The timing of when most hunters chase bears has changed, as have the locations where they’re taking them.
A few updates from around the outdoors…
= Notice fewer hunters in the woods nowadays, especially on what once were crowded openers?
Pennsylvania Game Commissioners are scheduled to get an update on just that topic when they meet Jan. 31-Feb. 2 in Harrisburg. Agency bear biologist Mark Ternent will give a presentation on how moving opening day of bear hunting to a Saturday has impacted the rest of the season.
Commissioner Brian Hoover of Delaware County thinks he knows the answer, both in regards to bear and deer hunting.
“You’re not seeing the concentrations (of hunters) you used to see in shorter seasons. There’s nobody in the woods to move the deer and the bears,” Hoover said.
That doesn’t mean he’s convinced the commission needs to do anything about it.
“I’m not sure that’s our issue,” Hoover said.
= Commission staff will also recommend that the board put laser rangefinders on the list of electronic devices legal for use statewide. That would apply to those held by hand or secured to a firearm or bow.
Hunters have been using them for years, without anyone from the commission objecting, so this a “housekeeping” item, said Tom Grohol, leader of the bureau of wildlife protection.
Scopes that project a beam, visible or not, would remain illegal, he said.
= For years, Lake Arthur – the centerpiece of Moraine State Park – was viewed as the lake most likely to give up a new state record largemouth bass.
Perhaps the park is more likely to give up a record black bear. It’s certainly become a hot spot.
Randy Pilarcik, the commission’s wildlife conservation officer for that part of Butler County, said the park accounted for all of the bears taken in his district. One was taken in archery season, the rest in the gun season.
That’s not to say there aren’t bears in other parts of his district, he said. It’s just that “the area in and around Moraine State Park has the highest density.”
= Speaking of bears, most of those harvested in Westmoreland County come from the Laurel Highlands area.
This past fall brought something different.
Matt Lucas, the conservation officer in southern Westmoreland, said two bears were taken not on, but very near, state game land 296, in the South Huntingdon area. That’s a first for the five years he’s been there, Lucas said.
= Allegheny County gave up some bears this past fall, too.
According to conservation officer Dan Puhala, two were taken by archers, one a 253-pound female in Fawn Township and the other a 225-poundmale in Richland Township.
A third bear, a 225-pound male, was killed by a vehicle the weekend before the statewide deer season opener, he added. It was hit on I-79 southboud, near the Wexford exit.
It was an unknown bear of sorts; it had never been involved in any nuisance situations, and so had never been captured or tagged.