roger Tipton is by far the largest in state history.

Here in Tennessee, we’re all about fishing and deer hunting records. Official documentation of anything else, however, is hard to come by. There are no state records kept for black bears harvested, so when it comes to identifying the largest of our bears on record, we take hunters and hunting organizations at their word.

In the case of the bear harvested by Rodger Tipton with TBBA and his Woodsviking Outdoors hunting party, there’s ample photographic evidence (the same kind used actively in state records) to support their claim. And it is a truly titanic bear – by far the largest ever recorded in Tennessee and one of the biggest American black bears I’ve come across.

Largest Back Bear in Tennessee State History

The largest black bear ever harvested in Tennessee weighed 735 pounds living. When dressed, which took a team of several men, the bear weighed 660 pounds. These are truly exceptional numbers for an American black bear. Mr. Tipton has provided photos of the harvest, which you can view below.

  • Reported Weight: 735 pounds living, 660 pounds dressed
  • Harvested by  Rodger Tipton & team in Vonore, TN in October 2021
  • “State record black bear in Vonore, TN. Woodsviking Outdoor member Mike Rosen and his members from TBBA brought down this giant over the weekend.”Woodsviking Outdoors announcement post, Oct. 12, 2021

The hunt, report, and numbers come courtesy of Woodsviking Outdoors’ own documentation. But the hunter responsible for the killing shot, Roger Tipton, would further clarify with important weights and photographs as part of the state’s TNDeer.com community.

“I drew the lucky horse shoe that day,” Tipton comments of his Tennessee black bear harvest. Which is an understatement.

As for hauling, dressing, and weighing this giant, “It took several of us, but we had the help of a back pack mounted gas operated tugger,” he adds.

Author Note: The initial article credited Mr. Rosen for the harvest (see Woodsviking Outdoor’s announcement post). It has been updated to credit Mr. Tipton after discussions with both Woodsviking Outdoors and Mr. Tipton.

Eastern Black Bears are Now the Largest in the U.S.

American black bears (Ursus americanus) typically weigh in the range of 100 to 400 pounds. Most males (boars) are exceptionally larger than females. In modern Appalachia, boars regularly exceed 500 pounds. Any black bear pushing 600 pounds around Tennessee is exceptional. But 700 to 900 pounds? That’s the weight of a rare behemoth and true record holders.

According to yearly scientific surveys, North Carolina now has the largest black bears in the United States. Per ECU’s historical libraries, the largest recorded black bear ever harvested in North Carolina was a whopping 880 pounds.

“The state black bear record, and perhaps the world record, was broken in November, 1998, when Coy Parton killed an 880-pound bear near Vanceboro in Craven County. The bear exceeded the old state record by 160 pounds,” cites Wildlife in North CarolinaVol. 63 Issue 2, Feb 1999, p34.

Both this North Carolina and our Tennessee bruin are Eastern black bears (Ursus americanus americanus), a subspecies of Ursus americanus. And as the subspecies balloons in size in NC, they’re bound to make their way east across the Smoky Mountains. Our Tennessee black bears will be far larger in the future as a result.

For more on this subspecies, see Largest Black Bear Ever to Be Caught in North Carolina: See All Measurements and Weight next.