Bear Season Opens Here
Having only hunted bears for the last five or six years, Maurice Younker admits he’s “not a big bear hunter.”
Saturday morning, which marked the season opener of the statewide four-day black bear season, may have been a turning point for the 75-year-old Fulton County man as he was one of a only handful of individuals to harvest a bear locally.
At the close of the Sideling Hill checkpoint station on November 23, Pennsylvania Game Commission biologist John Dunn confirmed that Younker’s 595-pound bruin was among the seven bears harvested within Fulton County’s boundaries on opening day. A full listing of successful hunters who killed bears in county was not available to the “News” as of presstime Monday.
Younker stated he was more or less hunting by himself alongside a field where his nephew was shelling corn. In fact, it was the combine that drove the bruin out of the field and into Younker’s path.
Younker added he was “surprised in a way” as he really hadn’t been looking for a bear. He had previously told his nephew that if the opportunity arose to kill a bear, he would offer the shot to him.
His unexpected harvest apparently drew quite a crowd as word of the large bruin continued to spread through out the area and at the checkstation.
Coincidentally, Younker’s bear, which was taken in Thompson Township only seven miles from the hunter’s home, was the largest bear taken in Fulton County during the opener. However, the largest bear to be transported Saturday to the station tipped the scales at 633 pounds. The bear was taken by Michael Truax in nearby East Providence Township, Bedford County.
According to Dunn, the opener ended with a total of 40 bears being brought to the station manned by Game Commission employees Jeremy Diehl, George Miller, Craig Shaffer and Jon Zuck along with Chris Lipko, Emily Just, Ray Miller, Dave Scamardella and Jim Smith of the Bureau of Forestry.
Dunn stated Saturday’s weather conditions were good for hunting. In addition, Monday’s dusting of snow in northern Fulton County provided a good opportunity for sportsmen to track bears and put on a drive.
“Poor mast crops, such as acorns, may have resulted in bears feeding near agricultural areas instead of traditional mountain top areas. Most successful hunters seemed to be getting bears at lower elevations near agricultural land,” said Dunn. “We had a record harvest at our checkstation last year, and there are still good numbers of bears out there.”
The 2012 statewide harvest of 3,632 bears represented the thirdlargest harvest in the commonwealth’s history. The harvest also follows an all-time record harvest of 4,350 bears in 2011.