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.