VIDEO: Hunter went into Mississippi woods to bag a deer, caught memory of lifetime instead thanks to quartet of bears

Published 3:39 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A Louisiana man deer hunting in Mississippi was looking for a trophy deer, but he wound up bagging something much more special, a memory he’ll never forget thanks to four black bears.

Hunter Art Melancon of Larose, Louisiana, was hunting on a lease in Franklin County, Mississippi when he captured the rare sight on video.

“I’ve been hunting there for 12 years,” Melancon said. “We’ve seen bear tracks, I get them on my game camera, but I’d never seen a live bear.”

Two weeks ago that changed and he saw a single bear as he was hunting.

“I was super excited, I’d finally seen a bear,” Melancon said.

But the following Thursday, Nov. 18, Melancon saw something very few hunters see.

“I hurried up and got the stand, the wind was in my face,” he said. “I hear something on the side of me, and hear something walking and there’s a big bear sitting there.”

Melancon was in a box stand approximately six feet off the ground.

He said he watched the bear eating grass for a minute.

“Then a little while later, there’s another one comes out,” he said. “Then on my right another one came out.”

“When the third one came out, I say oh ****!” Melancon said. “It was crazy because I’ve been wanting to see one. Then one week I see one, then the following week I see four come out.”

Melancon guesses that one of the bears was a female and two of the others were her babies from last year and the fourth, perhaps, was this year’s cub.

“I could have dropped a pin on them, they were right there,” he said.

Melancon said he didn’t get a deer that day, but he didn’t care. He got a memory of a lifetime.

“It actually made my day seeing those bears than actually killing a deer.

Two species of black bear live in Mississippi, the American black bear and the Louisiana black bear. The species are visually identical, but have slightly different DNA and bone structure, officials with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks say.

The four bears in the video are Louisiana back bear, based on where they were spotted.

For many years, the Louisiana black bear was listed as federally threatened. They were removed from that list recently, but remain listed as endangered and thus protected by Mississippi law.

As recently as 2002, when the state of Mississippi setup a bear protection program it was believed that perhaps less than 50 bears existed in the state.

Now, thanks to protection measures, the state believes more than three times that many bears exist in the state.