Republic, Mich. — Hannah Dinkins knows how to impress.
And when the 15-year-old showed her classmates at North Dickinson County School a photo of the bruin she downed this season, their jaws dropped.
“I showed all the guys in my grade and the grades above me and they were all jealous,” she said.
Grown men would have the same response.
Dinkins took home one of the largest bears in the state this year while hunting with her father, Pat Dinkins, and his guiding partner, Darrel Jonet, in the Gwinn Bear Management Unit on Sept. 29; it was a quarter-ton bruiser with some very distinct characteristics.
“For a 15-year-old little girl who likes to hound hunt … it’s a once-in-a-lifetime bear,” Pat Dinkins said. “We packed everything out and weighed it on a certified scale at a logging company.”
It was 540-pound pig, he said. The bear’s skull green-scored 1915⁄16 inches.
The hunt kicked off when the crew checked their trail cameras set over several bait sites just east of Republic around 7 a.m., which revealed two bears at the site throughout the prior night – a large bear and a smaller one, Hannah Dinkins said.
“We went to three baits and checked all the cameras and got to the last bait and saw … there was two bears,” she said. “There was always two different bears there the whole night, so we decided to jump the dogs on them. The bear I shot was always there at night, around three in the morning.”
It didn’t take long before the dogs had treed the monster boar.
“We tried to get there as quick as we could,” Hannah Dinkins said. “It took us about 15 minutes.
“As I was clicking off the safety, he slid down the tree … and the dogs went after him again,” she said.
The hounds treed the bear again a short distance away, and the teen was ready when they did.
“I got two shots in him” with a 12-gauge, she said. “One when it was sitting there and one when he was falling down.”
It was the girl’s second bear. Her first came in 2012, when she was 13 years old. She’s been baiting and running dogs with her dad since she was 6.
Pat Dinkins said there was no doubt the bear was huge, but it wasn’t until they got a closer look at him that they realized he was something special.
“His right front paw is missing three toes,” Pat Dinkins said, adding that the wound was fully healed and didn’t appear to be a handicap.
“His nose also had two holes in it that are healed up, like a sow maybe nipped him. Maybe he was in a badger hole, I don’t know,” he said.
The group took some pictures, quartered the bear, and packed it out before weighing the parts.
“It was a hell of an exploit,” Pat Dinkins said.