Tis the time for snow sports. And yes, our local ski areas are making snow for your downhill enjoyment.
At Bear Creek Resort in Macungie, Gary Klein, Director of Marketing, said Bear has not yet set an opening date but they are in the process of making snow and are open for Season Pass holder purchase. So, he advises to check Bear’s website for dates and times.
New for this snow season is the Polar Bar, a new outdoor bar located at the base of the mountain. They’ve also added RFID gates on their beginner carpet and their very popular tubing area to make access quicker and easier.
Blue Mountain Resort in Palmerton with the largest vertical and some of the longest runs in the state, opened for limited skiing on Thanksgiving Day. It also has one of the largest snowmaking systems in the state that covers its 171 skiable acres.
In case you haven’t visited Blue in recent years, it has 40 trails that include 14 beginner, six intermediate, 11 expert, four expert only and five terrain parks. In addition, there’s a 46-lane Snow Tubing Park that Blue says is the country’s fastest. It’s also the most popular for families that don’t ski or snowboard.
A new addition for the 2022-23 snow sports season is the Main Street Express lift which replaces two double lifts and improves access to the western part of the mountain. It also connects between Valley Lodge and Summit Lodge. The new lift, according to Marguarite Clark, Blue Public Relations Manager, will transport riders from bottom to top in under five minutes and accommodate 3,000 guest per hour.
Also new at Blue is the all-lit nighttime, after-dark Sonic Tubing with music for its over 1,000-foot-long 46 lanes that’s serviced by three lifts. Tubers can choose between single or double tubes.
Clark added that the first slopes to be opened will include Paradise, Tut’s Lane, Connector, Vista, Burma Road, Shuttle, Homestretch, Frontier Alley, School Hill (terrain park on this trail) and Free Fall. All will be serviced by the Comet or Challenge lifts.
Up at Camelback Resort in the Poconos, they opened their largest in the country snowtubing park this past Saturday with 10 of its 40 snowtubing lanes. The lanes will be open for day and night tubing in solo, double or chained tubes. Two Magic Carpet lifts will service the snowtubing park.
Camelbacks’ all-lit after-dark Galactic Tubing is back and features it’s tubing party slope side that’s complete with music, disco lighting and up to 40 lightning-fast lanes serviced by two magic carpet lifts.
Snowtubing sessions are two hours long and start every hour on the hour. To save time, tickets may be purchased online at www.camelbackresort.com/ski-tube/poconos-pa-snowtubing.
Snowtubing is complimentary Monday-Friday on non-holidays with purchase of an Unlimited Value Season Pass. Riders must be 44 inches tall to ride alone. Riders who are 33-43 inches tall may ride in a double tube or chain with a participating adult.
As for skiing, Camelback is blowing snow on major trails but it’s best to check their website for updates on ski/boarding dates and times.
The most anticipated hunting season is about to open Saturday, Nov. 26 when approximately a million orange-clad hunters take to field and forest for the opening of Pennsylvania’s statewide firearms deer hunting season.
This year the season includes a Sunday, Nov. 27 hunting opportunity for a season that continues on Monday, Nov. 28-Saturday, Dec. 10 and includes both antlered and antlerless deer.
It’s been a long-standing tradition that most schools are closed for the first day of firearms deer season as some teachers take off to hunt as do fathers who take their sons and daughters as the first day was traditionally on a Monday after Thanksgiving. And for veteran hunters who travel to their upstate deer camps on a Friday night, the Sunday date gives them an extra day to get lucky.
As seasoned hunters know, most bucks are taken on the first day of the season, and in the past, it was the first Saturday after the opener as well. So this earlier start should have more hunters in the woods to move the deer.
Not only is Pennsylvania known for large bears, it’s also known for a lot of deer.
Proof of that are the following statewide harvest estimates for the states Wildlife Management Units for the 2021-2022 season for all hunting mediums and with “A” representing Antlered deer, “AL” denoting Antlerless deer, and “T” for totals.
1A, 6,000A, 13,200AL, 19,200T; 1B, 9,300A, 12,600AL, 21,900T; 2A, 6,800A, 10,600AL, 17,400T; 2B, 5,200A, 12,100AL, 17,300T; 2C, 9,300A, 15,400AL, 24,700T; 2D. 11.500A, 19,900AL, 31,400T: 2E, 5,900A, 9,500AL, 15,400T; 2F, 8,900A, 10,200AL, 19,100T; 2G, 6,200A, 4,800AL, 11,000T; 2H, 2,500A, 1,900AL. 4,400T: 3A, 5,400A, 5,400AL, 10,800T; 3B, 6,700A, 7,600AL, 14,300T; 3C, 7,600A, 9,400AL, 17,000T; 3D, 4,700A, 6,300AL, 11,000T; 4A, 4,900A, 10,300AL, 15,200T; 4B, 3,500A, 8,400AL, 11,900T; 4C, 5,700A, 6,400AL, 12,100T; 4D, 7,200A, 10,300AL, 17,500T; 4E, 7,900A, 11,800AL, 19,700T; 5A, 3,100A, 7,200AL, 10,300T; 5B, 7,800A, 17,100AL, 24,900T; 5C, 6,600A, 14,700AL, 21,300T; 5D, 2,600A, 6,300AL, 8,900T; Unk, 20A, 90AL, 110T for a gender total of 145,320A, 231,490AL and an overall total of 376,810 deer taken during last season.
For hunters looking for a more productive hunting area, the top three WMUs were 2D, followed by 5B and 1B.
For our local 5C, there was a 10 percent decrease in the total deer harvest estimate going from 23,600 (combined) in 2020-2021 to 21,300 in 2021-22 season. This is a bit less in comparison to 24,015 (combined) in the 2018-19 season.
But locally, bowhunters in 5C scored a statewide second highest in the overall archery deer hunting season with 4,700A, 6,890AL taken for a total of 11,620. The top WMU was 5B with 5,040A, 7,280AL for a total of 12,320.
It’s been reported that the bucks are generally larger, rack size, compared to some past years. According to Bob Danenhower, of Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy in Orefield, he has been getting in a lot of thick tined 8-pointers with several 10s and 12-pointers to mount. Bowhunters have been telling him they saw more large racked deer this season than they have in the past. Firearm hunters will likely capitalize on them as they can reach out considerably farther than a bowhunter can on the biggies that were out of range for their bows.
If you’re hunting from an elevated tree stand, don’t forget to wear a safety belt. The PGC points out that this is the time when most falls from tree stands occur.
Pennsylvania’s regular statewide bear hunting season kicks of Saturday, Nov. 19 to 22 and includes a Sunday (Nov. 20) hunt. There’s also an extended season that runs during parts of the firearms deer season. It runs from Nov. 26 – Dec. 3 in WMUs 1B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A including the Saturday and Sunday that mark the first two days of the season, and from Nov. 26 – Dec. 10 in WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D, which includes the entirety of deer season.
According to Emily Carrollo, PGC’s black bear biologist, “Pennsylvania has lots of bears and lots of big ones. If there’s ever been a great time to be a Pennsylvania bear hunter, this is it.”
And the numbers prove it. Hunters took 3,659 bears on 2021 making it the fifth-best harvest year. It included 672 bears during the archery season and 536 for hunters hunting during the muzzleloader and special firearms season. Those 1,208 bears amounted to about one-third of the 2021 season harvest.
Speaking of big bears, so far during the archery, muzzleloader and special firearms season, hunters already took three bears over 700 pounds.
As of last week, the largest bear taken was a 755-pound bruin from Monroe County; 747-pounder from Lycoming; 705 from Monroe; 693 from Potter; 681 from Bedford; 681 from Clearfield; 610 Centre; and 601 from Monroe. All are estimated live weights. There was also a photo posted on Facebook by a Justin Frey and it shows an estimated live weight 710-pounder.
But the north country isn’t the only place bears roam. Recently a bear was seen in the development above Guthsville R&G Club in Orefield and another was seen on a homeowners’ Ring camera on Mauch Chunk Road. Judging from the photos of those two, it appears they’re 200-pounders.
A friend who recently lived in a gated community in Albrightsville, Carbon County, had a bruin in his back yard last year that he believed weighed around 900 pounds, and the local game warden agreed when he spotted it.
The top 10 harvest counties for the early seasons are Tioga (80); Lycoming (76); Potter (71); Clinton (65); Luzerne (63); Centre (55); Monroe (52); Bradford (50); Clearfield (50) and Carbon (48).
A partial breakdown of the above was 7 in the early archery season in WMUs 2B, 3C, 5D; 1434 in the combined archery/muzzleloader/Spl. Firearms seasons, for a total harvest of 1,441 bear.
The 2021 regular bear season contributed to the biggest portion of the harvest when hunters took 1,314 bears across four days. The extended bear season added 1,127 bears. And during that time, hunters took at least one bear in 59 of the state’s 67 counties, and in 22 of its 23 WMUs.
During the 2021 season, Lycoming County had the largest harvest (211) followed by Potter (180) with Pike (167) third.
The heaviest bear in 2021 was a 722-pound male taken with a shotgun in the extended season in Letterkenny Township, Franklin County.
So far, the record largest bear ever taken in Pennsylvania was an 875-pounder in 2010 from Smithfield Township, Pike County. Since 1922, the PGC says seven black bears weighing at least 800 pounds were lawfully harvested in Pennsylvania’s bear hunting seasons.
For hunters taking one of these 800-pound plus bears, it certainly must be a chore getting it out of the woods and to a PGC check station. Perhaps a roll-back tow truck would be needed if a hunter manages to down that 900-pounder in Albrightsville.
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.