Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

The Perfect Storm – expect to see bear harvest records broken this year

Pennsylvania’s record bear harvest of 4,164 bruins occurred in
2005, while the second and third largest kills happened in 2009 and
2008, respectively. Last year’s harvest of 3,090 bears ranked fifth
overall.

I don’t think that I’m going too far out on a limb to predict that
hunters will set a new state record bear harvest this fall. That
includes the totals from the November archery and regular rifle
seasons as well as the December extended season. The extended
season targets areas with high numbers of bear complaints.

It is pretty clear to me that all of the factors, except for maybe
one, will combine this year to make the “perfect storm” –creating
a new state record bear harvest. Let me list the nine
factors:

  • The bear population was at record levels last fall and we had
    the lowest kill in three years.
  • In 2011 – just ending – Pennsylvania offered the longest
    archery season ever.
  • The archery bear season was statewide for the first time.
  • 2011 has a 4-day regular “rifle” season, the longest in recent
    history.
  • The “extended season” – held during deer season – has
    returned.
  • This is the second year for a Saturday opener.
  • Pennsylvania’s bear population is estimated to be even higher
    than in 2010.
  • The state’s bears continue to expand their range.
  • License sales have been good – there should be lots of hunters
    in the woods.

The only unknown variable here is the opening-day weather. I
predict that poor (rain or fog) to average opening Saturday weather
will still net one of our highest harvests ever. If hunters over a
good portion of the state encounter favorable conditions – a
tracking snow providing the most favorable – I think that the
harvest will top 4,500 bears.

Now we just have to see what the next three weeks bring us.

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