Taking Aim On A Big Bear
Well, the first day of the rifle season for bear is over. For those of you who were successful, congratulations. It was the best chance of the four-day season to bag a bruin. The shear number of hunters in the woods should have had the majority of bear on the move. Although I enjoy the archery season more than the rifle, I will admit the chance of scoring is much greater with the rifle. It doesn’t take as long to shoulder the rifle and aim as it does the bow. Added to that, I won’t shoot at a bear more than 30 yards away with the bow. When I have my 300 win mag, I will take any shot I can get in the area I hunt. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the potential for hunters to break a state record harvest is possible this year. With an estimated 20,000 population, and a near record, if not a record number of hunters to move them, it should be possible. If the weather holds, there is still the leaves on the trees to give the bear cover even if they are forced to move. With the abundance of mast crops available, it will be hard to pattern the bear’s movement even if you have done some scouting. According to Pennsylvania bear biologist, Mark Ternent, two bear taken last year weighed in at 700 pounds. Since 1986, 32 bears in the 700-pound class were taken. Ternent believes there are some bear out there that will go more than 800 pounds. How many is anybody’s guess since it takes nine years or more for a bear to reach 500 pounds. Pennsylvania has long been a premier bear hunting destination for out of state hunters as well, according to Ternent. It holds the distinction of being the No. 2 state, including Canadian provinces for the number of entries into the Boone and Crockett record book. Last year alone, there were 22 black bears taken in Pennsylvania that exceeded the minimum measurements. Although bear were taken in 57 of the 67 counties in 2017, some counties are naturally better than others. Lycoming County was first with 252 bear, followed by Tioga (214), Pike (193), Potter (161), Sullivan (156), Wayne (156), Clinton (153), Bradford (112), Warren (109) and Luzerne (108). If you are fortunate enough to harvest a bear, you must fill out and attach the ear tag before moving the carcass. You must carry a valid photo I.D. along with your hunting license. You must wear a minimum of 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material, that must cover the head, chest and back, and be visible from 360 degrees at all times. You must then take the bear to a checking station within 24 hours. The entrails needn’t be taken as they only need to take a tooth to judge the bear’s age. Care must be taken to preserve the hide if you are going to mount the animal. Good luck and don’t forget, if the skull looks big, have it measured. You just might end up in the record books. DAVE LEWONCZYK is a contributing columnist for Times-Shamrock Newspapers. Contact him at email@example.com.