Archive for the ‘PA Bear Hunting’ Category

dsc_0042  Saturday’s weather front hit hard with howling winds. Today those winds were still present.        dsc_0040

I was disappointed upon seeing any trace of snow had melted here at home. The fifteen or so miles to get to the game lands failed to see snow, However, once I arrived to my hunting spot a snow blanketed the woodlands. The woods were white and any bear would be easy to see. However, tracking would be a little difficult. I wished for another inch of snow to aid in tracking.

I found some very old bear tracks rather quickly. I estimated they were made Sunday evening. The snows that had fallen completely filled any tracks to make determining direction impossible. Also, I checked tracks from Point A and Point B. I completely lost the tracks at both points. Apparently, at the time of the bear’s movements the snow wasn’t able to reach the forest floor because of the dense Autumn Olive and Multifloral Rose brambles. I circled around trying to locate fresher tracks, but failed. Existing snow was melting by mid-morning in places.

I walked from six in the morning until sometime after 1:00. I stopped to rest one time for twenty minutes. My leg was telling me from the beginning to stop, but I pushed on. I saw some deer, ringneck pheasants and turkeys, but no squirrels at all. The front may have affected their activities. I heard few shots anywhere. I didn’t see a single bear hunter in the woods.

And the winds howled!!!!                                                                     dsc_0041


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Bear Season 2016


Clear cut

Clear cut

What a difference a few hours can make in regards to the weather. I glanced into the skies as I began the pre-dawn walk up the



mile long hollow. I was planning on getting to a predetermined spot to await dawn before still hunting through a clear cut searching for anything black. However, I couldn’t help myself to observe the bright moon, starry sky and the calmness of that early time.

Memories of past bear hunts along with some very close encounters jarred my thoughts. A silent prayer of thanks was uttered.

The sky was bright by around 6:30 A.M. but the woodlands were still darkened. The little birds were chirping as I noticed a bird fly close to my head. The bird was an owl. I could see the bird’s “horns” as it perched about thirty yards from me.


Detail from my painting called, "Great-Horned Owl".

Detail from my painting called, “Great-Horned Owl”.

dsc_0030  I began my slow walk up the hollow stopping often to listen and look. I found some past bear sign. I came to an area where I climbed the slope while utilizing a well-worn deer trail. Two hen pheasants flushed, but I couldn’t get the camera on them. Immediately, I noticed a hawk gliding from across the hollow. That Cooper’s Hawk either heard the pheasants or saw them , or both. At that time, another flushed rom behind me. The hawk flew right over my head and moved quickly into the area where the pheasant had landed. I don’t know if the hawk was successful. I heard two shots in the distance from across the road. (I didn’t see a hunter all morning. where I was hunting.)                                            

By this time the cloud cover was at about 90%. The western sky was dark now.


Nature's Play-Doh

Nature’s Play-Doh

I reached the end of the hollow and turned to still hunt a high wall. The winds had increased and I would soon see leaves fluttering in the sky over 100 feet high. I saw one doe during this maneuver.

I approached and sat down to watch a big basin that had a lot of hemlocks and oaks. the woods became very dark and I knew rain would be soon. At dsc_0032eleven the  rains began. I heard four shots across the road over half a mile away.

dsc_0037  The winds were howling and the rain was pelting me as I headed the distance to the jeep. I saw a male ringneck. The bird allowed for a number of photos after I removed the camera from my shoulder bag. This really dampened my camera.

At noon the sky was mixed with rain and heavy, big snowflakes. I headed home. I was becoming quite wet!


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DSC_0002 Bear hunting in Pennsylvania for the lone hunter is quite an experience. This kind of hunter (Me) has no person to follow, but his instincts. That is the way I like it. However, as I age I may need to rethink still-hunting to more stand hunting.

Pheasant track

Pheasant track


Last Friday, the 20th, I scouted the area I planned to hunt bear, the opener fell the following morning  of the 21st of November. I planned to concentrate in, and around, a recently clear cut hollow on a local state game lands. I found several piles of bear droppings. I knew bear had been in this area two to three days ago. Maybe a bear would still be sticking around.



DSC_0002   I walked about a mile on the first morning (Second morning here)while darkness still was the norm. I reached an area as the sky became colored  as the sun crept higher. It was a beautiful sunrise. However, prior to my arrival I was serenaded by a pair of Great-horned Owls. I stopped several times just to take their soothing hoots in. I smiled.                                                                                                                                          DSC_0004

DSC_0011  A flock of Canada Geese fly over minutes after the skies became  bright. I always enjoy seeing, and listening to geese. I saw four hen pheasants in the autumn olive thickets as well as one rooster. The next morning I saw this same rooster perched high in a tree.                                                                          DSC_0007

I left the woods earlier than I had planned due to severe knee issues.

I still-hunted most of the morning finding a total of fifteen piles of bear dung. They, too, were not “smoking fresh”. I talked to one hunter as he was coming in to hunt, and I was leaving.


My Jeep was parked behind the higher hill, in shadow, on the right.

My Jeep was parked behind the higher hill, in shadow, on the right.

The second morning (Third morning hunting)I  moved in to one area where the bear sign was most numerous. the food supply was still present, and I hoped they might be cycled back around. They were not around and no new sign was present.

The corn had been harvested.

The corn had been harvested.

Again, I saw geese. I patrolled around until after noon before leaving for home. I never saw another hunter.

The morning of the 24th found me in another area and game lands. I was near Mahoning, and could often see Mahoning Creek. This hunt consisted of still-hunting a steep northern exposed hill. I had hoped to find a bear in this habitat.



I heard the sounds of a screech owl this morning as I maneuvered into the early woods. Around 7:30, I heard bear hunters  way across the Mahoning putting on a drive. Five shots rang out…bear, coyote?

These hills spell Pennsylvania! They are big, and steep. No wonder I hurt so bad anymore. A lifetime of scrambling up, and down such terrain takes a toll! I returned back to the jeep around noon.        DSC_0008

I saw a number of deer, a grouse, and squirrels on these days afield. I feel blessed to be able enjoy times like these.

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Silvery frost on everything.

Silvery frost on everything.

Granted I don’t become too enthralled with harvesting a black bear. I, however, do go through some of the motions of a bear hunter and that is I have a license and I have a rifle. Having taken bear before I now realize the work removing the animal from the forest can be a chore. I am a solitary hunter for the most part. I enjoy getting out into the woods to take photos and see wildlife and taking a bear is less on my priority.                                     DSC_0010

The landowners are friends of mine. He has had some bear issues over the summer with his bee hives. I thought, maybe, I could help. Three events caused me pause with hunting. One was the lack of acorns in this area. The second was that all the neighboring corn fields had just been harvested and third was the cold weather we have been having. I felt, at least, some of the sows may have been denning up due to these activities. A solitary hunter has decreased chances with such events during these times.


Note flash in deer's eyes!

Note flash in deer’s eyes!

This morning, I walked from the jeep into single digit temperatures. The eastern skyline was pink and the western skyline was yielding to a cloud bank. Freezing rain and rain were being forecasted and warming temperatures. The leaves were crunchy, A slight trace of snow was present on the hemlock-laden northern slope I was hunting. There was  not enough to effectively track, but just enough to aid in visibility in places.                                                                                                               DSC_0009

I slowly walked down hill and was fortunate to hear a few turkeys on the roost. Later, I would hear another flock yelping and cutting and gobbling. I heard a raven flying over the hollow as well. These birds seem to be increasing in our area.

I saw a lot of deer including several buck. I managed some photos in the gloom. I still-hunted most of the morning only stopping to set ,occasionally,  for twenty minutes or so. The cold was going deep into my old bones!


Old beaver sign

Old beaver sign

Mid morning began yielding to light rain. The rains picked up at times. Distant shooting was heard off and on all morning. Most of the shots were far north of where I was hunting.                                   DSC_0013

Approximately 1:00, or later, I was on a steep slope and found myself slipping. The falling rain was freezing on the surface.  I elected to move out. The landowner’s wife told me of friends on Route 28 coming from Pittsburgh were having road icing issues.

I checked the temperature to find 31 degrees. Five minutes later the temperature had dropped to 29 degrees. Although, I felt like staying out more I decided to call it a day for concerns of falling.

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DSC_0052  I received a shot to the knee last Thursday. Saturday was the first day of the 2013 Pennsylvania bear season. I wasn’t feeling all that bad in regards to leg pains so I elected with a plan to hunt bear.  The plan was simple. Walk little and set a lot. The place was around Cherry Run.                  

I should have known the day was not going to go well when I walked across an open area and a fourth of the way up a hill only to see my dome lights were on in the car. I trekked back and pushed the door tight and proceeded back up the hill.

I set for over an hour and decided to go further up the hill to check on the local corn field status. I was disappointed the corn had been harvested for I knew a local bear was feeding on corn at times. I had seen one here in October, but due to my leg issues I couldn’t get out for scouting prior to the season. The fact of not scouting was  not an issue for I was out in the woods enjoying the day! Seeing any bear would be  a plus.                                                                                    DSC_0059

I returned to set  for a time but the urge to travel couldn’t be suppressed and off I went! The walk aggravated the leg and I knew I shouldn’t press the walking much for fear of a much worse situation.

I walked down slope and began to see a helicopter moving around. This guy must have been an anti-hunter for he seemed to just hover around me picking up debris from the seismic devices scattered everywhere. He chose to stay around me. At one point I could have hit the chopper with a stone if I had a good enough arm to do so. I became aggravated and decided to head home.                                                                                 DSC_0063

I had seen a number of deer and some squirrels. I heard no shots or saw any hunters.

DSC_0067  Monday morning found me in northern Armstrong County. A total of 4-5 inches of snow was present on the ground. I elected to walk in search of bear tracks. The temperature was cold and I realized setting was not a good option. the leg was doing very well as I walked about in search of tracks.

I saw plenty od deer along with their tracks and coyote and fox tracks. I saw some grouse too but no bear. I felt good and still elected to hunt for half a day. The healing is happening and why push  walking although I, probably, did cover around five miles or so. I heard two distant shots that morning.                                                                                                              DSC_0065

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Beautiful morning!

I exited my vehicle with a plan to enter into the woods of a mile long hollow and “still hunt” for bear. (Still-hunting is the style of hunting of moving along slowly and stopping to look and listen.) This hollow is very wide and has brushy areas; hemlocks and  rhododendron thickets. As I was walking towards the woods, three sets of vehicle lights could be viewed and turned into the site. An organized bear drive was being planned for daylight. I turned around and drove two miles north and went on an exploratory hunt. I was in a new area in the 287 State Game Lands.                                                                                    

The area I was exploring proved to be a site of many old strip mining high walls. I estimated this area was mined early into the last century if not before. The high walls have plenty of spruce, larch (Tamarack) trees, poplar and aspens.   I wondered why individuals left the areas this way in the past. I wondered even more why landowners seemed to allow it!

Larch cones

At one point I could barely hear the shouts of the drivers from the earlier mentioned drive for bear. They were so far I first thought I was hearing swans high into the sky. (I saw swans  flying. They appeared silver as the sun illuminated their white plumage.)  The drive produced no shots!  I heard two far off shots all day. I am suspecting the bear may be in the standing corn. There are many acres of corn in this area.                                                                                                                                      

Brilliant orange fungus

I saw some deer and squirrels. One deer had a very small set of antlers. I found joy with seeing many small birds too. Birds such as the golden-crowned kinglet; downy woodpeckers, doves and jays were viewed.

Long way to the river!

Noon was approaching as my circling proved to be within reach of the car. I decided to go back to where I was parked originally and walk back over to the river hill site I hunted last year on the first day. This hill overlooks the mighty Allegheny River and is very steep. As I walked along about 1/3 of the way down over, I found the trail to be only as wide as the deer trail I was on. Occasionally, I could see remnants of old mining or logging roads from ancient of times. I wondered how far I would go if I stumbled???

Steep hillside

Prior to reaching the river hill, I met a father and two teenage offspring. We enjoyed some great conversation before shaking hands and wandering away. Great to see his daughter and son learning about the great outdoors!

Mahoning watershed

At two different times I set down and did a little reading. The warm temperatures made climbing hills a little exhausting so a half hour rest was welcomed on two occasions. The book I am reading is “COMMON SENSE” by Thomas Paine. The book was originally written in 1776 during  the time of the breaking down of relations with Great Britain and the colonies. The man would not be surprised at what has happened in America today. He had it pegged!

Downy Woodpecker

On this hunt I saw a small, illegal buck and doe. I heard them long before I saw them. The two were coming along the steep hillsides. They managed to get along much better than I! I reached the vehicle around 3:15 and decided to begin the drive home. Laurie still has a lot of homemade buns around the house!

Reesdale Power Plant from across the river (Closing from EPA regs)

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Before the sun…frost!

A very spring-like morning was to be for Pennsylvania’s first day of the black bear season. The temperatures as I began my jaunt up the hill hovered around 25 degrees. A heavy frost covered all vegetation. However, as soon as the sun peeked out from the eastern horizon the temperatures warmed rather quickly. The red and orange colors permeated the trees as the sun’s rays touched each limb and leaf.

Golden glow

My Remington 760 in a 30:06 caliber had been hinting for a walk for a couple of weeks now. This would be the day ! The plan for this first morning was simple. I was going to Cherry Run to familiar haunts and sneak around searching for a bear. I did not do any pre-season scouting, but I wanted to visit certain sites. The reason for this is simple too. Some of the steep slopes had been heavily timbered allowing for great bear habitat, but the main reason was to hunt this site before it becomes mined.

Steep country

The hills and hollows of this area are every bit as steep as those found in Potter County. The only difference is the elevation above sea level. They are not as high.                                                                                                               

Bear do travel in this area at times. My cousin saw three last August crossing a right-of-way line.  The hunt today failed to yield any bear or bear sign, but I had hopes. A corn field on the top had been harvested. These facts didn’t matter to me for I just wanted to spend some quality woods time in areas I love. I would be searching for old memories too.  A bear sighting would have been a plus although I knew my odds were very low.

Fox Squirrel

I heard some turkey roost talk as I edged uphill. Later on my return through the area I would walk into a flock of 8-10 birds. I wondered if my step-father, Bob could climb these hills for the rest of the turkey season later next week.

My walking would spend approximately 5.5 hours on this hill and through the hollows. I saw many deer including one buck. I watched one grouse fly far ahead of me flying along the horizon line. Other critters were a number of fox squirrels and a few gray squirrels. I saw a few chipmunks out and about because of the nice weather.         

I found myself become rather warm and by 10:30 I removed a sweat shirt. The temperatures were climbing and the clear, cloudless skies allowed for the sun to dry out the woodland floor rapidly. However, whenever I would find myself on the hill where the sun wasn’t filtered in the temps would be noticeably cooler.

Deer seeds…just add water!

Eventually, I had cycled around back to the area where I had originally entered the woods. I elected to head to the car and drive about a half of a mile and walk up and over another steep hill to a site I hadn’t been to in many years.

Remnants of an old stone fence

I heard a number of shots all afternoon. I decided because of the amount of shooting and the spacings between each shot that most were hunters sighting in their rifles in preparation for the upcoming buck season.


I set up and called at a couple of sites. I thought maybe a hungry bear might come to my calling. If nothing else, possibly a coyote might venture in. The plan included a trek around this hill’s top and to travel back towards the car. I would call the hunt off regardless of the time I arrived.                                                                                      

The time was around 3:00 when I reached the vehicle. I headed home remembering Laurie was creating home-made buns this day. YUMMY!

Berries from native Green Briar

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