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Archive for the ‘PA Bear Hunting’ Category

A white dusting appeared over the landscape overnight. The snow was from the lake-effect winds over the Lake Erie. There was enough to help see better, but not enough to track any game.

I visited a property I had last been at, possibly, ten years ago. There had been changes. Much clear cutting was observed and rather recent. This will be a nightmare to maneuver in a couple of years as the brush covers the land.

As I walked in, I began to hear shouts on the next hill. Bear hunters were beginning to put on a bear drive. I decided to move away from their hunt and moved in a northerly direction. I soon remembered I had not been in this direction before so my venture would be an exploratory jaunt.

I still hunted up a hollow hoping to see a black beauty coming into the woods from a night of foraging in the cornfields. No such luck! t wouldn’t be long until I was exploring more than hunting.

A dusting of snow.

I walked upon about six ringneck pheasants. I would see a couple of squirrels and that would be it. Very weird is the fact that this morning and yesterday’s morning were void of deer sightings. It is extremely rare to not see any deer.

As the snow melted with direct sunlight, I reached the northern-most end of these lands and returned south via a different route. I told my wife I was only going to hunt about half-a-day because I needed to accomplish some things prior to Thanksgiving. Family would be coming to indulge at our place.

My venture this morning taught more about these lands for future bear seasons.

Male pheasant close-up.

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There were some moments this morning (November 22) when I wasn’t sure if I would be heading out for the woods. Let’s just say I had some intestinal issues. However, I was not very late to meet the morning.

The area I planned to sneak around is one of familiarity. I have hunted this steep ridge a number of times over the years. It seems very “beary.” However, I have yet to see a bear at this area. The distance from where I parked to where the hillside ends may be around two miles. The northern steep slopes yield to Hemlock trees and Rhododendron. There are big diameter trees uprooted all around. the downed trees bring down other trees making for tree tops all about. This is good bear habitat, but moving about at my age can be demanding. I need to be very careful I don’t fall.

I walked very old remnants of logging roads whenever I can, but there are many logs across these roads.

This morning would see an increase in wind speeds and I became chilled at times. I was surprised to not see a single deer this morning although plenty of deer sign was visible. I walked upon a flock of, at least, fifteen to eighteen turkeys and managed a few quick photos. I saw a few squirrels, too. I heard and saw a flock of swans.

On the return trip towards the jeep, I walked above and below the way I transversed earlier, but I never saw a bear. I was hopeful. I heard a few shots north of my position, but, possibly, two miles away. later I heard some bear driving hollers, but no shot came about their efforts.

I returned to the jeep a little after noon and prepared to drive to another site until I realized I was tired and having some knee discomfort. I drove past another potential site and saw a much too open woodlands for good bear habitat. I elected to go home.

Puffballs

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November 20 was the beginning of the 2021 Pennsylvania Bear Season. I was undecided as to where to try my luck, however, I knew of a small parcel of land in the Pennsylvania game Commission state game lands system. This land is a separate part of a local state game lands , but is less than thirteen acres in size. I had never visited this small land area and decided I would check it out on the first day and, at least, explore and see what was to be found.

I stopped at the dead end road at the site at daybreak and began an upward trek. I would learn that 98% of this game lands is steep hillside. The site is a beautiful piece of land with mixed deciduous and hemlock trees about. All surrounding areas are heavily posted. I could have sat down to hunt hoping on the luck factor of a bear traveling from the surrounded forests, but I elected to move westerly to the larger game lands. My curiosity had been satisfied.

I was almost at the parking site at the other game lands when I saw a game warden pull out ahead. We waved and I pulled behind a car with someone inside. I assumed he was a bear hunter and wanted to see if he was done hunting. He was done! He just received a citation for hunting deer with archery. He wrongly believed this was the last day of the deer archery season. He was in good spirits and realized his error.

I would tramp around until two-thirty in the afternoon hoping to still hunt upon a bear. It “tweren’t” to happen this day.

An old rusted bucket from the mining days.

The areas of northern Armstrong County are steep, hill hills and the old legs pushed on despite the discomfort, but I did well considering my age.

I had some deer sightings, a flock of turkeys, Grey and Fox Squirrels, Ravens and many species of birdlife. It was a great day.

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More Bear Hunting

Dense fog over the Allegheny River

Thursday mornings traditional is breakfast at my mother’s place. Today, I called and said I would be hunting bear. She was disappointed, but she knows my hunting heritage is strong and she, also, knows I will be out more.

Note sunshine slowly engulfing the distant hills.

Thursday Morning: I entered the woods with a hint of light as I traveled down some sort of access road. I heard some turkey yelps and instinctively responded as I continued on. Shortly, I left the road and began a slight climb to get to the ridgeline. I was glad I did for I saw the fog over the Allegheny River again. North of my position the fog was dense appearing like cotton candy. Also, seeing the fog from a high vantage point helped to make the sight extremely soothing. I sat down on a log and watched for a time.

Not good bear habitat.

I still-hunted the ridge hoping to see a bear feeding on the acorns, but it was not to be this morning. The very open woodlands at this particular site is not the best habitat for bear, but with fall coming on and the bear’s need to eat encouraged me to attempt this hunt. Later I would be an old clear-cut. It, too, is growing up past the best habitat. I would see some deer and squirrels and I quit the hunt around noon due to the warming temperatures.

Buck rub

Friday morning I was at it again. This morning was different for the sky was cloudy and sprinkling. The temperatures were cooler, as well. I walked a township road until close to eight o’clock for the gloom of the morning made seeing in the woods difficult. Once I did enter I would be seeing some deer and more squirrels.

Eventually, I crossed back the road and began a trek towards an area I needed to check out. There is a strip of Autumn Olives along the hill. Bear habitat indeed. However, it was extremely dense and one couldn’t even crawl through. I decided to abort and circumvent.

I noticed a ladder stand near the edge of the dense mesh. I was in awe when I saw it. I nice buck was dead and only about twenty or so yards from the stand. I looked at the deer and could see nothing to indicate a shot and lost deer. the buck was an eight-point.

Although saddened to see such a nice buck dead, I moved on only to find some piles of bear fecal matter. The droppings were fairly fresh for last night we experienced heavy and hard rains. This scat was still firm proving it had to have been made since the rains.

I walked to my left and didn’t go far when I saw the woods were posted. I reversed and moved along the Autumn Olive and sat for time while the rains fell. Movement caught my eye and a deer of the year walked past me at about twelve steps. My camera was in my shoulder bag due to the rain and I missed some great woodland shots. I left the woods about eleven to go home and dry out. Tomorrow I am hunting deer with the flintlock.

Aspen leaves in color.

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I was blessed with a beautiful sunrise this morning. I was happy to have been already on the top of the hill in time to see such splendor. This was my first morning out for the early muzzleloading season in Pennsylvania. I have tags to take either a Black Bear or antlerless Whitetail Deer.

The morning was young when a nice doe walked from the woods into a field of high grass. I stopped and maneuvered to exchange the muzzleloader for the camera. She stopped and looked away at first and eventually looked upon me with a penetrating stare. I took several shots before she ran away. The distance was around thirty-five yards. A shot would have been very easy, but I had made up my mind I wasn’t going to use my doe tag this morning. I would have fourteen deer sightings throughout the morning hours. I found one sizable pile of bear droppings, but they were not fresh.

Chipmunk with a tick!

A chipmunk moved to my right climbing a vine offering a photo. Once I saw the Chipmunk on the computer I noticed the Deer Tick on the cheek.

DAY 2: I tramped around until noon and quit for several reasons. I was getting warm. My knees were hurting enough and I was to play music at the God’s Choice event beginning at five. God’s Choice is a weekly event held at the local Kittanning Free Methodist Church. Individuals with special needs attend where they have a meal, sing and act and here a Bible story. they all love this evening every week. I reached the jeep at noon after being over the hills for five hours.

My second morning out was another beautiful morning. I chose a place, but some was disappointed. There was no food normally needed to hold bear. I checked two ridge areas with mature Oak trees and never found an acorn. There were no squirrels scampering about either. Most of the area had extremely abundant Autumn Olive trees around and not a single berry could be found and I covered much ground. I reached the jeep close to 11:00 deciding to head home.

I saw five deer.

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Heavy frost looked like snow.

 

The first morning of Pennsylvania’s 2019 bear season would prove to be interesting. My friend, Terry W. and I left the jeep early and began the up hill trek to pursue the black bruin. We were approaching the top when two shots rang out in the general direction Terry had planned to go. We were surprised at the 6:45 A.M. shots  since the dark grays of predawn were still engulfing the woodlands. I commented that bear must have been on the shooter’s lap.

  While we pondering our next move a flock of turkeys began filtering from their roosting tree just ahead. Lots of noise!

We parted with our plans in mind and began to still hunt for bear. Terry was going to walk a grassy gas-line trail between two old highwalls. I went

Steep hollows

straight to another site. However, my plans were cut short when eight shots exploded from Terry’s direction. I began working the hillside towards Terry.

Another hunter had bagged a bear just ahead of Terry. The bear was a nice sized male approximately 230-250 pounds. The hunter said another bear went over the hill. However, Terry had seen a bear in the very thick Autumn Olive thickets prior to talking with the hunter. No shot was taken. The area and direction theses bear were, apparently, two different bear making for three separate bear in total.

We hunted until mid-afternoon before making plans for the next hunting day. It was an exciting morning.

 

 

 

 

Hickory hulls

 

Holder Run

 

Bittersweet

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Fog, Snow and Rain

This second day of the 2018 Pennsylvania bear season proved to be another interesting day. My friend, Terry and I went to another area to check out  for bear.

A light rain could be viewed on the windshield between wiper blade activity However, rain was even lighter as I we traveled through the wee moments of the morning towards a clear-cut destination. I need to change the terminology to “old clear cut” for the trees have grown much since I first began hunting this area over twenty years ago.

Interestingly, the highest point of this area still had some snow cover in the woodlands. Enough snow was present to help with seeing, but not enough to effectively track any bear if we would have seen any bear. Approximately at seven thirty in the morning the snow began to fall. The white stuff fell all morning.

Also, dense fog was common for much of the morning. Between the fog and heavy falling snow we found visibility was greatly lessened.

At one pint I was moving down over a steep highwall to gain access to a big timber area with plenty of logs. I found out I wished I hadn’t made the decision to go down for a leaf-covered flat rock with wet slushy snow sent me off like a sled. My left knee caught on a tree trunk to stop me. Needless to say I had some pain issues.

  I eventually worked along the side of the hill and met up with Terry. We were ready to call the hunt a day. I was very wet and I didn’t realize how wet I was until I returned home. As I removed my coat and clothing I felt the heavy weight of water-logged attire.

I saw one deer and two ringneck pheasants throughout the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The mile long walk to where we were going was done in mostly dark moments. My friend, Terry Williams and I decided to hunt this area after finding plenty of bear sign last Monday. This morning was much different than Monday with snow cover. One might think having snow cover was a good thing and mostly that would be true. However, this morning found everything covered with a layer of ice with snow on top. Visibility in many areas was ten or twelve feet so, unless one was in big timber areas minus a lot of low canopy trees.

  Trees were down everywhere within the area we were hunting. Gas well roads had numerous trees across the roads. Trees of many sizes were

Hard to see!

uprooted or broken from the weight of heavy snow and ice adding strong recent winds.  Trees and honeysuckle and Autumn Olive bent to the ground with heavy snow.

We heard trees cracking all morning. We saw limbs crashing to the forest floor. We saw trees coming down. Several times I took evasive actions upon hearing the snaps and crash of limbs. I was not in immediate danger for the closest limbs were twenty feet or so away.

I, personally, saw five deer. Most fresh deer sign was of beds with the deer sneaking out ahead of me. I saw one turkey and a rabbit.

Around 7:30 or so I head three distant shots. The shots were several hills over, but I wondered if Terry had shot. I was about a mile away and the shots seemed to be in his direction. I moved towards him.

We found where two bear had walked around, probably, sometime in the wee hours of Friday morning. We decided to follow them for the bear may be in brush close by. We, both, felt the shots may have been directed at the bear. I followed the tracks to a predicted corn field. We did not have access of this property. We soon saw a hunter watching the corn fields and we circled back around the hunter. I found additional old tracks and tried to unravel them, however, I believed the tracks were those of the same two bear. The tracks had melted, by this time, to hard to distinguish wet and gray slush areas. One needs to study many tracks to find the toe marks.

 

Bear track

Conditions had worsened with rising temperatures and the tress were raining water and snow all over us soaking into our clothes. By the time we   reached the entrance road we were getting wet and tired. We quit around one in the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bittersweet berries

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Barberry

 

After staying home and raking and mulching leaves yesterday, I hit the trail this morning to hunt bear. To be honest, I called this hunt an exploratory hunt for I was traveling into new territory. I have been in a few areas of this same large tract of land, but today’s venture was to be new.

 

Black-capped Chickadee

I followed the ridgelines around the hollows periodically checking my topography map. I wasn’t still hunting in the strictest sense of this style of hunting, for I was walking more than standing. However, I did set down for a few minutes to eat some walnuts and drink some juice. I discovered a tree that offered a unique seat. I enjoyed the brief set to rest and eat.

This day had some light rain intermingled with snow flurries. Strong winds could be felt as well due to the wind chill. Because of this I could move very

Porcupine gnawings

quietly. I edged along a rim to spot a deer about fifteen yards away. I immediately saw the “horns.” However, I quickly realized something was amiss. The antler on the buck’s right side was down over his jaw. Something had happened obviously. Did this antler deformity occur due an early growth injury? Was the base of the skull damaged due to buck fighting?

As I stopped in my tracks I slightly moved a limb and the deer heard it, but didn’t see me. We played a watch and wait scenario for about ten minutes before he moved enough to allow for a photo.

   I saw several squirrels and heard some swans and a Ring-necked Rooster. I saw a lot of chickadees and juncos feeding heavily in the brambles. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I didn’t see any bear on this jaunt. On the positive side I did learn a lot more about the lay of the land. Upon coming home I checked my trail cam. Bucks…I get buck photos of three different bucks almost every night. I small-racked buck enjoyed rubbing my tress last evening.

 

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Bear damage

 

  Monday, November 20, I headed to the woods of Armstrong County to seek out a Black Bear. The first day, November 18th was a wash out. I  “schmartly” decided to not go out and be wet. The weather people were calling for windy conditions, also. This day would be different. Although dark I could see a “skiff” of snow as I approached my destination.

I pulled in only to see a younger fellow almost ready to head up the game land’s road to his hunting spot. We spoke briefly and off he went. I followed shortly afterwards. I had planned to still hunt and old clear cut, but after I searched out tracks at a Y in the trail I noticed  some footprints in the sandy area. Yes, he was going to the top where I had planned, so I altered my direction. As stated little snow was present. There was enough to help see, but not enough to effectively track and bear, if I would happen to see a track somewhere. In fact, much of the snow would be melted by 9:30 A.M. except deep hollows and northern exposed hills.

Rough terrain

 

I moved quickly along food plots trying to cut any tracks before the snow was melted. None were found. Two, separate, small game hunters were observed hunting. I actually saw one bag a pheasant. I decide to cross the main road and hunt the other side of the game lands.

I journeyed the game lands area moving through recent clear cuts. The brush and briars are unbelievable. I come here often knowing this is prime bear habitat, but finding one is almost nil and  getting a shot probably almost as impossible, yet I try to beat the odds. Many bear would hold tight in such habitat allowing the hunter to walk past.

 

My good friend, Carl Nulph. Always pleasant and always happy.

Eventually, I moved up and over a high wall only to see an old friend, Carl Nulph. He was checking trail cams for wildlife activity. We enjoyed our conversation for   about half an hour. Carl and I have been friends for many years and I always cherish the time we see each other to chat. In fact, we met last year on this very same hill top. I thought about putting him out of his misery, but elected to maintain a clean rifle. Hi Linda!                                                            

I circled around the game land’s edge only to be surprised to see many acres of standing corn. I said to myself, “Self, that is where the bear will be at.”  Unfortunately, I didn’t have permission to hunt the property. I began a circle around the back side of the hill. My decision was to move along slowly and whenever I reached the jeep I would call it a day. That time was 2:30.

The only signs of bear I had found in the area were utility pole damage and one pile of scat.  I saw two buck and one doe. I saw and heard several flocks of swans and a Red-tail Hawk and a Cooper’s hawk. I didn’t see any squirrels. I wondered how the recent weather may have affected the wildlife. The day became quite windy  later on. Enough wind was present to cause some chapping of my lips. Oh, the life of a hunter. Today, as I type, the weather is warming to close sixty degrees. I decided  to not hunt.  Since I am a lone hunter I am always concerned of getting a bear. The work of getting a bear out of the woods in warm weather is a task I don’t enjoy. Since, I would be eating  the bear I don’t want to have any spoiling of meat. It took much time to remove a bear I harvested in the past.

 

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