Bear Hunting Magazine
Winning Image Credit: Bear Hunting Magazine
Winning Image Credit: Bear Hunting Magazine


The cold, dull sting of winter on my face made the whimpers and howls of the hounds pierce me with a deafening clarity.

Clay Newcomb

An Appalachian snowstorm had dumped a fresh coat of snow on the landscape, and the last thing most people were thinking about was hunting bears. The houndsmen, not so. It was early December, and the Tennessee bear season was in its final days. The easy bears had been killed, presumably many were denned up, and few were making tracks. Conditions were as tough as they get for pursuing bears with hounds.

I headed up the mountain following a young man by the name of Ben Jones. Long-legged, wiry, and conditioned by the last 60 days of hunting, I struggled to keep up with him as he led a pack of dark Plott hounds through the laurels. The Houston Valley Plott line of dogs was started in this valley by his grandfather, Berry Tarlton, and hunted by his entire family, including his father Tracy Jones (TL). We pounded the roadless mountain looking to cut a fresh bear track, and at midmorning, we finally did. The dogs pursued the bear until after nightfall; many times they had him stopped, but the rugged terrain made travel for the hunters slow. The bear got away. The bear won.

I was only able to hunt for two days. As I sat with Tracy (TL) the evening of the fina

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