It may not be a record-breaker, but one lucky hunter in Monroe County bagged a mammoth bear to kick off what could be a landmark hunting season on Saturday.
That bear, which was checked in at the Tobyhanna station, currently tops the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s “Largest Bear” list at 813 pounds live weight, and 689 pounds after gutting.
According to game wardens, the bear was taken by a Bucks County hunter in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
The closest competitor, a bear harvested in Luzerne County, weighed in at 747 pounds.
Those bruins are both monstrous additions to what could be a record-setting harvest for the state.
“It looks like we’re just about 1,000 away from the highest season, which was 4,350 in 2011,” Pennsylvania Game Commission information and education supervisor Bill Williams said on Tuesday. “We did have the early muzzle loader season for bears this year, so this is a new arena we’re in. We did have the two-week archery season, the muzzle loader season which ran for seven days, and we also had the junior and senior season that week, too.”
Just a year before that peak season, David Price of Barrett Township took down a record-smashing 879-black bear just north of Fernwood Resort in Pike County. That bruin has not been surpassed since Price harvested it in the 2010 season.
Williams and Game Commission wildlife biologist Kevin Wenner noted that the northeast region saw about 500 bears harvested in the early seasons of 2019. With one day of rifle hunting and the upcoming extended season still to come, hunters may be on track to set a new state record.
According to Williams, as of Tuesday, the rifle hunting numbers had already exceeded last year’s totals for the northeast region.
“The total, as of yesterday, for bears in the regular firearm season is 784 in 2019, and it was 735 last year in 2018,” Williams said. “We’re over last year’s total for the region.”