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Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Joined: 10/26/2006
Posts: 357
PA Black Bear Season Looking Good

PENNSYLVANIA'S BLACK BEAR SEASONS EXPECTED TO BE GOOD

HARRISBURG - Hunters can expect to find a sizeable black bear population afield in the state's upcoming bear seasons, which include a first-ever bear archery season, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission officials.

In fact, on the heels of Pennsylvania's record-setting black bear harvest of 4,164 in 2005, Mark Ternent, Game Commission bear biologist, said he believes hunters will harvest 2,500 to 3,000 bears during the upcoming hunting seasons. Those seasons are: special bear archery, Wildlife Management Units 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 4A, 4B and 4D, Nov. 15-16; regular bear season, statewide, Nov. 20-22; and extended bear season, WMUs 3C, 3D and portions of 3B, 4E, and 2G, Nov. 27-Dec. 2. Additionally, there is a Rockview Prison bear hunt (with prior approval) in Centre County, Nov. 27-Dec. 2.

A printing error in the 2006-2007 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest incorrectly lists on a detachable pull-out card found between pages 28 and 29 that the extended bear season (Nov. 27-Dec. 2) is open in WMU 4C. The extended bear season is not open in WMU 4C.

"Although a record number of bears were taken last year, bears continue to be plentiful over a large part of the state," said Mark Ternent, Game Commission bear biologist. "The only areas where bear numbers may be down slightly are portions of northeastern Pennsylvania where extended bear hunting seasons have been held since 2002 to reduce bear populations. Elsewhere, bear populations were affected minimally by last year's large harvest and should again be near record levels.

"Hunter success is influenced heavily by fall food conditions and weather. Fall foods, although not as plentiful as last year, are still average to slightly above-average in many places and should be adequate to keep plenty of bears out of dens and on the move for the upcoming seasons. Weather conditions, on the other hand, are tough to predict. Cold temperatures and snow would be beneficial to hunters, whereas rain or warm weather would be detrimental."

The state's six largest black bear harvests - all exceeding 2,600 bears - have occurred over the past six years. Prior to 1983, the state's annual bear harvests never exceeded 1,000. Pennsylvania has held bear hunting seasons every year but four since 1905. Those four years when bear season was closed were 1934, 1970, 1977 and 1978.

"Black bear hunting opportunities are outstanding in Pennsylvania," Ternent said. "Bear license sales have been increasing steadily over the past 10 years, and when the extended bear season, which runs concurrently with the first week of the firearms deer season, became available, participation jumped even more. Last year, a record 142,000 hunters purchased Pennsylvania bear licenses."

Black bears were taken in all but four of the state's 22 Wildlife Management Units and in 52 of the Commonwealth's 67 counties. The top three bear harvests by WMU were: WMU 2G, 908 (632 in 2004); WMU 3B, 542 (321); and WMU 3D, 394 (419). The top five harvest counties were: Lycoming, 313 (244); Tioga, 242 (119); Clinton, 227 (218); Potter, 214 (87); and Cameron, 172 (95).

Since 1999, hunters have taken more than 20,000 black bears in Pennsylvania making it one of America's premiere black bear hunting destinations. Of course, last year's 733-pound bear taken by Andrew Seman Jr. of Dunbar in Fayette County's Dunbar Township, didn't hurt the state's growing reputation. The bear's skull measured 23 and 3/16 inches (Boone and Crockett Club scoring), which officially places it as the highest-scoring black bear ever taken legally by a hunter in Pennsylvania. It also preliminarily ties with a bear taken in California as the largest ever taken legally by a hunter in the world.

"It's possible to harvest a bear weighing up to 800 pounds in Pennsylvania; in the past three years, four such bears have been taken," Ternent said. "On average, 60 hunters a year take a bear 500 pounds or larger. Last year, 17 bears weighing 600 pounds or more were harvested.

"Big bears may be found almost anywhere in Pennsylvania. The two keys to growing big bears are food supply and longevity. Counties that once were overlooked as being only peripheral areas for bears now contain healthy numbers of bears, because of range expansion. These areas shouldn't be ignored by those looking for a trophy bear. In these areas, bears often have agriculture available to supplement their diet, and they tend to live longer because hunting pressure is not as great. "

If you're just looking for a bear, key on areas with good acorn crops and then scout for bear sign. Don't overlook pockets of thick cover - mountain laurel patches, swamps, regenerating clear-cuts - in areas where hunting pressure is substantial. In areas where there are fewer hunters, try to position yourself between feeding and resting areas, early and late in the day, and still hunt thickets during late morning and early afternoon hours. Using drives for bears is a time-proven method for taking bears in Pennsylvania, but hunting parties cannot exceed 25 persons.

Bear licenses must be purchased at any issuing agent, including on the agency's website - http://www.pgc.state.pa.us - via "The Outdoor Shop," prior to the opening day of the regular deer firearms season, Nov. 27. If purchased through "The Outdoor Shop," license buyers will be provided a web order number that they will be instructed to write on their general hunting license in the appropriate box and sign; there will be no need to wait for anything to be sent in the mail.

Created in 1895 as an independent state agency, the Game Commission is responsible for conserving and managing all wild birds and mammals in the Commonwealth, establishing hunting seasons and bag limits, enforcing hunting and trapping laws, and managing habitat on the 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands it has purchased over the years with hunting and furtaking license dollars to safeguard wildlife habitat. The agency also conducts numerous wildlife conservation programs for schools, civic organizations and sportsmen's clubs.

The Game Commission does not receive any general state taxpayer dollars for its annual operating budget. The agency is funded by license sales revenues; the state's share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program, which is an excise tax collected through the sale of sporting arms and ammunition; and monies from the sale of oil, gas, coal, timber and minerals derived from State Game Lands.

LOCAL BLACK BEAR INFORMATION AVAILABLE ONLINE

Interested in learning more about what's going on with black bears in your county? Please consider visiting the Pennsylvania Game Commission's "Field Officer Game Forecasts" found on the agency's website (http://www.pgc.state.pa.us). Developed to share field officer perspectives and observations on game and furbearer trends in their respective districts and to help hunters and trappers get closer to the action afield, the new addition to the website has been warmly received by many hunters and trappers.

"Our field officers spend a tremendous amount of time afield, often in the areas hunters and trappers are most interested in learning more about," said Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe. "Their observations have value to hunters and trappers so we decided to set up a cyber-clearinghouse where anyone who enjoys hunting and trapping in Pennsylvania - resident or nonresident - can access from their home or office game and furbearer forecasts from every county of the state. The localized forecasts have been warmly received."

If you're interested in checking out the black bear forecasts from field officers, go to the agency's website (http://www.pgc.state.pa.us), then click on the box titled "Field Officer Game Forecasts" directly below "The Outdoor Shop" in the center of the homepage.

Created in 1895 as an independent state agency, the Game Commission is responsible for conserving and managing all wild birds and mammals in the Commonwealth, establishing hunting seasons and bag limits, enforcing hunting and trapping laws, and managing habitat on the 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands it has purchased over the years with hunting and furtaking license dollars to safeguard wildlife habitat. The agency also conducts numerous wildlife conservation programs for schools, civic organizations and sportsmen's clubs.

The Game Commission does not receive any general state taxpayer dollars for its annual operating budget. The agency is funded by license sales revenues; the state's share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program, which is an excise tax collected through the sale of sporting arms and ammunition; and monies from the sale of oil, gas, coal, timber and minerals derived from State Game Lands.

ARCHERS PREPARE FOR STATE'S FIRST BLACK BEAR ARCHERY SEASON

Hunters planning to participate in the state's first archery bear season on Nov. 15 and 16, must have a general hunting license and a bear license from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The archery bear season will be held in Wildlife Management Units 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 4A, 4B and 4D.

In WMUs where the archery bear season and fall wild turkey season run concurrently, bowhunters when moving are required to wear a hat containing 100 square inches of solid fluorescent orange. The hat may be removed when the hunter is stationary or on stand. Those WMUs affected by this requirement are 2D, 2F, 2G and 3A.

Although crossbows are permitted to be used by any hunter participating in the regular bear firearms season, they are not allowed in the special archery bear season, except by authorized disabled permit holders.

Bears taken by archers must be reported to a Game Commission region office within 24 hours of the time it was killed. Successful bowhunters are asked to call a region office for instructions. Region office staff will direct the hunter to a location where an employee will meet him or her and check the bear. Traditional check stations will not be open during the archery bear season. Telephone numbers for the six region offices are listed on page 3 of the 2006-07 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest.

Created in 1895 as an independent state agency, the Game Commission is responsible for conserving and managing all wild birds and mammals in the Commonwealth, establishing hunting seasons and bag limits, enforcing hunting and trapping laws, and managing habitat on the 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands it has purchased over the years with hunting and furtaking license dollars to safeguard wildlife habitat. The agency also conducts numerous wildlife conservation programs for schools, civic organizations and sportsmen's clubs.

The Game Commission does not receive any general state taxpayer dollars for its annual operating budget. The agency is funded by license sales revenues; the state's share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program, which is an excise tax collected through the sale of sporting arms and ammunition; and monies from the sale of oil, gas, coal, timber and minerals derived from State Game Lands.

BEAR CHECK STATIONS TO OFFER HARVEST CERTIFICATES

Hunters who harvest a bear during the three-day statewide (Nov. 20-22) or extended (Nov. 27-Dec. 2) bear seasons must take it to one of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's check stations within 24 hours. Check stations will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on Nov. 20 and 21; and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 22. After 6 p.m. on Nov. 22, hunters with bears to be checked should contact any of the Game Commission's region offices for assistance. Office telephone numbers are listed on page 3 of the 2006-07 Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, issued with hunting licenses.

Bears taken during the extended season (Nov. 27-Dec. 2) also must be taken to a check station. The stations that are open and hours of operation differ from the regular season, so be sure to consult page 41 of the 2006-07 Digest.

There were several mistakes in the 2006-07 Digest about check stations during the extended season. The Game Commission will not be operating a check station Monday, Tuesday and Saturday of the extended season at Tuscarora State Park in Schuylkill County; the Southeast Region Office will not be open as a formal check station on Saturday Dec. 2, but the office will field calls from successful bear hunters through its dispatch center; and the Northcentral Region Office will be open Dec. 2 to check bears until 8 p.m.

In addition, the Game Commission announced it will no longer mail a certificate and letter to successful bear hunters notifying them of their bear's age. As a cost-cutting measure - while still maintaining this valued customer service - hunters now will receive a certificate when they process through the check station. Age data will be posted on the agency's website and hunters will use their legal seal number from the check station certificate to access the data and learn the age of their bears.

Created in 1895 as an independent state agency, the Game Commission is responsible for conserving and managing all wild birds and mammals in the Commonwealth, establishing hunting seasons and bag limits, enforcing hunting and trapping laws, and managing habitat on the 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands it has purchased over the years with hunting and furtaking license dollars to safeguard wildlife habitat. The agency also conducts numerous wildlife conservation programs for schools, civic organizations and sportsmen's clubs.

The Game Commission does not receive any general state taxpayer dollars for its annual operating budget. The agency is funded by license sales revenues; the state's share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program, which is an excise tax collected through the sale of sporting arms and ammunition; and monies from the sale of oil, gas, coal, timber and minerals derived from State Game Lands.

GAME COMMISSION OFFERS BEAR HUNTING TIPS

Pennsylvania Game Commission officials point out that one of the biggest mistakes bear hunters make is failing to locate areas with good fall food supplies - acorns, beechnuts, apples, corn - before the hunting season and overlooking areas of dense cover where bears like to hide.

"Signs to look for while scouting include droppings; bedding areas, which are scratched out depressions, usually at the base of a tree or log; and active trails with tracks," said Mark Ternent, Game Commission black bear biologist. "In beech stands, look for fresh claw marks on tree trunks indicating that bears are feeding in the area, and in oak stands look for fresh droppings that are almost completely composed of acorns bits. Either of these signs suggest bears are feeding nearby and, if food conditions are right, they will likely still be there come hunting season.

"A good time to scout is early November, so you can assess local mast conditions. When mast conditions are spotty, finding a good area dramatically increases your odds of also finding a bear."

Land Management Group Supervisor John Dzemyan, who works in Elk and McKean counties, said, "Some basic tips to find and harvest a bear are to hunt thick areas with lots of mast, especially acorns, nearby. Hunt areas where plenty of bear hunters move about, which, in turn, moves the bears about. Hunt the whole day, hunt all three days if possible, and hope for good weather."

Other bear hunting tips include:

- Look for bears in the thickest cover you can find, such as: swamps and bogs; mountain laurel/rhododendron thickets; north-facing slopes; regenerating timber harvest areas, areas with lots of downed trees, and remote sections of river bottoms. Bigger bears are notorious for holding in thick cover, even when hunters pass nearby.

- Organized drives are effective. Hunters working together often increase their odds of taking bears, especially those bears holding out in thick cover. Develop plans to safely drive likely bear hideouts and follow them to the letter. A minor slip-up by a driver, flanker or stander is all a bear needs to elude even the best-planned drive. Regulations limit the size of organized drives to 25 people or less.

- Hunting on-stand early and late in the day gives hunters a great chance to catch bears traveling to and from feeding and bedding areas. Hunt areas that provide cover to traveling bears and ensure there is either a good supply of mast or cornfields or cover near where you plan to hunt.

- Use the wind to your advantage. If a bear gets a whiff of you, you're busted as a hunter. Bears have an outstanding sense of smell. They often let their noses guide the way as they travel. Always place yourself downwind of expected travel lanes when hunting on-stand or driving. Bears are cagey enough without giving them more advantages.

- Stay focused and assume nothing. Black bears blend in well in forest settings at dawn and as dusk approaches. Spend too much time looking one way and you can miss a bear. Even though bears are quite heavy, they often are surprisingly quiet moving through the forest. You may see a bear before you hear it coming. Staying alert and remaining vigilant are critical.

BEAR HUNTING BULLETS

- A bear license is required to participate in any bear season.

- Only one bear may be harvested per license year from all seasons combined.

- A hunter who harvests a bear must complete all information on his or her bear harvest tag and attach it to the ear of the animal immediately after harvest and before the carcass is moved. In addition, within 24 hours, hunters who kill a bear must take it, along with their general hunting and bear licenses, to a Game Commission check station for examination. Bear check stations are maintained at the agency's six regional offices and at other locations listed on page 41 in the 2006-07 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest.

- Once a hunter has used his or her bear harvest tag, it is unlawful to possess it in the field. Also, hunters are reminded to remove old licenses from their holder before placing a new one in it. If you keep an old license in the holder, you may accidentally use it to tag big game and unintentionally violate the law.

- It is unlawful to kill a bear in a den; use a radio to locate a bear that has a radio transmitter attached to it; hunt on areas where artificial or natural bait, hay, grain, fruit, nuts, salt, chemicals, minerals, including residue or other foods are used, or have been used, as an enticement to lure wildlife within the past 30 days; use scents or lures; or to hunt bears in a party of more than 25 persons.

- During the regular and extended bear seasons, hunters are required to wear at all times 250 square inches of fluorescent orange on their head, chest and back combined, visible 360 degrees, while hunting in either of the black bear firearms seasons. In WMUs where the archery bear season and fall wild turkey season run concurrently, bowhunters when moving are required to wear a hat containing 100 square inches of solid fluorescent orange. The hat may be removed when the hunter is stationary or on stand. Those WMUs affected by this requirement are 2D, 2F, 2G and 3A.

- Bears may be hunted with: manually-operated center-fire rifles, handguns and shotguns with an all-lead bullet or ball, or a bullet designed to expand on impact - buckshot is illegal; muzzle-loading long guns 44-caliber or larger; long, recurve or compound bows or crossbows with broadheads of cutting-edge design. Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds and cannot exceed 200 pounds.

- It is unlawful to intentionally lay or place food, fruit, hay, grain, chemicals, salt or other minerals that may cause bears to congregate or habituate in an area.

Created in 1895 as an independent state agency, the Game Commission is responsible for conserving and managing all wild birds and mammals in the Commonwealth, establishing hunting seasons and bag limits, enforcing hunting and trapping laws, and managing habitat on the 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands it has purchased over the years with hunting and furtaking license dollars to safeguard wildlife habitat. The agency also conducts numerous wildlife conservation programs for schools, civic organizations and sportsmen's clubs.

The Game Commission does not receive any general state taxpayer dollars for its annual operating budget. The agency is funded by license sales revenues; the state's share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program, which is an excise tax collected through the sale of sporting arms and ammunition; and monies from the sale of oil, gas, coal, timber and minerals derived from State Game Lands.

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Joined: 10/26/2006
Posts: 357
PA Black Bear Season Looking Good

Guys I think this is important to remember, good luck!:

"A printing error in the 2006-2007 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest incorrectly lists on a detachable pull-out card found between pages 28 and 29 that the extended bear season (Nov. 27-Dec. 2) is open in WMU 4C. The extended bear season is not open in WMU 4C."

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