The results of the first three days of bear hunting season are in and the numbers show a decrease of about eight percent compared to the first three days of the 2015 season,
Hunters took a three-day total of 2,308 bears compared to 2,487 taken in 2015. These figures, however, do not include the archery and early bear seasons. Those totals are yet to be tallied.
So far this season, bears were harvested in 53 counties. The largest so far was a male with an estimated weight of 700 pounds. It was shot by Chad Nauman of Cresco, Pa, at about 7 a.m. on opening day in Barrett Township, Monroe County. This bear was joined the state’s top 10.
Other big bears include a 649-pound male downed by Gregory Fuller of Williamsport, Pa, on Tuesday in Armstrong Township, Lycoming County; a 666-pound male shot on Monday in Leidy Township, Clinton County by Ryan Grieb, of Leesport, Pa; a 662-pound male shot Monday in Homer Township, Potter County, by Grant Ruhl of Lebanon, Pa; a 642-pound male on Saturday in Sterling Township, Wayne County, by Randy Elders of Greentown, Pa; a 635-pound male on Monday in Hebron Township, Potter County, by Andrew Tiffany of Athens, Pa; a 622-pound male Saturday in Porter Township, Pike County, by Joseph M. Skutches Jr, of Nazareth, Pa; a 621-pound male on Saturday in Tionesta Township, Forest County, by Ronald Reitlinger, of Cranberry Township, Pa; 621-pound male on Monday in Briar Creek Township, Columbia County, by Kerry Lauer, of Berwick, Pa; and a 616-pound male on Saturday in Tuscarora Township, Juniata County, by Aaron Zimmerman of Port Royal, Pa.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, last seasons total harvest of 3,748 was the third largest in state history, but pales in comparison to the largest of 4,350 in 2011.
The top bear hunting county in the state after three days was Clinton with 179 bears. This beat always top producing Lycoming County whose three-day total was 156.
Here in the Southeast a three-day harvest of 346 bears were taken in the following counties: Dauphin, 21; Schuylkill, 16; Lebanon, 7; Lehigh, 0; Berks, 1; and Northampton, 1.
In the Northeast, the three-day total was 389 in the following: Luzerne, 62; Pike, 50; Monroe 46; Wayne, 40; Bradford, 39; Sullivan, 37; Lackawanna, 25; Susquehanna, 24; Carbon, 22; Wyoming, 22; Columbia, 20; Montour, 1; and Northumberland, 1.
If you’re interested in the harvest by Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) it was: 1A, 27; 1B, 99; 2A, 1; 2B, 0; 2C, 192; 2D, 79; 2E, 54; 2F, 276; 2G, 515; 2H, 92; 3A, 144; 3B, 165; 3C, 56; 3D, 167; 4A, 108; 4B, 69; 4C, 64; 4D, 158; 4E, 40; 5A, 1; 5C, 1.
The season is still open until Dec. 10 in WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D. And until Dec. 3 in WMUs 3B, 3C and 3D. Starting on Nov. 30 until Dec. 3 in WMUs 1B, 2C, 4B, 4D and 4E.
We’ll have a complete roundup once all the harvest numbers are in from all the seasons.
As most sportsmen are out deer hunting right now, avid anglers have the streams and rivers to themselves. But when arriving at your favorite waters, be advised that conditions are not the best. In fact, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has declared a drought watch for 38 counties. Of these, Lehigh and Northampton are included. The watch was prompted by low stream flows, declining groundwater levels and lack of precipitation.
One case in point is the low water on the Lehigh River. Below the dam in Cementon/Northampton, the water is so low that the cement boat launch at Canal Park in Northampton is completely out of the water. Rocks and boulders are readily visible which would customarily be under water. This condition is good for geese as these low spots make great resting places for them as they’re close to the water but don’t have to fight the current to stay in place. And there are hundreds of them on the Lehigh when they return midday from their morning feeding in harvested cornfields.
The best fishing on the Lehigh River is right below the dam in Cementon where leftover trout are occasionally caught as well as a few smallmouth bass.
Local streams have the same low water conditions. The Jordan and Little Lehigh creeks are both low as are other outlying streams in both counties.
During these low water times, live bait seems the preferred bait of choice for leftover trout according to local tackle shops.
As we celebrate this weeks Thanksgiving Day, the yearly holiday also marks the traditional Monday-after-Thanksgiving start of the firearms deer hunting season in Pennsylvania. It’s a time when close to a million orange-clad hunters take to Penn’s Woods in hopes of adding some healthy venison to the dinner table.
During the 2015-16 deer hunting seasons, hunters took a total of 315,813 deer, or about a four percent increase over the 2014-15 harvest of 303,973. Of that number, 137,580 were antlered deer that reflected an increase of about 15 percent over the previous season’s harvest of 119,260. And that resulted in a whopping 59 percent of bucks that were 2 ? years old or older, which makes it the highest percentage of adult bucks in the harvest in decades, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).
As for antlerless deer, there were 178,233 taken in 2015-16, which represents about a four percent decrease compared to 184,713 taken in 2014-15 seasons. Do these numbers reflect a decrease in the number of antlerless deer statewide, or were hunters passing on doe in favor of big bucks?
The PGC said that was most likely due to a decreased antlerless license allocation, however success rate was still about 25 percent which has been a predictable number.
Travis Lau, PGC information officer, explained that a reduced allocation within a Wildlife Management Unit allows deer numbers to grow there. “Records show it takes an allocation of about four antlerless licenses to harvest one antlerless deer,” said Lau.
Last years harvest estimates were based on more than 24,000 deer checked by PGC personnel, and more than 100,000 harvest reports submitted by successful hunters. And because some hunters don’t report their harvests as they’re supposed to, the PGC had to estimate the harvest. However, the PGC said hunters’ reports increased slightly last year.
The antlerless harvest included about 63 percent adult females, about 20 percent button bucks and about 17 percent doe fawns. The results, according to the PGC, were similar to long-term averages.
The total deer harvest estimates for a local three WMU area are as follows, with 2014-15 in parenthesis for comparison with the “A” representing antlered deer while AL represented antlerless.
WMU 3D: 3,500 (4,200) A; 3,700 (5,200) AL
WMU 4C: 5,400 (4,800) A; 5,000 (5,000) AL
WMU 5C: 7,400 (8,000) A; 13,600 (22,200) AL
WMU 5D: 2,200 (1,300) A; 5,200 (3,800) AL
Unknown WMU: 80 (60) A; 30 (31) AL
The following is the 2015-16 breakdown per archery and muzzleloader harvests, and per antlered and antlerless deer.
WMU 3D: Archery, 1060 (1,350) A; 980 (960) AL; Muzzleloader, 40 (50) A; 520 (440) AL
WMU 4C: Archery, 2,150 (1,840) A; 1,380 (1,240) AL; Muzzleloader, 50 (60) A; 620 (660) AL
WMU 5C: Archery, 4,880 (4,790) A; 6,310 (10,210) AL; Muzzleloader 120 (110) A; 1,090 (1,490) AL
WMU 5D: Archery, 1,770 (990) A; 3,440 (2,730) AL
Unknown WMU: Archery 0 (40) A; 10 (0) AL; Muzzleloader, 0 (0) A; 0 (0) AL
A 4-percent increase was not a massacre and field reports showed that restrictions are working by virtue of the larger racks that field reports indicate were taken.
This year, the regular centerfire firearms season ends Dec. 2 in all WMU’s except 2B, 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D, which ends Dec. 10.
If you strike out during this season, there’s still the after-Christmas flintlock season Dec. 26-Jan. 14 and in WMU 2B, 5C and 5D until Jan. 28. There’s also the Extended Firearms season Dec. 26-Jan. 28 for antlerless only deer in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
If you’re lucky and harvest a buck or doe and are looking for a local meat processor, the new kid on the block is Dennis Haas (610-657-4374 after 6 p.m.) in Leather Corner Post; then there’s Lazarus Market (610-799-3831), Whitehall; Frable’s & Son (610-767-7986), Slatington; Hartman’s Meats (610-298-8232) New Tripoli; Kessler’s Locker Plant (610-759-4540), Nazareth; Dietrich’s Meats (610-756-6344), Krumsville; and Wessner’s (610-298-2342), New Tripoli.
Bob Danenhower of Bob’s Taxidermy reminds successful hunters to keep their deer or bear carcass’s cold and dry as he’s seen too many where the meat spoiled because they weren’t properly cared for.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.