Record North Carolina Bear now on display in Decorah

By Kate Klimesh,

Russell Novak (l) and Brent Freilinger (r) showcase the record-setting black bear harvested by Freilinger in North Carolina in 2021. After over a year’s time at the taxidermist, the bear is now on display at Kingpin Entertainment Center in Decorah. (submitted photo)

When Brent Freilinger of Decorah went hunting in North Carolina for the first time with Russell Novak and fellow Perry Novak Electric and Marv Smith management team members on annual hunting trips, he wasn’t sure what to expect…but it probably wasn’t a record-setting black bear.

“First off, I am so appreciative of being able to go on these trips through Perry Novak Electric. This bear was harvested Nov. 15, 2021…It was only my second time hunting and my fourth time hunting anything, using a borrowed gun from the Hunting Club we were at,” reported Freilinger. “I never have hunted before these trips, so went through Hunter’s Safety and made sure I had my hunting licenses.”

Freilinger had shot a smaller bear the year prior, and relayed he couldn’t really tell how big this bear was when the shot presented itself. “The Hunting Club we were with had some dogs along in these huge woods. We were walking through the woods and the dog had stopped, which usually means it’s treed a bear. I didn’t see anything in the trees, so scanned the ground and there was lots of brush, but I spotted him. I was lucky to get him with one shot.”

Freilinger noted the fellow hunters from North Carolina were ecstatic with the bear once they truly saw it. Bears are scored on head size for the Boone and Crockett Club, and Freilinger’s bear scored at 21 and 14/16 inches, with a reported weight of 610 pounds. Far from the 250-pound average for North Carolina black bears, he had himself the whopper North Carolina hunters dream of. Freilinger’s bear is currently tied for the seventh largest Boone and Crockett score in the state of North Carolina, and part of the Boone and Crockett All-Time list. 

The Hunting Club members had noted that a bear this size there was roughly equivalent to whitetail deer in Iowa scoring over 200 inches of horns. 

He and the rest of the hunting party brought home their bear meat, and Freilinger shared some of it at the 2021 Fox and Coon Game Feed.

Freilinger left his bear on the coast for taxidermy, aware of the anticipated year-and-a-half wait time. The bear recently was completed, so Brent and his wife, Jamie, drove to North Carolina to pick up the final work, visiting the Outer Banks prior to picking up the beautifully-mounted animal with a small trailer. “Once I saw it mounted and just how large it was, I did get kind of worried. I thought, ‘Jamie is not going to let me put that in the house.’”

Luckily, since Russell Novak was part of Freilinger bagging the bear, he agreed to display the mount at Kingpin Entertainment Center in Decorah – although Freilinger’s mount makes the two partial-bears caught by Russell and Tyler flanking the Axe Throwing room look a bit small, in comparison. 

“It’s so much better [displayed] at Kingpin where people can see it. And I am definitely looking forward to hunting more right around here too,” Freilinger added. 

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Linda Lamaack
8 months ago

I would rather see the bear alive!
That must have costed a lot. Money would be better spent on homeless or Vets.