Bear Season Opens Here Monday
When McConnellsburg area resident Randall Clippinger set out for the opening day of bear season Monday, he joked with daughters Samantha and Stephanie he wasn't going to shave his beard until he harvested a black bear. On the schedule for Monday evening - shaving.
His first time ever in the field in search of black bear, the 44-year-old man's hunt came to a quick finale only 1 1/2 hours into the three-day season that will wrap up Wednesday, November 26. Clippinger was one of several hunters to share his success with the "News" as well as local residents awaiting a top Sideling Hill Mountain at lunch time Monday, at the bear check station.
Clippinger's male bear harvested in State Game Lands 81 in Dublin Township adjacent to the home of his brother, Russell, weighed in at the check station inside the Bureau of Forestry building at 130 pounds. Clippinger's bear was the sixth bear processed at the station on Monday with the largest tipping the scales at 206 pounds.
Avid outdoorsmen Ken Walter of East Freedom told the "News" he has been hunting bear on and off since the age of 12. In prior years, he has spent hours preparing and scouting in hopes of harvesting a large bruin or sow. Heading out only at daybreak Monday morning, Walter broke tradition and surprisingly enough managed to harvest his bear by 8:45 a.m. behind the home of hunting companion and friend Dave Duncan of Bedford.
As of 1 p.m. Monday, Walter held the record for the largest bear brought to the check station - a 206- pound male. The station was scheduled to stay open until 8 p.m. Monday and will resume operations from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Fulton County Wildlife Conservation Officer Kevin Mountz reported bear complaints are down in county but sightings are definitely up.
"We had a rather wet spring and early summer that produced a marginal food supply, which in turn kept nuisance complaints down. It seems that most people you talk to are seeing more bear," said Mountz, who added sightings are widespread throughout the county in all townships.
The number of roadkill bears was also significant in 2008, with the most recent bear killed by an automobile Monday morning on the Fulton County portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. A total of seven bears were killed on the turnpike, while an additional two bears were struck by automobiles along Route 655 north of Hustontown in Taylor Township.
"Rain or sleet on the opening day tends to keep hunters in their vehicles," said Mountz, looking skyward Monday at the bear check station where skies threatened inclement weather. The forecast for the remaining two days includes a possibility of snow, which could offer hunters ultimate tracking conditions.
"Most bears are more active at nighttime and lounge during the day. To have a chance at being successful, hunters have to be willing to get out and beat the bush," he said. Mountz concluded success can also depend on early scouting and locating good habitat that offers a good, natural food supply and will keep bears in the area.