Pennsylvania’s Bear Hunting Numbers This Season Are Incredible

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: ErikMandre

New Pennsylvania bear hunting numbers show hunters killed more bears during early archery, muzzleloader, and special firearms seasons than in the four-day rifle period that concluded on Nov. 22.

According to a preliminary report from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, hunters killed 1,010 bears in the rifle season and 1,451 in the several early seasons. The extended season crossing over with deer season begins this Saturday, Nov. 26 in some parts of the state. Below, we’re breaking down some of the figures.

  • The biggest kill so far was a 755-pound bear in Monroe County.
  • A hunter shot a 747-pound bear in Lycoming County.
  • Someone harvested a 705-pound trophy animal in Monroe County.
  • Seven bears from Potter, Bedford, Clearfield, Clinton, Luzerne, Centre, and Monroe counties weighed more than 600 pounds.
  • Tioga County had the most bears taken, at 153. 

P.A. bear hunters describe their harvests this season

In Pennsylvania, once a bear hunter tags an animal, they must have the Game Commission check their trophy animals. According to Mollie Byrne, a wildlife biologist with the Game Commission, to correctly record the harvest, the Game Commission must remove one of the bear’s teeth to get an accurate age. They also weigh the bears later.

Ken Nichols of Fayette County killed his first bear while hunting in Forbes State Forest. At the time, he was about 50 yards away from the bear when he shot it. “The snow really helped us out, and I’m really thankful for my harvest,” he said at the time. He later said he plans to have a shoulder mount made from the hunt.

In addition, Fredrick Smith of Somerset County shot his second bear while hunting near his home. He had only been out for about two hours when he saw a 300-pound bear standing on the side of a hill.

Moreover, Smith’s retrieval actually took longer than the hunt itself. According to Smith, it took Smith and his friends about five hours to find the bear and move it out of the woods safely.

Doug Pritts of Somerset County shot his third bear during the rifle season. “I think I startled it,” he said about the close encounter with the bear in the dense forest.

According to Pritts, the bear got very close to him. However, he was able to take down the 399-pound creature quickly. He believes his bear is 14 years old— the Game Commission captured the bear in 2016 and put an ear tag on him. He weighed 275 pounds when the department caught him in August six years ago in 2016.

Now that the hunt is over, Pritts is looking forward to eating the bear meat. “I like it better than beef. It’s more tender,” he admitted.